CBD interacts with the body through the endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) or endocannabinoid system. First discovered in the late 1980’s, the endocannabinoid system regulates the body’s homeostasis, or general state of balance, impacting such functions as mood, sleep, appetite, hormone regulation, and pain and immune response. Like an acrobat on a highwire, as the environment around us impacts our normal balance, the endocannabinoid system “corrects” by mediating our body’s reaction to keep us level.
In addition to the research on the use of cannabinoids in palliative treatments for cancer—reducing pain and nausea and in increasing appetite—there are also several pre-clinical reports showing anti-tumor effects of CBD in cell culture and in animal models.xxviii These studies have found reduced cell viability, increased cancer cell death, decreased tumor growth, and inhibition of metastasis (reviewed in McAllister et al, 2015).xxix These effects may be due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD;xxx however these findings have not yet been explored in human patients. There are multiple industry sponsored clinical trials underway to begin to test the efficacy of CBD in human cancer patients.
Taking a fish oil supplement can be a helpful way to increase omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, a nutrient that is essential for brain development, immune system health, and mood regulation. Expectant mothers certainly want to include these nutrients in their diet; however, fish contains a great deal of mercury which can hinder neurological and developmental mechanisms in the unborn baby. Fortunately, hemp oil works as a terrific alternative to traditional omega-3 fatty acid supplements and doesn’t carry the same risk of mercury ingestion.
Specific city and county laws have been enacted to regulate how citizens and tourists may possess and consume marijuana. Penalties exist for driving while under the influence of marijuana. Someone driving under the influence of marijuana is considered impaired in both Colorado and Washington when five nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood or more of active THC is detected.
It is also illegal to market CBD oil as a dietary supplement. This is because cannabidiol is not a food ingredient (dietary ingredient) and it doesn’t have an established safety profile or history of use in the food supply. If you see a CBD product, and it is labelled as a dietary supplement, then the company is either unaware or doesn’t care about the FDA’s current position that CBD is not a legitimate dietary ingredient.
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That doesn’t mean it’s completely risk-free, but the likely risks are more of the allergic reaction variety, Romanowski notes. “It is a component of an essential oil, and reactions are not frequent, but common in a small percentage of the population,” he says. “People should do a small patch test on their skin before generally applying the product over their body.”
Multiple sclerosis (MS). There is inconsistent evidence on the effectiveness of cannabidiol for symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Some early research suggests that using a cannabidiol spray under the tongue might improve pain and muscle tightness in people with MS. However, it does not appear to improve muscle spasms, tiredness, bladder control, the ability to move around, or well-being and quality of life.
Bonn-Miller also explained that it's imperative to exhaust the traditional and established front-line treatments that are available before seeking out these products. "CBD is not really a first-line treatment for anything," he said. "You don’t want situations where somebody says, 'I have cancer I'm going to forgo chemotherapy because I read something about CBD or THC helping with cancer.'" That's not a good idea, Bonn-Miller said. "Not only is the science not there, but you may end up worse off."
Many cells in the body have what are called cannabinoid receptors, protein molecules on a cell’s surface that react when they come in contact with certain chemical substances. Different receptors react with different substances to cause different reactions – for instance, the release of a hormone or other chemical. The cells that react with cannabinoids comprise what’s known as the endocannabinoid system. When these receptors are activated, they exert an effect on mood, pain sensation, appetite and other biologic responses.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally-occurring constituent of industrial hemp (cannabis sativa) plants. It is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis and is being scientifically investigated for numerous reasons. Most people have heard of a cannabinoid called THC, which is the ingredient in cannabis that gets users high. Unlike THC, CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and does not cause a high.
The existence of substantial clinical investigations regarding CBD has been made public. For example, two such substantial clinical investigations include GW Pharmaceuticals’ investigations regarding Sativex and Epidiolex. (See Sativex Commences US Phase II/III Clinical Trial in Cancer Pain and GW Pharmaceuticals Receives Investigational New Drug (IND) from FDA for Phase 2/3 Clinical Trial of Epidiolex in the Treatment of Dravet Syndrome ).
That leaves those touting CBD’s effectiveness pointing primarily to research in mice and petri dishes. There, CBD (sometimes combined with small amounts of THC) has shown promise for helping pain, neurological conditions like anxiety and PTSD, and the immune system—and therefore potentially arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and more.
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The ECS is responsible for setting the baseline activity levels of our immune system and nervous system, which then work to maintain our health. When the ECS falls out of whack, the systems that are regulated by it can begin to malfunction. CBD promotes the normal health and function of the endocannabinoid system, so it’s possible that CBD can help to alleviate the symptoms of conditions that are caused by dysfunction of the endocannabinoid system.
Cannabidiol has little direct effect on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, so it is largely devoid of the euphoric effects of THC, the major intoxicant in marijuana. But if CBD really had no psychotropic effect at all, it would be hard to understand its popularity. In fact, because it alters the brain’s serotonin receptors and may interfere with the breakdown of anandamide — a cannabidoid that is produced naturally in the brain — it could well affect feeling and thinking.
This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Josh Axe and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Axe nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.