The Nutritional and Medical Applications of Phytocannabinoids.
CBD oil and its related phytocannabinoids are getting a tremendous amount of attention in the scientific community-patients, doctors, and researchers are all reporting significant physical and psychological benefits from phytocannabinoid therapy. Let’s examine this new plant medicine and its possible health benefits, risks, and availability in the marketplace.
1. Hemp Oil is Not Marijuana
What hemp oil and marijuana have in common is that they originate from Cannabis sativa-they are sub-species of the same plant, but the plants themselves are genetically different (there is some who think that Hemp originated from cannabis Indica, but this has not been confirmed). Hemp oil is from industrial hemp plants selected to be low in THC, while medical and recreational marijuana is from plants selected for increased THC content, the compound that causes a “high.” Industrial hemp oil is virtually free of psychoactive THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. According to federal law, hemp oil must contain less than 0.3 percent THC to be sold legally in the U.S. Only six states—Idaho (use is permitted if CBD oil is 100% free of THC), South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana, and West Virginia—still consider every part of the cannabis plant, including CBD, to be illegal. Even though CBD oil contains very little THC, it’s still possible that a positive result could be obtained from a urinary screen. The probability of this is determined by body weight, test sensitivity, metabolism of cannabinoids, amount used per day, and history of use.
2. Cannabidiol 101—A Peek Into Cannabinoid Chemistry
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex signaling network within the human body that uses specialized compounds known as cannabinoids to control various bodily processes by interacting with receptors (CB1, CB2) and regulatory enzymes. Not surprisingly, cannabinoid receptors and the biochemical machinery necessary to synthesize and generate cannabinoids are present within areas of the brain known to control emotional behavior, mood, stress, and fear. These structures include the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, and periaqueductal gray (PAG) of the midbrain.
There are over 100 different phytocannabinoids, of which CBD is the most well know and studied. Research indicates that the full spectrum, or “entourage” of compounds can provide a more complete range of disease fighting activity. Phytocannabinoids contain a number of diverse chemical compounds that can affect appetite, metabolism, pain sensation, inflammation, thermoregulation, vision, mood, and memory. Our bodies biosynthesize their own cannabinoids including anandamide and 2-AG (2-arachidonoylglycerol), which help us maintain a balanced and healthy state of normal functioning (homeostasis). Researchers have identified a condition known as “Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome”, which occurs when endocannabinoid levels decline in connection with chronic disease, inflammation, stress, and nutritional deficiencies. Phytocannabinoids can help by preventing the breakdown of our own cannabinoids and/or interacting with the CB1 and CB2 receptor sites directly.
3. NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICAL APPLICATIONS FOR CANNABIDIOL
The scientific reporting of medical applications for CBD has historically been limited to case reports and small case studies. Recently several larger, randomized controlled studies have been published in animal and humans showing strong evidence that several conditions, including intractable childhood epilepsy and certain cancers, might benefit from future clinical use of CBD. CBD has been studied and found in both in vivo and in vitro studies to exert anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-nausea, anti-emetic, anti-psychotic, anti-ischemic, anxiolytic and anti-epileptic. Possible benefits to human health include: pain and inflammation relief, blood sugar control, reduced incidence of seizures, antibacterial action, a calming effect in stress and anxiety, a sleep promoting affect, and tumor suppression. In a focused review from Canada in 2012, researchers specifically targeted randomized and crossover studies that administered CBD to healthy human controls and clinical patients to assess therapeutic results.
These results of CBD given orally demonstrated that CBD decreases anxiety and increases mental sedation in healthy individuals and may offer treatment for social anxiety disorder, insomnia and epilepsy. This review also reported two studies in which an analgesic effect of CBD was noted among mixed neurogenic pain due to MS and in cancer pain patients.
Hemp-based dietary supplements contain <0.3% THC, and are currently legally sold and used throughout the US. Hemp's active cannabinoid is CBD, a non-psychoactive molecule that has profound actions on our intrinsic endocannabinoid system, which has been shown to be generally safe with no toxicity in low-to-moderate dose ranges. If you are on any prescription medications, especially for a cardiovascular or psychiatric condition, it’s always best to check with your doctor before using a phytocannabinoid extract.
Klatz, R. Anti-Aging Therapeutics Volume XVII. The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. 2014;(10)99-108
DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog article is for educational purposes only, and should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this information. Individuals should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The statements made in this informational document have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any product discussed is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.