What comes to mind when you think of the word medicine? For most of us, it means having a doctor spend fifteen minutes asking you some questions, performing a quick exam, and writing a prescription for pills that may or may not work and have side effects that could be worse than the condition that they are supposed to treat. Luckily, the growing social and legal acceptance of using cannabis to treat certain conditions mean that new treatments are becoming available. One of those treatments comes in the form of cannabidiol, known by the scientific shorthand designation CBD. Hemp-extracted CBD shows promise in treating many conditions that were previously either untreatable or could only be treated with prescriptions that had debilitating side effects.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid extracted from plants in the Cannabacae or Cannabis family, a family that includes the commonly known marijuana and hemp plants as well as the hops and hackleberry plants. Hops and hackleberry do contain trace amounts of CBD, but the most common sources for cannabidiol are marijuana and hemp plants.
Where Does CBD Come From?
As mentioned, CBD can be extracted from either the marijuana plant or the hemp plant. Hemp-extracted CBD, however, is considered a more natural source due to an extraction process that uses either steam or carbon dioxide. Extraction from marijuana plants involves processes that use butane, naphtha, or ethanol – all neurotoxins – and result in products that typically have lower amounts of CBD than hemp extraction.
What Does CBD do?
More important than where CBD comes from, however, is what it does. Our own bodies create small amounts of cannabidiol, and we have two known receptors for CBD built into us. These receptors are known as CB1 and CB2, and they have a strong effect on the way our bodies work. CB1 receptors are mainly located in the brain and have an effect on functions that are directly related to the brain and the nervous system. Coordination, emotions, cognitive ability, and appetite are all affected by CB1 receptors and can be affected by CBD. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are typically found in the immune system and are related to inflammation and pain.
What Conditions can CBD Treat?
Rather than asking what can be treated with hemp-extracted CBD, it may be quicker to ask what can’t be treated. There are a wide variety of conditions that respond well to CBD treatment, and many of those conditions respond equally well or better to CBD than they do to prescription medications. Bear in mind that new research on cannabidiol treatments is being done every day, so there is no definitive list of uses. That being said, some of the known conditions that respond well to cannabidiol are ADD and ADHD, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and fibromyalgia. Additionally, CBD has been shown to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients as well as having a slowing effect on the growth of cancer cells. Other conditions which are known to be treatable with cannabidiol or have a strong potential to be treated with CBD include Alzheimer’s disease, acne, drug and nicotine dependence, and a host of anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. If the condition has to do with the central nervous system or pain and inflammation, there is a good chance that it is treatable with hemp-extracted CBD. With the amount of ongoing research into cannabidiol, we can expect to see many more conditions that respond well to hemp-extracted CBD treatment in the future.
How is CBD Taken?
The most common form of hemp-extracted CBD comes in the form of a suspension in food grade oil, typically extra virgin olive oil, and is administered with a dropper in much the same way that you would take liquid B12 vitamins.
What are the Side Effects of CBD?
Hemp-extracted CBD can have some mild side effects, but nothing as severe as the side effects of common prescription drugs that it can replace or supplement. Common side effects are reportedly mild cases of dry mouth, low blood pressure, and drowsiness. Unlike the more commonly known cannabinoid THC, CBD is not psychoactive and will not cause a feeling of intoxication or impaired mental functions.
Is hemp-extracted CBD the future of medicine? It seems to have a lot of benefits and very little risk, and it can be used to treat a variety of conditions which are difficult to treat by traditional methods. It probably can’t be classified as a miracle cure or a magic drug, but CBD does seem to have the potential to push traditional medicine in new directions. Overall, the benefits of CBD seem to far outweigh any risks associated with it. It seems fairly safe to say that while hemp-extracted CBD may not completely change the future of medicine, it is definitely finding its place in the medicine cabinets of people with conditions which were previously untreatable or only treatable with medications that caused unacceptable side effects.