It is an exciting time for CBD from Hemp. Once upon a time Americans who didn’t grow Hemp were considered “unpatriotic” as it was used for food, fiber and textiles. “Hemp for Victory!” was a famous slogan the US Government propagandized- can you believe it!? We’ve come so far from criminalization to decriminalization of this sacred plant.
As more progressive scientific research and healing testimonials emerge, giving praise to one of the most ancient and revered, yet misunderstood, herbs on the planet. What makes this plant especially so interesting to medical researchers are the chemicals it contains, called cannabinoids, one of the most well known being Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. The other cannabinoid that is quickly becoming equally if not of more of interest is Cannabidiol, or CBD for short. As you will soon learn, the medicinal benefits of CBD from Hemp are vast. We will explore how it works in the body, how it is different from its relative THC and how it is being extracted and administered.
If humans didn’t already have an in-built receptor system for cannabinoids, then Cannabis wouldn’t be of such deep interest for medical application. This “Endocannabinoid System” was discovered in the mid 1990’s by a brilliant Israeli researcher, Dr. Ralph Mechoulam, and through his findings a whole new world of Cannabis research and application has opened up, with CBD now at the forefront. Why would we have these receptors in the first place you might wonder? Its because our body produces our own “endocannabinoid” neurotransmitters, the most well known being “anandamide” (derived from the sanskrit word ananda, or bliss), which modulates sleeping and eating patterns as well as the perception of pain. The cannabinoid THC, just so happens to mimic this neurotransmitter, which is why it has the effects it does, acting on the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Specifically CB1 is found primarily in the brain but also in the reproductive organs. CB2 receptors are found primarily in the immune system, with highest concentration in the spleen and other parts of the nervous system. Current research is discovereing more about the amazing potential of the CB2 receptor all the time, especially with regard to fighting cancer and many other diseases caused by inflammation.
Cannabinoids may just be the most exciting chemistry research of today, holding immense medical value. There are as many as 85 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, yet only a few have been studied in depth. The cannabinoids of THC and CBD are in the highest concentrations in the cannabis plant but in many varying ratios, depending on the particular strain. THC and CBD both have medicinal value, but the way they interact with the cannabinoid receptors on our body are very different, thus the effects are very different. When THC binds with the CB1 receptor it creates the “high effect” as well as modulating our perception of pain. When THC binds to the CB2 receptor it produces anti-inflammatory effects. Medical applications for THC have been shown effective for treating people with multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, AIDS and Chemotherapy patients. Yet, many people don’t want to “get high” so thats where CBD’s can really help.
CBD’s action on our endocannabinoid system is fascinating! Unlike THC, it has little binding affinity with the CB1 and CB2, acting on these receptors indirectly, and does not produce the psychoactive effects. Here is the awesome part: CBD suppresses a fatty acid amide hydroxylase (FAAH) which in effect prevents the breakdown of anandamide. This means there is more anandamide present in the body for a longer duration, meaning more CB1 activation. Interestingly, this also actually interferes with THC’s ability to bind with CB1, reducing the psychoactive effects, if THC were present (THC and CBD definitely have a syngergistic effect). CBD also stimluates the release of 2-AG, another endocannabinoid that binds to CB1 and CB2, which is associated with our periphery nervous system and immune system. Basically, CBD’s enhance our own innate, protective endocannabinoid response system! Thankfully, current CBD research is providing much evidence for its medical applications in treating cancer, arthritis, diabetes, chronic inflammation, chronic pain, epilesy seizures, autism, Alzheimers and much more!
It’s helpful to know more about the varieties of of the Cannabis genus to understand where CBD’s are most prevelant. There are three recognized species. Cannabis sativa is believed to be the most common strain, cultivated for thousands of years for food, fiber and medicine. Cannabis indica, first discovered in India is shorter and bushier growing, known for very high cannabinoid content. Cannabis ruderalis is native to Russia and is very hardy strain that has the lowest cannabinoid levels. Each of these species have been selectively bred by growers to create countless named strains of varying cannabinoid ratios, which wouldn’t normally occur in nature. One astonishing example of this is that of industrial hemp, which is grown for its fiber and fuel, containing trace amounts of THC. Hemp is actually the same species (C.sativa) as “medical marijuana, ” which can have high levels of THC, making it illegal in many countries and yet they look hardly alike at all.
Extraction of CBD’s can be done in many ways, with the safest ways being: CO2 extraction (which creates the purest extract but is also the most expensive), Ethanol extraction, or extraction using another Oils, such as Olive oil. CBD from hemp products are vast: there are pure CBD vape pens, topical salves, edibles like overseas Hemp-derived Medicinal Foods CBD Bar and more. CBD’s can be extracted from hemp without the THC, making it the best legal option for people to obtain CBD’s, however it is argued that extracting CBD from hemp isn’t always practical because most of the bulk of hemp is the stalk, which contains very little CBD’s. You can obtain far more CBD’s from medical cannabis, which would also contain THC, unfortunately making it illegal in many places. There are extraction methods possible that would allow CBD to be extracted and separated from the THC, but this is much more advanced and not widely available.
Its sort of ironic, that over the last fifty years cannabis has been selectively bred to produce higher levels of THC, and as of more recently, more CBD-rich strains of medical cannabis are being selectively bred and circulated, due to popular demand for this medicinal cannabinoid that WON’T get you high but will still have many medicinal benefits. There have been miraculous stories of children suffering from seizures that have been cured from high CBD strains of cannabis as well as people claiming their cancer disappeared with the use of CBD oil. Unfortunately, there are laws in many states that make it illegal for people to obtain this kind of medicine so many people have been forced to obtain their medicine illegally, because they would rather have a substance that is natural, without the many side-effects of synthetic pharmeceuticals. CBD is still considered illegal if it obtained from THC rich Cannabis, however as long as it is CBD from hemp it is considered legal.
For generations the Cannabis plant has been subjected to much undeserved persecution, from the wasteful “war on drugs” when in truth, this plant contains so many medicinal qualities and has been used by many cultures for thousands of years. This plant is finally emerging from the voids of ignorance and misunderstanding and people are begining to educate themselves beyond the propaganda they might have been fed by their government in the past. Thanks to the perserverence of what I would call human rights activists, Cannabis has finally been legalized for medical use in 23 U.S. states if it is CBD from Hemp. The medical research and application of cannabinoids are just scratching the surface, its exciting to see how CBD’s will work their way into the “mainstream, ” and more importantly its exciting to see the Cannabis plant getting the respect it deserves.
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Written by Mary Isis, native to the Big Island of Hawaii is an Artist, Musician (Visionary Music from the Heart: www.maryisismusic.com) Herbal Enthusiast, and Nectarian. “I am passionate about educating and encouraging people to live more simple and natural lives, feeling connected and reverent to this living earth.”