Cannabidiol, or CBD, is an extract from the cannabis plant that is supposed to have tonnes of benefits without the “high” connected with the enjoyment of that plant.
Discovered in the 1940s by a Harvard-trained chemist Dr Raphael Mechoulam, “the Godfather of cannabis research“.
The chemical structure of both CBD and THC was uncovered in the ’60s, showing that CBD wasn’t linked with intoxication or the psychoactive properties of (get ready for it…) tetrahydrocannabinol.
What exactly is CBD, and how does it work?
CBD was reportedly first used by a Chinese emperor to improve his memory and fight his gout problems.
We can’t ask him if it worked, but luckily, we have research to inform us about the effects of cannabinoids today.
Research about cannabidiol has been around since the ’80s. Still, in the early 2000s, it gained widespread attention, thanks to Charlotte Figi, a young girl who suffered from Dravet Syndrome. This disease manifested through severe epilepsy.
The Figis tried different ways to help the girl with her seizures, but nothing stuck.
However, when they gave CBD treatment a chance, her attacks almost became non-existent, prompting American news outlets to provide medicinal cannabis with significant airtime.
From there, CBD use trended upwards, with marijuana legislation in America slowly becoming more lenient. It helped that further studies showed that CBD has none of the psychoactive effects of its cousin, THC.
Today, the effects of CBD (and other cannabis products) on our physical and mental health are still up for debate, with most Americans supporting the extract.
That said, there are still those hesitant to embrace the hype.
One issue that shaped the public perception of CBD was the rules and regulations at the 2020 Olympics. Although removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances, Japan, the host country, still considers CBD illegal.
There is no relief from pain when you’re locked up, after all. Fortunately, some locations are starting to become more progressive regarding medical cannabis and CBD use.
With enough public support, legislation and decriminalisation, we can only hope using CBD oil and related products will be hassle-free in the future.
Before we go into the specific effects of cannabidiol on your health and wellness, a quick disclaimer:
We aren’t health experts, so consulting your doctor before trying out CBD yourself is a must!
Benefits of CBD
CBD has multiple health benefits and can heal various conditions, as proven by clinical trials and research throughout the years.
Technically extracted from cannabis, a type of hemp plant, cannabis oil isn’t necessarily addictive.
CBD might be worth a shot for your well-being and pain reduction in blood pressure, multiple sclerosis and even those with anxiety disorders.
A 2017 international trial was conducted testing cannabidiol in children with Dravet Syndrome. Some participants were given the CBD, and others: a placebo. Out of the patients given the cannabidiol:
- 43% had their seizures halved.
- 5% became seizure-free.
In 2018, the US Federal Drug Agency, or FDA, approved the prescription use of CBD-based medicine to prevent epilepsy symptoms. This landmark ruling proved once again that cannabis products can be used for the treatment of seizure patients.
Therapeutic Goods Administration, or TGA, for its part, recently authorised medicinal cannabis to be purchased with a prescription at pharmacies around Australia, and that’s a massive step in the right direction!
According to the TGA statement, CBD is “rarely associated with severe adverse events, and that non-serious adverse events appear significantly lessened at lower dosages.”
That doesn’t mean you’ll be buying full-spectrum CBD, medical marijuana, or edible gummies anytime soon unless further legislation arrives.
However, you can now purchase low dose CBD over the counter for these conditions:
- Paediatric and young adult epilepsy
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Management of nausea and vomiting, especially in chemotherapy setting
- Chronic non-cancer pain
- Palliative care
How can a plant extract affect existing medical conditions?
Time for a quick chemistry lesson.
The human body produces its own compound similar to THC through the endocannabinoid system. These cannabinoid receptors allow us to ingest CBD products and enjoy their benefits.
CBD’s effect on the immune system is one area experts are divided on.
You see, some healthy users of CBD oil and other cannabis Sativa products may experience suppressed responses. For those with autoimmune diseases, this can prevent the likelihood of future autoimmune attacks.
How about mental health?
Trace amounts of cannabinoids are considered an anti-psychotic for the adverse effects of conditions like schizophrenia. Essentially — a neuroprotective compound — it protects nerve cells from degeneration or function impairment.
Trust us, that’s a good thing.
On top of this, there is substantial research to suggest that CBD is an anti-inflammatory agent, reducing pain levels and providing soothing relief for affected individuals.
Say goodbye to insomnia and prepare to have a restful night!
CBD has been studied since the 1940s and was a hit with scientists in the ’80s (as much as Elton John was on the radio), but it still has a ways to go.
Today, it is expected that the cannabis Sativa compound will slowly be implemented in medicine more and more.
There is evidence that this extract from the marijuana plant shows promise in the complementary treatment of diseases like type 2 diabetes, the prevention or management of cancer symptoms, and even the reduction of acne.
Sign us up!
Cannabis side effects
That’s a lengthy explanation of how CBD can improve or manage your health. Still, just like any substance, it’s not all butterflies and rainbows.
It’s essential to be aware of any potential side effects.
If you hate having a dry mouth, cannabis might not be the solution for you. While it could positively impact your nervous system, your tongue and throat might not vibe with it.
Cannabidiols can treat insomnia, so it makes perfect sense that it would give you a bad case of drowsiness (and the munchies).
That may seem like a win-win, but if you have work to get done and your eyelids are weighing a tonne, you might change your mind on the plant for sure.
Intake of other medication alongside CBD treatment can also have some adverse effects, so it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor before making the decision.
Should you give it a go?
What a trip that has been, huh? (No, not a psychoactive one).
Now that you’ve seen both sides of the coin, it’s up to you whether CBD is the best medication for your physical or mental health.
When deciding on something like cannabis use, you first need to be informed, so that you can weigh the pros and cons.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but in the end, your body, your rules. CBD is having its moment, but don’t be pressured to try it because of the hype either.
The best thing we can do is allow others to make their own choices when managing their health so that no one feels judged for their decision.