Society’s opinion about cannabis is changing rapidly. While in the past it has been regarded as a harmful drug with no medical use, attitudes towards the controversial plant are in the process of undergoing a dramatic shift. This is largely due to the ongoing research into one of the main compounds present in cannabis, cannabidiol (or CBD).
With research shining a spotlight on its effectiveness at helping people with a wide range of conditions – everything from depression to arthritis – in addition to the fact that it is not psychotropic (meaning it won’t get you ‘high’), CBD is making great inroads to help cannabis shed its stigma and bring its many uses into the mainstream.
What is CBD and where does it come from?
Before we delve into the remarkable research on CBD, let’s take a look at where it comes from.
CBD is extracted and separated from cannabis, most commonly a variety of cannabis known as hemp. Hemp is simply a cannabis plant with negligible levels of a certain compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which, whilst having many health benefits of its own, is responsible for the ‘high’ commonly associated with consuming cannabis. THC is produced by the female when you separate the male and female cannabis plants so that it can’t be pollinated by the male.
When male cannabis plants are allowed to fertilise the female plants, however, she barely produces any THC, usually less than 1%, but does produce a lot more CBD. Plants grown for CBD meet the international standards of less than 1% THC. And this means CBD is totally legal and available for you to buy just about anywhere in the world.
CBD is one of at least 113 cannabinoids found in cannabis. It is the second most prominent behind THC, making up 40% of the plant’s extract. Cannabinoids interact with the body via receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS consists of a number of receptors throughout the brain and body that are directly involved in a variety of physiological processes, including appetite, sleep, pain-sensation, hormone levels, immune response, digestion, mood, and memory, just to name a few.
However, whenever cannabis gets brought up in conversation, the non-mind altering effects CBD are not what springs to most people’s minds. It’s the memory-impairing, red-eye inducing effects of THC. This reaction is understandable, especially considering the vast myths and lies that have been propagated around cannabis – often directly for the mouth of officials and medical experts. Nonetheless, it is impossible to get “high” from CBD and it is, in fact, extremely safe (even in high doses).
Benefits of CBD
CBD has also been shown to help relieve pain and anxiety, have anti-bacterial, anti-depressant, and anti-inflammatory properties, and even kill cancer cells. So, here we have a profoundly effective, health-promoting compound which does not alter your consciousness in any way and even works to reduce psychotic symptoms. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Well, it is true. CBD is gaining traction in the pharmaceutical and medical industries as an effective, inexpensive, and very safe form of medical relief. In fact, it’s scientifically-backed praise is aiding in an educated and mature public opinion of cannabis, devoid of myth and unsubstantiated rumours. This has even led to the UK government classifying CBD as a medicine in late 2016, while the U.S. federal government continues to insist it has no medicinal value.
This recent movement has already seen many people from all walks of life using CBD products and CBD-rich cannabis/hemp for a wide range of applications. Whether it’s parents using it to reduce epileptic seizures in their young child, or an elderly person using it to reduce anxiety, CBD can make a safe alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen, which can wreak havoc on your gut lining, liver and kidneys – as well as sleeping pills and antidepressants.
In fact, in all of recorded history, CBD has never killed anyone. This is particularly impressive when you consider that aspirin kills over 1,000 Americans each year. As you can see, CBD is very safe.
Destroying the stigma
The potential for CBD to remove the stigma around cannabis is growing significantly, with further research sure to make its uses much clearer.
No longer are the therapeutic effects of cannabis tied to the mind-altering effects that have seen cannabis stigmatised and its users stereotyped. Although many may still desire the ‘high’ of consuming cannabis, it’s not for everyone. By learning about cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, users and potential users have far more control over the effects they wish to experience, making CBD an exceptionally versatile and effective form of treatment.
The more we learn, the less taboo there will be surrounding cannabis and its users. In time, cannabis will finally take its rightful place as one of the most important plants on the planet.