Even if you haven’t personally experienced cannabidiol — more widely known as CBD — you’ve undoubtedly heard the buzz around its therapeutic uses. From inflammation and cancer to chronic pain, depression and anxiety, the list of possible health applications is long. And a growing body of research is lending more and more support to its enormous therapeutic potential. Are you interested in dipping your toe in the sea of CBD products and testing out the therapeutic benefits for yourself or your pet? Let’s explore together.
The Endocannabinoid System
CBD is one of many cannabinoids (compounds) in the cannabis plant. Two of the most familiar compounds in marijuana are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD. These compounds have different effects. CBD is a component of the cannabis plant that is non-psychoactive. Unlike THC, it doesn’t make people feel “high” but it may produce changes in the body — and deliver some significant medical benefits along the way. All cannabinoids produce effects in the body by interacting with cannabinoid receptors in the body, which form part of the endocannabinoid system.
Cannabis has been at the center of one of the most exciting—and underreported—developments in modern science. Research on marijuana’s effects led directly to the discovery of a hitherto unknown biochemical communication system in the human body, the Endocannabinoid System, which plays a crucial role in regulating our physiology, mood, and everyday experience.Project CBD
In the mid-90’s, the endocannabinoid system was discovered by scientists who were tracing the metabolic pathways of THC. They named their discovery after the plant that led to its detection and went on to learn that endocannabinoids and their receptors are also present in fish, reptiles, earthworms, leeches, amphibians, birds and mammals — basically every animal but insects. Science shows us that this molecular signaling system started evolving over 600 million years ago and is involved in regulating a broad range of biological functions and serves an important and basic function in animal physiology.
CBD + Healing
Research and clinical studies have shown that CBD has a host of health benefits and can be effective for a variety of conditions. CBD works with the body’s endocannabinoid system to achieve homeostasis in the body, offering up anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, anti-depressant, anti-psychotic, anti-tumoral, and neuroprotective qualities. In fact, research has found that cannabidiol can change gene expression and remove Alzheimer-related plaque from brain cells.
The list of CBD’s healing benefits is long and worth reading. It includes such difficult-to-treat conditions as auto-immune diseases, epilepsy, anxiety/depression, eating disorders and chronic pain. And the list goes on. Learn more here.
CBD in the Body
All cannabinoids produce effects in the body by interacting with the body’s own cannabinoid receptors:
•CB1 receptors are present throughout the body, (particularly in the brain) and coordinate movement, pain, emotion, mood, thinking, appetite, memories, and other functions.
•CB2 receptors are primarily in the immune system, affecting inflammation and pain.
THC attaches to CB1 receptors while CBD stimulates the receptors so that the body produces its own cannabinoids. This stimulation is intended to produce homeostasis in the body and seems to go directly to areas in the body that are out of balance. Learn more about how CBD works with the body’s endocannabinoid system here.
CBD + Our Pets
Like us, our pets have endocannabinoid systems with receptors that interact with cannabinoids. And like the research demonstrates with humans, CBD shows promising results in treating a variety of conditions in our pets. Research documents the effectiveness of the therapeutic use of CBD for rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, anxiety, skin conditions, pain, inflammation and more. While the research supporting these therapeutic uses of CBD in pets is compelling, it’s still a growing area of expertise for many in veterinary medicine. Thus there are some things to consider:
•Use a pet-specific product so that the concentration is appropriate and that there are no fillers, sugars or other things not intended for our fur babies.
•Talk to your regular veterinarian about cannabis. If he/she isn’t familiar with its use, she may be able to refer you to someone who is.
•The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) has members who incorporate medical cannabis into their practices or are often knowledgeable about its use. Look for a vet in your area here.
•Consider your source and do your research as you would with any vitamin or supplement. Call the company and ask where the product comes from, how it’s being produced, and how they control the quality. In general, look for organic, locally-produced products when possible.
How to use CBD
CBD can be consumed in a number of ways. And because every body processes cannabinoids differently, how you consume it can be a very individual choice that might take some experimentation. CBD comes in many forms: topical, tincture, sub-lingual, capsules, inhalant, transdermal and edible. According to ProjectCBD, when choosing our method, we should consider these questions:
- Onset: How quickly will cannabinoids begin to work?
- Dose: What’s a reasonable starting dose?
- Distribution: Which parts of the body will be most affected?
- Duration: How long will the effects last?
CBD is part of burgeoning field of medicine and the research and clinical studies are growing by the day. Learn how to best support your health by consulting the resources and experts that are on top of the latest research and products.
•Talk with your medical provider about options and resources. Remember, for your pet, you can consult the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) for resources.
•Know your state’s current laws around medical marijuana and CBD use. There are15 states plus D.C. with legalized recreational weed—and therefore legal medical marijuana. And 20 states have legalized just medical marijuana. This means access and use is on the rise. Being an informed consumer will give you more options for health and healing.
•If marijuana is legal in your state, call or visit your local dispensary and talk with them about their products and your health goals. Lean on their expertise for recommendations and use them as a resource to learn more.
•Bookmark ProjectCBD on your computer to use as a comprehensive reference guide.
From where I sit, CBD is an exciting, plant-based option for healing that continues to gain validation through research and clinical studies. And while it may feel like a bit of a research project, shouldn’t you be informed about anything you put in — or on — your body? The possible healing benefits outweigh the learning curve, in my opinion. Lean on existing resources, have open conversations with the medical professionals in your life, and seek out the information you need to help you be your own best health expert.
Do you use CBD to support your health? Share your experience and ideas in the comments below. Be sure to come follow Blendtopia on Facebook to stay connected, and follow us on Pinterest to get even more ideas for maintaining our mental, physical, and emotional wellness.