Cannabis has a long history in the United States. Over the centuries, it’s been used as food, clothing, a topical treatment, and more. In many states – 29 states as of March 2018 – the medicinal use of cannabis is legal. Nine states even allow its use recreationally. But the reason cannabis is such a divisive topic for federal and state legislators is because it contains THC. Hemp, on the other hand, is much more accepted. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is currently pushing a bill to legalize it on a federal level. This is because hemp has many uses and has far larger concentrations of the beneficial substance CBD rather than THC.
The Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency do not treat CBD the same as THC, the cannabis plant’s psychoactive component. The possession and usage of CBD-based products aren’t prosecuted like THC-based products because it is not psychoactive. Continue reading to learn more about what separates CBD from THC and why the federal government made this decision.
Plant Anatomy and the Demonization of Cannabis
We’ll refrain from confirming or denying specifics of CBD’s effectiveness in this article. Instead, we’re going to outline several ways CBD has anecdotally been used by consumers, along with independent studies that attempted to pinpoint CBD’s effectiveness.
When cannabis was demonized in the 20th century, it was because smoking the plant was found to get you high. However, legal distinctions were quickly made between different varieties of cannabis, most importantly between hemp and marijuana plants. While both are species of cannabis, hemp has a low concentration of THC and a higher concentration of CBD.
The cannabis plant contains over 6000 different flavonoids and terpenes, the basic building blocks of all plants. Most of these are shared with other plant species like carrots, trees, strawberries, etc. However, there are over 100 cannabis-specific flavonoids, known as cannabinoids. THC and CBD are two of these cannabinoids, and the rest are variations of either substance. THC is often associated with the high feeling people experience when smoking marijuana. CBD, however, is believed by many to be an effective supplement for relieving a variety of ailments without psychoactive effects. The FDA has not yet tested CBD due to draconian laws, but independent studies on animals have confirmed some claims of CBD’s benefits.
We’ll refrain from confirming or denying specifics of CBD’s effectiveness in this article. Instead, we’re going to outline several ways CBD has anecdotally been used by consumers, along with independent studies that attempted to pinpoint the benefits of CBD.
1. CBD, Smoking, and Nicotine Addiction
Vaping is a popular smoking cessation aid, and cancer researchers at Georgetown University project up to 6.6 million smokers could extend their lifespan by switching from smoking to vaping. In fact, the FDA cracked down on e-cigarettes back in 2016, but rolled back some of those restrictions in 2017 as new information came to light.
However, vaping still keeps users addicted to nicotine, which smokers often use to relieve stress, pain, and anxiety. While it’s possible to lower the nicotine levels in e-juices, a recent double-blind study found CBD created a 40-percent drop in cigarette cravings (while there was no change in the placebo group). This evidence is good news for smokers looking for safer ways to relieve their ailments.
2. CBD’s Effects on Chronic Pain, Arthritis, and Fibromyalgia
CBD is often sold as a pain reliever. The U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health has published several studies researching these claims. One study found CBD is effective as a topical treatment for chronic arthritis in rats, although its oral bioavailability is low. Another study observed a statistically significant reduction in fibromyalgia pain among CBD users.
In addition, a 2012 study found CBD effective for treating chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain. This research is why many people use CBD for natural chronic pain relief instead of narcotics. CBD is also commonly used by patients to treat back pain.
3. CBD and Sleep Disorders
Insomnia and other sleep disorders affect up to 50–70 million adults in the U.S. alone. This insomnia is often caused by other ailments, such as chronic pain, stress, and anxiety. It’s a dangerous epidemic, as sleep deprivation can cause people to fall asleep while performing important and dangerous tasks, such as driving. Drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 fatalities every year in the U.S.
Sleepiness is one of the known side effects of using CBD. This makes it the perfect natural cure for insomnia, and studies have shown patients using CBD sleep longer and better than those who don’t. Another study found CBD helps REM behavior disorder in patients with Parkinson’s disease and improves sleep quality in people with PTSD.
4. CBD and Mood Disorders
One of the most popular uses of CBD is to improve a user’s mood. People suffering from depression, stress, anxiety, and even more serious mood disorders often say cannabis improves their symptoms. A handful of studies seems to back this up, including a 2017 study demonstrating CBD’s effectiveness in treating schizophrenia.
In fact, another study found CBD to be as effective as clinical narcotics and antipsychotics currently used to treat psychological and mood disorders. It helps the body produce dopamine without the harmful addictive side effects many antipsychotics have. Because CBD is a natural substance, it’s often preferred by those looking to treat such symptoms without using synthetic drugs.
So while the FDA is still dragging its feet on studying the effects of CBD, several respected medical institutions are hard at work verifying anecdotal claims. Even the American Cancer Society recommends CBD to treat side effects of cancer chemotherapy. Remember to discuss its potential benefits with your doctor before switching from any medication to CBD.
However, these studies and clinical trials show promising results. It’s only a matter of time before the FDA and the DEA open doors to allow more refined research. Until then, people are continuing to use CBD in hopes that the research done so far holds true.
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In compliance with FDA standards, Enliven makes no medical claims. We are not doctors or physicians. There is a large amount of scientific research on hemp extract and the ECS system from doctors across the world that has existed for decades. We encourage you to do your own research and talk to your physician or health and wellness practitioner about hemp extract. There are many sources online that can provide more information, but please remember that the Internet contains both valid and misleading information. We encourage you to vet your sources and make sure they are reputable.