CBD is shorthand for cannabidiol, one of the more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis. CBD products are said to deliver their many claimed benefits by boosting the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is a system that “is a unique signaling pathway that controls the function of a variety of systems throughout the body, including the cardiovascular system,” says Nicholas DiPatrizio, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical sciences at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine. (More on the endocannabinoid system later.)
I lean over to sniff one of the powdery, tightly clustered flower buds, purple-brown and coursing with white wisps. These tiny trichomes fairly ooze with cannabinoid-rich resin. This strain is called Highway Man, after a Willie Nelson song. Hybridized by Hague, it’s a variety loaded with THC. The best parts will be trimmed by hand, dried, cured, and packaged for sale at one of Mindful’s dispensaries. “This whole room will be ready for harvest in just a few days,” Hague notes with the subtle smirk of a competitive breeder who’s won international awards for his strains.
McGuire published his own study in August, in which CBD was shown to reduce psychotic episodes in people with schizophrenia. The daily dose was 1,000mg of pure CBD. And a study in which CBD seemed to ease anxiety, published in Nature in 2011, administered a single dose of 600mg, an hour and a half before giving participants a public speaking task. These larger doses contrast with that found in, say, Botanical Labs’ CBD drink. Rebekah Hall, the company’s founder, says her drink is for recreational rather than medicinal purposes and “the amount of CBD per batch is constant and precise, at 2mg per bottle”. A daily dose of two hemp capsules made by Nature’s Plus offers 15mg of mixed “plant cannabinoids” without a specific CBD count.
Typically, pharmaceutical companies making cannabis-based medicines have sought to isolate individual compounds from the plant. But Mechoulam strongly suspects that in some cases those chemicals would work much better in concert with other compounds found in marijuana. He calls this the entourage effect, and it’s just one of the many cannabis mysteries that he says require further study.
In Siberia charred seeds have been found inside burial mounds dating back to 3000 B.C. The Chinese were using cannabis as a medicine thousands of years ago. Marijuana is deeply American too—as American as George Washington, who grew hemp at Mount Vernon. For most of the country’s history, cannabis was legal, commonly found in tinctures and extracts.
Hemp and Marijuana come form the same plant family, but are completely different in function, cultivation and application. Marijuana generally has a high level of THC (a psychoactive compound that makes you feel “high”) and is used for medicinal or recreational purpose. Hemp contains a negligible amount of THC (but is high in CBD) and is used in dietary supplements, skin products, clothing and paper.

Look for what are known as “full-spectrum” CBD products. These products contain other compounds of the hemp plant in addition to CBD. It’s believed that the compounds work together to provide the claimed benefits, much as eating an orange is usually a better choice than drinking orange juice. One key exception is if you’re subject to workplace drug testing. A CBD isolate, in which the rest of the plant’s compounds are removed, should reduce the already tiny chance of trace amounts of THC being present.
Guzmán leads me around his cramped lab—centrifuges, microscopes, beakers, petri dishes, a postdoc researcher in a white smock extracting tissue from a mouse corpse pinned under bright lights. It’s your typical bioresearch lab, except that everything is devoted to the effects of cannabis on the body and brain. The lab focuses not just on cancer but also on neurodegenerative diseases and on how cannabinoids affect early brain development. On this last topic the Guzmán group’s research is unequivocal: Mice born of mothers regularly given high doses of THC during pregnancy show pronounced problems. They’re uncoordinated, have difficulty with social interactions, and have a low anxiety threshold—they’re often paralyzed with fear at stimuli, such as a cat puppet placed near their cage, that don’t upset other juvenile mice.
Endocannabinoids are familiar to runners because of their theorized role in running-induced mood boosts. That euphoric phenomenon is thought to be from activation of the same receptors in the brain that the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana acts upon. CBD “works through distinct—albeit not definitively identified—signaling systems than THC,” DiPatrizio says. CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it doesn’t produce a high.

Hemp seed oil contains essential fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), that are required for brain development. DHA is crucial to the health of the brain as well as the retina of the eye, particularly in the first year of life. Mothers who supplement with hempseed oil during pregnancy may provide brain- and eye-protective benefits for the developing baby.


A 2013 case report conducted in Canada evaluated the beneficial effects of cannabis oil on a 14-year-old female patient diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, also known as ALL. For this particular patient, a standard bone marrow transplant, aggressive chemotherapy and radiation therapy were revoked, with treatment being deemed a failure after 34 months. She was extremely ill and severely underweight at this time.
Typically, pharmaceutical companies making cannabis-based medicines have sought to isolate individual compounds from the plant. But Mechoulam strongly suspects that in some cases those chemicals would work much better in concert with other compounds found in marijuana. He calls this the entourage effect, and it’s just one of the many cannabis mysteries that he says require further study.

CBD Oil

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