Everywhere you click these days, it seems like someone on the internet is talking about cannabidiol—also known as CBD, a chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant. Online retailers market the extract (also known as hemp oil) as a remedy for a variety of ailments, celebrities swear by its healing powers, and the ingredient is popping up in nutritional supplements and beauty products, as well. There’s even a new FDA-approved drug derived from CBD.
If he had his way, what Mechoulam regards as the often irresponsible silliness of recreational pot culture would give way to an earnest and enthusiastic embrace of cannabis—but only as a medical substance to be strictly regulated and relentlessly researched. “Right now,” he complains, “people don’t know what they’re getting. For it to work in the medical world, it has to be quantitative. If you can’t count it, it’s not science.”
So Herrera, who's experienced her own share of pain due to a shoulder injury followed by a bout of Lyme disease, went to a local herb shop and bought a vial of the oil, which, by some definitions, is legal in all states if it doesn't contain more than 0.3 percent THC – the psychoactive component of cannabis. She began putting seven to nine drops under her tongue first thing most mornings – and was startled by the results. "It's changed my pain level, my anxiety level and my stress level," says Herrera, who already practiced yoga, meditated regularly, ate a healthy diet and tried conventional medical treatments for pain and mobility. "It was shocking," she says, because she thought her patients' reports were due to the placebo effect. "Right now," she adds, "I feel pretty amazing."
CBD could potentially be as effective for pain relief as an opioid, but without the potential for deadly addiction. Dr. Solomon shared a self-report study he conducted at UC Berkeley last year, which tracked patients that were using opioids for pain relief. When subjects tried using cannabis in lieu of opioids, the majority "reported that cannabis provided relief on par with their other medications, but without the unwanted side effects." He noted that more research needs to be done, but all signs point to pain relief—which would lead to fewer opioid-related deaths.
They may not look threatening, but their very presence here, in the confines of a major university lab, represents years of wrangling to win federal and university approval. Right now, Kane’s allowed to grow only hemp strains. The rest of his research material is cannabis DNA, which is supplied by Colorado growers who extract it using methods he’s taught them.
Hemp also contains fatty acids which have been known to be great for the body. Unlike its marijuana counterpart, hemp contains high quantities of CBD and low volumes of THC for which its grown. While marijuana is illegal to consume in many states, hemp is slowly becoming more popular and more states are legalizing the uses of hemp oil for its citizens.
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