So Mechoulam called the Israeli national police and scored five kilos of confiscated Lebanese hashish. He and his research group isolated—and in some cases also synthesized—an array of substances, which he injected separately into rhesus monkeys. Only one had any observable effect. “Normally the rhesus monkey is quite an aggressive individual,” he says. But when injected with this compound, the monkeys became emphatically calm. “Sedated, I would say,” he recalls with a chuckle.
As the brain ages, the creation of new neurons slows down significantly. In order to maintain brain health and prevent degenerative diseases, new cells need to be continuously created. A 2008 study showed that low doses of CBD- and THC-like cannabinoids encouraged the creation of new nerve cells in animal models, even in aging brains. CBD also benefits the brain by helping to prevent other nerve-related diseases like neuropathy and Alzheimer’s disease.
Top brands that create CBD products and offer sales, grow these plants and then extract the goodness of these plants, using different techniques to produce capsules, liquids, sprays or other CBD products. There are a few different ways to extract the “goodness” from the Cannabis plants, but the method most used by all the top brands is called CO2 extraction.
In June 2018, following the FDA approval of Epidiolex for rare types of childhood epilepsy, Epidiolex was rescheduled as a Schedule V drug allowing its legal use as a pharmaceutical drug. This change applies only to FDA-approved products containing no more than 0.1 percent THC. This allows GW Pharma to sell Epidiolex, but it does not apply broadly and all other CBD-containing products remain Schedule I drugs.
A geneticist, Kane studies cannabis from a unique perspective—he probes its DNA. He’s an affable, outdoorsy guy with a bright face and eyes that wander and dart inquisitively when he talks. He has studied chocolate and for many years the sunflower, eventually mapping its genome, a sequence of more than three and a half billion nucleotides. Now he’s moved on to marijuana. Though its sequence is much shorter, roughly 800 million nucleotides, he considers it a far more intriguing plant.
Of all the reasons that people use CBD today, pain is the most common. The same can be said of cannabis in general. In the United States, over seventy million people suffer from chronic pain, which is defined as experiencing over one hundred days per year of pain. Physicians differentiate between neuropathic (usually chronic) and nociceptive pains (usually time-limited), and cannabis works on most neuropathic and many nociceptive types of pain. A number of studies have demonstrated that the endocannabinoid system is both centrally and peripherally involved in the processing of pain signals. Most discussions of using CBD for pain treatment suggest that finding the right dosage is critical.
According to a growing body of research, CBD may play a role in the growth of new brain cells, a process known as neurogenesis. CBD is also widely recognized as having anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities, which make CBD a promising therapy for a wide range of conditions, from neurological disorders to autoimmune diseases to chronic pain and depression.
While CBD is most commonly used to treat physiological symptoms, there’s a growing body of research that indicates it can also be used in the therapy of a range of mental health conditions, including anxiety. A study by the University of São Paulo found that CBD significantly reduces subjective anxiety, leading investigators to conclude that “These results suggest that CBD reduces anxiety in [social anxiety disorder] and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas.”
Further testing found what the world now knows: This compound is the plant’s principal active ingredient, its mind-altering essence—the stuff that makes you high. Mechoulam, along with a colleague, had discovered tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). He and his team also elucidated the chemical structure of cannabidiol (CBD), another key ingredient in marijuana, one that has many potential medical uses but no psychoactive effect on humans.
CBD may help reduces REM behavior disorder in people with Parkinson’s disease. REM behavior disorder is a condition that causes people to act out physically during dreaming and REM sleep. Typically, during REM, the body is largely paralyzed, a state known as REM atonia. This immobilization keeps sleepers from reacting physically to their dreams. In REM behavior disorder, this paralysis doesn’t occur, leaving people free to move—which can lead to disruptive sleep and to injuring themselves or their sleeping partners. Cannabis may also work to reduce pain and improve sleep quality in people with Parkinson’s disease.
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