"Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia.
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"A CBD company may create a CBD oil, test it, and use the test results to create their label," Bonn-Miller says. "The problem is if they never test their product again, or they test it once a year, you have no idea whether each batch is the same as the first one that they used to create the label. The vast majority of companies are not using manufacturing standards that assure product consistency over time. Companies should be testing every batch they make and tossing batches that don't fall within the specs of their label."
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One of the most experienced practitioners in this field is Los Angeles physician Bonni Goldstein, who has used the compound to treat dozens of children with intractable epilepsy. She says about half of these patients have seen a significant drop in the number of seizures. “Used in the right way, with the right patient, CBD is extremely powerful,” she says.
The truth is that no one knows precisely what any of these molecules are doing to us. It is a case of finding the effects first and working backwards to understand the mechanisms. “There are a number of possible transmitter systems that CBD could act on,” says McGuire. “And it’s not 100% clear which ones are critical for anxiety, or psychosis or schizophrenia. But [the antipsychotic effect] is a different mechanism from existing treatments, which is a big deal because existing treatments aren’t working.”
Since then several other so-called endocannabinoids and their receptors have been discovered. Scientists have come to recognize that endocannabinoids interact with a specific neurological network—much the way that endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine do. Exercise, Mechoulam notes, has been shown to elevate endocannabinoid levels in the brain, and “this probably accounts for what jogging enthusiasts call runner’s high.” These compounds, he explains, apparently play an important role in such basic functions as memory, balance, movement, immune health, and neuroprotection.
To name just a few: Animal research and small-scale human studies have pointed to CBD's anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties, NPR reports. A study is underway to see how CBD helps patients with PTSD and alcohol use disorder, and another is exploring how CBD might help curb drug cravings in people with opioid addiction. Cannabinoids like CBD may also be effective at treating cancer-related side effects, according to the National Institutes of Health.
It's important to know that although THC and CBD are the most studied components of cannabis, there are many more chemical compounds found within the plant, such as cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabidivarin (CBDV), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), terpenes, and flavonoids. While there is still much to learn about these other chemicals, researchers in Israel have discovered that whole-plant cannabis extracts that contain these other chemicals are more beneficial than isolated extracts that contain just CBD or THC.
Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved treatment in the U.S. that contains a purified drug substance derived from marijuana -- CBD -- and the first treatment for Dravet syndrome. In September 2018 the FDA rescheduled cannabidiol from a C-I controlled substance to a C-V controlled substance, meaning it has a proven medical use but a low risk of abuse. This change allows Epidiolex to be marketed in the U.S.
CBD was first discovered in the 1940s by Roger Adams, the former head of the chemistry department at University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. In his research, Adams isolated CBD from hemp but couldn’t determine what exactly he’d found. In addition to CBD, Adams also synthesized analogs of THC and another cannabinoid, showing their relationship to CBD.
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.
Zuardi, A. W., Crippa, J. A., Hallak, J. E., Bhattacharyya, S., Atakan, Z., Martin-Santos, R., … & Guimarães, F. S. (2012). A critical review of the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol: 30 years of a translational investigation [Abstract]. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 18(32), 5,131–5,140. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22716160
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