Over the past few decades, most strains have been bred to increase the amount of the main psychoactive component, (-)-trans-delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, within the past decade, researchers have become increasingly interested in the medical benefits of another compound found in both plants, known as cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant but is reputed to help with a myriad of medical conditions.
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.
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In 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington state passed initiatives legalizing cannabis for adults 21 and older under state law. In November 2014, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C also approved recreational use of marijuana. In November 2016, four more states - California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada - voted in recreational marijuana. It is important to note that the federal government still considers cannabis a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime. Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug. Cultivation and distribution of marijuana are felonies; possession for personal use is a misdemeanor; possession of “paraphernalia” is also illegal. Cultivating 100 plants or more carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years according to federal statutes.
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As Kane leads me around his lab, I see the excitement on his face and on the faces of his young staff. The place feels almost like a start-up company. “So much of science is incremental,” he says, “but with this cannabis work, the science will not be incremental. It will be transformative. Transformative not just in our understanding of the plant but also of ourselves—our brains, our neurology, our psychology. Transformative in terms of the biochemistry of its compounds. Transformative in terms of its impact across several different industries, including medicine, agriculture, and biofuels. It may even transform part of our diet—hemp seed is known to be a ready source of a very healthy, protein-rich oil.”
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Nutiva began in 1999 as an idea in the mind of John W. Roulac, the author of four books on home composting and industrial hemp. Nutiva is the third successful business John has founded since jump-starting the modern home-composting movement in the early 1990s with his best-selling book, Backyard Composting. That book has sold more than a million copies worldwide.
This has been the year medical cannabis hit the mainstream. The government has announced that it is relaxing laws on when cannabis medicines can be prescribed by doctors, following high-profile cases such as that of Billy Caldwell, the 13-year-old boy hospitalised by his epileptic seizures after he was denied legal access to the cannabis oil that helps control them. Meanwhile a new generation of cannabis medicines has shown great promise (both anecdotally and in early clinical trials) in treating a range of ills from anxiety, psychosis and epilepsy to pain, inflammation and acne. And you don’t have to get stoned to reap the health benefits.
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Landis expects prices to come down 10 to 20 percent over the next few years. The biggest reason is that hemp cultivation is likely to dramatically increase. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is among the farm-state legislators who are pushing for hemp to be legalized at the federal level. McConnell’s state, Kentucky, is already one of the leading hemp producers. CBD manufacturers’ raw material expenses will drop significantly once enough farmers figure out how to profitably grow hemp, says PurePower CEO McLaughlin.
Cannabis has shown to have positive effects on people suffering from epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. A research conducted in the University College of London, it is also effective in dealing with multiple other neurological conditions like the Dravet syndrome and Parkinson’s disease. It prevents neurodegeneration and cognitive decline, thereby helping those suffering from Alzheimer’s.
The 44,000-square-foot building hulks across from a police station in an industrial part of Denver, along a gritty stretch of converted warehouses that’s come to be known as the Green Mile. There’s nothing to indicate the nature of the enterprise. The door buzzes open, and I’m met by the chief horticulturist of Mindful, one of the largest cannabis companies in the world. A druidlike 38-year-old with keen blue eyes, Phillip Hague wears fatigues, hiking boots, and the incredulous grin of someone who—through a confluence of events he never imagined possible—has found his exact life’s calling.
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.
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“It can affect everything from emotion to pain to appetite to energy metabolism to brain function to even the immune system and inflammation,” says Hector Lopez, M.D., a consultant to PlusCBD Oil, one of the top-selling brands. “When you have a system that cross talks with all those pathways, then there are very few things the endocannabinoid system does not influence.”
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.
CBD oil has a wide range of effects on health and has been connected to a diverse number of health problems, ranging from migraines and stress to lack of appetite and sex drive. CBD oil has even been connected to reducing the risk of certain cancers, as well as reducing pain, improving the conditions of the heart, and helping people get a good night’s sleep. There are a number of ways to use CBD oil, depending on what you want relief from.
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In terms of cancer, the suggestion is to have three doses of CBD oil each day, and gradually increase the amount to 1 gram per day. The full treatment is believed to take 90 days. Please note that CBD oil is still illegal in many countries, but there is a significant amount of research being done on its medical applications, and a number of reputable sources have put out guides regarding the use of CBD oil for treatment of many diseases.
The case study notes that advanced chemotherapeutic agents had failed to control the blast counts (cells in the blood and bone marrow) in the patient and had devastating side effects that ultimately resulted in death. The cannabinoid therapy, on the other hand, had no toxic side effects and only psychosomatic properties, with an increase in the patient’s vitality.
Natural, legal and with no major side effects (so far), CBD is a marketer’s dream. Hemp-based health products are launching left, right and centre, cashing in while the research is in its first flush of hazy potential. As well as ingestible CBD (also sold as hemp or cannabis oils or capsules) the compound has become a buzzword among upmarket skincare brands such as CBD of London. Predictably, Gwyneth Paltrow is a proponent of the trend, and has said that taking CBD oil helps her through hard times: “It doesn’t make you stoned or anything, just a little relaxed,” she told one beauty website.
The list includes marijuana (undifferentiated by strain) and heroin. (While the federal government oversees marijuana research, marijuana use is regulated, in part, by state laws.) As a result, scientists who study the compound must follow a host of restrictive rules. Last year, responding to a request from several governors to change marijuana’s designation, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced that all cannabis would remain a Schedule 1 drug.
CBD, or canabidiol is an amazingly useful plant compound that is extracted from the cannabis plant. With volumes of medical science now at its back, this compound has been used effectively for a wide range of needs. These particularly wide-ranging applications are the result of its being a part of the “pleiotropic sedate” group. Compounds in this group are especially unique in their ability to affect and travel along many of the typically closed atomic pathways.
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.
Most acutely, the discomfort and stiffness I’d felt for months from a meniscus tear (confirmed by MRI) went away. The occasional twinges I had been getting on runs stopped. More significantly, what had been the tear’s near-constant presence in daily life, such as when getting up from sitting, has disappeared. For now I’ve postponed surgery on the tear. It’s impossible to know if CBD was the key factor in any of these changes. Still, at the end of the month I decided to keep taking CBD daily.
When exposed to air, warmth and light (especially without antioxidants), the oil loses its taste and psychoactivity due to aging. Cannabinoid carboxylic acids (THCA, CBDA, and maybe others) have an antibiotic effect on gram-positive bacteria such as (penicillin-resistant) Staphylococcus aureus, but gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli are unaffected.
Guzmán is a biochemist who’s studied cannabis for about 20 years. I visit him in his office at the Complutense University of Madrid, in a golden, graffiti-splotched building on a tree-lined boulevard. A handsome guy in his early 50s with blue eyes and shaggy brown hair tinged with gray, he speaks rapidly in a soft voice that makes a listener lean forward. “When the headline of a newspaper screams, ‘Brain Cancer Is Beaten With Cannabis!’ it is not true,” he says. “There are many claims on the Internet, but they are very, very weak.”
Some individuals have been found to have mutations on the CNR1 gene, which is responsible for coding the CB1 receptor (a type of receptor in cells throughout your body that interacts with cannabinoids). Issues with the CNR1 gene can ultimately result in a poorly functioning endocannabinoid system, which is an important variable when figuring out how to use CBD oil.
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