Back pain can be extremely debilitating, and it’s understandable if you want to steer clear of pharmaceutical painkillers in favor of something a little more natural. That’s what makes this Green Label Raw CBD Oil from Herbal Renewals so special. Available in three sizes, it’s a potent concentrate that gets to work in around fifteen minutes, and it can last for up to twelve hours, bringing real relief to back aches.
We’re standing in a laboratory greenhouse on the campus of the University of Colorado Boulder looking at ten hemp plants that Kane recently procured for research purposes. They’re spindly, stalky little things, like gangling teenagers, a far cry from the lascivious crop that Hague had shown me. These plants, like nearly all hemp varieties, carry extremely low levels of THC.
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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.
The cost of treatment varies: Depending on the dispensary and the dosage, it can range from around $100 a month to more than $1,000. Despite the cost, which is not covered by insurance, CBD medicines are drawing great interest for children with severe, intractable epilepsy. California and Colorado, which were among the first states to legalize medical marijuana, have become hot spots for such patients. Before other states legalized medicinal CBD use, some families moved to these states so they could have access to the compound.
 S. Maione, F. Piscitelli, L. Gatta, D. Vita, L. De Petrocellis, E. Palazzo, V. de Novellis, and V. Di Marzo, “Non-psychoactive Cannabinoids Modulate the Descending Pathway of Antinociception in Anaesthetized Rats through Several Mechanisms of Action,” British Journal of Phramacology 162, no. 3 (2011): 584. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01063.x.
When pain is localized, topical products can be applied. These can be made using CBD-dominant cannabis as well as THC strains. Topicals affect the cells near application and through several layers of tissue but do not cross the blood-brain barrier and are, therefore, not psychoactive. These may be available as CBD oils, ointments, salves, or other forms, and with varying ratios of CBD and THC (a ratio of 1:1 is often recommended as ideal for skin application). The skin has the highest amount and concentration of CB2 receptors in the body.
The label of this CBD oil tincture was not as easy to read as other products. Palmetto Harmony’s hemp is grown in Kentucky. This family operated business began when CBD offered unique benefits to their ailing child, Harmony. In addition tinctures, they offer topicals, capsules, pet products and even transdermal CBD patches. This tincture was selected by our friends at Anavii Market.
There's also the question of CBD's legality – something that's a lot grayer than the black-and-white picture most companies paint. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration considers CBD, like all cannabinoids, a schedule 1 drug. That means it's just as illegal as heroin and ecstasy. Meanwhile, hemp – a variety of the cannabis plant regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – is legal , so long as its THC content is negligibly low. But because the agriculture department doesn't test for CBD – only THC – in hemp, more companies are getting away with selling products they say contain CBD, says Sara Jane Ward, an assistant professor of pharmacology at the Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine who's been studying CBD in rodent models for more than 10 years. Needless to say, the legality of CBD is "very confusing and very gray," she says.
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In relation to sleep apnea, a 2002 animal study observed the ability of THC to restore respiratory stability by modulating serotonin signaling and reducing spontaneous sleep-disordered breathing. In 2013 a trial using the pharmaceutical drug dronabinol, a synthetic THC mimic, noted improvements in fifteen out of seventeen study participants following twenty-one days of treatment.
THC, an intoxicating and illegal substance, is responsible for causing marijuana users to get “high.” Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive because it does not act on the same pathways as THC. Thus, it is impossible to get “high” by smoking or ingesting CBD or CBD oil extracted from industrial hemp plants, as they only have minuscule traces of THC (<0.3%).
Hemp oil cold pressed from hemp seeds grown in Canada. This hemp oil is also from an industrial hemp variety of Cannabis sativa which doesn’t require herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. Hemp oil is considered to be very nutritious with an ideal profile of omega 3 and 6, but the main purpose for it being in our blend is to have a base oil to emulsify the hemp extract into.
Cannabinoids are facilitative of the process of bone metabolism—the cycle in which old bone material is replaced by new at a rate of about 10 percent per year, crucial to maintaining strong, healthy bones over time. CBD in particular has been shown to block an enzyme that destroys bone-building compounds in the body, reducing the risk of age-related bone diseases like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. In both of those diseases, the body is no longer creating new bone and cartilage cells. CBD helps spur the process of new bone-cell formation, which is why it has been found to speed the healing of broken bones and, due to a stronger fracture callus, decrease the likelihood of re-fracturing the bone (bones are 35–50 percent stronger than those of non-treated subjects).
“This is a really powerful compound,” says Mikhail Kogan, the medical director of the George Washington University Center for Integrative Medicine. “I’ve seen it work for a lot of my patients.” He prescribes high-CBD strains of cannabis regularly for such illnesses as epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, autoimmune disorders, autism and insomnia.
One of the biggest players in this new industry is Medical Marijuana, Inc., a company formed in 2009 that operates out of Poway, California, just north of San Diego. It has played a leading role in the so-called Green Rush, as businesses have moved quickly to capitalize on the gradual legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes by states across the country. The company’s spokesman, Andrew Hard, boasted that Medical Marijuana, Inc., “created the CBD industry and was first to market with CBD products.” Through its various subsidiaries, Medical Marijuana, Inc. sells some of the most recognizable products on the cannabis market— everything from Cibaderm CBD-infused shampoo to CanChew chewing gum. In 2014, the company generated $14.5 million in revenue.
Despite the fact that marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, companies like HempMedsPx claim their CBD products are legal in all 50 states. According to a legal opinion written by Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s attorney and submitted to the New Republic, “HempMedsPx’s CBD hemp oil, containing naturally occurring CBD and miniscule amount of THC, is exempted from the definition of marijuana, is not a controlled substance, complies with the Controlled Substances Act, and is legal on the federal level.” The opinion is based in large part on a 2004 court ruling which allowed the importation of hemp food products derived from the mature stalks of cannabis plants.
“It is important to remember that CBD benefits and improves the activity in the endocannabinoid system by increasing the time anandamide works on the CB1 and CB2 receptors,” writes Dr. Michael Moskowitz. “Anandamide works on the serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine systems. It also works on the GABA-glutamate system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Its main role is restoring balance through inhibition when levels are too high and enhancement when they are too low. This is the most likely reason phytocannabinoids in general and CBD specifically are able to regulate depression and anxiety.”
At least one benefit of CBD is well-supported by science: It can be effective in treating children with rare, genetic seizure disorders. Adults, children and even animals with epilepsy have been shown to benefit from the chemical too, the World Health Organization reports. There's also some evidence that CBD can help with anxiety, says Dr. Robert Carson, an assistant professor of neurology and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University who focuses on children with epilepsy. "In children, especially those with autism spectrum disorders, this may manifest as improved interactions with others," he says. Other preliminary research shows CBD holds promise for conditions including Alzheimer's disease, cancer, psychosis and Parkinson's disease – and is pretty much impossible to abuse or become addicted to, WHO says.
Topical solutions also vary greatly in potency. For example, Prevail Botanical’s salve contains 1,000 milligrams of CBD in 2.2 ounces. Floyd’s of Leadville cream has 700 milligrams in a 30-gram (1.05 ounce) container. These deliver higher amounts of CBD than other topicals I tried, such as PlusCBD’s balm (100 milligrams in 1.3 ounces) and Medterra’s cream (750 milligrams in 3.4 ounces). Remember, more isn’t necessarily better.
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.)
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In the apparent rush to accept weed into the mainstream, to tax and regulate it, to legitimize and commodify it, important questions arise. What’s going on inside this plant? How does marijuana really affect our bodies and our brains? What might the chemicals in it tell us about how our neurological systems function? Could those chemicals lead us to beneficial new pharmaceuticals?
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.
For patients suffering from seizures, the legalization of cannabis would be a decisive turning point. Epilepsy makes you desperate. Seizures are painful, sometimes debilitating. And then there are the aftershocks: broken teeth, bruises and cuts, lost time, humiliation. People with epilepsy are often depressed, and have more than double the suicide rate of the population at large. Epilepsy is also associated with a syndrome known as Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, wherein a previously healthy person with epilepsy simply dies without warning or explanation. Grinding on without relief isn’t an option, but getting help is enormously expensive. Research conducted by Charles Begley, a professor of public health at the University of Texas, found that epilepsy treatment costs between $8,500 and $11,000 per year. Real Scientific Hemp Oil is no less expensive than its pharmaceutical counterparts, with no assistance from insurance. A single three-gram vial costs $149, while a six-pack of 10-gram tubes can cost $1,999 (or $1,599 on sale). HempMedsPx suggests a “serving size” of 0.5 ml twice daily. Only when these drugs are recognized as such will insurance pick up the tab.
Cannabidiol is insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents such as pentane. At room temperature, it is a colorless crystalline solid. In strongly basic media and the presence of air, it is oxidized to a quinone. Under acidic conditions it cyclizes to THC. The synthesis of cannabidiol has been accomplished by several research groups.
 M. H. N. Chagas, A. L. Eckeli, A. W. Zuardi, M. A. Pena-Pereira, M. A. Sobreira-Neto, E. T. Sobreira, M. R. Camilo, M. M. Bergamaschi, C. H. Schenck, J. E. C. Hallak, V. Tumas, and J. A. S. Crippa, “Cannabidiol Can Improve Complex Sleep-Related Behaviours Associated with Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behaviour Disorder in Parkinson’s Disease Patients: A Case Series,” Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics 39 (2014): 564–566. doi:10.1111/jcpt.12179.
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