Scientists have known for years that certain compounds within the hemp plant are wellness superfoods. But more recently, we’re discovering that these compounds called cannabinoids are powerful new tools in our fight for wellness!
CBD & Other Cannabinoids
Scientists have known for years that certain compounds within the hemp plant are wellness superfoods. But more recently, we’re discovering that these compounds called cannabinoids are powerful new tools in our fight for wellness! But, before we can talk about the potential therapeutic effects, we need to first understand where cannabinoids originate, and how they work in our bodies. Let’s dive in.
What is cannabis? And, how does hemp fit into the conversation?
Cannabinoids come from the cannabis plant family, which includes marijuana and hemp. However, the two forms of the cannabis plant have different properties and are used very differently. The first written evidence of using hemp as medicine dates back to 2737BC in China, where topical hemp oils and teas were developed for pain relief. There are many other records throughout history – Ancient Greeks, Romans, Middle Eastern, and in India – of people using cannabis plants, including hemp, as medicine. Different from marijuana in its function and application, scientists across the world continue to explore how compounds that come from hemp can positively impact the body. So when we talk about modern uses of cannabinoids today, including CBD, we’re talking primarily about the hemp plant.
What are cannabinoids?
So how do cannabinoids work? Researchers tell us there are dozens – if not hundreds – of plant cannabinoids are produced by hemp plants. Two of the most well-known cannabinoids are – delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD. And, while the cannabis plant does produce some CBD, it does not produce nearly as much as the hemp plant. That’s why most commercially-produced CBD products are hemp-derived. In addition to THC and CBD, other related cannabinoid acids that are produced in hemp plants are:
- CBG (Cannabigerol)
- CBN (Cannabinolic acid)
- CBC (Cannabichromene)
How does CBD work within our bodies?
So, how do our bodies accept cannabinoids, including CBD? First and foremost, the human body is miraculous. Did you know that we actually produce certain cannabinoids on our own?! We have two primary receptors for CBD built into our Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which is responsible for our immune system, regulating hormones, etc. These central CBD receptors are called CB1 and CB2. Receptors are essentially a group of specialized cells that convert energy from both external and internal environments into electrical impulses (Britannica).
Scientists once believed that external CBD sources attached themselves to CB1 and CB2 to send messages throughout the body and promote wellness. Research is ongoing, but today scientists believe that CBD does not directly connect to either receptor, but instead, it sends the messages to the body to stimulate both receptors and use more of its own cannabinoids! (Medical News Today). In a word – amazing.
By triggering the release of our production of cannabinoids, scientists are finding that our bodies can improve the function of critical systems – muscular, immune, circulatory, nervous system, and more.
Patients have experienced positive results in treating seizures, anxiety, pain, inflammation, bacteria, and much more.
When you see CBD oils on the store shelves or online, the oils contain various concentrations of CBD and often other active compounds. Individuals are reporting many therapeutic uses to treat a variety of health issues using CBD. One example is Epidiolex, a purified form of CBD oil, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2018 with a very favorable side effect profile for treating two types of epilepsy (Medical News). Scientists and individuals have also found many other positive therapeutic effects of using CBD (Healthline):
- Controlling seizures
- Treating anxiety and depression
- Providing pain relief
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving sleep
Antibacterial properties – including hand sanitizers
Labs are studying the antibiotic potential of cannabinoids, and are excited about the results! Scientists believe these antibiotic or insecticidal properties exist because cannabis plants produce these compounds to defend themselves, first and foremost. Researchers can then leverage these compounds to fight bacteria. A team of researchers at McMaster University have found that the cannabinoid called cannabigerol (CBG) is not only antibacterial, but it’s also shown effective at treating a resilient form of bacteria known as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in mice. (Science Daily).
“CBG proved to be marvelous at tackling pathogenic bacteria,” Brown said. “The findings suggest real therapeutic potential for cannabinoids as antibiotics.” – Eric Brown, professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster (Science Daily).
What should I know when taking CBD?
It’s important to note that CBD is completely legal at the federal level – products have less than .3% THC. And, there are only three remaining states that have not fully recognized CBD as legal: Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Most CBD products often contain other active compounds and are not regulated by the FDA. That’s why experts agree it’s essential to consult with a medical professional to assess the risks and determine the correct dosage for using CBD treatments.
CBD-based products contain CBD and often other active compounds, which are produced in many forms, such as soft gel capsules. Other forms of CBD are tinctures, usually taken by putting a few drops under the tongue. Many CBD products can also be mixed into different foods or drinks. Another option is a lotion or a thick paste that is massaged into the skin.
Just the beginning
CBD and other cannabinoids are proving to be one of the most promising superfoods of our generation. So far, researchers believe these compounds are helping deliver positive therapeutic effects and treat a wide range of health ailments. And as research into CBD and other cannabinoids continue, we hope to learn even more about the impacts on our lives and well-being.