With all the hype surrounding the industry, it seems there are dozens of claims that CBD can fix almost any problem, mentally or physically. Whilst that's not exactly correct, I thought it would be a good idea to present some of the science behind the effects of CBD on the mental and physical state.
CBD is part of the cannabis sativa family of plants. Marijuana plants produce flower that is high in THC and low in CBD, whereas the hemp plant produces high CBD, low THC flower.
Both THC and CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body. This system is partly responsible for the regulation of stress, mood, inflammation and even sleep. Endogenous cannabinoids are already produced in the body (even in the absence of marijuana and hemp consumption). Every tissue in our body has cannabinoid receptors in it which perform a variety of functions specific to itself, but ultimately wants to maintain homeostasis - keeping everything running smoothly independent of fluctuations in the external environment.
The two receptors in the ECS are CB1 & CB2. CBD - which is a cannabinoid - binds to CB1 and CB2 at a much slower rate than THC, meaning you won't get high when you consume it. When these receptors are bound to the phytocannabinoids (from THC or CBD), an abundance of biochemical changes which curb any excess physiological activity. This is called 'retrograde signalling', an intracellular process that reduces inflammation, relaxes the muscles, dilates the bronchial passage and lowers blood pressure.
Animal studies have also shown that CBD is a potent antioxidant & anti-inflammatory agent. This makes sense as this is specifically the role of the ECS. Scientific data, however, is scarce when it comes to humans as the growth of hemp is still largely regulated worldwide, impacting the feasibility of human trials. What we do have an abundance of in the internet age is opinions. And as of 2021, you'll find hundreds of thousands - possibly even millions - of positive reviews and comments that revere CBD and what it has done to alleviate their pain and mental angst.
There are studies that exist that show extreme promise for pain patients; one study showed that of 97 opioid users who switched their opiates for 30mg CBD daily, 94% said their quality of life had improved and 53% reduced or completely eliminated opiate use altogether.
In the UK, there is currently one medically prescribed item with CBD & THC as the active ingredient. Sativex is an oromucosal spray used as an anti-spasticity agent in MS patients who have not responded to other medications. The availability of such a product on a prescribed basis is promising for the industry as a whole, particularly given some of the hurdles it has faced even as recently as last year in the form of the Novel Foods Act.
Conclusively, whilst we may have limited scientific data on the effects of CBD, there are now tens of millions of daily users who are reporting marked improvements in their ailments. Humans have consumed Marijuana as early as 2,500 years ago and evolved with the plant throughout human history.
In my opinion, it is only a matter of time before the regulatory floodgates open and CBD expands into medicine & physician's offices. It is apparent that our ECS physiology is analogous to phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant - that is, we are possibly designed to consume CBD, CBG, CBN, THC for improvements in our overall health.