image by: Cierra Hernandez
You don't have to wander too far afoot to find someone who will swear that CBD oil has improved the quality of life and lessened the pain. How reliable, however, are these claims? - Shilo Zylbergold
Is all the buzz about this wonder drug really on the up and up? Will it revolutionize medicine the way that penicillin and Salk's vaccine for polio did in the last century? Or is it just an over-hyped fad med product that will go the way of leech sucking therapy when all the commotion dies down? Before we get too high on this magic elixir/panacea/cure-all, let's first take a closer look at what CBD oil is exactly.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, one of about a hundred chemical components found in the cannabis plant. In actuality, our bodies are able to naturally produce these cannabinoid compounds known as endocannabinoids. Most of us have long been familiar with THC (tetrahydrocannabino), the psychoactive "bad boy" ingredient which is responsible for the stoned feeling obtained from smoking or ingesting the weed. More recently, we have been introduced to CBD, the "altar boy" non-psychoactive component which is reaping praise universally for all the benefits it is bestowing on the sick and infirm.
How do these compounds affect us? The cells in our bodies contain specialized receptors for processing cannabinoids. The receptors found mainly in the brain are called CB1 receptors and are affected primarily by THC. The chemical reactions that result are what produce the "high". The other receptors are called CB2 and are found in other types of cells but mainly in the digestive and immune systems. Although the process by which CBD combines with both types of receptors remains a mystery, we know there is some kind of indirect process by which our cells can interact with CBD oil. As a result, CBD oil is able to calm the nervous system and alleviate stress especially in those parts of the body that register pain.
What kind of benefits are we talking about here? CBD proponents claim that the oil moderates all kinds of pain, anxiety, and inflammatory conditions. Testimonials abound for its healing qualities for everything ranging from acne to cancer and everything in between. Hordes of people laud the oil for helping them lose weight while just as many, probably, give credit to CBD for aiding them in gaining weight. Who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?
Anecdotally, you can hear these claims everywhere. You don't have to wander too far afoot to find someone who will swear that CBD oil has improved the quality of life and lessened the pain. How reliable, however, are these claims? Are the claims backed by science and clinical trials? Or, on the other hand, is CBD just a modern version of the potions hawked by snake oil salesmen at carnies and state fairs at the turn of the last century?
According to Medical Marijuana Inc., a corporation supporting research involving the study of CBD and its use as a medical tool, there have been over 23000 papers published on the medicinal use of the cannabidiol oil. This is all very encouraging, except for the slight detail that almost all of the studies are termed "preclinical", which means that they have not yet been clinically tested on humans. In essence, these tests have been restricted to laboratory test tubes and mice. Even disregarding the possible placebo effect on many of these studies, it takes a giant leap of faith to jump from pain-free lab mice to suffering humans. Put that in your CBD oil pipeline and smoke it.
There is, however, an exception. One study in the UK lends optimism to CBD oil claims. In children displaying epileptic symptoms, specifically those with Davet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, trials with Epidiolex, a medical grade CBD oil, reduced seizures by 40%. Even though there were some children who did not respond at all to the drug, the results are still encouraging.
Like any other drug or pharmaceutical, CBD oil has its drawbacks. Among reported side effects are fatigue, diarrhea, and changes in appetite. It can affect liver enzymes which can cause the body to become lethargic and gain weight. It may not give you a case of the "munchies", but the result may be essentially the same as what happens to your appetite when you ingest too much THC.
Another problem arises from the misrepresentation of the amount of CBD actually found in a bottle of CBD oil. Although 31% of labels list the correct amount in the bottle, 26% give you less than you think you're getting, and a full 42% give you more. Furthermore, some of the bottles of CBD oil tested even contained amounts of the psychoactive THC. Perhaps, that would translate to a cheaper "high", but it may not be exactly what consumers are looking for. Instead of a night of CBD relief from insomnia, they may be getting an all-nighter THC deluxe stoner delight.
One last issue that needs to be discussed is the legality of the product. According to Medical Marijuana Inc., CBD oil is legal everywhere. I don't think you would be considered overly prudent, if you double-checked your state and provincial laws before ordering a keg of the good stuff. Remember, as seen in some of the mislabeling of tested bottles of CBD oil, there may traces of that "bad boy" THC that has somehow infiltrated the goods. Certainly nothing worth getting busted for.
And so, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of CBD oil. There is still much research that needs to be done before we know one way or the other. For the time being, the CBD oilfields are on standby.
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