The Different Uses and Applications of CBD
04/03/2019 | By George Stantchev, Ph.D.
There are over 100 different cannabinoids in the marijuana plant. Scientifically known as cannabis sativa, the plant is generally associated with two molecules, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). Among the most abundant of the chemical compounds is CBD, which may account for almost half of the plant’s extracts.
When the compounds are separated, each has properties that are beneficial in many aspects, namely, a person’s health. THC has psychoactive properties that can impact the central nervous system and alter perception, cognition, and emotion. CBD, however, does not have psychoactive properties, but rather medicinal characteristics. Traditionally, the drug has been used in different treatments, such as muscle spasms and pain. As the movement to legalize marijuana strengthens, scientists continue to study its effects and properties, thus adding to an already abundant body of literature.
CBD, Anxiety, and Sleep
People experiencing anxiety often present symptoms that include pressure in the chest, increased pulse, respiratory problems, and shortness of breath. One of the studied properties of cannabidiol is that it activates adenosine receptors in the body, which are well-known to produce an anxiolytic effect. The result is the lowering of the symptoms caused by anxiety where a person using the substance will undergo cardiovascular regulation that normalizes oxygen consumption and coronary blood flow. The adenosine receptors also help regulate brain functions, including those associated with the dopamine neurotransmitter, which is is primarily responsible for the sensation of pleasure and affecting other areas of health including sleep, mood, movement, and memory.
The interaction of the substance with these receptors helps reduce the negative effects of anxiety, which include insomnia. The same properties that reduce the symptoms of anxiety help improve the quality of sleep in individuals. Although THC has similar properties that help individuals with insomnia, the fact that CBD is not psychoactive allows users to mix the drugCBD supplement with other activities including exercise, reading, or watching television. The mixture can further help improve sleep patterns in individuals without creating a reliance.
CBD’s Antidepressant Properties
The body’s central nervous system contains brain cells called neurons that oversee the functions of the brain. These cells have proteins called receptors that block or allow the entry of substances to the cell’s interior. Each protein specializes in specific neurotransmitters, including a receptor called 5-HT which is activated by serotonin, a compound that plays a role in anxiety and depression. The family of serotonin receptors, 5-HT1A, merges with CBD and creates an antidepressant effect by inhibiting the receptor and producing a result similar to other antidepressants in the market, only without the negative side effects they typically cause.
Topical Uses and Hemp Oil Extracts
The skin helps protect the body against bacteria and other elements, and is the first line of defense against external threats. As such, it is the largest organ of the body. CBD, with its antioxidant properties, has a topical use and can help the body protect against damaging UV rays and environmental pollutants. CBD oil and extracts can be applied directly to the skin to relieve inflammation, help with the healing of wounds, alleviate rashes and itches, and reduce the negative effects of irritants. Furthermore, such use produces localized relief that avoids the need to consume the substance as an edible or inhale smoke into the lungs.
The reason that CBD is effective in helping the skin protect against external ailments is that the body has its own cannabinoid receptors that are part of the endocannabinoid system. Therefore, the molecule interacts with receptors in the skin providing users with the ability to treat different conditions. Several scientific studies have concluded that cannabinol can be effective in the treatment of such disorders. One such study, published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment, concluded that hempseed oil was successful in treating the symptoms of dermatitis. In this study, researchers used a single-blinded crossover research design to reach their conclusions.
Smoking and the Use of Edibles
The use of methods that involve the introduction of foreign substances into the lungs, such as smoking, poses a health risk. Researchers who published a study in the Canadian Journal of Respiratory Therapy concluded that the heavy use of inhaled cannabis produces respiratory issues and symptoms of bronchitis, included coughing. Although scientists agree that absorption through the lungs will produce the quickest effect, the byproduct of combustion can lead to other medical problems, as the lungs are not designed to inhale smoke. Therefore, edibles have become a popular alternative for CBD. This type of absorption avoids any respiratory irritation and other negative effects of smoking while providing users with the relief that the drug offers.
Among the positive aspects of edibles is that the molecule will have a longer lasting effect. The reason is that the compound must be digested by the body, which provides the perfect format for some medical uses that require a gradual and steady release. Furthermore, different varieties of edibles will produce a different rate of release. Cookies and brownies, which need to pass through the entirety of the digestive tract, provide a longer lasting effect given the amount of time that it takes the body to break down the food. Hard candy, on the other hand, is digested faster, thus providing quicker relief. Furthermore, edibles provide an easier way to measure dosage, giving doctors and users more control. Other methods, including sublingual applications, can provide patients with options that avoid smoke while also enhancing the speed of relief. With the varying types of absorption mechanisms, users can talk to medical professionals about the pros and cons of each method, and create a plan that best fits their specific need.
Further Uses and Studies
One area scientists and researchers are actively working on is in the anticarcinogen characteristics of CBD. The molecule has apoptotic properties when interacting with cancer cells, and some studies show promising results when treating breast and prostate cancer. Nevertheless, most of the studies are in laboratory settings and are still in their early stages. Another area where the drug is showing positive results is in the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Other uses, including reducing the side effects of chemotherapy or the treatment of HIV, have been around for some time and are in more advanced stages of research. In these cases, CBD has been proven effective in reducing nausea and stimulating appetite.
The Tolerance of CBD by the Human Body
The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that CBD is safe for human consumption and that the human body tolerates the compound in its pure form. There is no evidence that the drug poses a risk for intoxication or overdose. Nevertheless, the safety of CBD and any other cannabis-related product will depend heavily on how companies manufacture different products, including oils and edibles. The quality will also depend on farming and extraction practices. It is vital for those looking to purchase such products to take the reputation of the company into account and consider any other ingredients used in the production. Responsible companies will list the components of the product and will be transparent in the production process.