CBD – Hype or Hope?
Betz McKeown, HTP, INHC, CTCM
By now, almost everybody has read or heard about CBD, or cannabidiol, one of the non-psychoactive healing properties of the cannabis plant. There’s a lot of miseducation and misinformation out there that runs the gamut from ‘Miracle Plant’ to ‘Snake Oil’ and everything in between. But what is CBD exactly? What health issues can it help? And why and how does it work?
What Is CBD?
CBD is one of over 60 compounds found in cannabis sativa that belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids. Of these compounds, CBD and THC are usually present in the highest concentrations, and are therefore the most recognized and studied. CBD is a non-intoxicating component of the cannabis plant with enormous therapeutic potential. The research on CBD and various medical conditions is still in its infancy, but almost every preliminary study done on CBD concludes with the suggestion ‘warrants additional research.’
How Does CBD Work? (This is the science-y geeky stuff.)
Our bodies have several systems that regulate and run everything – from the digestive and respiratory systems to the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, among others. We also have an endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is composed of receptor cells including CB1 and CB2 that work lock-and-key with cannabinoids. In other words, we were born to ingest and process CBD. Some even suggest that CBD is an essential nutrient that we have been starved of for three generations, since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 effectively banned the use and sale of cannabis. Since that time, our ECS has atrophied, and we now find ourselves dealing with once uncommon, even previously unheard of, medical conditions that seem to present at ever younger ages.
The ECS is a key homeostatic regulator in the body, playing a role in almost every physiological system in the body in maintaining optimal health. For a long period of time it was overlooked as a possible therapeutic target, particularly because there was not much known about disease implications of the system. However, with the incredible success stories reported from the use of medicinal cannabis and hemp products, particularly cannabidiol (CBD), many researchers are shifting their focus onto the endocannabinoid system. In fact, a growing number of respected scientists in the medical community are studying the concept of Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome (CEDS – low levels of endocannabinoids) and the possibility that it may be the cause of many conditions including migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome.
CBD is the main active compound in hemp and unlike THC (which works specifically with the CB1 and CB2 receptors), it is not psychoactive, so it does not make you high. CBD, however, activates receptor cells like the vanilloid, adenosine, and serotonin receptors. Working through these other receptor cells, CBD plays a role in the mediation of body temperature, pain perception, and inflammation; provides anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects; releases dopamine, which is involved in cognition, motor control, motivation, and reward mechanisms, and glutamate, one of the mediators involved in memory, learning, and cognition; exerts anti-depressant effects; is involved in a series of processes from pain perception, appetite, nausea, and anxiety to sleep and addiction mechanisms; and decreases bone re-absorption and cancer cell proliferation.
Given the large number of diseases which have shown endocannabinoid abnormalities such as epilepsy, cancer, migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and a wide array of neurodegenerative diseases, it is an area which will undoubtedly be explored further in the future.
What Can CBD Help Heal?
CBD is causing quite a buzz among scientists, health professionals, and patients who are using CBD-rich products to treat a wide range of conditions. Academic research centers in the United States and elsewhere are currently studying the effects of CBD on these and other ailments. Scientists refer to CBD as a ‘promiscuous’ compound because it confers therapeutic benefits in many different ways while tapping into how we function physiologically, biologically, and psychologically on a deep level.
CBD’s healing properties include:
- Anti-ischemic (reduces risk of artery blockage)
- Anti-proliferative (inhibits cancer cell growth)
- Bone stimulant
- Axiolytic (relieves anxiety)
- Analgesic (relieves pain)
- Intestinal anti-prokinetic (reduces contractions in the small intestine)
So, what does this mean in real terms of your health? Preliminary research suggests, and anecdotal studies and clinical successes show that CBD addresses medical conditions as diverse as systemic inflammation (rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, etc.), Types 1 and 2 diabetes, artherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, hypertension, neuropathy, migraines, cancer (as well as side effects of cancer treatments), insomnia, opioid dependence and other addictions, weight loss and cravings, stress, anxiety, PTSD, depression, asthma, COPD, blood sugar regulation, allergies, and so much more.
Not all CBD products are created equal. According to a research study conducted by Penn Medicine and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017, a full 69% of the products sold online were mislabeled. If you’re interested in learning more about high quality, full spectrum, non-GMO, pesticide-free, CO2 extracted, independent lab tested CBD products and how they might help you, your family, even your pets, I would be happy to talk with you. Please feel free to contact me:
Betz McKeown, HTP, INHC, CTCM, is an Energy Alchemist, Transformation Coach, and Spiritual Direction Guide who works with her clients in private practice in Kernersville, NC, at Wake Forest Baptist Health’s Center for Integrative Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, and virtually/remotely with clients around the world.