Cannabinoids: THC, CBD, and Your Health
With medical and recreational marijuana coming into wider acceptance across the country, awareness of the health benefits of the hemp plant is on the upsurge.
As scientists discovered in 1992, we all came into this world bio-equipped with healing ingredients known as cannabinoids. As infants, we got our cannabinoids in breast milk. Throughout our lives, our bodies’ own endocannabinoid system (ECS) has played a major role in governing our sleep patterns, digestion, metabolism, and more. It regulates the body’s homeostasis, its ability to stay in balance.
Hemp has historically been considered a vital supplement to nature’s intrinsic wellness arsenal. Corporate greed outlawed the plant in the 1930s, making it unavailable to us. As a result, scientists are now finding that many Americans suffer a cannabinoid deficiency. This shortage of cannabinoids in our bodies may predispose us to migraines, fibromyalgia, IBS, Alzheimer’s, ALS, cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and auto-immune diseases.
Where Can We Get More Cannabinoids?
To date, 144 cannabinoids have been identified. Some can be found in fruits and vegetables, black pepper, rosemary, chocolate (cacao), and a variety of other plant sources. However, they are most plentiful in the hemp plant, which also contains other powerful therapeutic compounds, including terpenoids, flavonoids, plant waxes, and chlorophyll.
THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, is only one of the cannabinoids present in hemp. The other primary cannabinoid in hemp plants is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD’s health benefits are similar to those of THC.
How Do THC and CBD Differ?
1. THC gets you high; CBD doesn’t.
2. THC will show up in a drug test; CBD won’t.
3. THC is derived from the resinous buds of female plants, and to a lesser extent from the leaves; CBD is derived from the stalks and sterile seeds of all hemp plants, regardless of gender.
4. Plants cultivated for THC are typically short and wide; those cultivated for CBD are tall and narrow.
What Are THC and CBD Health Benefits?
1. Studies show that CBD and THC reduce the pain of arthritis, cancer, neuropathy, spasticity, headache, migraines, ALS, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, MS, post-operative and post-chemo recovery, and spinal cord injuries and diseases.
2. Both reduce damage to brain and nervous system and encourage growth of new hippocampus cells. They help prevent or limit progression of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, and other types of dementia.
3. Both help prevent bone breakdown and stimulate new bone growth. One study shows that CBD can significantly improve healing of bone fractures.
4. THC helps you fall asleep. CBD increases wakefulness, but taken early in the day it has been shown to later increase total sleep time.
5. THC can make you paranoid; CBD tends to reduce anxiety and emotional discomfort.
6. Because cannabinoids bring relief from pain, joint inflammation, insomnia, anxiety, constipation, and other conditions, they have allowed many to wean themselves off prescription drugs. One study showed that elderly patients taking CBD in an assisted living center cut back significantly on other pharmaceuticals.
7. CBD dramatically reduces seizures in pediatric epilepsy with no side effects.
What are the Legal Issues?
The legal issues are fuzzy. In 1937, our federal government defined all hemp as “marihuana,” regardless of its THC content, and made it illegal. Then the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (aka the Farm Bill) exempted anything derived from mature stalks or sterile seeds.
The 2014 Farm Bill defined “industrial hemp” as cannabis plants with less than 0.3 percent THC, distinct from marijuana. That bill made growing industrial hemp legal for research by institutions of higher learning and state agricultural departments.
Increasing numbers of American hemp farmers now grow CBD with less than 0.3 percent THC. Strictly speaking, being neither educational nor research institutions, their CBD does not meet the terms of the Farm Bill. But the Farm Bill applies only to plants grown in the US, so companies importing European hemp containing less than 0.3 percent THC claim that its sale here is 100% legal. They are probably correct.
For the moment, the federal statutes appear to be moot. Trump reluctantly signed spending legislation that reaffirms the states’ rights to make decisions in this matter. But he also attached a signing statement expressing his personal opposition to the measure as a possible “infringement on his constitutional authority.”
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to stiffen federal controls. But state officials are pressing the issue. In a recent Politico interview, California AG Xavier Becerra said, “Cannabis is last century’s argument. We’re beyond that…. I would love to see Jeff Sessions come to California and tell us we’re not going to move forward on cannabis….”
Choosing a CBD Source
To research CBD and THC sources, the logical place to go is Google. But logical doesn’t mean easy. Since neither of these in their natural state is considered a pharmaceutical, there is no FDA information to help you rate one source against another.
Mind, that may not be a bad thing. If they were classified as legal drugs, they would cost a lot more than they do now—and the best are already fairly expensive.
But it means you need to insist on apples-for-apples comparability.
Unfortunately, many companies don’t make that easy. A product labeled “CBD Oil” may contain other ingredients as well. If a bottle says “500mg” but doesn’t show the number of milligrams of each constituent, you have no basis for comparing CBD content. Look for a company that gives you a breakdown of ingredients by milligram.
Another thing to be aware of is that the number of milligrams listed on the front of the package reflects the container’s total content, not the amount per serving.
And if the fine print (usually on the back, if anywhere at all) says the bottle contains 125 mg. of CBD, then divide that by 30 to determine how much CBD you will get per day: in this case, 4.17mg.
Some CBD sites indulge in clouding the issues. They extol the strength of their CBD, as if some CBD were stronger than other CBD. No. CBD is CBD. They talk about whether it’s derived from hemp or from medical marijuana, as if that made a difference. It doesn’t. Again, CBD is CBD. The question is, how many milligrams do you get per serving?
Other Health Factors to Consider
Are the plants grown organically or using pesticides and herbicides? Hemp is a bioaccumulator, meaning that it readily absorbs whatever is sprayed on it or present in the soil. You should only take (or smoke, in the case of marijuana) organically grown product.
Does the product include the full range of hemp’s beneficial nutrients? Whole-plant formulations offer an “entourage effect” with benefits beyond the capacity of any single compound. Synthetic (pharmaceutical) CBD lacks this advantage, as does any truly pure CBD oil. One company has a patent pending on a whole-flower extraction process they claim ensures extraction of the plant’s wide range of nutrients.
How is the CBD extracted from the plant? Most companies employ chemical extraction. The down side is that the chemicals are absorbed into the product. Look for a company that uses no chemicals at all in its extraction process.
Do you need to pass drug tests? Do your research! You need CBD that contains no trace of THC. You won’t get the full entourage effect, but pure CBD itself has tremendous healing value.
Are you on a budget? A formulation low in CBD milligrams is going to be significantly less expensive than one containing larger amounts of CBD. If you only have $20, a low-milligram product will probably be better than nothing. If you can afford a higher-potency oil, you can find a far better value in terms of milligrams per dollar. (If you prefer to start with a lower dosage, why not take smaller servings of a high-potency oil and save by making it last longer?)
How Much CBD Do You Need?
Unfortunately, no one can tell you how much CBD you need. Since companies are forbidden by law to make healing claims, they can’t recommend a protocol for any particular health challenge. Of the few websites that venture to make dosage recommendations, most say to start with between four and twenty milligrams a day. But some reputable companies recommend starting with 25 or 50 mgs.
Whom to believe? Every body is different. One of the great things about CBD is, the worst side effect of a high dose is that it may make you drowsy. Listen to your body.
Just be aware. At least one local health food chain carries a brand that offers you only one or two milligrams of CBD per day! And they sell it for one-third of what you would spend for a brand offering you 50 milligrams a day.
Bottom line: Cannabinoids are natural healing aids you can most likely benefit from. You can’t overdose on them, so feel free to experiment to find what works for you. Be discerning in label reading.
Chiwah Slater is a Kannaway CBD distributor and best selling author, book coach, editor, book designer and publisher.
For info on CBD visit NewHealingSolutions.com
For a complementary CBD or authoring consultation, call Chiwah at 760-586-5392.