In the world of health and wellness, a compound called CBD is taking off. Often overshadowed by its psychoactive sister, the cannabinoid THC, CBD can be extracted from both cannabis and industrial hemp: low-THC-containing cannabis plants.
So why haven’t I heard of CBD before?
Cannabis Controversy Overshadowing the Plant’s Potential
Original discussions into cannabis centered on THC, but CBD is one of the over 80 other cannabinoids that are present in the plant. Headlines and news reports have long been fixated on scaremongering with the highs of cannabis, rather than its relaxing medicinal possibilities. Slowly, this stigma is changing, but information can still be difficult to access and often lacks a lot of clarity to help new consumers fully understanding CBD.
The legal question around the compound is slowly being quashed: hemp-based CBD products are legal in most of the world, with hemp plants also producing non-dairy milks, building materials and many other products for a wide variety of industries.
With this controversy and question of legality out of the way, we are now starting to see CBD as a supplement in its own right: without the cannabis label clouding the research into its potential benefits.
Medical Research Involving CBD is Now Increasing
Changing attitudes has brought CBD into the light. One of the most prominent changes of attitude is coming from the science community, with the increase in research on cannabis and hemp plants gaining more attention over the last few years.
Now, there is a limited amount of research on the cannabinoids that make up different species of the plants, and so it remains unclear what exactly most of them do. But, there are currently clinical studies that have taken off in the UK and US in regards to chronic pain and epilepsy, with Canada even advancing to prescribing CBD for multiple sclerosis (MS).
Research in the UK
One of the pivotal points in advancing CBD research was in the UK, where it was studied for use in cases of Dravet syndrome, a rare but severe epileptic condition that occurs in infants. Treatment with cannabidiol has seen the frequency of convulsive seizures per month decrease, and the both positive and supportive results have lead CBD to become prescribed as a natural remedy for the condition in the US. Furthermore, there are ongoing appeals from families of patients for the status to be upgraded in the UK, which would allow for CBD to be prescribed without any legal issues.
Research in the US
In the States, there has also been a debate around the use of CBD for chronic pain. Cannabis has been used as an alternative relief by chronic pain patients for decades, both legally and illegally. This has always been controversial with professionals, as they are hesitant to advocate the drug due to the psychoactive effects of THC. Eliminating this compound – or minimising its presence to less than 0.3% in CBD supplements, means the CBD functions without the psychoactive addition from THC.
The THC cannabinoid works by preventing the body from absorbing anandamide, one compound associated with regulating pain, and studies have shown that with an increase in the levels of anandamide in the bloodstream, a reduction in pain may be felt.
Legal Advancements in Canada
Currently in Canada, there is progressive legislation being made to legalise cannabis, including the whole plant and not just cannabidiol.
In 2005, CBD was legalised for its use in the treatment of central neuropathic pain in MS. For this treatment, it was combined with the controversial THC ingredient, as evidence suggests that cannabis oil containing both CBD and THC could work for some people with MS to help with pain and spasms. Later, this form was prescribed for intractable cancer pain, as well.
More recently, the Canadian Government passed the recreational legalization bill, which aims to become law on July 1, 2018; this will mean that all forms of CBD can be obtained without medical prescription and cannabis will be become legal for recreational use.
CBD Emerging into the Mainstream
Moving into the mainstream world of supplements and herbal remedies, some doctors are beginning to recognise CBD’s medical properties and prescribe CBD in forms of oils, capsules and gum. This natural supplement is beginning to see results, both in medical research and from consumer claims, in illnesses such as epilepsy, chronic pain and sleep disorders. But, given its controversial origins and general under-advancement in the research into the compound, CBD has remained outside of mainstream medicine until recent years.
With the increased media attention, scientific studies and the debate around the compounds legal status are slowly being resolved: CBD is being brought into the mainstream. The natural remedy is showing signs of benefitting health and wellness; the supplement accenting a healthy lifestyle and diet; and the oils aiding illnesses and ailments. The versatility of the substance as a lifestyle product, medicine or nutritional supplement has seen it navigate multiple industries: from the the cosmetic world to the realms of scientific research.
So, Why Haven’t I Heard of CBD?
Ultimately, until a recent spike in the development and access to CBD, you probably didn’t know about it because doctors were uncomfortable talking about it, or simply unable to prescribe it. For some time now, it has very much been teetering on fringe of medical research and health care supplements due to its association with cannabis.
The scaremongering and cannabis root of CBD create a stigma for the compound’s natural associations with the plant. Concerns about legality limiting the research into it and access to it are still present, but even this is slowly subsiding across the world with scientific research and trials progressing. Chances are, if you have heard of CBD before, even vaguely, it’s a result of one of these projects.
Recognising CBD as legal has, slowly, removed the fear factor of its use. The compound is now making its way into the mainstream, but the lack of access to information as well as countries’ and states’ vague guidelines on its legality unfortunately remain a huge hurdle in the ability to learn more about CBD, or even access it in the first place.
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