Cannabis has influenced human behavior centuries, and now it is at the center of one the most important recent discoveries in medical science. Researchers studying marijuana found the body has natural receptors for internal biological communication that utilize cannabinoids, chemical compounds found in Cannabis. Surprisingly, the body naturally creates cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids react with cannabinoid receptors in the body’s cells to modulate homeostasis, or the body’s overall balance. Together, they are called the Endocannabinoid System, playing a critical daily role in our health and well-being.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that are abundantly present in the cannabis plant. At least 80 individual cannabinoids have been isolated in the laboratory, and researchers suggest that more than 100 exit. The most widely-known cannabinoid is THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that process cognitive effects requiring marijuana to be listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.
One of the most-studied cannabinoids is Cannabidiol, or CBD. Preclinical research, much of it sponsored through government grants, indicate CBD, as a supplement to the body’s endocannabinoids, offers significant help in reducing pain and inflammation, improving sleep, increasing overall mood, aiding digestion and much more. It may also have neuroprotective properties that are valuable in stroke recovery.
CDB’s may even have possible use as a non-toxic cancer therapy. A preclinical study by Dr. Sean McAllister and his colleagues at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco reports that CBD destroys breast cancer cells by silencing, or down-regulating, the D-1 gene, which is associated with several types of cancers.
CBD and THC Synergy
McAllister’s studies claim the best results were obtained when CBD was accompanies by THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana. Several studies indicate the CDB/THC combination is particularly effective for peripheral neuropathy, a painful condition associated with cancer, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and similar neurodegenerative diseases. Clinical research in the UK has shown that combining CBD with THC is effective for pain management.
More research is needed, but clearly the scientific and medical communities are making rapid progress in determining the possible uses of CBD in maintaining health and helping treat a variety of disorders.