How Cannabidiol (CBD) Can Impact Your Health

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Photo by Petr Brož / CC BY 3.0

Cannabis sativa plant

What exactly is CBD (cannabidiol) and how is it different from marijuana? This article will explain the difference and review why CBD is important for healing and health.

Hemp and marijuana are Cannabis salvia plants containing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC and CBD are both cannabinoids. Marijuana has a high concentration of THC and lower levels of CBD. Hemp has high concentrations of CBD and low levels of THC. THC has psychoactive components making one feel high and euphoric. THC and CBD both have healing benefits but in many cases the patient wants to avoid the psychotropic effects of THC. Thus the emphasis on CBD.

In addition, research is showing that CBD offers many more medical applications than THC. There are a tremendous number of conditions that research shows are helped with CBD. A quick search on PubMed will bring up studies confirming this. Conditions that were studied with favorable results include:

  • Acne
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Addiction
  • AIDS
  • ALS
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anorexia
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Anxiety
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cancer
  • Colitis and Crohn’s
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Epilepsy and Seizures
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Heart disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Inflammation
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Mad Cow disease
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Migraine
  • Mood disorders
  • Motion sickness
  • MS
  • Nausea
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Obesity
  • OCD
  • Osteoporosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • PTSD
  • Rheumatism
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Skin conditions
  • Sleep disorders
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Stress
  • Stroke and TBI

It is apparent the applications for CBD are numerous and broad scoped. One area of investigation by the US government included oxidative associated diseases, such as ischemia (including stroke), inflammation, autoimmune issues, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and other age-related diseases. This research found that CBD was neuroprotective.

One of the more famous cases that brought CBD into the lime light was Charlotte Figi. She suffered from a rare form of epilepsy. After 5 years of trying every treatment doctors could think of, her condition continued to deteriorate. Her father found research that marijuana had helped other cases. They needed a strain of marijuana that was high in CBD and low in THC. This was no easy task but they finally found a source in Colorado. Charlotte’s condition improved immediately. She went from 300 seizures a week to not having any seizures in the first week of treatment. It was remarkable and life saving for Charlotte. The special strain of hemp that was developed which helped Charlotte is now called Charlotte’s Web.

In 2013 Dr. Sanjay Gupta produced a documentary for CNN called Weed. This documentary has three parts and is listed by title (Weed) on the FAIM website under Videos. It is a two hour piece that gives the history of hemp and marijuana and insightful information on the pros and cons of both.

CBD is now legal to use throughout the United States as a nutritional supplement. It has a physiological impact on the body by upregulating the genes that help calm inflammation and down regulating the genes that promote inflammation. CBD causes a balancing cascade throughout the central nervous system, immune system, nervous system, cardiovascular system and lymphatic system. The body naturally has an endocannabinoid system which is a network of cells that have cannabinoid receptor sites. We make our own cannabinoids during various activities like meditating, breast feeding, or the runners high that joggers experience. CBD, when taken as a nutritional supplement, participates in this endocannabinoid system bringing balance to the body.

CBDs help the body counteract the insult from toxins we experience daily from chemicals, bacteria, fungus, viruses and endotoxins in the gut. Inflammation from these toxins cause a large variety of diseases as well as inflammatory conditions in the central nervous system affecting the brain. This is why CBD has such great success in treating so many diseases.

There are many companies that are producing and marketing CBD so it is important to determine the quality prior to purchasing. CBD is derived from hemp which has been developed to contain high levels of CBD. Growers in the United States are regulated and appear to produce a much higher quality product than CBD that is imported from other countries. If you decide CBD could be helpful for your health, research the company carefully to ensure you are getting a high quality CBD.

For more information, watch Weed, a three-part video series with CNN's award-winning chief medical correspondent and neurosurgeon, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, or go to IwantmyCBD.org, or search the web for a great number of videos available.

About the Author

Dr. Joanne Quinn

Executive Director of the Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine

Joanne has an extensive background in science with a Ph.D. in Holistic Nutrition. She has studied both allopathic and alternative approaches to health care, studying alternative therapies since 1989. These include Neurotransmitters and Brain Chemistry with Apex, Iridology with Bernard Jensen, Rayid with Dennis Johnson, Dark Field Microscopy with GastonRead more