Editors Note: This is a guest post.
Marijuana, also known as Cannabis, is a psychoactive drug derived from the Cannabis plant. As you probably already know, Marijuana is mostly used recreationally but is being researched on more and more every day to be used as medicine. The effects of marijuana can be felt from smoking it, vaporizing it, putting it in food, or using it as an extract.
In almost all countries, it is considered an illegal substance. In fact, it is actually only legal within four countries and 11 states of the U.S with 33 states allowing it for medicinal use.Cannabis can provide medical uses which lies within the chemicals found in it, these chemicals are called cannabinoids. There are two main cannabinoids, which are THC and CBD. The focus will be on CBD but it’s good to know the differences between the two cannabinoids and what the benefits are.
THC and CBD
On the molecular level, THC and CBD have the exact same structure but the difference is how the atoms themselves are laid out. The differing arrangements have vastly different effects on your body while also being chemically similar to your body’s endocannabinoids. The chemical similarity allows interaction between the cannabinoids and your cannabinoid receptors.
The main difference between THC and CBD is psychoactivity or how much the chemical affects the mind. THC is very psychoactive and therefore gives the “high” that THC is known for. CBD is the opposite of this as it is not at all psychoactive. It can actually even disrupt the connection of THC to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain which ends up weakening how much THC affects the brain.
As for use in medicine goes, THC and CBD offer many of the same benefits. But the main difference between the two is that THC offers a sense of euphoria while CBD does not. As for side-effects, CBD has minimal effects, even in large doses. The same cannot be said for THC but its side-effects are still mild. It also should be noted that neither compound is fatal. However, THC can affect the growth of the mind in children and teenagers.
CBD and CBD Oil
CBD stands for cannabidiol and as mentioned, is the second most prevalent component of marijuana. Despite that, it is also directly derived from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of cannabis. And to reiterate, CBD is not a psychoactive chemical and therefore will not cause a “high.” According to the World Health Organization, it shows no indication of having abuse or dependency potential.
In the United States, its exact legal status isn’t definite, all 50 states have legalized CBD under certain restrictions while the federal government carries CBD in the same class as marijuana. In 2015, the FDA eased restrictions on it allowing researchers to conduct trials on it. The government’s position on CBD is confusing but CBD is readily available online without the need for a license.
One form that CBD can be acquired in is as an extract known as CBD oil. This oil is said to have wide-ranging medical benefits from aiding in seizures to helping with anxiety. And while there certainly is not enough evidence to say without a doubt this is all true, there still is some truth in the claims.
A promising benefit found in early research of CBD is its capacity to aid in mental health such as reducing the effects of both anxiety and depression. It’s unclear how CBD directly affects the brain by interacting with the cannabinoid receptors but it is generally thought to alter serotonin signals. This is important because serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that plays a role in mental health.
Serotonin is a chemical naturally produced in the body and has a wide range of functions. Serotonin can be referred to as the happy chemical due to how it contributes to your wellbeing and general happiness. In addition to that, it also helps to regulate the body’s sleep cycle and the body’s circadian rhythm.
Having low levels of serotonin is associated with those who have depression and having low enough serotonin can lead to anxiety. However, the association between serotonin levels and depression is unclear. The question being whether serotonin levels cause depression or if depression causes serotonin levels to drop.
Despite that, anxiety is generally treated with SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors but SSRIs are only available by prescription. It’s possible that CBD can do what SSRIs can without the nasty side-effects of prescription medicine. However, since the research in the field isn’t thorough enough, nothing is definitive.
As just mentioned, there isn’t enough research in the field to make any definitive statements. What is definitive, however, is that there is some correlation to CBD usage and the reduction of anxiety. This is shown by a study that stated those with a social anxiety disorder who received CBD had overall reduced anxiety levels as compared to those who received a placebo.
The more research that is done on CBD, the more benefits and side-effects that can be found from it. And the more research that is done can also fine-tune the benefits that are already known. Essentially making it possible to decide the dosage specific to a particular patient with more accuracy in turn making CBD more effective without the need to deal with severe side-effects.
CBD and Medicine
While CBD has the potential to treat a wide range of illnesses and ailments, one concerning aspect of it is how it interacts with other medications. An epilepsy study observed heightened blood levels of those on anti-epileptic drugs while also being on CBD. What this means is that changes in dosage will need to be made if both medications are used in tandem. It also raises the question of if CBD is safe to use with other medications no matter the dosage.
CBD and Anxiety
Overall, CBD is a new medicine that is being researched on more and more with each passing day. The effects that CBD has will be more understood as well as how to properly utilize it. Currently, there is a correlation between CBD usage and a reduction in anxiety. It’s probable that CBD affects serotonin levels thus reducing the effects of anxiety without having severe side-effects, consequently, potentially it is better than current SSRIs.