Cannabidiol, most commonly referred to as CBD, is a cannabinoid that possesses an extensive array of virtues. While its effects on the human body are still being studied, it is predicted that they will soon change the medical world for the better.
Over 400 compounds make up cannabis
Terms like Tetrahydrocannabinol, Cannabidiol, Cannabichromene, and Cannabielsoin might sound particularly bizarre and way beyond the scientific comprehension of most. However, they are part of the 483 identifiable chemicals that one can count in an endlessly fascinating wonder known under names like "Cannabis", "Marijuana", "Hemp", or even "Weed".
Most of the compounds that hemp comprises would be concentrated in the flowers blooming from female plants. And surprisingly, only 61 out of the presently known 483 chemicals happen to be Cannabinoids - substances that are found exclusively in the plant in question. Some of the non-cannabinoid chemicals that can be found in other sources than in Cannabis would be amino acids, proteins, hydrocarbons, and even enzymes, amongst a plethora of others… With all of this in mind, hemp can definitely be deemed as being very complex in nature. It is therefore not surprising that new knowledge surrounding the botanical specimen is being unraveled from scientific grounds every year. The constituting compounds - some of which can even have opposite effects - are indeed so numerous that there is always a new characteristic to add to the plant's never-ending list of virtues.
The effects of each of the chemicals in hemp have not yet been studied to a full extent because of the numerous international restrictions existing around the drug. Hence, the consequences following Cannabis consumption are, for the most part, unpredictable. However, the research that has been conducted over the past decades has been able to garner enough information for scientists to conclude that hemp might, in fact, regroup qualities that would be beneficial to the world of medicine. The plant might be mostly known for the psychoactive effects that it induces because of its Tetrahydrocannabinol/THC concentration, but it indeed has curing and alleviating capabilities thanks to another of its compounds: Cannabidiol/CBD. CBD might not be as popular as THC, but it has indeed been contributing to the well-being of myriads of people around the world, and that, for more than thousands of years already!
Cannabis has traveled extensively across geography and time
Marijuana never seems to go out of fashion or to be ruled out from medical discussions. Taking it from experiences ranging from your father's stories to those accounted for by your probable pharaonic ancestor's history, it seems that cannabis has never stopped to heal bodies and to appease minds alike. After all, hemp pollen was indeed discovered in the wrappings of Ramsesses II's mummified remains in 1995!
Cannabis was known in ancient Asia
Cannabis has been used throughout history for recreational, nutritional, and medicinal purposes, but it is always quite startling to learn that its first use might actually be traced back to about 10 000 years ago! The initial consumers would be the Taiwanese, who are said to have used hemp seeds as a source of food. It would even be possible that they had picked up on the medical virtues of Cannabis as well, considering that Chinese Emperor and Pharmacist Shen Nung - also known as the father of Chinese medicine - eventually wrote about the use of Cannabis in the Asiatic region, circa the 27th century B.C.E. The latter would himself recommend the drug to alleviate or eliminate ailments like gout, rheumatism, constipation, and obliviousness.
Cannabis was a cure in ancient India
Ancient texts from India reveal that Cannabis was used both for its psychoactive effects as well as for more serious medical matters, some of which would be to relieve pain during child birth and to treat dysentery and sunstrokes. Additionally, the "Ayurvedic treatise of Sushrita Samhita" - an Indian medical work from 600 B.C.E. - cited it as a cure for leprosy. The Indian people came to adopt word ‘bhang' over the years to devise the plant in medical terms. An amusing fact is that Cannabis would often be dissimulated in milk to be administered as a medicine.
Cannabis was used extensively in ancient Egypt and in ancient Greece
In Egypt and in Greece, there is extensive evidence pointing towards the usage of Cannabis by ancient people. It would be used to fight earaches and inflammations in the latter, and to combat glaucoma in the former. The Ebers Papyrus - a famed relic of ancient Egypt dated back to 1550 B.C.E - mentions Cannabis. But it is not the only document to have praised Cannabis. Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek Physician and Doctor to the Roman Legion, mentioned it in his work "Materia Medica" - meaning "On medical matters." Roman Scientist and Historian Pliny the Elder also talks about the beneficial properties of the plant in his book Naturalis Historia, which was written circa 79 C.E. According to Pliny, Cannabis would help in easing "cramped joints, gout, and similar violent pain."
Cannabis was influential in Persia
Cannabis also left traces of its medicinal benefits within the realms of the Persian Empire. The famous polymath Avicenna, also known as Ibn Sina, extolled hemp and its virtues on many occasions. His works would often refer to ‘the juice of cannabis leaves" - a pivotal ingredient that he would mix with other plant-based produce to create cures for quite an extensive variety of illnesses and injuries. Avicenna's work was actually very influential throughout Europe during the Medieval and the Renaissance periods. It is therefore unsurprising that the famed "The Pharmacopoeia of Bauderon", by Brice Bauderon himself, often refers to cannabis as "cannabis ex avicenna."
CBD has physiological super powers
Along with the recent studies surrounding Cannabis came the groundbreaking realization that the human body actual realization an entire structure meant to react to the substances found in cannabis. Called the ‘Endocannabinoid System', or ECS, the structure would also be connected to a variety of physiological processes, some of which would be appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.
THC is, as mentioned earlier, the cannabinoid whose effects are the most desired. It is indeed that one chemical compound that will react with the Endocannabinoid system lodged in one's brain to create psychoactive effects. In more common terms, THC induces the famous "stoner's high" by triggering a series of euphoric sensations.
However, the cannabinoid that would be of medical interest is non-psychoactive. Dubbed Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, it would actually be of great help to those suffering from ailments such as chronic pain, depression, and anxiety, without actually disrupting potential patients' mental capacities. CBD indirectly stimulates the ECS by slowing the elimination of the natural cannabinoids produced by the body. It also binds with receptors such as the GPR55 - a non cannabinoid that studies have linked to cancer - and impairs the latter in the process. Because it does not trigger euphoric sensations or cause lasting effects on the brain, some scientists hope that CBD could eventually be used on younger subjects. This would imply that children suffering from complex mental and physical conditions could soon find relief in the wonders of medicinal cannabis.
Research highlights the wonders that CBD could potentially bring to medicine
The way Cannabidiol interacts with the endocannabinoid structure of the human nervous system allows for an infinity of possibilities. But if there is one thing that the medical history of cannabis throughout ancient times has confirmed, it is that there are quite a few ailments that the plant can alleviate, possibly through the action of its concentration of CBD. And with the recent progress in technology, scientists have been able to come up with more precision when it comes to the diseases that could potentially be dealt with through cannabinoids.
Diseases that are thought to have a positive response with cannabis
- Anxiety Disorders - British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 2013.
- Cancer Proliferation - Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, 2014 and Journal of NeuroImmune Pharmacology, 2015.
- Inflammation - Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 2008.
- Chronic Pain - Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, 2008.
- Arthritis - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2000.
- Bone Fractures - Journal of Bone and Mineral research, 2015.
- Alzheimer's - Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 2014.
- PTSD - Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2012.
- Heroin Addiction - The Journal of Neuroscience, 2009.
- Multiple Sclerosis - Clinical Therapeutics, 2007.
- Infant Seizures - Paediatric Neurology, 2015.
- Neurologic Diseases - Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 2014.
- Diabetes - European Journal of Pharmacology, 2013.
- Parkinson's - Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2014.
- Sepsis - Journal of Immunology, 2009.
- Epilepsy - Epilepsia, 2015 and Epilepsy & Behaviour, 2014.
The future of CBD is big
So many possibilities arise in the light of the recent findings pertaining to Cannabidiol and its incredible capacities. Individuals could benefit from much-needed relief after years of dealing with painful medical conditions, breeders could find themselves involved in a new line of business which would be legally supported, and scientists could come up with groundbreaking cures that could change the face of medicine forever! Those extrapolations sound exciting indeed, but only the future knows what is to become of the intriguing Cannabidiol over the next few years.