The health scene is not unfamiliar with new fads and wonder products, but the signs are that CBD will have much more staying power. Medical cannabis is a hot topic in America and elsewhere, as scientists find out more about the herb and its compounds, and users learn about and experience the various benefits.
Stories in the media about how cannabidiol (CBD) oil can treat rare epilepsy in children curated a rejuvenated interest in cannabis, which had been shunned by society for many decades, becoming a mere preserve of counter-culture movements.
Fast forward, and by 2016 the United States cannabis market was worth more than $5 billion – by 2024, this is set to rise to almost $20 billion. Some of that is made up by the hemp-based CBD industry, which is primed for a 400 percent increase from the years 2016 to 2022.
But what’s fuelling this remarkable rise? Here’s are six reasons why CBD is so popular among the public.
CBD is non-psychoactive
“I would try cannabis, but I’m not prepared to get high,” is the reasoning – or excuse! – that many have given against experimenting with the plant for medicinal use. This is fair, since there was and remains a lack of understanding about the influence of potent psychoactive properties on the body and mind, such as those delivered by THC.
But now, there’s a best-of-both option with cannabis: CBD helps to stimulate appetite, reduce pain sensitivity, improve mood and much more of what the entire cannabis plant does, minus the psychoactive effects.
The benefits of this are numerous. As we see with epilepsy cases, children can now benefit from cannabis, with a safe treatment that is non-addictive and causes no lasting side effects. Those predisposed to mental health conditions like psychosis and schizophrenia, who have always been told to steer clear of marijuana, can now not just treat physical health ailments, but even mental illnesses through CBD. Studies since the 1980s have shown that CBD has anti-psychotic properties, and that its presence in cannabis strains suppresses the “high.”
Furthermore, with CBD not giving the user a mental haze, there are fewer concerns with medicating at work, and in other roles of responsibility. Some report that they feel happier, less stressed and more focussed after taking CBD. As people become more familiar with the substance, CBD edibles may replace coffee and cigarettes as the workplace stress-buster.
CBD regulates the once-unknown endocannabinoid system
The body is made up of several biological systems, which need to be kept in balance to promote a state of equilibrium throughout the body – this is referred to as ‘homeostasis’. However, it’s not possible to regulate a system that we don’t know about, and up until the 1990s, this was the case with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Although researchers had long-believed, given the variety of therapeutic effects that cannabis has and the plant’s proliferation around the world, that humans and other mammals produced its own cannabis-like chemicals to work with certain receptors.
The ECS happens to hold significant power over our physical and mental wellbeing, regulating the reproductive cycle, the sleep cycle, cognitive functioning and memory, and even immune system response. In a well-operating ECS, endocannabinoids can bind with receptors and remain present in the right concentrations to exert a balancing effect. However, when imbalance occurs, CBD can help get endocannabinoid chemistry back to normal, by subtly influencing receptors and enzymes to promote endocannabinoid levels. These endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters which carry important messages.
CBD reduces anxiety quickly
The world is stressed out, arguably overworked and mental health problems are on the rise. Anxiety is a very common psychological disorder, which causes irrational levels of fear in the sufferer, preventing them from carrying out tasks that would be considered mundane for others.
Low self-esteem and confidence issues can reduce a person’s sociability, which then worsens as they place heightened importance and therefore stress on social situations. Instead of just interacting with others, people with social anxiety sometimes feel interrogated, or as if they don’t fit in. Or they may be desperate not to look stupid, so are always preparing for their next turn to speak, and consequently missing out on the gist of the conversation.
A scientific look on the brain and anxiety offers a simple premise: an overactive brain, caused by too much signalling from neurons, leads to overthinking which has a mentally paralyzing effect. Reducing this overactivity is possible by promoting gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter. CBD makes GABA receptors more responsive to GABA neurotransmitters, hence easing anxious symptoms. Vaping CBD vape oil and e-liquid is a swift way to treat anxiety, and perhaps panic attacks, as the cannabinoids become active in the ECS without having to be digested first.
CBD promotes a more balanced immune system
We are always hearing about tips and tricks to boost our immune system, such as eating a healthier diet, taking cold showers and keeping use of antibiotics to a minimum. The immune system is extraordinarily important, as it efficiently counteracts and neutralizes threats to our wellbeing.
Unfortunately, immune system response has a reputation for being volatile, which perhaps comes from a lack of understanding. When aggravated, the immune system can instruct for an increased and damaging level of inflammation. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system starts attacking organs or tissue – as happens with psoriasis, which affects the skin.
However, CBD and the ECS could change the game for anti-inflammatory medication and help to regulate the immune system so that it can produce inflammation for healing and protective purposes, but so it doesn’t go overboard and cause the body major harm. Endocannabinoids send messages (likely to calm inflammation) to the immune system through CB2 receptors, which are found on white blood cells.
CBD is great for the brain
The brain has remained a mystery to researchers in comparison to other organs which have proven much easier to understand. Indeed, we are only just finding out that there may be more to depression, a mood disorder that affects at least 300 million people on the planet, than chemical imbalance.
Brain inflammation may cause severe damage to the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus. Both are implicated in depression, while the latter is where our autobiographical memory forms. Those who suffer from hippocampal atrophy or shrinkage are more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
However, CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids could play an essential role in improving brain health. Cannabinoids have been patented as neuroprotectants and antioxidants by the US federal government. Reducing oxidative stress in the brain may reduce fatigue and memory loss.
Moreover, CBD can prevent neurotoxins from accumulating in the brain and exposing neurons via deterioration of the myelin sheath, a lipid-rich protective covering which promotes the transmission of electrical impulses between neurons. If this process becomes disrupted, neurological diseases which affect memory and motor control function may begin to emerge. Neurotoxins can be cleansed from the brain by cerebrospinal fluid, which moves inside of the brain during deep sleep. By regulating our circadian rhythm and sleep patterns, CBD helps us to spend longer in this regenerative phase of sleep.
CBD can be used in multiple ways
There are so many uses for CBD and so many different products that everyone can benefit from taking it in some way – with time, CBD supplements could be as commonplace in the medicine cupboard as paracetamol. The beauty of CBD is that certain products help to bring out certain qualities. For example, the prompt relief provided by vaping is ideal for patients with anxiety or acute pain. Meanwhile, skin complaints can be remedied by influencing cannabinoid receptors in the skin that control the immune system – the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD creams and salves are excellent for tackling redness, oiliness and pimples brought on by acne.