CBD is the “cannabis that doesn’t get you high”, and it’s all the rage right now in the natural health scene, and increasingly in mainstream society. While cannabis has been used for thousands of years and studied seriously at a scientific level for several decades, only now are the possibilities of non-psychoactive cannabis being realized.
This is thanks to research into specific compounds from the plant, and especially cannabidiol (CBD). After research in the 1960s revealed that most of the psychoactive properties in cannabis come from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it became apparent that many chemicals in the herb were non-intoxicating but exhibited a wealth of therapeutic effects.
Cannabis is very complex, with more than 400 compounds in total. The most crucial of these are the 113 compounds classed as cannabinoids, since they affect receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is one of many systems made up of receptors and endocannabinoids which needs to be in balance for good health. ECS regulation is important for regulating appetite, mood, pain perception and more. Mood and appetite changes are triggered by THC, hence why cannabis users tend to feel euphoric and hungry after smoking.
CBD seems to have a subtler effect on the ECS than THC, as it is not an agonist of cannabinoid receptors. Instead, CBD can increase or decrease the ability of endocannabinoids to bind with receptors, and also shut off enzymes which degrade endocannabinoids. These indirect effects promote natural ECS regulation.
But what exactly can CBD be used for? Here are five benefits that you may not have heard of.
Unfortunately, there’s no way yet to stop getting older, but there are tricks to stop looking older. The anti-aging industry is booming globally, with an estimated value of $250 billion in 2016, which may rise by more than 30 percent by 2021. A fair chunk of that could come from CBD products, which have potent antioxidant properties that can protect against “free radical aging,” a process that causes rapid deterioration of the skin.
Free radicals are uncharged molecules that pinch electrons from the skin – this causes damage to skin cell DNA. Some free radicals are avoidable, others less so – they come from the sun’s UV rays, tobacco smoke, pollution and more. Application of CBD creams and similar topicals to the skin activates cannabinoid receptors and offers unique protection from free radicals.
Our lives are increasingly hectic, and it’s hard to switch off in a world that has become so connected. Unfortunately, this can contribute to heightened stress levels, which has a negative impact on mental and physical health. However, there is promising research that CBD can reduce levels of cortisol, a prominent stress hormone, while also managing anxiety.
Since stress and anxiety can snowball in the space of minutes or even seconds, a treatment that can quickly reduce symptoms is imperative. Tablets have to be metabolized and can take a while to kick in, however this process can be skipped by vaping or sublingual absorption. Consuming CBD vape oil and e-liquid allows the cannabinoids to start influencing the ECS in seconds. When taking CBD oil under the tongue, the CBD can be absorbed into the bloodstream, through the tissue with similar speed.
Chronic cannabis use has historically been linked to a variety of mental health issues, including cognitive impairment. However, this narrative is being uprooted with new studies into CBD and the ECS, which has shown that the cannabinoid can help to boost memory, as well as cognitive function.
This may have something to do with the neuroprotective and neurogenesis properties of CBD – all cannabinoids have been patented as antioxidants and neuroprotective by the U.S. federal government. Rats and humans have similar brains, and studies on these rodents suggest that CBD can stimulate neurogenesis in the hippocampus, which is essential for memory. Research has also found a link between hippocampal damage and Alzheimer’s disease.
Strong conclusions cannot be drawn without CBD studies on humans, but it’s quite possible that the beneficial effect that this non-psychoactive compound has on the brain enhances functioning in this organ.
A growing number of students and office workers are experimenting with nootropics, supplements which claim to enhance cognitive function and concentration levels – these are often referred to as “smart drugs.” However, there is a much more natural concentration booster available in CBD, according to the plethora of positive stories found on the web. Furthermore, CBD doesn’t cause the jitters or headaches, as is common with coffee, and nor does it have to be smoked, as is usually the case with nicotine.
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While the effect of CBD on concentration has not been studied specifically, we can draw on the evidence available to determine why the compound could be beneficial. By suppressing anxiety, CBD helps to bring control over the “monkey mind,” which is typified by restlessness, indecisive and inconstant thinking. Moreover, CBD combats stress and elevates mood by keeping increased levels of anandamide, an antidepressant, in the ECS.
For those wanting to improve their concentration over an entire day’s work, a slow-release product may be preferable to vaping and other fast delivery methods. CBD capsules, for instance, can still be effective several hours after consumption.
Inflammation regulation is possible by controlling immune system response, and in the ECS, scientists may have discovered an efficient way to do this. Cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), which is abundant in the peripheral nervous system, is able to influence the immune system, with studies showing that endocannabinoids can modulate inflammation.
This finding can be used to manage both internal and external inflammation. Inhaling or ingesting CBD helps to reduce brain inflammation, which seems to be an underlying cause of depression, while also treating ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s, two kinds of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Meanwhile, rubbing CBD into the skin helps to treat acne by reducing overactivity in the sebaceous glands, while negating symptoms of psoriasis by rebalancing the cycle of cell production in the skin.