Hemp has been outlawed in the U.S. since 1938 and thankfully a recent Federal Farm Bill signed into law at the end of 2018 makes it legal again.
Don’t be confused! There is a difference between hemp and marijuana from which cannabidiol (CBD) products are made. Mistakenly, many people believe hemp and marijuana are the same, but actually are two different plants. Both are considered cannabis sativa by their genus and species, but that’s where the similarity stops. Hemp has been farmed and cultivated for food, clothing, fiber, and fuel. But the hemp plant, also contains naturally occurring active compounds called “phytocannabinoids,” of which CBD is one. The other naturally occurring phytocannabinoid found in hemp is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but at less than 0.3%.
Marijuana, on the other hand, has been cultivated primarily for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the “psychoactive” phytocannabinoid found at greater than 0.3%. However, it too contains cannabidiol (CBD). Even with the vast differences in THC, hemp was outlawed in this country for many years. With the passing of this Federal Farm legislation, hemp has been deregulated unlike marijuana except in certain states where marijuana is legalized.
Because it was outlawed in the U.S. for so many years, most of the research on hemp and marijuana has been done by Europe and Israel. It was from their research that the body’s own cannabinoid system called the “Endocannabinoid System” (ECS) was discovered.
In order to understand what CBD can do for health and well-being, it is important to understand the ECS. Simply put, the ECS is a signaling or message system within the body that works to enhance “homeostasis” and balance of the body especially during those times of stress. Homeostasis comes from the Greek words for same and steady and refers to any physiological process that the body uses to actively maintain stable conditions within the internal environment of the body. When talking about homeostasis, we are talking about maintaining a steady body temperature, blood pressure, respiration rate, and heart rate. Also, sustaining normal rates of water, salt, sugar, protein, fat, calcium, and oxygen in the blood in order to maintain homeostasis.
In simpler terms, think of the body’s ECS like the conductor of an orchestra and the orchestra is the body’s nervous and organ systems. The discovery of the body’s ECS is probably one of the most important medical discoveries to date and it is now believed one cannot live a life of health and well being without a well functioning ECS. Therefore, it is vital that we understand the enormity of this system and what it does and how it can influence the health and well-being of the body.
Again with the research done in Europe and Israel, it found that the human body has its own endogenous cannabinoids and that the body naturally makes its own cannabinoid-like substances called “endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids.” These endocannabinoids are chemical messengers or signals produced on demand when there is the need to maintain homeostasis and balance within the body. The endocannabinoids found are called “anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoglycerol (2-AG) and the AEA is actually referred to as the body’s neurotransmitter of homeostasis and balance.
Within the ECS, these same researchers found receptor subtypes called CB1 and CB2. Think of these receptor subtypes as “message receivers.” The CB1 receptors were found in abundance within the body’s central nervous system (CNS) which includes the brain and spinal cord. They also found these CB1 receptors in parts of the brain related to anxiety, fear, motor coordination, cognition, and memory.
Let’s step back for a moment and look at the part of our CNS called the “autonomic” nervous system (ANS) to understand how CBD works. It supplies the body’s internal organs including the blood vessels, stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver, bladder, genitals, limbs, pupils, heart, sweat, salivary, and digestive glands.
Whenever one mentions anxiety and fear, it is the “sympathetic division” of the ANS that is involved. The sympathetic division increases blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate in an emergency situation, working automatically without the conscious mind. In general, the sympathetic division is referred to as the “fight or flight” system giving the body what it needs when under stress. In short, all reactions that will protect the body and its survivability in times of stress.
On the other side of the coin, there is the parasympathetic division of the ANS. It is the polar opposite of the sympathetic division and should actually be in control of the body processes during everyday life. Two words can sum up what the parasympathetic division allows to happen in the body and they are “conserve” and “restore.” It decreases blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate. It also stimulates the digestive tract to process the food we eat and eliminate the wastes. From the energy of the food consumed, the parasympathetic division allows the body to restore and rebuild.
CBD can alter the “tone” between the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions allowing the parasympathetic division to dominate. Besides this, it has been found that the CB1 receptors of the ECS can impact some of the body’s most well known neurotransmitters such as dopamine, GABA, and serotonin.
Research has found that the body’s own endocnnabinoid, anandamide (AEA), is a strong CB1 receptor agonist meaning it binds directly with receptors just like keys in a keyhole that facilitate or initiate the physiological reactions needed for homeostasis. CBD promotes the body’s production of AEA, as already mentioned the body’s neurotransmitter of homeostasis.
The CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are most abundant in the peripheral nervous system (PNS), especially involving the cells of the body’s immune system. The PNS works via peripheral nerves acting like a relay between the brain and spinal cord and the rest of the body. In the research, it has now been established that activated CB2 receptors can reduce inflammation of the body.
In what you have just read, you can understand why I have chosen to make CBD available at my facility. I feel it is an important adjunct just as diet and exercise to one’s health and well-being. The product line of CBD I have chosen is CV Sciences. I chose this product line for many reasons, but most importantly because it crosses the blood brain barrier more effectively than other CBD products.
Now, “Why is that important?” More than 100 years ago, scientists found that not everything injected in the human bloodstream would reach the brain and spinal cord. They also found that this blood brain barrier is semi-permeable allowing some materials to cross into the CNS, but prevent others from doing so.
The research found that CBD can actually help to move chemicals across this blood-brain barrier. The innate ability of CBD to naturally move across this barrier also indicates there are endocannabinoid receptors in the human brain, which we now know facilitates the neurological system to achieve homeostasis.
CBD is now being used in reducing anxiety and other related disorders inhibiting the sympathetic division of the ANS and the body’s “fight or flight” response. A relationship has also been found between the body’s ECS and omega-3 status. People who are endocannabinoid and omega-3 deficient, experience more pain, inflammation, anxiety, and depression. Finally, research has found that CBD stimulates the CB1 receptors facilitating the brain-to-bone communication by slowing the brain from releasing norepinephrine which alters bone homeostasis. This is important information for someone with a diagnosis of “osteopenia” or “osteoporosis.”
As we age, it is a known fact that our bodies tend to become less and less efficient in creating the compounds needed to maintain homeostasis, optimal health, and well-being. This statement also holds true for the body’s endocannabinoids, AEA and 2-AG, causing what is referred to as “endocannabinoid deficiency.” This deficiency has now been identified in people who have migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, neurological and inflammatory conditions, and a variety of other treatment resistant conditions. In addition, endocannabinoid deficiency has been been found to be a positive indicator of stress induced anxiety.
In my practice of physical therapy, however, I deal more specifically with patients that have joint and muscle pain as well as functional limitations usually caused by inflammation. Inflammation is a normal immune response to injury, illness, or infection that initiates the body’s healing process. When the healing is complete, the process of inflammation should shut down. However, sometimes that is not the case.
When inflammation does not cease and continues out of control, trouble follows. Trouble from the sense that the inflammation could take a toll on the rest of the body. The research has found that most of the chronic conditions facing our society today share a common feature in inflammation as an underlying cause. Whether it is coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, or Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation is seen as the underlying cause.
It is easy to recognize the signs and symptoms of acute inflammation like with a sprained joint or a strain of a muscle. One will initially experience redness, swelling, heat, pain, and often times loss of function. However as the healing process advances, these signs and symptoms decrease. But with chronic inflammation, the signs and symptoms are oftentimes hidden and can have a long term and whole body effect on health. It is this type of systemic inflammation that can contribute to the development of disease over time. All told, researchers now believe that chronic inflammation is responsible for 7 out of the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S.
When someone is living with higher levels of chronic inflammation, it increases the production of damaging “free radicals” within our bodies creating a situation called “oxidative stress.” When oxidative stress runs unchecked overtime, it damages the cells of our bodies at its foundational level. Over the years the extensive research has found that by increasing the availability of antioxidants, the body can protect itself from the damaging effects of these free radicals. The research also showed that by reducing dietary sugar and carbohydrates and at the same time increasing the dietary consumption of good fats and fiber, one can reduce inflammation too.
But now, researchers found another tool in combating inflammation and that is CBD. It can limit inflammation and its effects in terms of reducing these free radicals. Therefore, CBD is now considered being helpful in managing inflammation under the same breath as turmeric and ginger. CBD is effective in reducing systemic inflammation because it talks to every major organ system via the endocannabinoid system thereby restoring body homeostasis.
The skin, the body’s largest organ, also produces endocannabinoid molecules such as AEA and 2-AG. These endocannabinoids are constantly released in specific amounts, depending on the needs of your body, resulting in the skin’s endocannabinoid tone. That is one reason I have chosen to carry only topicals of CBD at my facility. However, CBD can be taken by sub-lingual drops, gel capsules, and gummies with the CV Sciences’ brand.
But no matter how it is taken, remember the “Endocannabinoid System” (ECS) is essential to a life of health and well-being communicating messages or signals that affect how humans relax, eat, sleep, forget, and protect. Remember, CBD more than anything else promotes homeostasis and balance of the body.
HEMP: MYTHS AND FACTS
•MYTH-Lower than 0.3% THC is the only difference between hemp and medical marijuana.
•FACT-Hemp is a tall and skinny plant that is high in fibers and low in cannabinoids and resins. Marijuana is a shorter, bushy plant rich in cannabinoids and resins. Distinct genes that code for these traits can be used to distinguish food/fiber hemp from medical marijuana.
•MYTH-Higher milligrams of CBD are always better.
•FACT-Start low and slow for best results and titrate up until you find your “sweet spot!”
•MYTH-CBD derived from marijuana is superior to CBD derived from hemp.
•FACT-NO. CBD is CBD, no matter what source it is from.
Well, there you have it! The most recent scoop on CBD. Remember that despite the modern-day stigma, cannabis whether hemp or marijuana based has been used for centuries as plant medicines. With the research and development of cannabinoids (CBD) by companies like CV Sciences, more and more people will be able to better manage their stress, inflammation, and pain enhancing their health and well being. For more information, you can look up CV Sciences’ website at cvsciences.com or pick up information on CBD at my facility. Thank you. Be Healthy! Be Well!
Terry Kern, P.T.