Did you know that there is a chemical compound in a well-known flower that has the potential to slow the growth of cancer cells, help diabetics manage blood sugar, reverse osteoporosis-related bone loss, reduce inflammation and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s?
Even better, the same flower may help reduce stress, anxiety and pain… lower blood pressure… improve digestion and circulation… Do you know what it is?
Cannabidiol or CBD, is one of over 100 known chemical compounds – called cannabinoids – found in the cannabis plant. There are three species of cannabis; indica, sativa and ruderalis (hemp). Each has different characteristics, effects, and benefits.
In all three species, cannabinoids are concentrated in resin produced by the plants’ flowers. These compounds can be isolated and manufactured for human use as oils, supplement pills, topical creams and even used to enrich foods.
Cannabinoids work in human beings by inserting themselves into special receptors found in certain tissues and cells.
These receptors make up something called the endocannabinoid (ECS) system, which helps modulate bodily functions like appetite, sleep, anxiety, digestion and cognition. The ECS is also closely tied to both the nervous system and immune system.
Unlike it’s better-known brother THC, CBD cannabinoids do not make people feel “high” or “stoned”. In fact, CBD may counteract the psychoactivity of THC.
The fact that CBD oil is non-psychoactive makes it an appealing option for patients looking for relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures and other conditions without the mood and mind-altering effects and dysphoria of THC.
But are there actual health benefits associated with CBD oil?
Scientific and clinical research seems to indicate that CBD is a potential treatment option for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, chronic pain, PTSD, epilepsy, cancer, digestive issues, neurological disorders and inflammatory conditions. Here’s why…
Cannabinoids like CBD target specific types of cannabinoid receptors found in certain brain cells and tissue. This targeting is called a binding affinity. There are two main kinds of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2.
Although CBD has little binding affinity for either of the two cannabinoid receptors, it does activate several non-cannabinoid receptors.
For example, Jose Alexandre Crippa and his colleagues at the University of San Paulo in Brazil and King’s College in London found that highly concentrated CBD activates a serotonin receptor (neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness, calm and euphoria) called 5-HT1A, creating an anti-anxiety effect, lowering stress and reducing pain.
CBD has also been shown to interact with ion channels in the body that generate therapeutic effects. For example, CBD binds to TRPV1 receptors, which mediate pain perception, inflammation and body temperature.
In fact, capsaicin – the ingredient in icy hot and other pain rubs that create a heating or cooling effect – works the same way. It also activates TRPV1 receptors, that’s how it helps soothe your aches and pains.
CBD can also serve as an antagonist for certain receptors. For example, it can block or deactivate a type of protein receptor called GPR55, which helps modulate blood pressure and bone density.
When GPR55 is activated (or overactive) it can lead to osteoporosis, hypertension and the proliferation of cancer cells. But CBD has been shown to prevent the activation of GPR55.
As University of Aberdeen scientist Ruth Ross demonstrated in a study presented at the 2010 conference of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, CBD acts as a selective GPR55 inhibitor.
By blocking GPR55 signaling, CBD may actually slow osteoporosis-related bone loss, lower blood pressure and prevent the growth and expansion of certain types of cancer cells.
Even better, CBD also exerts an anti-cancer effect by activating something called peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARs) that sit on the surface of a cell’s nucleus.
One study showed that stimulating activation of the PPAR-gamma receptor was linked to tumor regression in patients with lung cancer.
PPAR-gamma activation can even break up beta-amyloid plaque which is a key contributor to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. But there’s more.
PPAR receptors also regulate genes involved in energy homeostasis, lipid uptake, insulin sensitivity, and other metabolic functions. That means CBD might be a promising treatment protocol for those with diabetes.
And if all that’s not enough, CBD has been shown to have neuroprotective properties and wide-ranging anti-inflammatory benefits that could prove useful in the treatment of autoinflammatory conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis.
While the science behind cannabinoids and CBD oil is still young, it does look promising. New information and discoveries are being published every day.
While more research is needed, particularly human studies, this natural chemical compound found in cannabis flowers may mark a new approach to the treatment of conditions like chronic pain, anxiety, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, autoimmune, autoinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases.