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Human Studies on Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Anxiety

Medical research shown shown that a chemical produced by the cannabis sativa plant reduces anxiety. This constituent of cannabis is called cannabidiol, or just CBD.

Cannabis has many constituents, but by far the most well known is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the constituent which gets the user ‘high’. CBD however, has completely different effects from THC and is becoming more and more popular as multiple studies suggest that this substance is an anxiolytic, which means that it reduces anxiety and panic. CBD also diminushed the psychoactivity of THC, meaning that it can helps people that are using medical marrijuana to counter the unwanted “high” associate with THC present in that treatments.

CBD was discovered in 1940 by Dr. Roger Adams at the University of Illinois. At that time, cannabis was only known for its psychotropic constituent THC, so studies were mainly focused there. As a result, there was little done to explore and study the effects of CBD for many years. More recently, studies on CBD have been done first on animals and then on humans to determine exactly what CBD does in the body. Medicine has discovered that CBD does have many medicinal benefits, and we are starting to hear about them.

One of the pioneer study in 1993 compared CBD with Ipsapirone, diazepam and a placebo. Ipsapirone is an anxiolytic drug often used in research. Diazepam is a drug used to reduce anxiety in patients by working on chemicals in the brain that are unbalanced in people who suffer from anxiety. The study tested the different drugs and CBD on a set of healthy people. The subjects were subjected to a simulated public speaking test in order to create a stressful environment in which scientists could verify if CBD was anxiolytic. By measuring subjects’ heart ratea, blood pressure and skin conductance, the study showed that only Ipsapirone decreased anxiety during public speaking, CBD decreased anxiety that occurred after the test, and diazepam was effective before and after the test, but not during the test. The study suggested that CBD and Ipsapirone had anxiolytic properties.

A more recent study in 2004 investigated the effects of CBD on regional cerebral blood flow by doing single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans on the subjects. This scan gives doctors three pieces of information: areas of the brain that work well, areas of the brain that are low in activity, and areas that are high in activity. Doctors can then determine if the subject needs specific medicine to regulate certain areas that need to be balanced. Since in this case study, the test itself was stressful, it was a good way to test CBD. The results showed that CBD reduced anxiety, according to blood flow, and was compatible with regular blood flow.

In more than one study, it was also discovered that the effects of dosage levels act in a U-shaped curve. Small dosages of 100mg of CBD were ineffective, dosages of 300mg to 600mg were most effective and treatments over 900mg of CBD were also ineffective.

In 2009, another study made the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), which produces more images with higher resolution and gives a clearer image of the levels of activity in the brain, to see if CBD had anxiolytic effects. They tested 15 healthy people and the results showed that CBD did reduce the anxiety caused by the stress of the FMRI.

A Brazilian study done in 2010 found that Cannabidiol has therapeutic potential with antipsychotic, anxiolytic, and antidepressant properties, in addition to being effective in treating other conditions on subjects with psychiatric disorders and in healthy subjects. These findings suggest that CBD may be effective is treating patients with anxiety as a mental illness.

 

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A Guide to Cannabinoids – The Science, The Synergy and its Role in Society

People today are more eager than ever to take a more active role in their overall health and wellness. The recent spike in popularity for cannabis and cannabinoid-rich products is a reflection of this movement- one that has led many to want to cultivate a more intentional relationship with this healing herb.

In the last several years there’s been a big spotlight placed on cannabis. It seems as though this medicinal plant is finally getting the recognition it deserves for the many health benefits it offers.  As cannabinoids become one of the most sought-after natural products on the market, we see consumers eager to ask more questions on a personal quest to learn as much as they can about the topic. For this reason, a helpful guide to cannabinoids can assist in educating and clarifying some of the finer points relating to the science of, and the synergy between cannabinoids, as well as some broader questions pertaining to its current place in modern society.

Let’s get started…

The Science-

Cannabinoids affect many important functions in the endocannabinoid system in our bodies. CBD for instance has pain relieving, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects, while CBN has been shown to act as a sedative, and is helpful in managing anxiety, while CBC has antibiotic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory properties and helps relieve pain and so on. There has been extensive research regarding the internal interplay when cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes and fatty acids all work in concert to abate symptoms of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, fungal, bacterial infections and more.

Each cannabinoid has a different and beneficial effect in our body. Here are some of the more common ones along with their specific function:

  • Cannabinol (CBN): sedative, antibiotic, anticonvulsant, and anti-inflammatory.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD): anticonvulsant, antioxidant, reduces anxiety, treats psychotic disorders, relieves pain, reduces inflammation, and relieves spasms
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ; antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, induces a euphoric high, relieves pain
  • Cannabigerol (CBG): antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and relieves pain
  • Cannabichromene (CBC): antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and relieves pain.
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV): induces a euphoric high and relieves anxiety.

 

But how does it work?…

Cannabinoids have a profound and positive impact on the body’s own receptor system. Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how those chemical compounds interact with each other and within the human body. Although there is increasing evidence that there may be more types, today we know about two receptors: CB1 and CB2. These receptors are distributed on the surface of many different types of cells in the body. CB1 receptors are found primarily on neurons in the brain- like in the amygdala, which influence emotions such as fear and anxiety. A high density of CB1 receptors are also found in the hippocampus, those influence the learning and absorption of new information as well as memory integration. As for the second class of receptor, CB2, those are more abundant in the central nervous system and in the peripheral tissues and organs, particularly in the immune system cells and thus are thought to act in a primarily protective role.

-The Synergy-

Medicinal plants like cannabis contain a wide variety of potentially beneficial compounds. Choosing between full-spectrum and isolate-type products is an important choice when deciding what products to start using. In full-spectrum phytocannabinoid products, the “whole-plant” is used and nothing is held back or left out. That is because whole-plant or FULL-SPECTRUM products are known to include not just CBD but trace amounts of different cannabinoids which introduce various potential benefits that can address a wide variety of ailments both on their own and in conjunction with one another. An isolate is of course effective but studies show that full spectrum CBD is capable of offering greater levels of relief. That is because full-spectrum oils include a wide range of cannabinoids which work synergistically. People seem to respond better to products which contain multiple cannabinoids opposed to single cannabinoids in isolation. And, unsurprisingly, this finding is in line with how cannabinoids are found in nature as opposed to being produced synthetically in a lab. As we can see, when certain isolated components are combined together, they produce a greater more tangible benefit to the user—and this interaction actually has a name, it’s known as the entourage effect.

The term entourage effect was first used decades ago by two Israeli scientists Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam upon realizing that cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant actually work in a similar way as the body’s own endocannabinoid system. Each separate cannabinoid has a different and beneficial effect in our body. While researchers agree that more studies are needed to understand the entourage effect, many can attest that the heightened efficacy when compounds operate together is real and not imagined.  Not only can this be seen between certain cannabinoids but also in how terpenes and flavonoids work synergistically increasing the cerebral blood flow while impacting the blood-brain barrier.  As research continues, our knowledge will collectively broaden. The good news is that the field is wide open for greater exploration and development.

Society-

As the popularity of hemp-derived products continue to grow, so has its acceptance across many of the states in America. Just this summer, a major step was taken to pass legislation that would legalize hemp as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Many agree we seem to be moving in the right direction amidst the changing political landscape of today although, “Is it legal?” is still a common question. Many wish the answers were more straightforward but the reason for the current murkiness is because there are different laws in different states, as well as different laws at the state and also federal levels.

CBD oil that is hemp-derived and consists of no illegal amounts of THC is legal in most states. As of this year, there are states where the recreational and medicinal use of cannabis is also completely legal. They are Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. That means if you live in these states, you are free to use CBD and other products without a prescription. Unfortunately, it seems as though laws are constantly in flux, which adds to the legal confusion. Hopefully, there will be more clarity and consistency coming from state and federal authorities sometime in the near future.

So the short answer to, “Is it legal?’ is, there is no short answer. You must check the local law in the state where you live- and stay up on any and all changes. If you live in a state where the recreational use of cannabis is legal, you can use CBD that comes from marijuana or hemp without issue (with the exception of California and provided you are at least 21 years of age). If you live in a state where medical cannabis is legal, and you have a prescription, you are also in the clear. For everyone else in the country, the laws surrounding CBD are stuck in a temporary gray zone. Eventually, many believe that all the states in the country, even the most culturally conservative ones will submit to peoples’ demands and the growing scientific research and legalize cannabis use for medical purposes- once and for all.

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Cannabinoids, CBD and One Woman’s Journey with Multiple Sclerosis – A Personal Story

Ingrid was barely 26 years old when she was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). The first sign something was amiss came when she was on vacation in the Dominican Republic in the early 1980’s. She woke up in her hotel room with double vision- in both eyes. She walked over to the mirror but all she could see was a hazy gray cloud staring back at her. She went to a nearby clinic in Santo Domingo but they didn’t really know what to tell her. After a general exam, they asked if she had insurance back home and recommended she see a doctor as soon as she got back. She had just had her first baby and decided not to tell my parents about the incident. When she landed in Miami, with her vision back intact, she dismissed the experience as a one-off and went back to work on Monday. Six months later she was driving home from work during the tail end of rush hour. She remembers the night was warm and the flickering brake lights reminded her of the dusky, setting sun. As the traffic around her came to a stop, she placed her foot on the brake, or tried to, but her leg did not respond. She tried again. Nothing. She recalls how terrifying it was realizing she could not move her leg, it was as though her brain and body were not connecting. And she was right. She slammed into the cars in front of her but luckily no one was seriously hurt. After that incident she went to a doctor, got a spinal tap and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

And that is how, on a warm summer night, her journey with MS began- as well as our family’s journey with MS. For the next two decades my sister would be in remission. She worked a full time job (took the train to work) and managed to have three more children. She just became a grandmother in her 50’s, and has a large, loving and supportive family around her. But this progressive disease finally caught up to her. She is now unable to stand on her own or bathe herself independently and spends most days in a wheelchair in front of the television.

Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes throughout centuries and is now recommended and prescribed to manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases. I have been researching the beneficial effects of cannabis in multiple sclerosis for years but there is still much to be done in the way of education and clinical testing. Even so, anecdotal as well as many randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials have shown the efficacy of various cannabinoid treatments in managing spasticity, pain, bladder problems, sleep disturbances and tremor due to MS.

Every case of MS is different as is every person affected. Thankfully my sister does not suffer from pain-related symptoms. She’s had two seizures though, back to back in recent years and because of them has suffered some cognitive loss as well as other progressive symptoms like tremor and incontinence. She was able to obtain a license for medical marijuana this year and was prescribed a medicine which contained some THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis.

She accepted the recommendation of the clinician without question or doubt. However, in no time we noticed some disturbing side effects. Things like short-term memory impairment, some disruption in her psycho-motor control and a somewhat weird, and distorted sense of time. For example, in July she asked where the Christmas decorations were. Around the same time, her caretaker reported panic on my sister’s part during a routine hair-washing session. This was unlike her and was clearly not the intended result and definitely not what we expected. I felt guilt having been the one to propose the idea that she start this regiment in the first place. What did I miss? It was a big anti-climactic disappointment; we had waited months for the license and had high hopes that it would bring her some relief. But the opposite occurred- this prescribed cannabis treatment not only didn’t work, it actually made her worse.

I knew that cannabinoids mimic naturally occurring compounds in the body called endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids have been widely studied and implicated in a variety of physiological functions specifically with MS. When we take in cannabinoids, they interact with the same receptors found in all human cells. What I didn’t fully appreciate was that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) affects the central nervous system (CNS) through these receptors- most densely in the frontal cortex and hippocampus. Cognition, especially in certain groups, such as patients suffering from diseases of the CNS like my sister, were particularly vulnerable to adverse effects.  However, some of the other constituents of cannabis, such as CBD (cannabidiol), have well-documented biological effects like anti-anxiety and anticonvulsive properties without any of the psychotropic actions. We realized that CBD might hold greater therapeutic potential for her than THC or any combination containing THC, since the psychoactive properties that accompany THC did not agree with her at all.  

We decided to give it one more shot and take matters into our own hands. We were on the lookout for a high quality- hemp derived, Full Spectrum CBD product. We were fortunate to find RAW, a high-grade, cannabinoid oil tincture. It contains unfiltered industrial full spectrum hemp oil, coconut MCT oil, and vitamin E as well as a variety of valuable phyto-nutrients, synergistic cannabinoids and essential oils. With RAW, we hit the jackpot. Not only did it work well, but it began working almost immediately.

One of my focuses of my freelance writing in the cannabis and medicinal marijuana space was to help my sister combat her MS symptoms and to help her live a fuller life. I saw that start to happen with RAW. As someone who does consistent research on the subject, I recommend this product as well as encourage everyone to do their own research.

From my experience, and from interviewing others, I understand that the manufacturing and selling of CBD products has become big business. I now know how to discern the differences between high quality products and subpar products as well as understand the different extraction methods available. Other finer points like the question of full spectrum vs. isolate products are important to understand before making a decision.

Ingrid began using RAW in the morning and at night, taking .5ml under her tongue, twice a day. After about a week she experienced less spasticity, less fatigue and tremor, and was just more alert and lucid. We have also seen a big improvement with her MS-related urinary symptoms. Her increased sense of well-being is also visible; the other day she commented that she “felt really strong”. When she visits her daughters, we pack ETS’s new veggie capsules in her overnight bag- we find that it’s easier for her to manage when she’s traveling.

We were concerned initially how this new regiment would interact chemically with her other prescribed drugs- but so far, she’s had no issues. We are thrilled, over the moon, and grateful that we didn’t give up. And you shouldn’t either. Cannabis derived compounds can hold real potential for those looking to treat symptoms of MS. The most important points to keep in mind are quality and consistency. You need to do your research, seek out the highest quality product you can find, and stay consistent with the dosing. For those looking to try any of EST’s products, the great news is you do not need a special marijuana card or prescription to do so.

Click here find out more about ETS.

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CDB Isolate vs. Full Spectrum

Whether it’s in the form of oil capsules, tinctures or edibles, CBD products are finally getting the recognition they deserve for the many health benefits they offer. And while it’s become a popular option for people seeking a natural alternative to a variety of ailments, parsing through the data can get challenging. If you’ve done any type of research at all  you’ve probably come across terms like CBD isolate and Full Spectrum –and perhaps are unsure what it all means or more importantly how it relates to your individual buying options and decisions. The good news is that these concepts are fairly simple to grasp and once you do, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision on which products to buy.

To start with, what do terms like “Isolate”, “Full Spectrum”, “Pure CBD” or “Whole Plant” mean? Good question!

CBD Isolate:

As the name suggests, a CBD isolate (also labeled “Pure CBD” or “CBD oil”) is a purified extract that has been separated from other cannabinoids, acids and chemicals found in the hemp plant.  In this pure and isolated form it is extremely well tolerated and effective in helping with pain, inflammation, mood and general health.

There are several extraction methods but generally the CBD is extracted using some type of solvent (this can be a liquid solvent, CO2, or an oil solvent), then filtered, heated and then isolated and processed into a powder. Isolate products such as these are usually 99% CBD and deliver the most amount of CBD to your system at once.

Initially it was thought that CBD isolates were more potent and effective on the whole but recent discoveries have shown that this may not be the case.  While CBD isolate packs a potent punch and remains the preferred treatment for many patients, many now believe that the pairing of the cannabinoids and terpenes (Full Spectrum) offers the most benefits of all.  

 

Full Spectrum:

Unlike the CBD isolate that’s been stripped of everything, a full-spectrum product contains all the therapeutic compounds cannabis has to offer; this include terpenes and other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN and even some THC. Usually these will be in naturally occurring ratios and extracted from the plant and specific strain. This is where a multitude of flavonoids and polyphenols, which are vital micro nutrients, work together in synergy—the advantage of something called the entourage effect. For a large majority of average users, this high quality spectrum CBD oil will be the better and more efficient option.

In a 2015 study done at the Lautenberg Center for General Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem, research showed that in mice, CBD was much more effective when used along other compounds of the cannabis plant. Although they haven’t figured out exactly why, a full-spectrum CBD oil proved more effective at treating a majority of medical conditions than its isolated counterpart. The study concluded that CBD isolate becomes less effective over time, while the Full Spectrum continues its effectiveness. It was also concluded that a CBD isolate is only as effective as its dose, while the Full Spectrum extract continues its effectiveness as the dosage increases.

So why isolate molecules from this incredible plant in the first place? Great question. The answer is that CBD isolate is not only very effective on its own but also offers some convenient benefits. For instance, CBD isolate is easily measured so it lends itself well to mixing with oils or baking into edibles. Since it offers a high degree of control and is usually tasteless, it’s the preferred choice for flavored products.  Another advantage to products labeled as isolate is the fact that since nothing but CBD is in them, those who may be drug tested need not worry. When looking at an isolate product, one thing to keep in mind is the purity standard. While many products are in the 99.9% range with no identifiable amounts of THC, there are lower purity ones that may still have trace amounts that can show up in lab tests. This small amount is typically negligible and is nowhere near the amounts found in Full Spectrum products, but it is still something to be aware of for those seeking the purest form.

While some people find they respond better to an isolate—others appreciate the benefits of full-spectrum products– with over 100+ Cannabinoids and 100+ Terpenes, the possible combinations and blends are potentially endless! Still others prefer to use both the full plant extracts and isolates concurrently. Figuring out the best option for you will take a little time so be patient. Since everyone is different, trying out both will give you an idea of how each feels for you as an individual.  

  

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The Entourage Effect: the Essence of Synergy

There are hundreds of natural components found in cannabis, 66 alone which are classified as unique to the plant. And although there is no disputing the profound and positive impact on the body’s receptor system, scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how those chemical compounds interact with each other and with the human body. What we do know is that cannabinoids affect many important functions in the endocannabinoid system in our bodies. CBD for instance has pain relieving, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects, while CBDV has been shown to be helpful in the management of epileptic seizures and CBC has antifungal and anticonvulsant properties– and so on. Most fascinating though is the research around the cannabis plant’s interaction with itself and how when certain isolated components are combined together, they produce a greater more tangible benefit to the user. This interactive synergy is known as the entourage effect.

The synergistic effect between compounds is nothing new. Traditional Chinese practitioners have been treating specific problems with herb concoctions for centuries. The concept, while not exact, is similar to the way the entourage effect works. The term “entourage effect” was first used decades ago by two Israeli scientists Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam. They realized that cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant actually work in a similar way as the body’s own endocannabinoid system- which is to say that each cannabinoid has a different and beneficial effect in our body. In this specific study it was the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which was responsible for those benefits but the same patients also reported a heightened psychotropic effect which made them feel “stoned”.  Since Cannabidiol (CBD) is known to modulate the effect of THC on the human body, the same dose was blended with it resulting in that same patient group reporting the same benefits minus the unwanted side effect of the THC.

While researchers agree that more studies are needed to understand the entourage effect, many can attest that the heightened efficacy when compounds operate together is real and not imagined.  Not only can this be seen between CBD and THC but also in how terpenes and flavonoids increase the cerebral blood flow, impacting the blood-brain barrier; another way in which cannabinoids work together.  Everyone agrees that as a whole we have only begun to scratch the surface and that the field is wide open for greater exploration and development.