Medical marijuana or CBD – Just like many others, I too have been overwhelmed by the myriad of information that has recently flooded the media about marijuana and its therapeutic benefits. Let’s start by clarifying the two main categories of therapeutic marijuana:
- Marijuana or medical marijuana
- CBD (Cannabidiol)
Here we’ll look at the benefits and side effects of both and help you decide if either are a good fit for you or your loved ones.
We have been selling CBD (Cannabidiol) for some time now and given the personal relationship we have with many of our customers, we have dozens of anecdotes of effective treatment from them. The benefits we’ve witnessed of CBD products is undeniable. Here in Utah we just finished the 2018 midterm elections and medical marijuana was overwhelmingly approved. Now that medical marijuana is becoming available many customers ask: Why use CBD when I can just use medical marijuana?
Hemp, Cannabis and Marijuana
The marijuana plant, also known as cannabis and hemp, has approximately 400 different chemical components, of which there are about 80 which are known as cannabinoids. Within these cannabinoids there are several compounds that work separately and in concert to effect change to our system. While many have benefits, the two most important are CBD and THC. As if that weren’t complicated enough there is hemp seed oil, which is an amazing carrier oil that we at ZIA love to use to dilute our essential oils. Hemp seed oil does not contain any THC or other cannabinoids such as CBD. Beware of companies that interchange the terms hemp oil, hemp seed oil and CBD oil. Many of these companies market hemp products with limited or zero percent of therapeutic cannabinoids.
What is CBD?
CBD is relatively new and less is known about its benefits. Many people think that CBD is just a part that has been extracted from the marijuana plant and thereby isn’t as potent. CBD and THC are very similar compounds but each have very different effects on our bodies. First and foremost THC is a psychotropic substance that makes its users get high. CBD does not make its users get high or contain psychotropic compounds.
Where does CBD come from?
CBD comes from a variation of the marijuana plant that is specifically bred to produce CBD. The plant is cut before it completely matures. The flower will typically produce a crystalline substance on top of the flower, when that turns yellow in color that is a sign that the plant is producing THC. Plants that are bred for CBD are cut before the THC production. CBD Oil comes from an extraction process that can be carried out by different methods. The preferred method is super critical CO2 extraction which leaves no additional residues. Currently there are two types of CBD products:
- Full Spectrum – This contains the all of the cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant and can contain up to .3% THC. This can appear in some drug tests.
- Isolate – Here you only get the CBD compound without any of the other cannabinoids. This contains 0% THC and is preferred for people under going drug testing.
There is plenty of clinical evidence highlighting the benefits of CBD oil. (Click here to open clinical data about the use of CBD, Here are some of the common ailments where CBD appears beneficial
- substance abuse and dependance
- pain, fibromyalgia
- psychosis or mental disorders, PTSD, depression
- inflammatory bowel disease
- sleep disorders
What is Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana is identical to recreational marijuana. The only difference is that it is being administered as a remedy to a health condition. The use of marijuana for its medicinal benefits has been documented as far back as 2700 BC. There are thousands of clinical studies showcasing the pros and cons of marijuana (Click here to open clinical data about the use of marijuana and CBD on epilepsy).
- muscle spasticity
- low appetite
CBD is well tolerated, even in large doses. Research suggests any side effects that do occur with CBD use are likely the result of drug-to-drug interactions between CBD and other medications you may be taking.
THC causes temporary side effects, such as:
- heart rate variations
- coordination issues
- dry mouth
- red eyes
- slower reaction times
- memory loss
These side effects are part of the compound’s psychoactive properties.
Neither compound is fatal. However, high THC use may be connected to long-term negative psychiatric effects. This is especially true for adolescents who consume large amounts of THC. Use of the compound increases the risk for some psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.
How marijuana effects the body
There is plenty of scientific evidence demonstrating how marijuana effects our bodies. Hang with me because here it becomes a little dense. The following is a graphic showing how THC and CBD interacts with our bodies and the locations of the CB1 and CB2 receptors. This is an excerpt from a great article in pubmed:
The medicinal properties of cannabis can be attributed primarily to phytocannabinoids Δ9-THC or THC and cannabidiol (CBD).40–42 THC and CBD are the most biologically active phytocannabinoids and are capable of mimicking human endocannabinoids AEA and 2-AG, respectively.40–42 Δ9-THC has been shown to bind to CB1 in the nervous system,21 and the effects of THC on the CNS and peripheral body are outlined in Figure 2 and Table 1, respectively.
There are two types of marijuana from a legal standpoint:
- Without THC aka Industrial hemp – This is a special type of marijuana plant that is bred to have minimal psychotropic compounds like THC. It has been used for many hemp based products, such as cloth, paper, rope, hemp seed oil, etc.. The legal limit of THC in these products is .3%.
- With THC aka marijuana – This is a plant bred to contain high percentages of cannabinoids and more specifically THC. This will make you high and there are different sanctions in each state for possession, operating vehicles, consumption and sales.
There are four states as of this writing that ban all forms of marijuana including industrial hemp: Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Here is a link to a great resource to check the status of legality of marijuana in different states. Due to this gigantic gray area, there are many banks and payment processors, and even sellers, like Google and Amazon, that won’t allow the sale or promotion of marijuana based products including CBD. So if you see any products there as of this writing, it either doesn’t contain any cannabinoids or simply haven’t been identified yet.
What is the best way to use it?
Both CBD and THC can be administered via many different methods:
- Smoking – Fastest onset of effects, shorter duration
- Topical – Great for localized relief – duration depends on carrier oil
- Ingested – Capsules, gummies, honey straws, etc – slow onset, depends on digestion, longest duration
- Tincture under the tongue – Fast onset, long duration of effects
There are other methods out there but these are the most common.
So which one is best?
Both CBD and THC have great medicinal properties. It basically comes down to the disease you are trying to treat and if you don’t mind the psychotropic effects of THC.
In the case where either will treat the disease, I prefer CBD, because it doesn’t induce a high, it is legal in most states, and has less side effects (if any).
Therapeutic potential of medicinal marijuana: an educational primer for health care professionals
Disclaimers: This article is designed to be a starting point to learn about marijuana and CBD. Always research thoroughly before acting or consuming any of these products. Always consult with your healthcare provider. The author assumes no liability for actions taken because of this article.