13 March 2015

Cannabidiol (CBD) Misconceptions

It doesn’t get you 'high', but it’s causing quite a buzz among medical scientists and patients. The past year has seen a surge of interest in Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabis compound with significant therapeutic properties. Numerous US commercial start-ups and internet retailers have jumped on the CBD bandwagon, touting CBD derived from industrial hemp as the next big thing, a miracle oil that can shrink tumours, quell seizures and ease chronic pain, without making people feel 'stoned'. But along with a growing awareness of CBD as a potential health aide there has been a proliferation of misconceptions about CBD.

  1. CBD is medical, THC is recreational” - Project CBD receives many inquiries from around the world and often people say they are seeking “CBD, the medical part of the plant, not THC, the recreational part that gets you high". Actually, delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 'The High Causer', has awesome therapeutic properties. Scientists at the Scripps Research Center in San Diego reported that THC inhibits an enzyme implicated in the formation of beta-amyloid plaque, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s-related dementia. The US federal government recognises single-molecule THC as an anti-nausea compound and appetite booster, deeming it a Schedule III drug, a category reserved for medicinal substances with little abuse potential. But whole plant cannabis, the only natural source of THC, continues to be classified as a dangerous Schedule I drug with no medical value.
  2. “CBD is the good cannabinoid and THC is the bad cannabinoid” - in the US the drug warrior’s strategic retreat is to give ground on CBD while continuing to demonise THC. Diehard cannabis prohibitionists are exploiting the good news about CBD to further stigmatise high-THC cannabis, casting THC as the bad cannabinoid, whereas CBD is framed as the good cannabinoid. Why? Because CBD doesn’t make you high like THC does. Project CBD categorically rejects this moralistic, reefer madness dichotomy in favour of whole plant cannabis therapeutics.
  3. “CBD is most effective without THC” - THC and CBD are the power couple of cannabis compounds, they work best together. Scientific studies have established that CBD and THC interact synergistically to enhance each other’s therapeutic effects. British researchers have shown that CBD potentiates THC’s anti-inflammatory properties in an animal model of colitis. Scientists at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco determined that a combination of CBD and THC has a more potent anti-tumour effect than either compound alone when tested on brain cancer and breast cancer cell lines. And extensive clinical research has demonstrated that CBD combined with THC is more beneficial for neuropathic pain than either compound as a single molecule.
  4. “Single-molecule pharmaceuticals are superior to ‘crude’ whole plant medicinals” - According to the US federal government, specific components of the cannabis plant (THC, CBD) have medical value, but the plant itself does not have medical value. Uncle Sam’s single-molecule blinders reflect a cultural and political bias that privileges Big Pharma products. Single-molecule medicine is the predominant corporate way, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved way, but it’s not the only way and it’s not necessarily the optimal way to benefit from cannabis therapeutics. Cannabis contains several hundred compounds, including various flavonoids, aromatic terpenes and many minor cannabinoids in addition to THC and CBD. Each of these compounds has specific healing attributes, but when combined they create what scientists refer to as an holistic “entourage effect” so that the therapeutic impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its single-molecule parts. The FDA, however, isn’t in the business of approving plants as medicine.
  5. Psychoactivity is inherently an adverse side effect” - According to the politically correct drug war catechism, the cannabis 'high' is an unwanted side effect. Big Pharma is keen on synthesising medically active cannabis-like molecules that don’t make people high, although it’s not obvious why mild euphoric feelings are intrinsically negative for a sick person or a healthy person, for that matter. In ancient Greece the word euphoria meant 'having health', a state of well-being. The euphoric qualities of cannabis, far from being an unwholesome side effect, are deeply implicated in the therapeutic value of the plant. “We should be thinking of cannabis as a medicine first,” said Dr Tod Mikuriya, “that happens to have some psychoactive properties, as many medicines do, rather than as an intoxicant that happens to have a few therapeutic properties on the side”.
  6. “CBD is legal in all 50 US states” - Purveyors of imported, CBD-infused hemp oil claim it’s legal to market their wares anywhere in the US as long as the oil contains less than 0.3% THC. Actually, it’s not so simple. Federal law prohibits US farmers from growing hemp as a commercial crop, but the sale of imported, low-THC, industrial hemp products is permitted in the US as long as these products are derived from the seed or stalk of the plant, not from the leaves and flowers. Here’s the catch: Cannabidiol can’t be pressed or extracted from hemp seed but can be extracted from the flowers, leaves and, to a very minor extent, from the stalk of the hemp plant. Hemp oil start-ups lack credibility when they say their CBD comes from hemp seed and stalk. US congress may soon vote to exempt industrial hemp and CBD from the definition of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act. Such legislation would not be necessary if CBD derived from foreign-grown hemp was already legal throughout the US.
  7. “’CBD-only’ laws adequately serve the patient population” - Nearly a dozen (11) US state legislatures have passed 'CBD only' (or more accurately 'low THC') laws and other states are poised to follow suit. Some states restrict the sources of CBD-rich products and specify the diseases for which CBD can be accessed; others do not. Ostensibly these laws allow the use of CBD-infused oil derived from hemp or cannabis that measures less than 0.3% THC. But a CBD-rich remedy with little THC doesn’t work for everyone. Parents of epileptic children have found that adding some THC (or THCA, the raw unheated version of THC) helps with seizure control in many instances. For some epileptics, THC-dominant strains are more effective than CBD-rich products. The vast majority of patients are not well served by CBD-only laws. They need access to a broad spectrum of whole plant cannabis remedies, not just the low THC medicine. One size doesn’t fit all with respect to cannabis therapeutics and neither does one compound or one product or one strain.
  8. “CBD is CBD – It doesn’t matter where it comes from” - Yes it does matter. The flower-tops and leaves of some industrial hemp strains may be a viable source of CBD (legal issues notwithstanding), but hemp is by no means an optimal source of cannabidiol. Industrial hemp typically contains far less cannabidiol than CBD-rich cannabis. Huge amounts of industrial hemp are required to extract a small amount of CBD, thereby raising the risk of toxic contaminants because hemp is a 'bio-accumulator' that draws heavy metals from the soil. Single-molecule CBD synthesised in a lab or extracted and refined from industrial hemp lacks critical medicinal terpenes and secondary cannabinoids found in cannabis strains. These compounds interact with CBD and THC to enhance their therapeutic benefits.
from an article by Martin A. Lee
February 2015

1 comment:

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