Outside of the aforementioned studies, CBD’s progress toward its place in society today suffered from intermittent spurts and starts until 1996 when California became the first US state to legalize medical cannabis. This groundbreaking moment paved the way for public support and lucrative research opportunities. Other states including Oregon, Alaska, Washington, Maine, Hawaii, Nevada, and Colorado would follow suit before the close of 2000.
Over decades, researchers have found that THC may help treat pain, nausea, loss of appetite and other problems, while CBD was thought to be biologically inactive in humans. But in the past 10 years, scientists have concluded that CBD may be quite useful. Dozens of studies have found evidence that the compound can treat epilepsy as well as a range of other illnesses, including anxiety, schizophrenia, heart disease and cancer.
Hemp is a controversial crop in some regions of the world, due to concerns about psychoactive plants in the Cannabis genus. In some regions, cultivation of hemp is banned, although products made from hemp such as oil, hemp garments, and hemp paper may be legal. In other areas, hemp is permitted, but only industrial hemp, and some nations freely permit cultivation of all plants in this genus, assuming that regulation is a more efficient technique for control than outright bans. Wild hemp is also not uncommon in some regions of the world, making it difficult to enforce bans on hemp crops.
Management of chronic pain is another application for which CBD is ideally suited, and it works in a number of ways. It and other non-THC cannabinoids found in hemp flower-bud extracts work to block pain-conducting nerve impulses, which reduces your perception of pain. Stimulation of CB1 in the brain increases dopamine, which counteracts pain. Just as importantly, these same chemical substances reduce inflammation, the driving force behind pain, which allows healing to occur.
Nutrition and cooking experts agree that one of the most versatile and healthy oils to cook with and eat is olive oil, as long as it’s extra virgin. “You want an oil that is not refined and overly processed,” says Howard. An “extra virgin” label means that the olive oil is not refined, and therefore of high quality. Extra virgin olive oil contains a large amount of monounsaturated fats and some polyunsaturated fatty acids; many studies have linked it to better heart health. Olive oil has a relatively lower smoke point compared to other oils, so it’s best for low and medium-heat cooking.
Hemp seed oil is a relatively common household ingredient. We most often use it as a cooking substitute for vegetable oil, olive oil, canola oil, etc. Hemp seed oil contains essential omega fatty acids and proteins, which are also beneficial when applied topically to your skin. Because hemp seeds contain the least amount of cannabinoids, we don’t generally use them in the production of hemp oil for therapeutic and medical value.
There's also the question of CBD's legality – something that's a lot grayer than the black-and-white picture most companies paint. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration considers CBD, like all cannabinoids, a schedule 1 drug. That means it's just as illegal as heroin and ecstasy. Meanwhile, hemp – a variety of the cannabis plant regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – is legal , so long as its THC content is negligibly low. But because the agriculture department doesn't test for CBD – only THC – in hemp, more companies are getting away with selling products they say contain CBD, says Sara Jane Ward, an assistant professor of pharmacology at the Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine who's been studying CBD in rodent models for more than 10 years. Needless to say, the legality of CBD is "very confusing and very gray," she says.
After evaluating the evidence, the panel recommended that Americans decrease levels of saturated fats (fats that come from meats, poultry, cheese, dairy products and tropical oils, such as coconut and palm oils) to reduce their risk of heart disease. People should replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats, which include polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, Lichtenstein said.
When it comes to your health, "fat" is not necessarily a dirty word. You need some fat in your diet, and it actually performs some pretty impressive tasks like boosting energy, supporting cell growth, protecting your organs, keeping your body warm, and aiding in nutrient absorption and the manufacturing of hormones, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). And oils can be a great source of these healthy fats, but choosing the right variety is key.
Last year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a nearly 500-page report on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids. A committee of 16 experts from a variety of scientific and medical fields analyzed the available evidence — more than 10,000 scientific abstracts in all. Because so few studies examine the effects of CBD on its own, the panel did not issue any findings about CBD specifically, but it did reach some conclusions about cannabis and cannabinoids more generally. The researchers determined that there is “conclusive or substantial evidence” supporting the use of cannabis or cannabinoids for chronic pain in adults, multiple sclerosis-related spasticity (a kind of stiffness and muscle spasms), and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. The committee also found “moderate” evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids can reduce sleep disturbances in people with obstructive sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, chronic pain and multiple sclerosis, as well as “limited” evidence that these substances can improve symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome, increase appetite and stem weight loss in people with HIV/AIDs, and improve symptoms of PTSD and anxiety.
Generally speaking, there’s a lot of hype around coconut products that overall aren’t backed by sound science. That’s not to say this oil is going to make you sick, but don’t go overboard. “I am not anti-coconut oil,” says Weinandy. “Our bodies do need some saturated fat. But the industry has done a good job to make it seem like it’s a superfood. The research is definitely not there.”
THC’s intoxicating powers come from its ability to mimic anandamide, an endocannabinoid or naturally occurring mood-altering substance in the body that binds to CB1 receptors in the brain and is associated with having a rosy disposition. THC binds to anandamide’s CB1 receptors even more tightly than anandamide itself, triggering an exaggerated or euphoric response — in other words, you get high.
California’s legalization spurred Dr. Geoffrey Guy and Dr. Brian Whittle to found GW Pharmaceuticals, a company that would utilize clinical trials to unpack various cannabinoid formulations as potential therapies with the overriding focus of developing what would later be known as Sativex (Nabiximols). This oral mucosal spray was made up of CBD and THC in a 1:1 ratio and successfully combated neuropathic pain, spasticity, overactive bladder, and symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
“This is a really powerful compound,” says Mikhail Kogan, the medical director of the George Washington University Center for Integrative Medicine. “I’ve seen it work for a lot of my patients.” He prescribes high-CBD strains of cannabis regularly for such illnesses as epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, autoimmune disorders, autism and insomnia.