Cannabidiol (better known as CBD): You’ve heard of it but you’re not sure what it means.

What is CBD?

According to Project CBD, a non-profit organization with a mission to inform the public and medical professionals about CBD, cannabis and cannabis-related products and processes, CBD is promising medicine. In the article, CBD User’s Manual, the Project defines CBD as follows:

Cannabidiol or CBD is a non-intoxicating component of the cannabis plant with enormous therapeutic potential.

CBD as medicine

CBD is used therapeutically and since its discovery, legalization, and study is fairly recent, the beneficial results to humans and animals are largely anecdotal. According to users, CBD helps alleviate symptoms associated with pain (chronic or intermittent), anxiety, schizophrenia, PTSD, rheumatoid arthritis,  and cancer. It’s also recognized as helpful to those with Crohn’s disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, and antibiotic-resistant infections, and so much more.

But the evidence is not only anecdotal. Some early clinical research reveals that CBD acts as an anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, anti-depressant, anti-psychotic and antioxidant. And huge benefits are on the horizon for cancer victims as CBD assists in tumor destruction.  And Alzheimers, which affects brain cells when plaque accumulates, may be the next CBD frontier with its Cannabidiol beta amyloid plaque-removing capabilities.

Also, its curative properties to quell or cease seizures is long-recognized for thousands of years. CBD, THC and other compounds in the cannabis plant have been used to treat childhood epilepsy since the mid-19th century.

CBD and THC, a match made in heaven–mostly

While CBD alone has great medicinal promise, the power couple–CBD and THC (the high-producing component of the cannabis plant)–working synergistically, create the greatest wellness possibilities. Where THC has drawbacks, including the psychoactive reaction that can cause anxiety and rapid heart rate, CBD lessens those effects. So, while THC pumps up the pain-relieving and anti-cancer properties, CBD tempers the high and extends the effects over a longer period than THC alone.

Okay, how much is too much?

What’s more? CBD and THC combined regenerate brain cells. It’s a happy marriage. But how much is enough for you is personal, depending on your sensitivity to THC and your overall aims. There’s no one-size-fits all. The good news is you have choices. If you don’t like the THC high, you can still get the medicinal benefits of cannabidiol with CBD alone or in combination with very small amounts of THC.

So much depends on what you’re addressing. Pain? Depression? Seizures? These respond better to higher CBD ratios. Cancer and autism, among other diseases, are more responsive to balanced ratios of THC and CBD.  Since components in cannabis activate immune-regulating function CB2 receptors in the body, any cannabis strain will benefit a host of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.

Smart purchasers check their labels

That’s why full-spectrum CBD or whole plant CBD, which contains all the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant (not just THC or CBD) may be the better choice for some conditions. Compared to CBD Isolate, which is solely CBD, full-spectrum CBD offers benefits of a variety of compounds that address specific symptoms or conditions. For example, CBG inhibits cancer cell growth while CBGA reduces pain.

A 2015 study of full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate proved full-spectrum CBD provided greater pain relief. Researchers at Jerusalem’s Lautenberg Center for General Tumor Immunology administered full-spectrum to one group of mice and isolate to another. Not only did the full-spectrum mice get more relief than the isolate mice, but more full-spectrum CBD meant more relief. Not so with the isolate.

In any case, check the labels of CBD products for the type of CBD–full spectrum or isolate–and the THC-CBD ratios for dosing. Choose products with wholesome ingredients, no preservatives, corn syrups, or other synthetic additives. Be sure the product is fresh and proven free of contaminants like pesticides, mold, and other harmful conditions. Also, you want your CBD extracted from high-resin cannabis over industrial hemp, which is low in cannabinoid content.

Doctor’s orders?

Since CBD’s medicinal qualities are only just beginning to come to light, your healthcare providers may not know enough about CBD’s benefits, how it supports the endocannabinoid system. In fact, some doctors may not even know about the endocannabinoid system, a relatively recent discovery. Still, you might want to ask a health professional about CBD, especially if you have a chronic or serious condition.

While CBD is safe, you should always consult your healthcare provider if you’re taking other medications. CBD may affect how your body processes cholesterol and blood thinning medications, for example. Ask a doctor familiar with its benefits how CBD supplementation may be right for you.

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CBD offers powerful options: relief, hope, and health. What else is on the horizon as science explores this “golden” elixir?  Perhaps even more health benefits for those who suffer and improved well being for those who crave more balance.