"New year, new me!" rings the half-baked cry of millions of people who, with a revolution around the sun, are creating themselves anew! Changes in diets, exercise, recreational habits, attachment to mobile phones, who knows, maybe even taking a crack at 30 days of sobriety are filling the go-getter minds of citizens reborn. Naturally, with these changes, fads will flow. And they'll ebb and they'll flow again. They'll gain loyal followers and evangelists, blogs will bulge, but separating fact from fiction can be murky, to say the least.
Among these fads came the increasing popularity and purported medicinal values of the cannabinoids present in marijuana. Specifically, cannabidiol (CBD) oil has a reasonably long history in the realm of medicine, but the amount of ways it has recently come back en vogue begs some further exploration.
What cannabidiol is and is not
In marijuana, the two most prevalent cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). You've probably got a decent grasp on THC — that's the one that creates a high — but CBD is the lesser represented cannabinoid in the Mary Jane circuit. The Huffington Post provides a helpful analysis to break down the difference between the two:
"It is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid, meaning it does not contribute to the euphoria associated with certain strains of cannabis. It is, however, psychoactive, because it crosses the blood-brain barrier. Unlike THC, CBD can be administered at relatively high doses without undesired psychological side effects."
In short, CBD doesn't produce a mind-altering high, yet shares some of the reported medicinal properties present in cannabis.
Does CBD Oil really work?
Future research may show a host of benefits from CBD therapy, but so far there have been very few clinical human trials to test its effectiveness. CBD has been shown to treat severe childhood epilepsy, but until the federal government takes a friendlier approach to marijuana, research into the medical applications of cannabinoids such as cannabidiol will likely remain very limited. As a result, it's hard to find clinical evidence of the health benefits of CBD, for now. Despite this, CBD is being used around the world to treat epilepsy, spasms, anxiety and other mental health problems, nausea, inflammation, and even cancer.
A growing number of CBD users are very vocal online about the many potential benefits of this popular oil, and anecdotal evidence of the health benefits of CBD therapy abounds. On top of that, there are anywhere between 325,000 to 375,000 massage therapists and students in the United States, and recently some of the more intrepid among them have begun to combine massage therapy and CBD oil, touting all manner of health benefits. These benefits toe the line between science and new age propaganda.
In January, Westword writer Tracy Block went to a Denver massage parlor offering a "Healing Hemp CBD Massage." Block wanted to see if the combination of massage and CBD oil could soothe aches and pains from winter snowboarding. She reported getting the warm and fuzzies after the treatment:
I felt a bodily buzz and relaxed for what I thought was a few minutes. For a moment, I wondered if the CBD had had any effect on me, but then I looked at my clock and realized twenty minutes had passed. The aches and inflammation from my time on the mountains was no longer a factor, vaporized on my path to healing an entire year's worth of built-up tension.
You'll find anecdotes like these all over the web, and not just from the alternative medicine crowd. But while many people are ready to sing the praises of CBD oil, and while many massage parlors are reaping the rewards, medical research remains thin on the ground.
Separating CBD facts from myths
Most CBD myths come from the inappropriate assumption that recreational marijuana use will have the same medical result as prescribed, concentrated CBD. This marks the difference between hype and health. Enthusiasts will say it's a cure-all remedy, while medicine has taken a more cautious approach.
CBD supporters believe it can reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain. Around the world, cannabis and CBD are being used to treat PTSD, chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. However, it's important to research the CBD "miracles" put forth by enthusiastic supporters.
The truth is that research into the long-term benefits of CBD oil is extremely limited. That may change as marijuana fights with the national legal system and more researchers explore the medicinal properties of CBD. For now, many of the touted benefits of CBD are promising yet speculative.
CBD may have a wealth of benefits, but going forward with eyes wide open is important to responsibly maneuvering the slowly stabilizing world of cannabis. Do research and be wise about what you hear, read, buy, and consume. CBD with care!