As the world wakes to the knowledge that cannabis can be used to treat a range of chronic and acute medical conditions - psychological and physical - cannabis breeders have responded by developing a range of high CBD, low THC strains perfectly suited to medicinal application.
For decades cannabis culture was dominated by the big-hitting, high THC strains; strains guaranteed to deliver a mind-bending high or an intensely psychotropic experience. While still extremely popular among recreational users, the idea of ‘getting high’ or even being caught doing something illegal was enough to discourage individuals who might otherwise have taken advantage of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
Thankfully, cannabis cultivation and consumption is more widely accepted today. Weed is regarded as an effective natural alternative to using manufactured medications in treating many medical conditions.
CBD has proven to be effective in treating a wide variety of medical disorders. These include mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and physical ailments such as IBS and arthritis.
However, medicinal cannabis isn’t restricted to high CBD strains; many patients have found relief using high THC strains too. Whilst the experience is markedly different, high THC weed has proved to be particularly effective in providing physical pain relief and respite from certain psychological disorders. You can read more about the medical benefits of potent THC strains here. (LINK)
MEDICAL BENEFITS OF CBD
But what exactly is CBD and why should you be growing strains containing it? CBD (cannabidiol) is one of several chemical compounds present in cannabis; after THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it is the most prevalent active ingredient in weed.
While THC delivers the classic ‘high’ experience, CBD does not affect users in the same way. However, like THC strains, high CBD cannabis can still be consumed, applied or smoked for its own unique benefits. While the methods of absorption are similar the effects are very different.
Like THC, CBD is distributed around the body by neurotransmitters. CBD binds best with transmitters that control the immune, gastrointestinal and nervous systems, whereas THC binds best with transmitters that control motor functions and cognition. These mysterious chemical preferences go some way to explain where and how CBD and THC do their best work where medicinal application is concerned.
MEDICAL APPLICATIONS OF CBD
The medical benefits of using CBD are many and varied. It is particularly effective in the treatment of the following:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS)
- Mental health disorders
For many of the above ailments the primary benefit of using cannabis is pain relief. Pain relief provided through cannabis consumption has been widely known and applied since ancient times and the impact is just as significant today, albeit backed up by science. For example, a 2017 US study demonstrated the effectiveness of CBD in inhibiting pain and inflammation in patients suffering from osteoarthritis.
Unpredictable and debilitating, seizures have a detrimental effect on an individual’s quality of life. CBD has been found to be extremely effective in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures in patients suffering from severe forms of epilepsy.
In 2018, the FDA approved the first cannabis-derived drug for epilepsy sufferers which proved very successful. A 2019 study showed:
- CBD reduced major motor seizures by 50% and total seizures by 44%
- Of over 600 patients who took part, most had a 50% reduction in seizures over 96 weeks
The study goes on to recommend CBD as a viable long-term treatment option for certain types of epilepsy patients.
Affecting millions of people the world over, arthritis is a chronic condition with the potential to decimate an individual’s quality of life, both physically and mentally. CBD has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis, especially when applied directly to the source of pain through a cream or a gel.
A 2016 study researched the efficacy of CBD on joints affected by arthritis. While the subject models were rats, the study concluded:
- 6.2mg per day was enough to reduce swelling and pain
- 62.3mg per day showed a similar result with 6.2mg per day
Although it requires further investigation, the results of this study give credence to anecdotal evidence suggesting CBD is effective as a treatment to relieve pain associated with arthritis.
Where CBD comes into its own, however, is in mitigating the symptoms of chemotherapy. This aggressive cancer therapy is notorious for very unpleasant side-effects including pain, nausea and loss of appetite. CBD-rich cannabis is well-suited to alleviating symptoms such as these and has been used with great success in all forms to bring relief and comfort to cancer patients.
While it’s widely agreed that CBD can help in the treatment of cancer, the field is yet to benefit from extensive research. While many chemotherapy patients find CBD to be useful after treatment, a recent study showed how CBD and chemotherapy used together could even halt cancer, in this case pancreatic cancer. However, this is a study in isolation and, while it offers hope, it should not be taken as definitive proof. On a broader level, a scientific review conducted in Europe showed how cannabinoids could affect cellular processes and inhibit tumor growth by direct intervention via the body’s endocannabinoid system.