Cannabidiol (CBD) came out of the closet when Dr. Sanjay Gupta CNN documented marijuana stopping one child’s epileptic seizure in its tracks on national television. Now it’s practically being considered a “wonder drug” because of its effect as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, neuro-protectant, anxiolytic, antidepressant, analgesic, antitumoral agent, and anti-psychotic. But the future wasn’t always so bright for this molecule. In fact, before we knew about the Endocannabinoid system and the many functions it performs, CBD was deemed useless by euphoria-seeking stoners who gave THC all the attention.
Thankfully, producers like the Stanley Brothers of Colorado kept some high-CBD plants growing on their property until the desperate mother of a Dravet’s syndrome patient approached them to try the plant on her daughter. Dravet’s is a severe form of epilepsy affecting roughly 1 in 30,000 infants around the globe. That little girl, named Charlotte Figi, became the unassuming hero of Dr. Gupta’s 2013 documentary and the strain of cannabis that helped reduce the number of daily debilitating seizures now bears her name. Charlotte’s Web is one of the best-selling products the brothers produce, safe for children because CBD is not psychoactive, and immensely therapeutic in a myriad of ways.
Here are a few of the common reasons patients use CBD:
Mood disorders (anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD)
An important thing to note is that the effects of any individual compound found in cannabis are amplified when kept as “whole plant medicine.” This whole plant distinction indicates that a product retains the fidelity of all the cannabinoids and terpenes (essential oils) in the plant from which it is derived. When we do this, it results in something called the “entourage effect.” The idea is that cannabinoids work better together in synergy to produce potent therapeutic effects in the body, rather than isolating a single compound and only using that. The ideal ratio of cannabinoids is individual to each patient’s body and what they are trying to accomplish, which is why cannabis is more like an entire pharmacy than a single drug.
The complex nature of the endocannabinoid system and how CBD plays a role means that more high-quality human trials are necessary to increase the awareness of CBD’s therapeutic properties and help re-introduce it to the medical world. It never had much chance of catching on as a street drug due to its low-psychoactivity, but we see more high-CBD strains and products enter the market, from infused foods to cosmetics, so just keep your eyes peeled, and you should be able to try something new from the booming world of cannabidiol.
Alana seeks to see cannabis from the perspective of politicians, advocates, entrepreneurs, and consumers. She got her start with a byline in the arts and culture section and crossed over into cannabis after using it medicinally. Current projects include investigations into cannabis and wellness; entrepreneurs of the Green Rush; cannabis for athletes; and the evolution of cannabis laws and culture in Canada.