Cannabinoid: Good for You and Your Brain?

For years the medical establishment has been warning us about the dangers of cannabis, based on little more than conjecture, ignorance and a strong dose of institutional and cultural bias. Times have changed, and so has the minds of many medical researchers.

Cannabidiol is Neuroprotective

Findings in a 2012 paper published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology entitled: Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid? (Fernández-Ruiz et. al., May 2012) proposes that cannabidiol (CBD), one of the two major constituents of cannabis, has a significant neuroprotective property and holds tremendous promise as a new medicine for a variety of auto-immune (e.g. rheumatoid arthritistype-1 diabetes), neurodegenerative (e.g. Alzheimersmultiple sclerosisHuntington’s diseaseParkinson’s disease) and psychiatric disorders (e.g. schizophrenia).

CBD has been shown to be a strong anti-inflammatory agent as well as a potent anti-oxidant, which might explain some of its neuroprotective properties. Add to all of this the fact that CBD presents essentially zero toxicity and has no known undesirable side effects.

Cannabidiol – Better than Valium at Reducing Stress?

In a separate article entitled Multiple mechanisms involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders, (by Campos et. al., Philosophical Trans Royal Society London, Dec 2012), the authors detail the anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties of cannabidiol. Numerous preclinical studies demonstrate that CBD acts like as a counter-weight to the potential anxiolytic (anxiety) producing effects of high doses of THC, the other chief cannabinoid found in cannabis.

In addition to modulating the psychoactive effects of THC, CBD has been found to reduce anxiety in otherwise healthy volunteers – after a simulated public speaking event. In findings published in the prestigious Journal of Psychopharmacology (Zuardi, Jan 1993), the authors compare the effectiveness of CBD, Diazepam and ipsapirone. The findings were surprising. In this double-blind study, CBD (and ipsapirone) actually worked better than Valium at modulating the increased anxiety produced by a simulated stress event – a virtual public speaking situation.

Cannabidiol – A Treatment for Early Childhood Epilepsy?

Since studies performed in the early 1970s, cannabinoid have been known to possess significant anticonvulsant properties. Scientists are now looking seriously at the potential therapeutic use of CBD and THC in two intractable childhood epilepsies, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Initial (uncontrolled) reports indicate dramatic improvement – more than 50% of patients in the study experienced a reduced number of seizures, and between 9 – 15% reported being completely seizure free. While the results remain very promising, the data could suffer from methodological problems. A new placebo controlled study is underway and the results will be forthcoming. Till then, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic that we may be on the path to bringing relief to young children around the world suffering from this disorder.

With Governor Kasich’s signature, Ohio becomes the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana. And yet the FDA (and DEA) still considers cannabis to be a Schedule I drug, with no medical value, and as dangerous as heroine. This view is simply not rooted in science or rational thinking. It’s time to reschedule cannabis and get it out of the hands of politicians and back into the hands of the scientific community.

Much more research is needed to better understand the pharmacological properties of cannabinoid such as cannabidiol and THC, and the growing list of therapeutic effects these natural substances have on the human body.

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