CBD health benefits are touted around the globe and are the focus of heated health and political debates right now. The key to understanding why CBD benefits people so much is to take a close look at Cannabis.
There is a lot of confusion surround this plant, which is the point of this article about CBD health benefits – to clear up some of the mess and to share the truth about cannabis. My request is that you read this with an open mind and an open heart. Let's allow history and research to lay the groundwork so we can have a healthy, balanced discussion.
In this article about CBD health benefits, you will learn:
- The Key to Understanding CBD Health Benefits
- Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana
- Understanding the Different Types of Cannabis
- Historical Uses
- CBD Health Benefits: Using Cannabis As Medicine
- Cannabidiol: Hope for Cannabis Supporters
- The Future of Cannabis
- A Note on Cancer
- Safety Concerns
- Truth About Cancer: Biblical Perpective
The Key to Understanding CBD Health Benefits
Cultured around the world, Cannabis is a plant native to China, India and the Caucasus and has been a source of fiber, food, medicine and oil since prehistoric times. There are several varieties of this plant species and people generally refer to it as “marijuana” or “hemp.” The historical accounts and current research surrounding Cannabis are quite impressive, and it is interesting to see how it has become one of the most controversial plants in the world.
The key to understanding the truth about Cannabis, and to discover why CBD benefits people, is to learn what hemp is compared to marijuana, which are both made up of the Cannabis sativa plant. I discuss these in details below, but let this suffice for now:
- Marijuana is a breed of the Cannabis plant that contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentrated in the buds, which is the chemical that produces the psychotropic effects that gets people “high.”
- Hemp is also a breed of the Cannabis plant, but is bred without THC-containing plants. It is farmed for its height due to the usefulness of its stalks and is rich in cannabidiol (CBD), which is the “major nonpsychoactive component of Cannabis sativa.” (1)
- Both have a rich history and are praised for their practical utility, particularly their medicinal benefits.
The way in which ancient cultures used Cannabis is quite profound, and it is largely considered to be the most versatile plant on the plant because of it varied uses. The Weston A. Price refers to hemp as the “Plant of Many Uses: and this is why: (2)
- All hemp products are biodegradable.
- Hemp cloth is so durable it can be used to made sails for ships. In fact, the first Levi's blue jeans were made up of hemp!
- It's scratchier than cotton, but is more sustainable because commercial farming doesn't require the ridiculous level of pesticides that cotton does (hemp matures in approximately 100 days without the need for pesticides).
- Hemp is regarded as the “perfect” biomass fuel solution as it can readily be processed into charcoal, ethanol and methane.
- Hemp can also be used in long-lasting cement compounds, making it an effective alternative to construction materials.
- The oil extracted from hemp can be used in a variety of products including cosmetics, inks, paints and varnishes.
Marijuana, on the other hand, is primarily used for its medicinal and psychotropic effects and lacks the usefulness that we have seen with hemp.
CBD Health Benefits: The Difference Between Marijuana and Hemp
The breeding practices and utilization of the plant will determine which term we should use. Meaning this:
Marijuana is the correct term to use when describing a Cannabis plant that is bred for its medicinal or recreational use. It is known for it psychotropic effects due to the high amounts of THC that are extracted from the resinous glands (known as trichomes). Cannabis plants engineered as marijuana (not hemp) contain levels of THC ranging from 3% – 15% while plants grown for industrial hemp contain less than 1%.
There 3 primary ways marijuana is cultivated and manufactured:
- Herbal – consisting of the dried flowering tops and leaves.
- Resin – compressed solid made from the resinous parts of the plant
- “Oil” – which is actually a solvent extract of cannabis (more on that in the article The Truth About Cannabis Oil).
Hemp, on the other hand, is the proper term to use for Cannabis strains that have been cultivated for its fiber and/or seeds, which are used to make a wide variety of products. Cannabis grown this way contains trace amounts of THC and rich amounts of CBD, which has been shown to blocks the effects of THC on the nervous system. It has been suggested that “low THC levels and high CBD levels in hemp plants negate any psychoactive effects.” (2)
Products made from industrial hemp are supposed to contain less than 0.3% THC, which is the legal amount to buy, consume, sell and ship the product. This 0.3% is the standard to distinguish between what is classified as “hemp” and what is classified as “marijuana,” but there has been some concerns that the amount of THC in hemp seeds and other consumables are not consistent. This is why organizations like the Weston A Price Foundation strongly recommend caution when eating hemp seeds. (2)
CBD Health Benefits: Understanding the Different Types of Cannabis
There is also some contention as to what types/species of Cannabis have medicinal or psychotropic effects.
Research since the early- to mid-1990s has suggested that Cannabis should be viewed under one primary species Cannabis Sativa, but a more recent article in the American Journal of Botany suggests otherwise. (4) Scientists from Indiana University analyzed 157 cannabis plants via gas chromatography (a term used to describe the process volatile substances are analyzed in the gas phase) from the the following 26 countries and discovered something interesting:
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Former Yugoslavia
According to the study, Two types of C. sativa and four types of C. indica were discovered. Interestingly, average THC levels were significantly higher in C. indica than C. sativa types. Specifically, “The proportion of high THC/CBD chemotype plants in most accessions assigned to C. sativa was <25% and in most accessions assigned to C. indica was >25%. Plants with relatively high levels of tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and/or cannabidivarin (CBDV) were common only in C. indica.” (4)
This study suggests a standard two-species Cannabis classification, which may help differentiate between hemp and marijuana even more.
CBD Health Benefits: Historical Uses
Like our modern day uses, the way our ancestors utilized Cannabis largely depended on whether the plant was cultivated as medical marijuana or hemp.
- First records of medicinal marijuana use dates back to 800 B.C. in India where they prescribed it for “congestion.”
- Ancient Egyptians used marijuana to treat ocular inflammation and to “cool the uterus.”
- The 1st century Chinese medical book Divine Husbandman's Classic (Shen'nong Bencaojing) refers to marijuana being used for “female weakness, gout, rheumatism, malaria, beri-beri, constipation and absent-mindedness.”
- In the 3rd century, we have records of our ancestors taking the leaves in an infusion or eating them whole to relive pain during surgery.
- The 19th century famously reports that Queen Victoria regularly used marijuana as a pain-killer.
- In fact, marijuana was widely accepted as an analgesic for menstrual cramps and pain related to the monthly cycle during the 19th century.
- Literally more than 100 papers were published recommending marijuana as a medicinal substance between 1840 and 1900.
- “However, concern over the dangers of abuse led to the banning of the medicinal use of marijuana in most countries in the 1930s.” (3)
- We know that the Chinese traditionally used hemp fiber to make paper and rope.
- The Greek historian Herodotus wrote about hemp being used as fine cloth in the 4th century BC.
- Europeans used hemp fiber to make fabrics and rope for sailing ships.
- Later, hemp became the material of choice used for paper manufacture in Europe and China.
- We don't usually read this in our children's school textbooks, but the American colonists relied heavily on hemp.
- In fact, during this time, hemp was the world's leading crop.
- Virginia law actually mandated that hemp production be mandatory for all farmers in 1619.
- Similar laws were passed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and and the Chesapeake Colonies.
- In 1794, George Washington is credited as saying, “Make the most you can of the hemp seed and grow it everywhere!”
- History also tells us that “the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper and all early American flags were made with hemp. During the American Revolution, wives and daughters sewed hemp linens for the Continental Army and rope made from hemp was used to rig the early American Navy and Merchant Marine ships.” (2)
CBD Health Benefits: Using Cannabis As Medicine
In the words of a 2007 article in the journal Dialogues in Clinical Neurosciences, “Despite the mild addiction to cannabis and the possible enhancement of addiction to other substances of abuse, when combined with cannabis, the therapeutic value of cannabinoids is too high to be put aside.” (3)
Modern research shows that medicinal Cannabis can: (5)
- Reduce pain (analgesia).
- Help reduce side-effects related to chemotherapy in cancer patients (especially pain and vomiting).
- Reduce muscle spasms and neurological overactivity in MS and cerebral palsy patients.
- Help reduce ocular pressure in glaucoma patients.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Relieve symptoms of asthma, constipation, depression, epilepsy and insomnia.
The reason why Cannabis is such an effective healing agent is because it contains “an enormous variety of chemicals. Some of the 483 compounds identified are unique to Cannabis, for example, the more than 60 cannabinoids, whereas the terpenes, with about 140 members forming the most abundant class, are widespread in the plant kingdom.” Regarding cannabinoids, they are “a class of diverse chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors in cells that repress neurotransmitter release in the brain.” (6)
Essentially, TCH “potently activates the G-protein-coupled cannabinoid receptor CB1 and also modulates the cannabinoid receptor CB2.” (7) Few substances on the planet can do this. Nonetheless, as an article in the journal Trends in Pharmacological Sciences points out, “The well-known psychotropic effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which are mediated by activation of brain CB1 receptors, have greatly limited its clinical use. However, the plant Cannabis contains many cannabinoids with weak or no psychoactivity that, therapeutically, might be more promising than Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol.” (8)
Interestingly, research has shown that several other non-cannabinoid plant constituents have been reported to bind to and functionally interact with CB receptors. Certain natural products from other plants, also target other proteins of the endocannabinoid system, such as hydrolytic enzymes that control endocannabinoid levels. For example:
- Coumarin derivative rutamarin from the medicinal rue plant (Ruta graveolens),
- Diindolylmethane (DIM), which is found in broccoli and has anti-cancer properties.
- And indole-3-carbinol is commonly found in cruciferous vegetables like bok choy, broccholi, cabbage, kales, radish, and others.
In light of all of these CBD health benefits, the glaring question that needs to be asked is, “Why isn't Cannabis a FDA-approved medicine?” According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Researchers have not conducted enough large-scale clinical trials that show that the benefits of the marijuana plant (as opposed to its cannabinoid ingredients) outweigh its risks in patients it is meant to treat.” (9)
However, there are FDA-approved THC-based medications currently being used to increase appetite, reduce nausea and decrease pain.
CBD Health Benefits of Cannabidiol: Hope for Cannabis Supporters
The therapeutic effects of Cannabis are indisputable, although, the problem most people have with medical marijuana is its psychotropic ability to get people “high.” The same can also be said about pharmaceutical drugs, which is why Cannabis supporters are so avid in their argument that medical marijuana should not only be legal, but also readily available for people who need it.
As the debate rages on in political and religious fervor, studies like a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology are laying the foundation for further discussion on how to find to a healthy compromise. (10)
According to researchers it has become quite clear that CBD benefits include:
And is, therefore, a potential medicine for:
- Oxidative injury
- Vomiting and nausea
Unfortunately, researchers are basing these conclusions off of animal and theoretical studies primarily and it is becoming glaringly obvious that we need human trials to support these findings.
CBD Health Benefits: The Future of Cannabis
At this point, the future of Cannabis appears to remain in the control of governmental health organizations and legislatures.
The National Institute of Health is currently funding research to explore the possible medical uses of CBD benefits, THC and other Cannabis cannabinoids. Here is the most recent research update, which came from a report written by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (9)
“Recent animal studies have shown that marijuana extracts may help kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. Evidence from one cell culture study suggests that purified extracts from whole-plant marijuana can slow the growth of cancer cells from one of the most serious types of brain tumors. Research in mice showed that treatment with purified extracts of THC and CBD benefits, when used with radiation, increased the cancer-killing effects of the radiation.
Scientists are also conducting preclinical and clinical trials with marijuana and its extracts to treat numerous diseases and conditions, such as the following:
- Autoimmune diseases (diseases that weaken the immune system):
- multiple sclerosis (MS), which causes gradual loss of muscle control
- Alzheimer's disease, which causes loss of brain function, affecting memory, thinking, and behavior
- Substance use disorders
- Mental disorders”
You can follow NIDA's marijuana research at:
CBD Health Benefits: A Note About Cancer
There are several blog posts out there that have gone viral sharing 42 Medical Studies that Prove Cannabis Can Cure Cancer and other similar topics. One thing is clear: THC and other cannabinoids have been shown to inhibit tumour growth and angiogenesis in animal and human in vitro (cells in a petri dish) studies. However, the antitumoral effect of cannabinoids hasn't been tested on humans to a great extent, and we need to be careful not to jump to any premature conclusions. Otherwise, we'll start see reports that the truth about Cannabis includes a cure for everything including death!
The list below is promising and should give researchers and legislatures reason to investigate the effect(s) that Cannabis can have as a natural cancer solution. When clicking through, take note that several studies report non-psychotropic effects when THC was administered to cancer patients. This should be of particular interest to people who are against Cannabis because of its ability to get people “high.”
Biliary Tract Cancer
Uterine, Testicular, and Pancreatic Cancers
CBD Health Benefits: Safety Concerns
In spite of the benefits, Cannabis presents a wide range of health risks, yet the severity of side effects is hotly debated.
On one hand, a study in the 2013 journal Pharmacotherapy states that, “Reported adverse effects are typically not serious, with the most common being dizziness. Safety concerns regarding cannabis include the increased risk of developing schizophrenia with adolescent use, impairments in memory and cognition, accidental pediatric ingestions, and lack of safety packaging for medical cannabis formulations. ” (11)
On the other, a 2014 report in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Design claims the side effects of medical marijuana is much more serious and categorizes the health risks. In fact, “Cannabis can frequently have negative effects in its users, which may be amplified by certain demographic and/or psychosocial factors.” According to the review, these risks can be categorized as being either acute or chronic adverse effects: (12)
“Acute adverse effects include hyperemesis syndrome, impaired coordination and performance, anxiety, suicidal ideations/tendencies, and psychotic symptoms. Acute cannabis consumption is also associated with an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes, especially fatal collisions. Evidence indicates that frequent and prolonged use of cannabis can be detrimental to both mental and physical health. Chronic effects of cannabis use include mood disorders, exacerbation of psychotic disorders in vulnerable people, cannabis use disorders, withdrawal syndrome, neurocognitive impairments, cardiovascular and respiratory and other diseases.”
- Accidental overdose
- Addiction and subsequent withdrawal symptoms
- Birth defects
- Brain abnormalities and cognitive problems
- Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Subsequent car accidents and personal injury due to disorientation and lack of physical coordination
- Poor school performance
- Potential increased cancer risk
- Psychotropic effects and psychosis
- Pulmonary disorders like inflammation of the airways, increased risk of pneumonia and respiratory infections
- Social rejection – being ostracized by one's family, friends, religious community
- Subsequent social isolation upon being labelled a user
- Unemployment if drug tests are failed in States where medical marijuana is illegal
CBD Health Benefits and Truth About Cannabis: Biblical Perspective
I am keenly aware that the CBD health benefits far outweigh the risks of using Cannabis as medicine. However, many faiths and religious systems have prohibitions against becoming inebriated – whether getting drunk or “high” – and this would prevent them from using certain products because of their ability to contribute to psychotropic effects and psychosis.
Personally, I am not as well-versed in other faiths as I am with Christianity and Judaism. So it is with my Biblical Health Educator hat on that I make the following comment:
- Christians need to be very careful about using Cannabis oil and should stick to CBD oil because it contains little to no THC to prevent getting high.
It should be clear to all followers of the Bible that getting high on medical marijuana is synonymous to getting drunk on wine and these same warnings apply:
- Proverbs 31:6 – Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress.
- Proverbs 23:29-35 – Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things.
- Isaiah 5:11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them!
- Habakkuk 2:15 – “Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink— you pour out your wrath and make them drunk, in order to gaze at their nakedness!
- Isaiah 5:22 – Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink.
- Proverbs 23:20-21 – Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.
- Ephesians 5:18-20 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father. ()
- Galatians 5:21 – Envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- Proverbs 20:1 – Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
- 1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
- 1 Corinthians 6:10 – Nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
- 1 Corinthians 5:11 – But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
- Titus 2:3 – Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good.
- 1 Timothy 3:8 – Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.
- Proverbs 31:4-5 – It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
- Romans 13:13 – Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.
- Leviticus 10:8-11 – And the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying, “Drink no wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the Lord has spoken to them by Moses.”
After it is all said and done, I hope that you have enjoyed this short journey into the truth about Cannabis oil. My hope and prayer is that you make the right decision for you and your health. Please consider all of the facets surrounding medicinal use before making a rash decision in either direction.
- Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine