As cannabis medicine comes to the fore, hemp-extracted CBD will be increasingly popular, since it doesn't get you high, yet still has amazing benefits!
Non-psychoactive hemp-derived CBD reduces inflammation, reduces anxiety, lowers blood sugar, reduces seizures, helps with sleep, improves skin conditions, is neuro-protective, cancer-preventive, and has even reduced tumor size in some cases.
The question is, how can one medicine do so many things? Here I’m going to share two complementary views of how one medicine can do so much: 1) the evolutionary view, and 2) the science view.
The Evolutionary View: CBD Co-Evolved with Human Beings Over Thousands of Years
All life on earth, the fruits, the vegetables, the animals, all co-evolved with human beings over thousands of years. Including cannabis and CBD. They are actually nature-made to fit our biology.
Which, in my understanding, no pharmaceutical can claim.
And that’s because pharmaceuticals are synthetic. As in man-made. As in not naturally occurring in nature. Which is why they can be patented, and sold to make a billion dollars.
Now I have nothing against pharmaceuticals, or modern chemical science, which is in fact an amazing thing. I know many people even credit anti-depressants for saving their life. But I also recognize that many man-made chemicals, while creating benefits, also often create side effects, which are sometimes even worse than the conditions they aim to treat. Which, amazingly, we don’t see with CBD. And CBD doesn’t just benefit one condition, it benefits many conditions.
CBD can do so much for us because it co-evolved with us.
When a human being invents a molecule, that molecule did not co-evolve with us over thousands of years. Instead it went through maybe 7 years of animal trials, then onto human trials. And sometimes it is even sold to the public for a few years, and then recalled after that. And sometimes it creates a mess first, like the present opioid epidemic - people dying by a pain-killer overdose...that literally can't happen with CBD.
When man invents a molecule, no way will it have the same wisdom to its design as when nature makes it. Because what man barely pulls off in 7 years, nature perfects in thousands.
And that is the “evolutionary view" as to how CBD can benefit so many conditions.
The Science View: The Development of the Endo-Cannabinoid System (or ECS)
When I first heard about the ECS, it really helped me to understand how CBD can do so much. The ECS is a very recent discovery of a system of cannabinoid receptors that exist throughout the human body. The science of the ECS definitely backs up the evolutionary view of CBD.
Some quotes from Dr. Jeffrey Chen, head of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative: (quotes are from the video below)
“The ECS is a very primitive system. We think it evolved over 500M years ago. So it is as old as our endogenous opiate system. And the functions are quite broad. Everything from mood, memory, sleep, pain response, stress response, immune function, reproductive function, energy metabolism."
“So there is the CB1 receptor, which is mainly present in the brain, and the CB2 receptor, which is mainly present in immune cells. But in fact they are distributed throughout our body. It's not just a neurotransmitter, but it's predominant function is still neurotransmission. It’s still most concentrated in the brain.”
"We’re finding the ECS is very critical for embryology and development. We find that within just a few days of embryonic life, they already start expressing CB1 receptors, and interestingly, breast milk is very abundant in endo-cannabinoids...And this system is not just present in humans, it is preserved across all vertebrates”.
“So if you had to sum up the function of the ECS in one word, it would be *homeostasis*: the maintenance of a stable environment despite external stressors and changes..."
How I See CBD: Profoundly Normalizing and Balancing
Although cannabis and pharmaceuticals both have their place, it is definitely interesting to reflect on the differences. We see clearly in cannabis a medicine with profound benefits to a human being. As a health coach, I see CBD especially as a profoundly balancing and normalizing. Instead of forcing our biology in a particular direction, and creating side effects, CBD works through our own body-wide endo-cannabinoid system, to help normalize, regulate, and calm both anxiety and inflammation and even seizures. Pretty amazing.
From Western Medicine to Integrative Medicine
I'll be honest, as a health writer and wide explorer of holistic medicine from herbs to acupuncture, one of my intentions in writing this piece is to help illuminate the reality that we already have many medicines here that we aren't using to the max. This really isn't just about cannabis. The broader trend is a very clear shift from allopathic medicine alone, to integrative medicine, or IM, which uses both allopathic together with evidence-based holistic medicine, including all the herbs, of which cannabis is one.
That, I believe, is the future.