CBD Nation is an excellent documentary about CBD and cannabis that most people will never watch. You can watch it on Prime Video for $4.99 (rental) or $7.99 (purchase).
Maybe it was supposed to be released in theaters. Maybe it will be free next year. It’s worth paying this small price to watch this year. If you have friends and family who are skeptical about medical cannabis, buy it for them as a gift.
The film starts with a study that found high levels of pharmaceuticals in bay mussels. The obvious contrast is with the cannabis plant that can heal without many of the side-effects of harsh drugs. We then hear true stories of patients, including young Jayden David who had life-threatening seizures. The legal medical cannabis industry is a patient-driven phenomenon. Harbourside Medical Center in Berkley provided Jayden with a CBD tincture in 2011. This medication virtually eliminated his seizures.
Jayden David’s epilepsy was controlled with CBD from cannabis.
Raphael Mechuloum is interviewed briefly at strategic points throughout the film. Mechuloum is the Israeli researcher who discovered THC also discovered the seizure-blocking effects of CBD 35 years ago.
Medical cannabis and CBD are presented as alternatives to harsh pharmaceuticals; and as promising treatments for difficult syndromes such as Graft versus Host Disease (GVHD). This leads to a presentation of the endocannabinoid system – our body’s natural system that helps maintain balance. Our bodies produce natural cannabinoids that maintain the balance of other systems in the body. Cannabis appears to be a plant that contains substances that help our bodies maintain and restore balance.
Rylie Maedler was the inspiration for Rylie’s Law legalizing medical cannabis for children in Delaware
Rylie Maedler was a young girl when she developed an aggressive bone tumor that began destroying the bones in her face. Her mother began researching alternative treatments for shrinking tumors and started Rylie on cannabis oil. Surprisingly these treatments worked to regenerate the bones in her face and to shrink the tumor. She did not require the reconstructive surgery that is usually needed. The Delaware legislature unanimously passed “Rylie’s Law” to legalize medical cannabis for children like Rylie.
Veterans with PTSD are then featured. Colin Wells is a founder of the group “Veterans Walk and Talk” who use medical cannabis and hike several times a week in Southern California. The founder of Irwin Naturals then describes his mission to offer CBD at reasonable prices.
The film is professionally produced and it makes a strong case for cannabis medicine. I wish this documentary could be widely viewed without paying a fee, but I guess that’s not realistic. Check it out on Amazon Prime Video or Apple Video. It’s worth the small cost of admission.
It’s a good idea to tell your doctor about anything you are taking that might influence other medications. If you have been told to avoid eating grapefruit with a medication, for example, then you may need to use caution with CBD as well. A recent study looked at the in-depth issues when taking CBD with other drugs. They explore the cytochrome P450-complex enzymes in particular. It turns out that the interactions are complex but usually mild. The authors conclude that CBD is usually a very safe substance.
My doctor was supportive of my taking CBD. She reported that it has helped some of her patients and that she has even recommended it at least once. I see other doctors for a couple of chronic illnesses, and they showed no interest in the fact that I take CBD.
Many physicians are not familiar with the fact that our bodies produce natural cannabinoids that seem to help maintain balance or “homeostasis”. The endocannabinoid system has been studied since the first endogenous cannabinoid was discovered in 1992. Anandamide was discovered by Raphael Mechoulam (the scientist who earlier discovered THC and CBD) along with NIMH researchers William Devane and Lumir Hanus. It attaches primarily to the CB1 receptor in our bodies. In 1995 Mechoulam discovered the second major endocannabinoid “2-arachidonoylglycerol” or “2-AG” which attaches to both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Supplementing our natural endocannabinoid system with phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoids) has some risks. These risks are seen mostly with THC. It’s probably even more important to tell your doctor about any THC use. Heavy users of marijuana can develop tolerance, with higher and higher doses needed over time to get the same effect. Very heavy THC use can also lead to a rare disorder called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. The most troubling symptom of this disorder is severe bouts of vomiting. Persons susceptible to psychosis should probably avoid THC because there is evidence that it can contribute to a psychotic episode. As noted above, CBD has not been found to have such risks.
Many people who live where marijuana is illegal do not report THC use to their doctor. They may fear that such a disclosure will become a part of their medical record and that the information will eventually make its way to their insurance company or someone else. It’s probably a good idea to report THC use in any case, but it is especially important if you have any symptoms that may be related to such use.
At the same time that the U.S. government maintained that cannabis was an illegal drug with no medical value the U.S. Department of Health and Human services took out a patent on “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.” This apparent hypocrisy is the result of scientists and politicians having very different agendas. The patent was awarded to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in October 2003. It was filed four years earlier by scientists who worked at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
In the U.S. a new use for an existing product that is “new, useful, and non-obvious” may be patented. In theory the patent holder can claim exclusive use of the product for that “use” and charge people money to license it. When government employees apply for a patent for work that they did during their work hours the government gets the patent. In some cases they are allowed to share in some of the profits from the patient in a limited way. Aidan Hampson, Julius Axelrod, and Maurizio Grimaldi saw promise in CBD and THC 20 years ago. In their patent filing they wrote that:
“Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new-found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, Such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, Such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, Such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinsons disease and HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, Such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention.”
Since that time cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to be a neuroprotectant and to have powerful anti-seizure properties. THC has been found to dissolve beta amyloid plaques in the brain, one theorized cause for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Will the government try to collect their money? I guess that’s theoretically possible, but it’s hard to square this obvious acknowledgement that cannabis has value with the continued prohibition at the Federal level. Some people in the government knew about the medical value of cannabis 20 years ago. How come they didn’t tell the rest of us?
[edited 3/17/19 to add links to the authors’ biographies]
A 2019 study has found that CBD’s effect may not be restricted to it’s effect on the endocannabinoid system. CBD also acts on receptors that bind the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT1A) that is involved in anxiety and on receptors that bind vanilloid (TRPV1) that is involved in pain. The researchers found dose ranges that prevented anxiety-like behaviors and pain behaviors in rats. The study is complex, but they reported that a range of 5-10 mg/kg had some effect on pain and anxiety. This is described as a low dose, but it amounts to 340-680mg for a 150 lb human, much higher than the dose that most people take of hemp-based CBD. You would need to drink a bottle of CBD oil every 1-3 days to get the effect that they found in this study. Smoking or vaping 1-2 grams of high CBD hemp flower per day would also approach this range.
It had previously been proposed that CBD’s effect on anxiety, pain, and depression are because it affects the endocannabinoid system. CBD partially binds to the CB1 receptor in a manner that slightly interferes with THC’s ability to bind with the receptor. It also acts on anandamide – an endocannabinoid produced by the body. CBD keeps the anandamide from being destroyed – keeping it around longer.
Dr. Gabriella Gobbi’s team at McGill University believe that CBD may become an evidence-based application of cannabis in medicine, offering a safe alternative to THC and opioids for chronic pain, such as back pain, sciatica, diabetic, cancer and post-trauma pain.
What does this mean in practical terms? It may mean that people taking CBD isolate for pain and anxiety should consider a higher dose if what they are taking doesn’t work. Previous studies have found that CBD is effective at a broader range of doses if it is taken along with other cannabinoids, so full spectrum hemp oil may work at lower doses.
People take CBD (cannabidiol) for a lot of reasons. Project CBD has developed a list of conditions and research on the effects of CBD on each condition. I will not attempt to duplicate this here. You should check it out at their site.
Some of the more common reasons that people take CBD include:
Seizure Disorders – In the U.S. there is a prescription form of CBD called Epidiolex that is approved to treat seizures that begin in childhood. Lennox–Gastaut syndrome (LGS) is a complex, rare, and severe form of childhood-onset epilepsy. Dravet syndrome is a rare, catastrophic, lifelong form of epilepsy that begins in the first year of life with frequent and/or prolonged seizures.
Anxiety and PTSD – Studies have shown that CBD can reduce anxiety. Many currently approved medications, such as benzodiazepines, can cause dependence or have other side-effects. People often take CBD to help with anxiety.
Fibromyalgia, Migraines and Irritable Bowel Syndrome – These disorders are thought by some to be a form of endocannabinoid deficiency. CBD and other cannabinoids may become important in the treatment of these disorders.
Pain – CBD can reduce both acute and chronic pain. Scientists are still trying to understand this. CBD isolate (CBD all by itself) works well in a fairly narrow dose range to treat pain, but full spectrum cannabis extracts seem to work in a wider range. This finding has been called the “entourage effect.” CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and seems to help arthritis pain.
Psychosis – THC makes some people more paranoid and it is thought to induce psychosis in a small subset of people. CBD can reverse these symptoms and it has been suggested as a possible treatment for schizophrenia. The early results have been mixed.
Sleep – Cannabinoids have been used to help improve sleep, but CBD’s effect on sleep is complex. Low doses of CBD often appear to be activating, while somewhat increased doses are more relaxing. CBD can decrease both anxiety and pain – and these are things that keep us up at night.
Cancer prevention and treatment – this is more controversial, but there is research suggesting that CBD and other cannabinoids inhibit cancer cell growth.
What do you use CBD for? Does it help? Please comment below or discuss this on reddit.