Cannabis is most often associated with the high one gets from smoking the flower buds or resin of the plant. However, there is so much more to this healing plant than its popularized intoxicating effects.
Cannabis is reported to have first been grown in China for its nutritional properties as a food with the seed being highly nutritious with a combination of Omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids that are crucial for normal body functions. There is also the amazing fiber that one can make clothes, rope and other textiles from.
Yet, one of the amazing healing properties not many people are aware of until recently is the compound CBD (Cannabidiol) that is fast gaining attention in the scientific, medical and wellness fields.
CBD is a legal chemical compound found in the flowers of the cannabis plant.
CBD belongs to a group of chemicals called cannabanoids, of which there are many that are found in the Cannabis plant. These chemicals were called “cannabanoids” because they were first isolated from the Cannabis plant -and hence the name. CBD and another cannabanoid THC are now receiving a lot of attention due to their anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety and anti-cancer properties!
CBD should not be confused with THC, another chemical found in Cannabis that results in one getting high. CBD does not have the intoxicating effects as THC does, but has a broad therapeutic potential for helping to reduce pain and inflammation and anxiety but without causing intoxicating affects.
To understand CBD one needs to understand the system it works on in the body called the Endo- (internal) Cannabanoid System or ECS. The ESC is a vital body system just like the other main body systems such as the circulatory, immune and nervous system, but this system has been left out of many medical text books and has not received much public attention until recently.
In fact, the Endo-Cannabanoid System can be likened to the ‘boss’ of the entire body, helping to control all the other systems according to Dr Rachel Knox a medical doctor from the US. “The ECS is a vital molecular system for helping maintain homeostasis or balance in appetite, mood, motor control, immune function, pleasure and reproduction and is found in all animals except insects” she says. Disease, drugs, medications and injury can all negatively affect the ECS and its functioning causing motor control (movement) conditions, and all sorts of dysregulation and imbalances in the body.
The body makes its own endo (internal) cannabanoids that have an important function to regulate pain and inflammation. This is where CBD comes in, in that it mimics the action of the endo (internal) cannabanoids helping the endo-cannabanoid system to work, so it is a very powerful medicine for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, cancers and stress and depression as well as pain conditions.
Since CBD has important advantages in comparison with the currently available pharmacological agents for the treatment of anxiety disorder, such as an early onset of action and lack of important side effects, this compound may be a promising novel therapeutic in the management of generalized SAD” says Dr S Crippa a leading cannabanoid researcher.
The CBD is extracted through various techniques into pure CBD extract that is then added to MCT coconut oil or into alcohol into tinctures and taken daily in drop form. We need this type of medicine so urgently now as there is a staggering number of adverse drug reaction side effects from medications worldwide, most notably inflammation. Thus, there is a crucial place for effective plant based medicines in treating inflammation and pain such as CBD.
CBD is being found in other plants like Clove, and so there is also great research potential to find cannabanoids in other plants that we could use, and very likely in African medicinal plants that are being explored. The growing popularity of CBD as a medicine represents a catalyst for changing policy around Cannabis and an opportunity for South African farmers to cultivate Cannabis legally for future CBD production.