Cannabis, weed, pot. These words inspire fear in some, love in many, and a distinct “what?” if you’re talking to your elderly aunt. For a very long time it was used legally, and for a small fraction of those years, including now, it is recreationally illegal (but decriminalized) in Nevada and California. For those of us using it legally, we have waded through anti-pot campaigns, stoner movies, and a slew of general misconceptions. Recently, things have started to take a turn for the better, in my humble opinion.
The United States has started to embrace the fact that the health effects of legal cannabis could possibly be a good thing. I wanted to go into one topic that fascinates me: CBD and its plethora of good health effects. I even convinced my grandmother (who is on the top of the list of people against marijuana) to legally obtain some for her chronic pain.
One of the world’s leading vaporizer sellers, TVape, recently conducted a survey of cannabis during COVID-19. Overwhelmingly, people were consuming more cannabis during the quarantine, as morning and afternoon consumption doubled. But interestingly, more and more people were switching over to vaporization as their way to combat the health effects caused by the combustion of the plant material.
Vaporizer use went up roughly 30% and smoking took a dive of almost 50%. When asked why, the majority of responses were for health related reasons. It just makes sense – if you’re consuming more, you’re going to look for a way to mitigate the health risks.
Vaporizers are less harmful than smoking for a variety of reasons, the biggest one being the chemicals released when you light cannabis (or literally anything, for that matter) on fire. But vaporizers can be an effective delivery method for CBD – and better by far than smoking it.
If you prefer an oil or tincture, it stays in your system longer for better and longer lasting effects. Regardless of the delivery system, CBD is an under-appreciated and under researched drug that has the potential to treat an array of symptoms and issues.
For those unfamiliar, there are two main cannabinoids in the cannabis plant: THC and CBD. THC causes all of the psychoactive effects, but CBD has none and moreover, some amazing health benefits. Most people consuming CBD will take it as an oil, but there actually are cannabis plants that have almost no THC in them that you can use to smoke – or, more likely, if you’re worried about health issues, vaporize (but more on that later).
Firstly, let’s touch on the health benefits of CBD. Anxiety relief is possibly the biggest one. Researchers believe that it affects the way your body responds to serotonin, the main chemical linked to mental health. Inside anxiety relief is CBDs ability to reduce stress, decrease heart rate (I know, crazy right?) and induce sleep. On a personal level, I have used it for years for anxiety and feel like I actually have it in check.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, “CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues, but the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications.” In 2018, the FDA approved a drug for the treatment of rare forms of epilepsy that includes CBD, a huge step for CBD and the health benefits of cannabis.
But most people are using it for either anxiety management or as a substitute painkiller. It is thought to help with arthritis, chronic pain, has been known to help with MS related pain, muscle pain and spinal cord injuries, but the studies just aren’t there. As a substance that is still illegal in a lot of states and the world, it is not hard to see why the clinical trials have not been funded.
But there is still evidence to support the fact that CBD is relatively harmless and researchers have encouraged older people to try it out when looking for assistance with poor sleep patterns.
I want to take a minute to speak on a very important subject: purity. A lot of the sites I have linked have been very clear on the fact that pure CBD itself is not harmful, but I would be very careful where you get it. CBD oil must come from a verified source, as it is relatively easy to claim “100% purity” with little evidence to back it up. Just do your research and make sure you buy from a trusted, legal source.
Where you can be a little more assured is buying legal flower that is 100% (or as close to) CBD. I myself use a vaporizer with dry herb – I’m not into vaporizing oils, but prefer to use a ground cannabis vaporizer, and more often than not, it is with CBD flower. The flower produces the same effects as the oil, more or less, and then you of course have to factor in the fact that you are vaporizing it.
I would personally highly recommend not smoking CBD, as pretty much all of the health benefits will be ignored by the fact that you are actively combusting a material – and inhaling all of the harmful chemicals caused by the act of combustion.
CBD is in its flowering phase, and needs to be researched much more in order to fully explore its capabilities – but the potential is there, and the current research shows that it is already known to treat anxiety, sleep deprivation, and have some pain relieving effects. There is a lot of research that indicates that CBD could be used to help with chemo related nausea and pain, could be used to treat acne, and possibly even depression.
Once it is legalized in more places, the funding will follow to continue the research on this relatively unexplored substance, and hopefully, the results will line up. But until then, keep using it in whichever delivery system you find effective, to treat your stress and keep your anxiety in check.