Go into your local health food store, pharmacy or food market and you will see a variety of CBD products. Can this miracle herb help you sleep better, provide pain relief, or help with anxiety? How do you know which brand is the real deal or is just blowing smoke? What about dosing and frequency? These are questions I asked myself while sorting through research as well as advertising material in the quest to find relief.
One of the torments I’ve wrestled with as a result of Lyme’s Disease is what I call “The Jimmy Legs”. It alternately feels like muscle fibers in my legs are unwinding and at the snapping point while unseen entities are crawling up and down my legs. The only relief from these unpleasant sensations is by curling my toes and flexing/extending my feet while moving my legs. If it sounds strange, it really is! While on a road trip last year, the symptoms became overwhelming. I finally stopped into a health food store and relayed my story to the gal behind the counter. She recommended a brand that was helping her with pain and sleep so trusting her, I bought a small bottle. Not only did it provide me with relief but also with a very restful night’s sleep.
Let’s begin your journey to a more informed relationship with CBD. It certainly has a lot to offer for those challenged with sleep, anxiety and pain issues, so let’s get started!
Our amazing body has many operating systems including immune, nervous, muscular, circulatory, endocrine, digestive, etc. While each system functions independently, they influence the others’ function as well. In 1992 it was discovered there was a system responsible for “overseeing” the whole operation – the endocannabinoid (ECS) system. Through the use of receptors found in the brain, central nervous system and immune cells, the ECS activates when stress or trauma presents. Receptors are like keyholes and chemical messengers are the keys that unlock chemical responses. In the ECS, they provide relief of pain, anxiety and inflammation.
Your body naturally produces endocannabinoids when you engage in “feel good” activity. This includes lifestyle hacks like physical movement, using stress reduction techniques, eating a low inflammatory diet, etc. One of the endocannabinoids, Anandamide, activates what we call the “runner’s high”. When called for, endocannabinoids attach to ECS receptors and we have the experience of “Wow, I feel really good right now”. Research shows these naturally produced endocannabinoids can:
- limit neuron activity meaning decreased anxiety
- reduce pain and inflammation
- regulate sleep-wake cycle as well as inflammation and immune response
CBD can be a beneficial supplement in supporting the ECS. Remember, stress and inflammation can derail us physically and mentally. Research shows that supplementing with CBD blocks enzymes that metabolize endocannabinoids. The end result is endocannabinoids stay in the system longer to enhance our experience of “feeling good”.
There are over 100 active chemical compounds (“cannabinoids”) found in Cannabis sativa, the plant from which marijuana and hemp is grown. The two cannabinoids in the spotlight right now are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is what gets you “high” from smoking/ingesting marijuana while CBD, the subject of this informative piece, is NOT psychoactive.
Marijuana has THC levels much greater than .3%, more often in the range of 10%. This is what accounts for the psychoactive effects and why it is only available through medical marijuana stores with a prescription or from your local street dealer. The ranges of THC potency can be affected by many things including harvesting time and methods as well as by hybridization. Hemp has THC levels lower than .3% and is the plant used for CBD.
CBD is harvested from the trichome of the female plant of Cannabis sativa and it serves as the indicator of when it is a good time to harvest. The best time to harvest is when the trichomes are a milky color with a few golden pods. Both THC and CBD are derived from the plant material.
Other things to know about CBD:
- It has been documented as an anti-inflammatory, a neuroprotective, and an immune modulator.
- Agricultural hemp was legalized by the 2018 Agricultural Farm Bill which is why we can legally purchase CBD oil.
- Other (confusing and misleading) monikers include: CBD rich hemp oil, hemp derived CBD oil and CBD rich cannabis oil (all CBD comes from hemp!)
- It is generally regarded as safe.
- It is NOT medical marijuana.
- Charlotte’s Web is a high CBD strain of medical marijuana.
- Broad Spectrum CBD has THC removed.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized CBD as beneficial for pain and inflammation.
- CBD may interact with blood thinners.
- If you are taking prescription or OTC medications, have a conversation with your doctor/pharmacist before taking
- Shelf life is 1 – 2 years.
This website has respectable information on brands, dosing, etc.: https://www.help.org/best-cbd-oil/#PlusCBD
CBD has been found to be beneficial for:
- MS – Cannabinoids can lessen muscle spasms, tremor and muscle weakness.
- Colitis – Regulates tissue response to excessive inflammation in the colon
- Liver – Influences pathophysiology as well as treatment of various liver diseases
- RA – A daily 5 mg/kg dosing inhibits disease progression.
- Anxiety and sleep – Decreases anxiety and steady improvement in quality and quantity of sleep.
“How much and how often can I take it?” you ask. My research reveals that oral dosing every 4 – 6 hours has a longer lasting benefit and is more helpful for chronic conditions and mood management however, it is best to consult with the manufacturer, your doctor or your pharmacist. This site has some great information on dosing based on your weight: https://www.cbdoil.org/best-cbd-oil-for-pain/
There is a lot of information out there which I have attempted to synthesize and condense thru this article. If you would like to try CBD oil, consider it high quality if it meets this criterion:
- It is “full spectrum” meaning it contains components of the whole plant.
- The product has been lab tested and is ISO Certified.
- You can obtain a certificate of analysis from ISO labs.
- The CBD concentration is what’s listed on bottle.
- There is less than .3% of THC in the CBD product.
- Extraction is NOT by alcohol or hexane. Best extraction is by CO2.
- Be sure it’s UDSA certified organic hemp.
Some CBD products contain valerian or melatonin for sleep, ashwaganda or L-theanine for stress and curcumin for inflammation. These additions may be helpful if CBD by itself is not providing the relief you are looking for. As I like to say, give weed a chance.
After completing my research, I am satisfied that the brand initially suggested to me meets the “high quality” criterion. Not only that, it really did help take the edge off of fascial pain and helped me get a good nite’s sleep. If you’d like to talk more about CBD, please feel free to get in touch.
This information is not medical advice nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. You should consult your physician before making any medical or lifestyle changes. Remember, research is ongoing about the benefits as well as contraindications for CBD. Caveat emptor!
I’d like to give a nod to the articles/authors/researchers consulted for this article:
CBD & hemp oil: Everything you need to know. Part II: The System. Deliciousliving.com 35-43
CBD and Massage. Massage & Bodywork. September/October 2019. 43-55
Nagarkatti P, et al. Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Med Chem 2009 Oct; 1(7) 1333-1349. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614?__hstc=209342221.653140fecad23cdf89637a97c833078f.1463875200047.1463875200048.1463875200049.1&__hssc=209342221.1.1463875200050&__hsfp=1314462730
Rawls B, MD. Dr. Rawls’ CBD Quality Checklist. https://rawlsmd.com/
Shannon S., et al. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and
Insomnia as part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Perm J. 2016 Fall;20(4): 108-111. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5101100/
Sweet, Tammi – Educator, Author, Herbalist. https://www.heart-stone.com/