Published: April 26th, 2018
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) was discovered barely thirty years ago and studies into how it functions are in their infancy. Although slowly dissolving, prohibition against the cannabis plant has seriously stifled clinical research. Cannabis is the sole source of phytocannabinoids, so it has been a frustrating and proscribed process sourcing study materials.
Clinical studies into the effects of CBD are simplified as it can be sourced from organic hemp. Hemp is very low in the sister compound THC and is more readily grown without the drug hysteria surrounding marijuana.
The endocannabinoid system is of significant interest to medical science. It is being found to be a primary system in the maintenance of homeostasis. Cannabinoid receptors are known to exist in multiple regions of the body; the brain and nervous system, the immune system, and smooth muscles of the gut all have CB1 or CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are found in high concentrations in the brain and nervous system. The endocannabinoid system has been observed to interact in hippocampal neurogenesis and the induction of synaptic depression. CB2 receptors are found more in the immune system and gut. Endocannabinoids are involved in proper immune response, stress response, appetite regulation, and thermoregulation.
There is evidence that CBD may positively affect other receptors. Serotonin and G protein receptors are also activated by CBD. These are the feel-good compounds that promote a sense of well-being. Similarly, there are suggestions of other positive interactions in regions of the body where there are no (known) cannabinoid receptors present.
The body of CBD research pertaining to addiction is limited. However, the positive results shown by early studies should implicate more research. Strong evidence in rodent tests suggests clinical benefits in using CBD in the fight against addiction to a number of substances.
Nicotine is an addictive psychoactive stimulant present in tobacco. It is even more so when subjected to the industrial process that creates the contemporary cigarette. Randomised tests using human volunteers showed a 40% reduction in cigarette consumption by subjects using a CBD-inhaler. Test subjects using a placebo inhaler did not reduce their cigarette consumption during the same period.
The enzyme mechanisms in the brain that attenuate withdrawal symptoms from nicotine are affected by the ECS. Early investigations suggest that these mechanisms are dependant on the CB1 receptors. CBD facilitates the production of enzymes, which are promising agents for the treatment of nicotine addiction in humans.
Opioid addiction has become a scourge in the Western world and has hit crisis point in many American states. Much of Europe and Australia face similar epidemics. Many people addicted to opiate painkillers often turn to heroin and other street opioids to feed their addiction.
In the complex world of biological sciences, recent laboratory tests with rodents show that cannabinoids can have an effect on the way the body reacts to opiates. In the first instance, they attenuate the effects of opiates on the receptors of the brain.
In the second instance, there is less inclination towards relapse after withdrawal. Motor function is not impaired and opiate-seeking behaviour is inhibited for up to two weeks. The benefits of a number of these tests were amplified when combined with THC.
There is little literature on the effects of CBD on THC dependency. There is anecdotal evidence that CBD can ease the craving sensation from marijuana withdrawal. There is also anecdotal evidence suggesting CBD has benefits after the withdrawal phase and helps prevent relapse.
Marijuana high in CBD can modify the effects of THC. Many medical patients use cannabis high in CBD for a number of reasons. Chiefly for the therapeutic properties of the compound itself. Also, CBD can inhibit the “high” of THC, reducing the chances of anxiety as a side effect.
Alcohol can certainly be enjoyable. In the long-term, it reveals it truly is a toxin and negatively impacts a number of the body’s functions. Binge-drinking and alcoholism can have severe impacts on the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex in particular. The behavioural and cognitive impairments caused by alcohol abuse may contribute to the chronic relapse rate of alcoholics.
CBD has been shown to reduce oxidative stress and glutamate toxicity and to act as a neuroprotectant. These neuroprotective qualities inhibit hippocampal and entorhinal degradation during ethanol binge studies in rodents. Modifying behaviour is the first step towards treating alcoholism.
In human trials, CBD was tested to assess its effects on alcohol toxicity. Subjects were given alcohol in double-blind tests. Although the feeling of “being drunk” remains the same, less damage may be occuring to the brain.
CBD exercises its effects on several systems in the body. It affects a number of neuronal systems relative to addictive disorders. It has known anti-inflammatory properties and reduces oxidative stress throughout the body. So far, there are no reported negative side effects of CBD administration.
Cannabidiol—in fact, cannabinoids in general—is a safe compound when used by humans and animals. This is extremely important for therapeutic applications. It is a readily available compound that affects one of the primary systems that regulate the human body.
Studies continue to explore the nature of the endocannabinoid system. CBD and the cannabinoid family appear set to play a major role in the healthy maintenance of human beings in the near future.