Published: August 6th, 2018
The prominence of cannabidiol (CBD) in the nutraceutical and “healthy-living” industries has gained increasing momentum in recent years. Widespread anecdotal accounts are being corroborated by preliminary clinical studies and a breadth of encouraging scientific research. The non-psychoactive cannabinoid has a toolset of health-boosting skills that extend to both the mind and body.
If, however, you consider yourself relatively fit and healthy, is there a place for CBD in your medicine cabinet? When you start to add up the potential benefits of regular CBD consumption, the advantages to your heart, skin, and mental wellbeing become clearer and clearer.
With no other single substance presenting the same host of benefits, could CBD be the key to a healthy and happy life? To understand how anyone can use CBD to positive effect, an explanation of this cannabinoid and our endocannabinoid system will start you off on the right foot.
CBD is a cannabinoid, a compound that can trigger responses from our endocannabinoid system via CB1 and CB2 receptors located throughout the body. Although hemp is a complex organism made up of hundreds of different compounds, it is the inclusion of cannabinoids and the health-bolstering properties they provide that has attracted the attention of scientists, healthy-living groups, and more importantly, the general public.
Present in all mammals, the endocannabinoid system regulates and monitors hundreds of processes throughout the body. Cannabinoids bind to or influence these receptors, prompting a variety of responses.
Interestingly, CBD has a low affinity for both the CB1 and CB2 receptors—meaning it doesn’t bind to them in the same way that the cannabinoid THC binds to CB1 like a key in a lock. However, CBD still stimulates the endocannabinoid system, triggering the release of 2-AG, a natural endocannabinoid produced by the body. Furthermore, CBD stops the activity of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which in turn slows down the deterioration of another essential endocannabinoid, anandamide.
CBD’s influence on the endocannabinoid system is widespread, ultimately influencing all manner of systems throughout the body.
The World Health Organisation estimates that in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults over the age of 18 were overweight. 650 million would be classed as obese. Those statistics make for alarming reading, and although diet and regular exercise play a key role in managing weight, everyone is different and so too is their metabolism.
Metabolism involves breaking down molecules to obtain energy. Those with a high metabolism can break down food molecules at a faster rate than those with a slower metabolism. As such, any products that assist metabolism could be used as a tool to support weight loss. A study by Korean scientists discovered that CBD stimulated the proteins and genes responsible for breaking down fat. CBD also displayed an ability to support “browning” of fat cells. White fat cells have links to several potentially serious ailments, while brown fat cells promote weight loss by burning energy.
The importance of the heart needs no introduction, and keeping this hard-working organ in excellent shape is a primary concern. Fortunately, CBD has a hand in healthy hearts as well. Our cardiovascular system, a collection of veins and arteries all leading to the heart, requires clear pathways for oxygenated blood to be pumped around the body.
A review of CBD’s use as a therapeutic remedy for the cardiovascular system by the School of Graduate Entry Medicine & Health found that CBD took direct action on isolated artery walls, reducing tension in blood vessels. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant attributes of CBD also helped protect against reperfusion injury, which is damaged tissue caused by a lack of oxygen.
Our skin is the protective barrier against infection, harmful chemicals, and physical damage. On its own, the skin does an excellent job of being multilayered flexible armour; however, with the inclusion of CBD, the skin’s natural defence capabilities could be improved. Persistent skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and acne are all exacerbated by inflammation.
CBD has gained significant support as an anti-inflammatory substance, thus reducing the discomfort experienced on regions of damaged or irritated skin. While further studies are being undertaken to identify CBD’s role in lowering bacterial buildup—a key factor in conditions like acne—it is clear that with a more detailed understanding of CBD’s antioxidant properties, the excellent job our skin already does could be further improved.
All of the previous topics have something in common: they benefit the body physically. But mental wellbeing is just as important. Stress and anxiety can contribute to negative conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, among a whole host of others. Any reduction in our stress level helps us to make clear, rational, and healthy decisions.
When a group of fifteen healthy English patients took part in a double-blind, randomised study, the results were very compelling. Using CBD and a placebo, the patients administered with CBD experienced a trend in anxiety reduction. CBD helped to suppress the stimulation of several chemical responses when subjects were processing intensely fearful faces. Authors of the study did conclude that the action of CBD on a molecular level is still unclear, but theorised several ways in which the inclusion of cannabidiol could reduce feelings of anxiety.
Moreover, by contributing to a slower breakdown of anandamide, there is reason to believe that CBD may also be effective as a way to maintain an elevated mood. Regardless of whether you wish to take CBD as a therapeutic approach to a specific condition or as a means of promoting greater overall wellbeing, it is clear that preliminary studies show incredibly encouraging results.
Undoubtedly, as the depth of research increases, we will see an increasing number of benefits enter the limelight. CBD doesn't just have to be a targeted approach to dealing with a condition naturally; instead, CBD taken daily in numerous forms can help reinforce the health of your mind and body.