For those who reasonably wonder why cannabidiol (CBD) would be involved in such a wide variety of disease states, take a look a look at a recent report from the Mayo Clinic called “Clinician’s Guide to Cannabidiol and Hemp Oils.” Here’s an excerpt, a portion of a table listing the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD:
Notice that it ends with the category ‘others.’ If you run through the 20 citations you’ll see they refer to CBD’s effects on a number of seemingly unrelated conditions: schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, migraine’s, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcerative colitis – and this is on top of the 8 conditions already listed.
Which raises the question: How is possible that one molecule can possiblty treat all these things? The answer, according to the Mayo Clinic, is because CBD affects the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a physiogical system in all mammals including us humans that regulates – keeps at the proper set point – all other systems (nervous, immune, cardiovascular, etc.) of the body. From the report:
It is now known that the ECS is globally involved in maintaining homeostasis in the body, connecting all of the body’s organs and systems. The ECS has been implicated in a variety of disease states and important regulatory functions, from chronic inflammatory conditions and regulation of immune homeostasis in the gut to anxiety and migraines. . . . Although the body has its own endogenous cannabinoids . . . plant-derived cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) have been researched as potential therapeutic options in a variety of areas because of their modulationof the ECS. . . . The most notable and well-understood phytocannabinoids are THC and CBD, the most common phytocannabinoids in marijuana and hemp strains, respectively. . . . Cannabidiol . . . has been found to work through a variety of complex pharmacological actions . . .
The key bit: “the ECS is globally involved in maintaining homeostasis in the body, connecting all of the body’s organs and systems.”
How does it connect all the body’s systems? Through a signaling system (above image) composed of 2 main actors – endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) and receptors – the former fitting into the latter like a key fits into a lock, that opens a cell door to start a chain of (molecular) reactions that returns that cell – i.e. a group of localized cells – to their proper set point, thus restoring healthy functioning.
The role of plant cannabinoids such as CBD is to restore the ECS to its proper set point when, because of some type of stress – aging, say, or disease – it gets out of balance.
Current research is focusing on which conditions CBD helps and at what dosages. Work on animal models is very promising as are the limited but growing number of human trials, notably on epilepsy.