As cannabidiol takes the medical world by storm, blowing researchers away as they discover use after use for it, it’s important to understand just what CBD is, what it can do, what it can’t do, and what factors underlie its relative effectiveness or ineffectiveness at treating a particular ailment.
It’s tempting to just call it a panacea and set up shop selling bottles of the stuff. But, as usual in life, the real deal is significantly more complicated than a first, cursory glance would suggest.
Our modern era operates under a number of assumptions–ways of thinking about the world that are so basic to how we understand the universe, we never even think to question them. This becomes important when talking about cannabidiol, because it turns out that this fascinating little compound has some qualities that may require us to re-think how we understand medicine.
For example, when scientists discover a new useful compound in nature, they do not do as the ancient shamans did, and gather whatever the natural source of that compound is. Instead, they isolate and synthesize. There are even drugs on the American market right now that technically contain THC–but it exists in a synthesized, “single-molecule” form that bears only little resemblance to the naturally-occurring form found in marijuana. We assume that the concentrated, isolated compound (typically with a patent name slapped on it) is the most effective treatment.
But researchers in Israel announced that they have found–as have many other, similar studies–that even when it comes to extracted CBD, whole-plant extracts perform better than their synthesized analogues in a number of measurable regards.
Most specifically, the researchers found that effectiveness with single-molecule–that is, synthetic–cannabidiol followed a bell-shaped distribution curve. This means that, while effective at certain doses, the substance provides little help at higher or lower doses–a significant limitation when it comes to implementing single-molecule CBD as a medicine.
Whole-plant extract, however, suffers from no such problems. The extract is low in THC–it does not get the user high. It comes from specially-developed medical strains designed for people with medical needs. It has almost no recreational use whatsoever. And it works fantastically, the researchers found, to fight inflammation and to act as a painkiller in mice.
It’s Important to also note that there are recent revelations that CBD has several unique anti-aging properties, most notably countering the effects of inflammaging–inflammation that builds up in the body over time as the result of age, and results in greater production of enzymes and hormones that lead to Alzheimer’s, bone degeneration, glaucoma, and even cancer. These effects also come through much more strongly in whole-plant extract than in solely synthetic material.
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