TYou’ve likely been hearing a lot about hemp oil lately (also referred to as CBD oil). It’s everywhere! But what is it exactly that’s getting everybody so excited?
Cannabidiol (or CBD for short), which is the main compound present in hemp oil, is the latest buzzword to feature on TV shows or the front cover of health & beauty magazines. An avalanche of products containing CBD has been hitting the market, with the molecule’s appearance no longer limited to food supplements. CBD is rapidly making its way into other product categories such as foodstuffs, cosmetics or even dog treats!
Fuelling the hype, celebrities like Jenifer Aniston, Michael J. Fox or Rihanna have been praising hemp oil and CBD the world over. According to Jennifer Aniston for example: “CBD helps with pain, stress and anxiety. It has all the benefits of marijuana without the high”.
However, it’s the attention which hemp oil has been receiving from medical experts that’s even more exciting. Prominent neurosurgeon Dr Sanjay Gupta has publicly come out in support of hemp oil and said “CBD has been shown for some time now, decades, that it can have a medicinal effect.”.
Indeed, hemp oil has been used in traditional medicine for millennia. Since ancient times, the oil extracted from the seeds, stalk, leaves or flowers of the plant has been used – alone or mixed into concoctions – to treat pain and other ailments.
Moving forward to the modern age, an emerging body of research is showing that cannabidiol in particular is the main molecule responsible for the medicinal properties highlighted above. So, we’ve decided to learn more about how hemp oil can help you or your loved ones.
- Pain relief
The most widespread use of hemp oil / CBD oil appears to be for pain relief.
Historical accounts suggest that the use of cannabis (of which hemp is a variety) dates as far back as 2900 BC. In particular, an ancient Chinese scripture entitled Shennong Ben Cao Jing refers to the use of cannabis for rheumatic pain or malaria for instance (1). It is also said that cannabis was used in conjunction with wine to anesthetize patients during operations.
It is believed that the human body features the ECS or endocannabinoid system. This system is said to regulate other systems in the human body (such as the immune system or the hormonal system) and is equipped with receptors called the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
When tissue or cells are damaged these receptors are said to be activated. The body produces endocannabinoids – a type of neurotransmitter – which are thought to regulate the sensation of pain and help reduce inflammation.
CBD, along with other cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, are thought to stimulate these various receptors in a similar manner to which the body’s own endocannabinoids do, therefore helping to fight pain and inflammation.
Anxiety and depression are complex and often extremely debilitating mental illnesses. In particular anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S.A., affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older every year (approximately 18% of the population) (2).
In most cases, these conditions are treated with pharmaceutical drugs called anti-depressants, which can have serious side-effects such as nausea, tiredness and drowsiness, dry mouth, insomnia or increased appetite and weight gain – just to list a few!
In light of these side effects, number of patients are seeking a natural alternative with fewer side effects. There are numerous accounts of people using hemp oil, in addition to or in place of their prescription drugs, to treat their anxiety. Despite the lack of large-scale clinical trials testing the effectiveness of hemp oil in the treatment of anxiety, there are emerging signs of its potential.
Researchers believe that ability of CBD to interact with the ECS may also provide benefits for people suffering with neurological disorders.
In particular, the use of CBD and THC, has proven to be a safe and effective when used to treat muscle spasticity in MS sufferers (multiple sclerosis). The UK pharmaceuticals manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals developed Sativex to this effect.
CBD has also been used to reduce the number of seizures experiences by children suffering from Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy (3).
So, there you have it! It now seems more obvious why hemp oil in general, and CBD in particular, are gaining worldwide popularity. However, it’s also important to note that research is still on-going and that strong, widely-accepted, supporting evidence is still lacking. So please make sure to always consult with your physician for medical advice, especially before commencing a food supplement program.