Before I dive into the marvelous effects of CBD and THC on sleep, I want to break down the ABCs of cannabis’ chemical compounds and its impact on the human body. With the emerging legality of cannabis, there’s a lot of “information” available these days…but for every accurate data point, there’s a truck full of horseshit out there on the internet. Frankly, it drives me and our scientists crazy to see this majestic plant’s chemistry so poorly studied, understood, and communicated. So, let’s start with some facts:
- THC and CBD are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. They activate different receptors found on many cells in our bodies.
- THC specifically activates CB1 and CB2 receptors, which creates the stereotypical “high” depicted in films like THE BIG LEBOWSKI. Because of its intoxicating effect, THC earns cannabis its Schedule I status by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
- THC highs vary widely, depending on cannabis strains, dose, and method of ingestion. Sativa strains bring on energetic highs; indica strains create relaxed highs; hybrid strains balance the two.
- There are real differences if cannabis is smoked, ingested via the soft tissue in the mouth, ingested via eating, or applied topically. Like any medication, the method matters. Inhaling has the fastest effect, edibles have the longest effect, and every individual’s natural metabolism plays a role.
- Dosing is so important and only recently do consumers have access to accurate dosing information. The right dose can mean the difference between hours of restful relaxation verses hours of anxiety.
- I strongly recommend a “low and slow” approach to cannabis, which I’ll dive into more in the next blog.
- CBD does not significantly stimulate CB1 and CB2 like THC does. You’ll usually hear it referred to as the “non-psychoactive component” of cannabis in the press, because there’s no psychological high associated with use. Our cell’s receptors regulate everything in our bodies, including pain, appetite, emotion and disease. If your back’s in pain, or if you’re feeling hungry or depressed…those are all experiences modulated by your cell receptors.
- CBD interacts with far more and different receptors than THC. It’s a multi-tasker. When we consume CBD, it binds with receptors all over our bodies, and so we experience its effects physically.
- CBD either activates receptors to achieve a desirable effect, or blocks them to diminish an undesired process. Here’re just three examples of CBD’s effects that scientists at GB Sciences are currently studying:
- Impact on Pain: When CBD binds with TPRV1 receptors the body begins mediating pain perception, inflammation, and temperature. So, the pain relief that CBD is known for is not because of the direct ingestion of the cannabinoid, but in the way that it interacts with particular receptors.
- Impact on Cancer and Diabetes: When CBD binds with PPARs [peroxisome proliferator activated receptors] there is an anti-proliferative effect that can stifle the progress of cancer cells; in addition, PPARs also regulate genes that are involved in energy homeostasis, lipid uptake, insulin sensitivity, and other metabolic functions – so we are optimistic about its potential effects on diabetes.
- Impact on Alzheimer’s: PPAR activation also degrades beta- amyloid, a naturally-occurring protein that is thought to cause clusters of plaque in the brain. One of the dominant theories A long-held theory of Alzheimer’s determinant suggests this plaque is responsible for Alzheimer’s onset and progression.
These are just three of potentially thousands of applications. It doesn’t take a scientist to see CBD’s potential to profoundly improve human health. But we’re still a ways off from the clinical trials required to definitively say, “CBD can cure cancer,” or “Alzheimer’s can be stopped by CBD.” That’s because the U.S. government hasn’t budged on cannabis’ Schedule I classification, which inhibits most research in America.
My company’s doing a good deal of research outside the U.S., where the reefer-madness mentality is less common. Thank heavens for the Spanish, Greeks, Israelis, Canadians and Uruguay for taking a progressive view on cannabis research. These countries are hosting the research which will answer our questions and hopefully unlock applications we’re not yet dreaming of. In the meantime, other scientists and researchers have an abundance of empirical evidence that THC and CBD, used as standalones or together, help people suffering from epilepsy, Tourette’s, PTSD, chronic pain, insomnia…and potentially much more.
You’re probably thinking, “Okay, John, but what should I be taking to get a good night’s rest?” Patience, my friend. That’s the next blog.