Hemp and cannabis-derived medications may not be quite as mainstream as apple pie or multivitamins, but the days in which it was an almost completely illegal plant with little if any recognized medical benefits seem like a distant memory. Countless people now use CBD and other hemp-derived products as part of a prescribed medical regimen, as a daily health supplement, or just a go-to panacea to make the stress of daily life a little bit easier to manage.
Part of a natural, alternative lifestyle
While many health conditions can be treated with more traditional pharmaceuticals, plant-based products may be a safer and healthier option – or at least a safe health supplement. For instance when it comes to pain relief, THC and CBD have shown to be safer than opioids; and for anti-anxiety and sleep aids, CBD does not appear to be habit-forming like benzodiazepines.
These natural alternatives may also be effective as part of a daily “microdosing” regiment. This can mean taking a small amount of THC each day — for instance in the form of an edible — just to take the edge off and not to get intoxicated.
That doesn’t mean that CBD or other cannabis products should be seen as a cure all on their own. Rather, they should be considered part of a wider, holistic approach to healthy living, and the perfect accompaniment to other wellness steps, such as:
Getting a good night’s sleep
Staying up late and binging Netflix once you finally have some time to yourself is great fun, but it can come at a cost. Getting a good night’s sleep is a crucial step in leading a healthier lifestyle, and the benefits can be felt throughout the day.
The problem is, things often get in the way, and not just Netflix. Anxiety can make you restless, and before you know it you have to get up for work in three hours and you haven’t slept a wink.
With or without the potential anti-anxiety effects of CBD, making sure that you find a way to tune out the background noise and hit the sack at a reasonable hour can pay huge dividends when it comes to your health.
Meditation and mindfulness
Research has found that meditation can potentially have a variety of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety and depression, and may even provide some relief from conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. Meditation can also help people focus themselves on the here and now, away from anxieties about the present and regrets of the past.
Many turn to cannabis for relaxation, alongside this natural therapy, though some people find that if they have consumed THC, the intoxicating effects can be too distracting when trying to meditate.
A healthy diet
What we put into our bodies is of crucial importance for our health. And this doesn’t mean just trying to steer away from tobacco or alcohol. It’s more about making sure you have a balanced diet that includes a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and grains, and doesn’t lean too heavily on carbs, sugar, and anything that’s deep fried and/or dusted in sugar.
That doesn’t mean you can’t cheat at times (or often, even), but making sure you eat right can make a huge difference in how you feel – even if you aren’t taking any supplements whatsoever.
Less screen time couldn’t hurt
It’s nearly impossible to completely unplug these days, but if you spend every evening glued to your smartphone in bed, you’re going to have a harder time getting a good night’s sleep. The constant distractions, notifications, and social media outrages of the day can also boost your anxiety and stress, and make it much harder to just live in the moment.
Reducing your screen time and finding a way to spend more time offline is a natural, drug-free way to boost your mental health.
How CBD and cannabis products can help
In recent years, cannabis has been the subject of a tremendous amount of scientific research, and in 2020 there was a record number of scientific studies published on cannabis.
While more human clinical trials are needed, the current evidence suggests there may be potential therapeutic benefits for the following ailments:
Chronic pain — the most common reason people turn to medical cannabis in the United States today. Both THC and CBD rich products may help those suffering from pain lasting several months.
Nausea and vomiting — cannabis has long been seen as a potential supportive treatment option for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Cannabinoids may ease nausea and vomiting. Pharma has successfully isolated and recreated THC for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting called Marinol, an FDA-approved drug available as a prescription.
Loss of sleep or insomnia — THC-rich cannabis products may help people fall asleep by addressing some of the underlying conditions, while the potential anti-anxiety effects of CBD helps people to shut out the noise and get some shut eye.
Inflammation — both THC and CBD have been shown to help reduce inflammation in conditions like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and irritable bowel disease. It’s worth noting that folks may experience pain relief simply by taking the inflammation away.
And it should go without saying that cannabis should not be used to replace prescription medication or potentially life-saving medication, and consumers should contact a healthcare professional before making any decisions about their medication.
How CBD and cannabis products work
It was only in the 1990s that researchers discovered the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a communication system which affects all types of functions in the body, from sleep to hunger to pain, to name just a few. The receptors of the system can be influenced by chemicals in cannabis known as cannabinoids — the two most well-known being THC and CBD.
By interacting with the receptors of the ECS, cannabis modulates the bodily functions that cause or exacerbate health conditions. Furthermore, some researchers believe that health conditions like migraines or fibromyalgia, among others, may actually be the result of endocannabinoid deficiencies.
Types of cannabis products
There is a truly bewildering variety of cannabis products today, but many of them fall under three categories: inhalation, oral, and topical.
Inhalation includes cannabis flowers that are smoked or vaped, or concentrated like shatter, wax, or oils that are vaporized and inhaled. This method is the most popular, and is very simple and straightforward, with an almost immediate onset.
Oral includes edibles like gummies or chocolates, as well as tinctures, beverages, or capsules. This method is preferred by those who don’t want to or can’t smoke or vape, but it is also an easy way to microdose or to stick to a set dosing regimen. The onset depends on the type of edible (typical gummies can take up to an hour, while nano emulsified beverages can work much quicker), but it can take more than an hour. In addition, edibles produce a very different sensation than other intake methods, which many consumers prefer.
Edibles like Dimer illustrate how this works. Dimer is a hemp-derived, full-spectrum edible that provides a generous serving of 75mg CBD, 6mg of THC, 1mg of CBG, and 5mg of CBC in every “calming caramel.”
Each individually wrapped piece can easily be portioned up for microdosing or times when you don’t want a whole piece. Keep in mind that this is not your average CBD product; 6mg of hemp-derived Delta-9 THC per serving can be a high dose for new consumers, or people that are usually sensitive to cannabis. Depending on your tolerance to THC, this can be a good accompaniment if you’d like to relax during your daily routine.
Topicals include balms, savles, lotions, and patches, which are applied directly to the skin. Used to help with skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema, topicals can also help ease muscle aches and soreness, and may be a therapeutic alternative for relief without the use of prescription medication. That said, because topicals don’t penetrate the skin deep enough to enter the bloodstream, they are best used for localized areas and can be a great add-on to the other form factors for that dose layering effect.
Why CBD and THC can work so well together
Edibles like Dimer that have a high CBD content along with the THC may actually enhance the effectiveness of both cannabinoids. The cannabis plant is thought to have more than 140 cannabinoids, along with 150 plus terpenes that provide the aroma and flavor of plants. Isolated on their own, each of these cannabinoids and terpenes may have unique, therapeutic effects. But when taken together, these chemicals are thought to work greater in concert.
Scientists have dubbed this synergistic relationship “the entourage effect,” and this hypothesis is behind the drive for products that are full spectrum or whole spectrum. The rationale being that if these various chemicals work better together, then it makes more sense not to develop isolates for specific cannabinoids or terpenes, rather, products that include a whole symphony of natural compounds working together.
Take for instance how CBD and THC interact. THC has shown to provide great relief for pain or nausea, but many people may find that THC by itself can be dysphoric. CBD counters the unpleasant “high” caused by THC, and may even help people “come down” when they get too high. In addition, CBD may potentially alleviate some of the adverse effects associated with THC, such as paranoia or anxiety.
CBD is generally well-tolerated, but it is not without side effects. Some people may experience nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, or changes in appetite. Similar to the effects of CBD on the intoxication of THC, THC may even help counter some of the side-effects with CBD – suggesting that a whole plant product with multiple chemical constituents is better than the constituent alone.
Tips on how to dose with hemp products
When trying out hemp products, seek out products that include a full list of the ingredients, as well as a certificate of authenticity and lab results that indicate the full makeup of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and the presence of any contaminants.
Furthermore, when starting any wellness regimen, it’s best to take things slow, especially if you are not under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
If you’re using edibles, find products that include a clear quantifier of CBD and/or THC (and other cannabinoids) per serving, and which can easily be parcelled up for smaller or larger doses. This will help you make sure you get a consistent dose each time, and should help stave off any surprises.
And while CBD hemp-derived products are generally considered safe (depending on the production methods), always err on the side of caution, especially if other medications or supplements are involved. If you are taking prescription medications, be sure to talk to a healthcare professional to ensure there are no adverse interactions in combination.. Check that they don’t contain any allergens or other components that you cannot consume. Perhaps most importantly, listen to your body. While these products seem to work great for many people, if you are feeling any discomfort, dysphoria, or other adverse side effects like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, immediately consult with a healthcare professional who can advise you further.
This article was originally published on The Cannigma, and shared here with permission.