by Michael Goodhart, Aircraft Technician, B.A. Psychology, North Carolina, USA
The compound CBD (Cannabidiol) is derived from the marijuana or hemp plant and is currently the newest rage and being touted as the latest ‘cure-all’ in the health and wellbeing industry. The claims made by its proponents cover a broad spectrum of supposed benefits, ranging from a reversal of depression, halting of psychosis and healing PTSD to curing cancer. (1)
In fact, here is a more comprehensive list of claimed benefits now coming from the myriad of companies that are touting CBD as a multi-pronged solution for literally dozens of mental, emotional and physical ailments, including the abilities to: slow Parkinson’s disease, curb anger, prevent anxiety, relieve menstrual cramps, lessen arthritis pain, treat Crohn’s disease, lower blood sugar, rejuvenate skin, heal brain injury, cure insomnia, speed recovery from workouts, calm dogs and stop epilepsy.
Of that entire list, only the limiting of seizures as experienced by people with two rare forms of epilepsy has been medically proven to be somewhat alleviated with the use of CBD oil. (2)
CBD oil is being marketed and sold inside products as far ranging as hamburgers and shampoo to gummy bears in a way to capitalize on a form of created ‘normalcy’ by the companies selling these products, when in fact there are many questions about its legality and efficacy.
Although I feel that it’s everyone’s choice as to what products they use to support the health and wellness of their bodies, the current groundswell of companies and distributors popping up at almost every street corner selling CBD in a way that promises the consumer that it can cure such vastly different illnesses and diseases without any scientific evidence or even FDA approval and oversight is at the very least alarming and is taking advantage of people’s medical needs in a deceiving way, capitalising on this with massive financial gains at their customers’ expense, whether it works for them or not.
“CBD is being produced without any regulation, resulting in products that vary widely in quality”, said Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “It really is the Wild West,” Bonn-Miller said. “Joe Bob who starts up a CBD company could say whatever the hell he wants on a label and sell it to people.” (2)
The method by which CBD affects our body’s internal mechanisms is via what is known as the Endocannabinoid System, which is a complex cell-signalling system that is responsible for maintaining a state of homeostasis within the body by producing endogenous cannabinoids (AEA & 2AG) that are molecules which attach to endocannabinoid receptors found in the central nervous system (CB1) and the peripheral nervous system (CB2) within the immune system and on various organs like the kidneys and liver, thus modulating their function in various ways not fully understood by science. After the endocannabinoids AEA & 2AG carry out their functions they are broken down by two different enzymes produced by the body. (3)
The physiological effects of this natural system found within the human body are quite vast and include those that control and modulate chronic pain, stress, sleep, emotional moods, learning, memory, metabolism, inflammation/immune system, the cardiovascular system, liver and kidney function, appetite, skin & nerve function, reproduction/fertility, bone growth and motor control. (3)
By now the above extensive list of innate benefits of the body’s harmonious endocannabinoid system may appear very familiar to you, as it mirrors those claimed by the advocates of CBD oil as listed in the first segment of this piece. Even though CBD oil, (which, by the way, still contains at the very least trace amounts of the psychoactive drug Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and without proper FDA oversight cannot be truly determined or controlled), can be received by the body through its own natural receptors to produce its effects on various physiological systems, it does not mean that it is safe or required for our health and wellbeing. We have opioid receptors for heroin, but does that mean we should inject it into our veins to help with chronic pain and stress, or to help us go to sleep? Obviously not.
There is evidence to suggest that the scientific and medical field has a tendency to extrapolate meanings and connections based on theories of what they want to be true without necessarily confirming anything with repeatable evidence, all in the name of funding, profit and prestige. (4)
For instance, even calling this system of homeostatic control the ‘Endocannabinoid System’ just because it contains receptors for cannabinoid containing compounds like THC can then cause a situation where people more easily justify smoking marijuana, even though it clearly causes a disharmony in the body and mind, taking us away from any true state of homeostasis that the body’s natural systems maintain. This pseudo-science then paves the way for other fad products like CBD oil to be seen as the next ‘saviour’ for our current state of poor health and wellbeing.
The current market environment selling CBD oil is a literal free-for-all, with a lot of companies making huge profits while seemingly taking advantage of people’s desperation to feel better in their lives. The rates of illness, disease and unsettlement continually rise within a society that does not appear to want to deal with the underlying causes of these physical, mental and emotional issues, but instead would prefer the ‘quick fix’ or cure rather than do the work to truly create a lasting healing, perhaps because this would require a level of honesty that would expose their lack of responsibility for not taking care and loving themselves enough to avoid these issues in the first place.
Perhaps the fact that our bodies already have a perfectly good system in place (the Endocannabinoid System) to control and maintain a homeostatic state of wellbeing is showing us that we have let ourselves be fooled by the appearance of yet another ‘snake oil’, this time called CBD, which only distracts us from what is needed for true healing, a trust and connection with the body that will show us not only how we have been treating it, but how to proceed forth when we reconnect to a more honest and self-loving way that does not look outside of it any more for answers or temporary fixes, but looks deep within to the cause of our problems and the source of our healing.
- ‘Can CBD Really Do All That?’, New York Times Magazine, May 14, 2019
- ‘CBD Oil: All the Rage, But Is It Safe & Effective?’, WebMD.com, May 7, 2018
- ‘A Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System’, Healthline.com, May 17, 2019.
- ‘Taking Financial Relationships into Account When Assessing Research’, NIH.gov, March 14, 2014 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3954632/