If you’ve been studying the subject of medical cannabis science for as long as we have, then you know that recent years have seen an explosive increase in discussion about CBD. This once-obscure cannabinoid has captured the attention of patients, physicians, and policymakers alike due to its promising medicinal applications coupled with its prized ability to produce these effects without intoxication. Pleased as we are that this conversation is taking place, we’ve also noticed some misunderstandings beginning to spread. Thankfully, Martin Lee of Project CBD has a helpful article exploring myths and facts in the CBD discussion.
Lee begins by challenging a common dichotomy holding that CBD functions as the cannabis plant’s medicinal component while THC is better suited to recreational use:
Actually, THC, “The High Causer,” has awesome therapeutic properties. Scientists at the Scripps Research Center in San Diego reported that THC inhibits an enzyme implicated in the formation of beta-amyloid plaque, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s-related dementia.
The federal government recognizes single-molecule THC (Marinol) as an anti-nausea compound and appetite booster, deeming it a Schedule III drug, a category reserved for medicinal substances with little abuse potential. [Green Flower]
Indeed, pharmaceutically-derived THC has been approved and commonly prescribed for several years. For a number of reasons, many patients prefer plant-derived THC, but the fact that THC-based medicines have achieved FDA approval is an important clarification for anyone who believes that THC is antiquated now that non-intoxicating CBD-based medicines are becoming more available.
The importance of THC is critical to understand, not only because of its numerous symptomatic applications, but also because CBD itself has been shown to produce stronger therapeutic effects when administered in combination with THC:
THC and CBD are the power couple of cannabis compounds—they work best together. Scientific studies have established that CBD and THC interact synergistically to enhance each other’s therapeutic effects. British researchers have shown that CBD potentiates THC’s anti-inflammatory properties in an animal model of colitis. Scientists at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco determined that a combination of CBD and THC has a more potent anti-tumoral effect than either compound alone when tested on brain cancer and breast cancer cell lines. And extensive clinical research has demonstrated that CBD combined with THC is more beneficial for neuropathic pain than either compound as a single molecule.
This analysis is important to understand for patients who are seeking symptom relief while minimizing intoxication. The temptation to select products with maximum CBD content and only trace amounts of THC may not always result in the most effective product selection for the patient’s symptoms. Though outcomes may vary from one patient to the next, there is significant evidence to suggest that THC plays an important role in activating the benefits of CBD. Avoiding THC entirely may negatively impact symptom relief, thus requiring larger doses and increasing cost for the patient. Furthermore, many patients find that products with a 1:1 THC/CBD ratio produce sufficiently low levels of intoxication due to the balancing effect of the CBD component.
Martin Lee’s article goes on to discuss some additional areas of interest, including the benefits of whole plant cannabis medicines, the importance of sourcing CBD extracts from quality plant genetics, and questions surrounding the legality of imported CBD products. You can read the whole thing here. Ultimately, despite some common misconceptions, new information about the importance of CBD has revolutionized modern cannabis science, created fascinating new treatment options, and played an important role towards increasing support for regulated medical cannabis programs. We’ll continue to follow this conversation closely and bring you the latest news as it develops.