To make matters more confusing, nine states (including California, Washington, and Colorado) let residents buy cannabis-based products with or without THC. Nearly two dozen other “medical marijuana states” allow the sale of cannabis, including capsules, tinctures, and other items containing CBD or THC, at licensed dispensaries to people whose doctors have certified that they have an approved condition (the list varies by state but includes chronic pain, PTSD, cancer, autism, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis). Sixteen more states legalized CBD for certain diseases.
However, when compared to skin-care pillar ingredients like retinols and vitamin C, the research behind CBD's efficacy in skin care (especially beyond the realms of being a temporary topical pain reliever) is still relatively in its infancy. "There is limited data to suggest that CBD may decrease oil production when applied topically," says Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital, who explains that unlike marijuana, which contains psychoactive THC, hemp seed oil is a common source of naturally anti-inflammatory cannabinoids — which is what ends up in all of those lotions and potions. "Hemp seed oil also acts as an emollient to smooth rough cells on the skin's surface and offers moisturizing benefits," he adds.
Our bodies are thought to produce endocannabinoids by the billions every day. “We always thought the ‘runner’s high’ was due to the release of dopamine and endorphins. But now we know the euphoria is also from an endocannabinoid called anandamide,” its name derived from the Sanskrit word for bliss, says Joseph Maroon, MD, clinical professor and vice chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. We produce these natural chemicals all day, but they fade quickly because enzymes pop up to destroy them. That’s where CBD comes in: By blocking these enzymes, CBD allows the beneficial compounds to linger.
A study performed at the Italian Piemonte University and published in 2008 implied that all cannabinoids help the immune system to fight bacteria. Especially potent are five cannabinoids (including CBD), with the study focusing on antibiotic-resistant strains of the Staphylococcus Aureus, a relevant example of the antibiotics abuse the last few decades have witnessed.
Scott Shannon, MD, assistant clinical professor at the University of Colorado, recently sifted through patient charts from his four-doctor practice to document CBD’s effects on anxiety. His study, as yet unpublished, found “a fairly rapid decrease in anxiety scores that appears to persist for months,” he says. But he says he can’t discount a placebo effect, especially since “there’s a lot of hype right now.”
The cannabis plant contains a unique group of carbon compounds often referred to a phytocannabinoids. The most common ingredient is THC, which creates the euphoric high effect. Due to the THC element in the plant, marijuana is often associated with a stoner stigma of people only wanting to get high. But that is far from the truth. Cannabis also contains other medicinal compounds including cannabinol, cannabigerol, cannabidiol, and cannabichromene.