At San Francisco Natural Medicine, we have a lot of respect for plant medicines, many of which have been used for thousands of years but have only recently been studied using modern scientific methods. Cannabis is an example of a plant that is finally being studied and showing effectiveness for a variety of health issues from reducing seizure activity to cancer support, but current laws around prescribing medical cannabis have prevented us from using these potent plants for our patients’ care.
The 2014 Farm Bill
Fortunately, times are changing. The 2014 Farm Bill defined industrial hemp as an agricultural product distinct from marijuana as long as the plant contains less than 0.3% THC. Now farmers can grow hemp and produce products that contain high amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) giving people access to this plant medicine without the THC component that is regulated on a federal level and varies widely from state to state. This allows us to seek and use hemp-based products to benefit patients without having to get a medical cannabis card and going to local dispensaries where you can get products with CBD but which may also be high in THC.
You may have seen Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN special on medical cannabis a year or so ago which profiled a young girl named Charlotte Figi who suffered from over 300 seizures/week. The formula reduced her seizures dramatically and she is now thriving in grade school. The product that was developed for her by the Stanley Brothers in Colorado, Charlotte’s Web, is the product line that we decided to carry here.
We especially appreciate their products because of their quality and the fact that they are whole plant extracts that contain not only CBD but other compounds (cannabinoids) found in the whole plant. Their hemp-based CBD products come in both liquid and capsule forms, and there are even formulations for pets (yes, we have them too). They are non-GMO and organically grown.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
This system, discovered in 1990, is located in the brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous system. It is considered to be one of the most important physiological systems involved in establishing, maintaining and balancing human health. The ECSs’ overall function is the regulation of homeostasis or balance in our nervous systems. We produce cannabinoids in our bodies, called endocannabinoids, and can also use exogenous cannabinoids found outside the body (termed phytocannabinoids) to interact with the ECS. There are a number of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors in this system that have different effects based on the type of cannabinoid and the receptors involved. CBD is one of these.
How does Cannabidiol (CBD) work?
CBD works by binding CBD receptors which produces physiologic changes in the body. There are two main CBD receptors: CBD1 which are found in the brain and act to modulate brain chemistry, and CBD2, which are found in many areas of the body and have been shown to produce many health effects including anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune balancing, anti-anxiety, anti-emetic, pain reducing and possibly even anti-cancer effects.
Is CBD safe? Will it make me high?
Yes, it is very safe. There have been no known deaths from overdose of cannabinoids. Ever. Here’s an example. We all know of aspirin, generally regarded as a safe and effective medicine available over-the counter everywhere. Aspirin has an LD50 of 1:20, meaning those that take 20 times the safe dose, 50 out of a hundred will die. CBD has a LD50 of 1:20,000. There are no known significant adverse side-effects of CBD use.
No, you will not get the euphoric high that you get when you use THC-based cannabis products; there is too little to create this effect in CBD-based products.
What conditions can cannabinoids help?
There is actually an amazing amount of research done on cannabis and CBD-based products, and it has been shown to be helpful in a large variety of health conditions. It appears the most common conditions that CBD shows effectiveness for are pain management, sleep difficulties, immune modulation, blood sugar balancing, anti-inflammatory, anxiety and appetite (both improving and in some cases reducing).
If you would like to see a comprehensive look at conditions studied and links to actual cannabinoid studies, take a look at The Realm of Caring.
How Can SFNM Doctors Help?
We are familiar with proper dosing of quality hemp-based whole plant CBD extracts and can help you find the right dose to fit your individual needs, as well as other naturopathic supportive therapies to help you meet your health goals.
Dr. Carl Hangee-Bauer is SFNM’s founder and Clinic Director. He has a general naturopathic medical practice and specializes in immune support for allergies, autoimmunity and cancer support, functional gastroenterology and pain management. He has over 30 years of clinical experience using individualized care and treatment plans to provide effective naturopathic based care.