The list of cannabinoids currently comprises 113 entries, with more and more additions each year. Of these 113, by far the best documented are tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol (in this order), with the two also being the most abundant constituents of the cannabis plant. In a typical chemical isolation process, cannabidiol makes up a little under half of the entire extract.
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 His study, as yet unpublished, found “a fairly rapid decrease in anxiety scores that appears to persist for months,” he says.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.”
A group of specialists at the National Cancer Institute reviewed some experiments rhesus monkeys and rodents whose results implied that CBD has the capacity to inhibit the division of cancerous cells (especially in types of leukemia and lymphoma), to lower the probability of affected tissue to spread to neighboring tissues, and to increase the effectiveness of macrophage cells to attack cancerous cells.
Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol, insulin resistance (the chief metabolic problem for patients with type 2 diabetes) is reduced, leading to a better prognosis thanks also to the lower incidence of dead tissue. Ever since the discovery of CBD in the 1990’s, speculation existed to its effect on other types of receptors (not just cannabinoid receptors) which could be manipulated and included in the treatment of some cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis. In light of these speculations, researchers at the University of Tel Aviv (walking in the footsteps of the “father” of cannabinoid research, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam) demonstrated a 30 percent blood flow increase in rodents with areas of dead tissue in the heart muscle.
The inquiry upon the manner in which THC produces its psychoactive effects on the human body led, in the 1980’s, to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system – a rather loose complex of nerve receptors which under the influence of compounds called cannabinoids trigger many physiological and psychological reactions. Because cannabinoid receptors are present in almost every tissue of a mammal’s body (although they are not limited to mammals), it has wide-ranging influences on the well-being of an organism. Therefore cannabinoids are definitely substances that deserve further attention from scientists.