These days you can have it drizzled on your pizza, added to your smoothie and infused in your coffee. There’s no doubt about it – cannabis oil has gone mainstream in a big way.
All around the world more and more countries are legalising cannabis and, with that, cannabidiol (CBD) products. In 2018 South Africa legalised the private use of dagga and in May last year then-health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi announced the sale of CBD would be legal too.
It’s been reported that CBD can help with weight loss, regulate – or even prevent – diabetes, fight depression, ease chronic pain, treat cancer and more.
“It would seem it’s quite a multifunctional medicine that’s proving to be beneficial for several ailments,” says Dr Asafika Mbangata. She works at Community Oriented Substance Use Programme (Cosup), a joint initiative of the University of Pretoria’s department of family medicine, the City of Tshwane and the Gauteng departments of health and social development.
But is there science behind these claims? It seems a growing number of CBD studies and reviews are delivering promising results.
WHAT IS CBD?
Simply put, it’s a liquid extracted from cannabis. Cannabis contains more than 400 chemicals, but the two most talked about are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD, Mbangata says. “THC is what gives you a high – the euphoric effects linked to cannabis use. But CBD has none of those psychoactive elements.”
This is because CBD doesn’t affect the receptors in your body in the same way that THC does. You’re born with an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that receives and translates signals from cannabinoids, which your body also produces by itself.
Our ECS is involved in everything the body does, from the way you walk to the way you talk. When THC is introduced into the body, it affects the ECS by activating the body’s reward system – releasing pleasure chemicals and giving you a “high”. CBD activates or inhibits other compounds in the ECS, which may be the cause of its medical benefits.
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12 March 2020