A few short years ago, 5-year-old Charlotte Figi was having around 300 seizures a week from a rare and intense form of epilepsy. Her parents, Paige and Matt, had tried everything from specific diets to costly and dangerous medications. Out of options and Charlotte's condition worsening, Matt was researching more treatment methods when he stumbled upon some studies showing that certain properties in the cannabis plant were effective at lessening and even stopping seizures.
Charlotte's parents were hesitant to try this method. Obviously they didn't want their 5-year-old getting stoned. But, desperate for any sort of relief for Charlotte, Paige bought some marijuana and had a friend extract the medicinal qualities out of the plant. After a very careful first dose of this concentrated oil, Paige waited and waited for the next seizure. But it didn't come that day. Or the next. Or the next. The properties in the cannabis, called cannabinoids, had taken Charlotte from 300 seizures a week to just 1. ONE.
Matt and Paige got in touch with the Stanley brothers who own one of the largest medical cannabis operations in the country. After hearing this story, the brothers got to work developing a plant high in these medicinal cannabinoids and low in the psychotropic cannabinoids, the ones that bring on that blissed-out euphoria. After two years of crossbreeding different plants, the Charlotte's Web strain of cannabis was born.
I know what you're thinking. "That's great. Why are you telling me this? Weed is illegal. I don't do drugs." Let's consider for a moment how the cannabis plant affects our bodies and I promise things will begin to make sense.
There are receptors ALL over the body for different substances. It's how hormones, neurotransmitters, etc. all work. They latch into a cell's receptor, do their job, and then are released back into the body to be deactivated and flushed by the liver (or maybe recycled). Cannabinoids (CBs from here on...) are no different; there are CB receptors all over the body. This is called our Endocannabinoid System and it is involved in balancing a number of processes in the body like appetite, sensing pain, mood regulation, and memory.
Put simply, our bodies are always trying to keep things in balance, a state called homeostasis. CBs and the endocannabinoid system are integral to that process.
"But if cannabinoids come from plants, why does this system exist in the body?" I'm glad you asked. We actually produce our own cannabinoids naturally. Just like any other hormone or neurotransmitter, our bodies take raw materials from our diets (and proper digestion!) and they synthesize cannabinoids! The main cannabinoids that our bodies make are anandamide and 2-arachinonolyglycerol (2-AG). Both of these are produced during the metabolization of various fatty acids.
Real quick nerd detour. These two cannabinoids are super cool. The anandamide neurotransmitter got its name from ananda - Sanskrit for "joy, bliss, delight." This is fitting because, by increasing nerve cell formation, it acts as a natural defense against anxiety and depression. It's also important for forming and remembering memories, motivation, higher thought processes, motor movement control, pain perception, appetite, fertility, and inhibiting cancer cell proliferation. 2-AG is the most abundant CB in the body. It's two main functions are regulating the inflammation response of the immune system and inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells.
So, back to the point. Like any other substance our bodies make from food sources, we can become deficient. That's why we take nutritional supplements, right? To bring our levels of a particular nutrient back up while we figure out how to keep those levels up using food sources. Phytocannabinoids (CBs from plant sources) are no different. So with that, I'd like to unveil the newest addition to the NECA nutritional supplement family: Charlotte's Web Premium Hemp Extract by The Stanley Brothers.
Remember when I said that the big hang-up with Charlotte's parents was that they didn't want their 5-year-old getting stoned? Well, of the 85+ different CBs in the cannabis plant, the two most abundant are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). Though it has loads of medicinal uses, THC is the property that triggers the euphoric bliss, or the psychotropic "high". CBD doesn't do that at all, but still packs the medicinal punch. The Stanley Brothers bred the Charlotte's Web strain with the intent to be high in CBD cannabinoids and low in THC; less than .03% THC to be exact. For this reason, this CBD extract oil is immensely helpful, perfectly legal, and you don't even need a medical cannabis card or prescription to get it.
"So what are the effects, uses, and how does it all work?" Another great question. You're crushing it with the questions. Like I mentioned, there are millions CB receptors all over the body that are helping to keep things balanced. The majority of them are found in the brain and the nervous system (CB1) and in the immune system (CB2), spots where balance is incredibly easy to disrupt. The CBs (endo- or phyto-) nestle into their receptors and do their thing to restore balance to that system. Because of the interactions with the brain and nervous system, CBs like CBD help balance your mood, anxiety, and depression just like the previously mentioned endocannabinoid, anandamide. Through the same systems, CBD can also help promote restful sleep, proper hormone production, and can stimulate the appetite. In short, CBD can help balance your sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest, digest, and repair) nervous system response. In the immune system, CBD helps regulate the inflammatory immune response, inhibits the growth of cancer cells, and acts as an antioxidant.
Because the use of cannabis is slowly becoming less and less taboo, there are more and more uses being researched and tested. In Charlotte's case, the CBD helped to calm the overactive electrical system of the brain that was causing her seizures. During my research, I found several studies that show CBD helping to treat neuropathic pain from conditions like MS, Lupus, and Diabetes. Equally exciting, a Canadian study showed that CBD helped promote neurogenesis (growth of NEW neurons) in embryonic and adult brains!
The Stanley Brothers were kind enough to send some of their patented Charlotte's Web CBD oil to try. I had been in high-stress mode and not really sleeping very well for about 3-4 weeks leading up to my first dose. Now, I'm a chronic over-thinker, self-doubter, and negative self-talker. In Chinese medicine, those sorts of emotions are connected to the spleen. And because of that, I tend to carry a lot of stress in my temples, which correspond to the spleen meridians. After taking my first dose of the CBD oil, I could physically feel my temples loosen, like the tension I was holding there was melting down the side of my head. That night, I slept better than I had in a month. I continued taking the oil for the next several days and felt more relaxed and more focused overall. I kept sleeping through the night. My drumming was even more free-flowing and less rigid. I got a few comments from some folks I was working with that day, "have you been practicing more? You sound great."
(I'm not necessarily saying that this product will make you awesome at whatever you do. I had, in fact, been practicing more. But I wasn't tied up in my own thoughts. I was able to let go and freely create with my fellow musicians. There's a difference between playing notes (cerebral, stiff, academic) and playing music (uncalculated, emotive).)
After 4 days, I did start to come down with a cold. It's tough to tell whether or not it was directly from CBD's mild immunosuppressive qualities. You might remember, there was a pretty gnarly bug going around a few weeks ago. Maybe I was due... Other than that, I don't have any negative side effects to report. I never felt tired during the day. I never felt unfocused or foggy. I never felt impaired in any way.
After putting in the time to do the research for this post, and even experimenting myself, it's easy to see why cannabis was routinely used for its medicinal effects for centuries; and even prescribed by doctors in the West until various phases of the War On Drugs in the 30's and 70's. But the views on cannabis are changing worldwide. We're slowly coming around to the fact that this plant has MANY uses that don't fit the law's nefarious preconceptions. If you feel like Charlotte's Web CBD oil might be helpful for you but want to learn more, feel free to stop in and ask some questions. I'm still offering free 15-minute phone/in-person consultations as well.
*** The information found on this website should not be construed as medical advice or treatment of medical conditions. Only your healthcare professional can provide you with medical advice. Consult your healthcare professional regarding all matters of your health and before making dietary changes.