If you notice a similarity between the words “cannabis” and
“cannabinoid receptors”, it is definitely not accidental. These receptors,
frequently abbreviated as CB1 and CB2, are so named because of the way they are
involved with perception of pain, neurological factors, and other physical
health concerns, too. The compounds from cannabis interact with these
receptors, found on the surfaces of cells.
Both CB1 and CB2 are expressed in the hippocampus, a part of
the brain associated with memory and emotion. But each also has its own areas
of expertise, too. Broadly speaking, CB1 is involved with cognitive responses –
fear and memory – while CB2 is more aligned with the immune system, peripheral
structures of the body, and digestion. In an extremely simplified way, you
could think of the CB1 receptor as the “mind receptor” and CB2 as the “body
Our bodies create our own cannabinoids, including anandamide
(AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), which affects emotions, the nervous
and digestive systems, the immune system, sensation of pain, and other aspects
of health. These internally created cannabinoids activate our receptors, and
help us stay in a balanced, healthy state. In fact, anandamide is named for the
Sanskrit word “ananda,” which means bliss. That alone gives you a pretty good
indication of how important the endocannabinoid system is to our well-being. It
is essentially an adaptogenic system, affecting the body and mind in multiple
When endocannabinoid levels decline, especially in
connection to chronic disease, inflammation, low omega-3 and vegetable intake,
and other stresses that take a mental and physical toll on our health,
phytocannabinoids can help. They can prevent the breakdown of our own natural
cannabinoids and research is finding they can effectively treat a host of
diseases, from pain to epilepsy.
Fights Pain and Inflammation
For fighting pain, I’ve often recommended curcumin enhanced
with turmeric essential oil for better absorption, blood retention, and
effectiveness. But hemp oil cannabinoids appear to be natural pain fighters
too, due to their ability to reduce inflammation and modulate the brain’s
response to pain. In fact, it is one of the major reasons that people become
interested in hemp oil to begin with. Of course, the full mechanism of how the
compounds from hemp oil fight pain is still under investigation.
Since hemp oil cannabinoids help preserve our own natural
endocannabinoids, British research may provide a partial answer. They found
that patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis had elevated levels
of endocannabinoids in their synovial tissue – the tissue located between
joints – compared to those without those conditions. It’s as though the body
was flooding those particular regions with endocannabinoids in order to relieve
Further research showed that changes in the endocannabinoid
levels might also have something to do with the way we perceive pain including
feelings of anxiety and depression that often accompany joint conditions.
Phytocannabinoids may help people dealing with neuropathic
(nerve) pain from chemotherapy, which doesn’t always respond easily to
conventional medications. A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial showed
that an oral spray decreased pain by an average of 2.6 (compared to 0.6 for the
placebo) on an 11-point pain intensity scale.
Other clinical work with oral sprays for neuropathic pain
(which include THC and CBD) have found similar positive results.
Muscle spasticity in multiple sclerosis can also be
difficult to treat with conventional drugs. A combination THC/CBD oral spray
improved conditions for some patients in as little as one month.
For any kind of muscle and joint pain, I think that a
combination of hemp oil and curcumin enhanced with turmeric essential oil would
be a very effective option.
Phytocannabinoids from hemp have been found to kill cancer
cells and inhibit the spread of tumors without affecting healthy cells.
For instance, CBD has been found to fight glioblastoma, a
difficult-to-treat form of brain tumor. Researchers found that this compound
from hemp oil initially inhibited the spread of cancer cells, and seemed to
work best when combined with conventional drugs in this scientific study. As we
learn more, it’s likely that cannabinoids from hemp could be considered an
adjunct therapy for a variety of cancers.
The anti-inflammatory abilities of hemp oil are key to
stopping cancer, although the precise pathways and exactly how it does this are
still being investigated. It has been shown to reduce 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX)
inflammation, in one cell study by 40 percent, but there is still a lot of
ongoing research in this area.
Scientific research has found that CBD also stops leukemia
cells, while other work has found that a full range of cannabinoids inhibited
prostate cancer cells, highlighting the value of a complete entourage of
compounds from hemp.
Cannabinoids Reduce Seizures
One of the health concerns that could be most dramatically
affected by cannabinoids from hemp oil is epilepsy. Epilepsy is a disorder in
the central nervous system that disrupts neural activity in the brain. The
resulting symptoms of the condition can be as mild as a few unfocused seconds
that would appear as daydreaming, to muscle twitches, to completely losing
consciousness. CBD from hemp has been clinically tested for individuals with
the condition, and although more work needs to be done, initial results are
In an early clinical study, patients stayed on their
anti-seizure medication (although the authors mentioned that it was no longer
controlling symptoms) and took either CBD or a placebo. While there were only
eight individuals taking the hemp oil compound, half of them were almost
symptom free during the course of the trial, and three others noted a partial
reduction in symptoms. This two-phase study began with small daily doses for
the first 30 days (3 mg/kg), and followed with a larger dose (200-300 mg
daily). This was one of the opening salvos in what would become a long road of
using compounds from cannabis to promote health, without impairing or affecting
A more recent Israeli study found that a CBD-enriched hemp
oil (which also included a small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol or “THC” in a
ratio of 20:1 CBD to THC) reduced the frequency of seizures in 89 percent of
the children in the trial. Of those, some (18 percent) saw a large drop in
seizure frequency – anywhere from 75 to 100 percent.
Researchers also reported improved language and motor
skills, behavior, and sleep. The children included in this multicenter study
had a form of epilepsy that was resistant to standard medications, so seeing
positive results from hemp oil is a wonderful development.
What’s interesting about the addition of a small level of
THC in this case is that early research found that CBD alleviates the “jitters”
brought about in people by THC. The fact that CBD is considered an
anticonvulsant and affects the brain and nerves in a stabilizing way may be one
of the reasons it combats drug-resistant seizures. Further research will, no
doubt, reveal more about the mechanism of action. I think that combining hemp
oil with a ketogenic diet, which has also been shown to decrease symptoms (see
my article regarding this high-fat, high-protein regimen), could make a
remarkable difference for those with epilepsy.
Hemp Oil Cannabinoids for Whole Body Health
In addition to the benefits I’ve outlined so far, cannabinoids
from hemp oil may help strengthen your bones and keep your skin healthy, too.
Normally, specialized cells called osteoblasts add fresh
minerals to bone while osteoclasts remove older bone tissue by breaking down
the minerals and reabsorbing them into the bloodstream. The two processes are
crucial for health and intricately interlinked. But age, diet, genetics, and a
number of factors can create the conditions for osteoporosis and other
bone-degenerative diseases. Aside from making sure you have a full mineral and
nutrient supplement in your regimen, you may want to add hemp oil.
Laboratory research at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem
has found that hemp oil compounds helped heal bone fractures by stimulating
osteoblast activity and helping build the matrix that supports minerals
building new bone tissue. Considering the complications of many prescription
drugs for dealing with bone issues, hemp oil provides a much better option.
Your endocannabinoid system regulates your skin, too. It
regulates much of the lipids (fats) that determine the oiliness or dryness of
your skin and whether or not you suffer from dermatitis, acne, or other
disorders. A supplemental hemp oil may help balance out your skin’s production
Select the Best Hemp Oil
Hemp oil compounds, including CBD, have a lot to offer. But
you have to be careful which kind you choose. It’s easy to think that only CBD
is important, but hemp oil is complex, and the other non-THC phytocannabinoids
are valuable. The best hemp oil provides a full entourage of compounds from the
stalk, because a complete spectrum works together more strongly than any one
single compound can on its own.
Also, be aware of the growing conditions of hemp oil.
European, non-GMO hemp from specially cultivated plants that are carefully
tended are going to deliver the results you’re looking for. I would also
suggest adding supplemental omega-3s to your diet, especially if they are bound
to phospholipids. Omega-3s are part of the scaffolding for the endocannabinoid
There is a bright future for hemp oil. Like curcumin, French
grape seed extract, and boswellia, it is an incredibly powerful, natural
medicine for almost every health condition.