Adding CBD to your Wellness Routine
CBD: is it worth the hype?
CBD is having a moment. New CBD products seem to pop up daily, and every week a peer-review study is published on the therapeutic effects of CBD and cannabinoids.
In the clinic, patients are also increasingly asking questions about CBD: is it worth the hype? How does it actually work? Is it really safe? Is it right for them?
I have to say, I am pleased about the rise in awareness over CBD and its benefits, but I also understand certain caveats when it comes to CBD. In this blog, I answer some of the most common questions to help you decide if CBD is right for you. If used correctly, CBD can be a wonderful addition to a wellness routine!
What is CBD?
Cannabis has a rich history as a medicinal plant, and increasingly the medical community has been researching its therapeutic properties to determine why. Cannabis contains over 100 chemical compounds, known as phytocannabinoids, some of which have medical benefits. CBD is one of the most famous (and researched!) phytocannabinoids, due to its positive effects in managing a range of health conditions.
Many people associate cannabis with recreational drug use, however, the effects of ‘getting high’ are due to another phytocannabinoid, THC.
The CBD products available contain only or mainly CBD as their active therapeutic compound, meaning we can get the medicinal benefits of cannabis without having to worry about other effects.
What are the Benefits of CBD?
Clinical evidence for the conditions CBD is effective in treating or managing symptoms are:
- Insomnia, both falling and staying asleep
- Chronic pain conditions, including pain from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, neuropathic pain, and neurological disorders, such as headaches
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Some cancers
- The research on the influence of cannabinoids on female pelvic health is still emerging, but there is some evidence for its therapeutic properties in managing pelvic pain, gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis, and managing PMS
As a PT, Women’s Health specialist, and Yoga therapist, I am particularly interested in CBD’s efficacy as a holistic wellness support. An injury or condition is rarely just that — they affect the quality of life, often negatively impact mental health, and cause stress. As CBD works across all these areas, and more (digestive issues are also exacerbated by stress, for example), it is a great broad-spectrum wellness support.
To understand why CBD and other cannabinoids are therapeutically beneficial across such a range of conditions it’s helpful to look at how they interact in the body, and the mechanisms that can promote greater wellness for almost everybody.
How does CBD work in the body?
Even if you have never consumed any form of cannabis you experience the effect of cannabinoids in your body every day! The body naturally produces and processes its own cannabinoids as part of a complex physiological system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The Endocannabinoid System
The ECS is a network of signals and interactions in the body that occurs in all mammals. There are three key aspects to understanding this system:
- Endocannabinoids: cannabinoid molecules produced within the body
- Receptors: throughout the body there are receptors that cannabinoids bind to. These receptors are primarily concentrated in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system.
- Enzymes: these enzymes break down the cannabinoids once their biological function is complete.
Scientists are still researching exactly how the ECS works, but evidence increasingly shows that it is integral for maintaining homeostasis in the body.
Supporting Our Body’s Homeostasis
Homeostasis is the body’s ideal internal ecosystem, and the body is constantly working to maintain it or restore homeostasis when something upsets its balance. For example, if you are ill or injured, or hear a loud sound that makes you jump, the body reacts across multiple systems, heightening some bodily functions and suppressing others. The body then has mechanisms in place to restore homeostasis, so all the body’s systems can function optimally again. A key way this restoration happens is through the activation of the ECS, which has been found to support everything from digestion to inflammation, and bone growth to muscle formation.
CBD and the ECS
CBD has been shown to have numerous positive effects and benefits on the body, although the exact process still remains a partial mystery! Currently, the most agreed upon theory is that it prevents the body’s endocannabinoids from being broken down so you experience greater longevity in their positive effects.
Significantly, certain conditions are classified as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndromes (CEDCs), which is when the body does not produce enough of its own endocannabinoids, and consequently has a more difficult job of maintaining its homeostasis. CBD seems to be particularly helpful for CEDCs, perhaps because it ensures that the available endocannabinoids stay in the body longer.
- Chronic Anxiety
Is CBD Right for Me?
The great thing about CBD is, unlike THC, there are no known serious long term side effects. THC has also been studied for its therapeutic benefits, of which there are many, but it is not well tolerated by everybody and may lead to the paranoia and psychosis we associate with marijuana abuse.
Many people can tolerate CBD with no side effects at all, however, some people experience dry mouth, fatigue, and diarrhea. All these stop once you discontinue use. It’s worth noting that the quality of the CBD product can affect how well you tolerate it too. With the rise of CBD products, it’s hard to keep track of how pure or well made a product actually is. Another way to avoid side effects is through the topical use of CBD; ointments, creams, and even vaginal lubes, can be applied directly to areas of the body and have been shown to reduce muscle and joint pain, and symptoms of physical discomfort.
Choosing Quality CBD Products
It is important to understand the range of cannabinoids present in the CBD products you purchase. A CBD ‘isolate’ only contains the cannabinoid CBD. A ‘broad spectrum’ CBD product contains CBD and several other compounds but not THC. A ‘full spectrum’ CBD product contains all compounds, including CBD and trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3%). These are all legal in Rhode Island.
The other important thing to bear in mind is to make sure you are getting your CBD products from a reputable supplier. As a health care practitioner, it took me a long time to find high-quality products that I was confident to recommend to my patients, and I was grateful to come across Green Compass. Green Compass not only has excellent quality control for their hemp production (from which CBD is extracted), but also offers a wide range of products, from isolates to full spectrum, from tinctures to topicals.
I’m also happy to say that if you purchase any of their products through my affiliate link you will receive a 20% discount (and I will receive a small commission — but I assure you, I would never recommend a product I didn’t believe in and use myself).
If you would like assistance with integrating CBD into your existing wellness plan, feel free to make an appointment with Sylvie or ask your regular PT at SOPTRI to pass your enquiry on to Sylvie, who is happy to help you tailor your CBD choices to your unique circumstances.
Author: Sylvie Le, DPT, PYTC