A 2018 World Health Organization (WHO) report (Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) states there is clinical evidence showing CBD could be useful in treating many serious conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, psychosis, and Parkinson’s disease. Americans appear to be listening as more than 7% of US adults are reported to be using CBD as a supplement as of December 2018. This number is expected to rise to 12% by the end of 2019, underscoring the massive green rush we are experiencing. However, while millions are turning to CBD to combat a multitude of ailments, we still don’t know why CBD appears to be effective for some people and not others. Just as importantly, we are yet to decipher the “how and why” behind its seemingly remarkable efficacy for so many serious conditions. One person that’s looking to change all that is Pelin Thorogood, President and Co-Founder of the Wholistic Research & Education Foundation (Wholistic), a California charitable foundation dedicated to exploring the health benefits of CBD-rich therapeutics through funding clinical and scientific research and leveraging this evidence-based data for education and advocacy. Pelin, with the support of the foundation’s Medical Advisory Committee (comprised of renowned doctors, scientists, researchers and policy experts), is laser focused on leveraging the latest in science and technology to explore the underlying mechanisms in CBD efficacy.
Wholistic has already embarked on some groundbreaking multi-disciplinary CBD / cannabis efficacy studies in partnership with major research institutes: A recent collaboration with the University of California San Diego (UCSD) is aimed at exploring whether CBD therapies can reduce behavioral abnormalities in children with autism, and if so, how. The $4.7 million grant for this study represents the largest known private gift to date for medicinal cannabis research in the United States. The first of its kind project incorporates clinical, genomic, scientific, and advanced mathematical techniques, across the same group of patients to offer a systematic and comprehensive assessment of CBD efficacy. Pelin says “the expectation is that our efforts are not only going to help with the understanding of how CBD can provide relief from autism symptoms, but also shed light onto if CBD may be effective in treating other neuro-developmental diseases as well”. Recent discoveries indicate typical neurons are designed for optimized information signaling. One of the key hypotheses in the UCSD study that there is an imbalance of this signaling ratio in autistic individuals. Given its anti-anxiety properties, CBD may be able to correct this imbalance, possibly providing a mechanistic understanding of why CBD has the effect it does. Pelin states that “the mechanistic approach is critical, otherwise we won’t be able to truly understand the personalized differences as to why CBD appears to have such varying effects on different individuals.”
The other major project Whollstic is currently funding is at the University of Utah, focused on investigating the “Brain effects of Cannabinoids”. Using advanced imaging and FMRI (a technique that measures brain activity by visualizing blood flow within our cerebellum), the UU researchers hope to gain insights into the personalized effects of CBD and THC at a molecular level. The objective is to understand how cannabinoids influence large-scale brain networks involved in attention, executive function, emotion regulation, and cognition – and how they have different effects on different individuals. “The personalized differences may be due to many factors ” explains Pelin. “Individual responses may vary because of the number or location of the cannabinoid receptors a particular person has, or they could be affected by various neuro-inflammatory factors”. One thing is clear, with this level of extensive multidisciplinary research, and the rest of the world watching, Wholistic Research & Education Foundation is on the forefront of potentially unlocking what could be major breakthroughs in cannabinoid therapy.
CBD isn’t only being used for aiding in neurological diseases. Chances are someone you know and love has turned to a greener approach when seeking pain relief. Tim Gordon is a 25-year veteran of the Hemp movement who also serves as President of the Colorado Hemp Industries Association. Tim is the Chief Science Officer for Functional Remedies, a company that manufactures CBD oil from whole-plant hemp to provide relief from pains commonly associated with arthritis and sports related injuries. He believes that more and more athletes will turn to the benefits of CBD derived from non psychoactive hemp in order to stay on top of their game. Scott McCarren,a 3-time PGA winner swears by Funcional Remedies’ full spectrum tinctures in order to “help my mind stay relaxed and my body feel better so I can play my best.” when asked about the future of CBD as an effective tool Tim warns that many companies will likely be shut down in the regulatory process. “You’re seeing a lot of CBD hype which isn’t necessarily good for the businesses that are actually working towards changing lives.”
So until we fully understand the benefits of CBD and how it works inside our bodies, there are likely to be as many facts as there are myths, and for every product created with the best intentions there’s a snake oil salesman trying to make a quick buck. All we can do as a community is to help spread the word that maybe, just maybe, a natural plant derived medicine might be better for us than whatever the pharmaceutical companies are selling us this week. Interestingly enough, it will be modern science that will help prove the power of plant medicine.