Scientists, doctors and entrepreneurs are touting cannabidiol (CBD) as marijuana’s next big thing.
Discovered about 70 years ago, CBD is just one of the dozens of chemical compounds, or cannabinoids, which are found in the cannabis plant. Like facets on a diamond, CBD is a part of the whole, but its unique properties are showing great promise in addressing a variety of medical conditions and improving the quality of people’s lives.
One of these ways is by treating inflammation, an underlying and sometimes chronic condition that’s linked to many health concerns from arthritis to diabetes to heart disease.
Inflammation is one way our body’s immune system responds to assaults such as an infection, an injury or a chronic condition.
Nearly all of us have experienced many types of inflammation. There’s temporary inflammation like:
These kinds of temporary inflammation can usually be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is associated with long-term conditions. They often create debilitating pain, because the body just can’t get rid of what’s causing the inflammation in the first place. Just a few examples include:
Studies are beginning to reveal just how significant the role CBD may play in the development of anti-inflammatory, cannabis-based medicine and therapeutics.
But researchers have barely scratched the surface of CBD’s applications, and studies have also shown how CBD can both reduce and increase inflammatory responses.
Yet science is making tremendous strides in confirming what so many medical marijuana consumers know: that CBD use can elicit incredible anti-inflammatory responses.
For this reason, it’s imperative that anyone embarking on a CBD-based treatment do so in conjunction with a trusted, cannabis-supportive doctor. Another piece of the puzzle is making sure you take clean products that are sourced, tested and trusted by patients and providers.
One Washington state-based company, which produces high-quality, lab-tested CBD topicals derived from hemp and other healing herbs is Basic Jane.
Jessica Tonani and Kersten Beyer started Basic Jane after becoming friendly as neighbors. Kersten’s training as a clinical research nurse and Jessica’s background in biotech were the perfect skillset to research and manufacture Basic Jane’s CBD-infused topical products.
“I was in the traditional biotech, hardcore science world,” says Jessica, who was conducting genomic research prior to starting Basic Jane. When she began studying cannabis over a decade ago, navigating the system was challenging.
“When I decided to form the company, my colleagues and friends thought I was crazy. Now I’m getting calls from the same people asking if we have any job openings,” she says.
From the beginning, Jessica and Kersten were interested specifically in CBD. “Kersten’s mother had arthritis. We read two research papers that showed promise with the reduction of arthritis pain in mice that were given CBD. Our first goal was to try to decrease the aches and pains for Kersten’s mom,” Jessica explains.
“Kersten’s mom had many friends in her age group who also had arthritis, and they were begging for something to help them, which really assisted us with product development,” says Jessica. But anecdotal evidence wasn’t enough. “I’m a 100% scientist at heart. As Kersten was doing formulations, I was saying, ‘Show me how this works.’”
What started as an impulse to help Jessica’s mother transformed into a business manufacturing a variety of topical CBD products.
Initially, Jessica and Kersten used a blend of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD in their topicals. “We started with a combination and did studies using products with and without THC. Then we conducted dosing studies. We eliminated the THC from the topicals and discovered, to my surprise, that the omission of THC didn’t decrease the pain relief. We found we didn’t need THC.”
“There are a lot of different scientific theories on how CBD works,” says Jessica. In lay people’s terms, CBD appears to decrease inflammatory signals. Studies show that cannabis disrupts signaling proteins called cytokines, which are part of the body’s inflammatory process.
“Cytokines are molecules that tell your body you need to fix something, which leads to inflammation and damage in certain ways. CBD decreases these inflammatory signals,” she continues.
“We also discovered that along with decreasing inflammation, CBD decreases the anxiety around that inflammation. CBD tells your body that it can relax, reducing the anxiety associated with having pain.” Jessica’s research has led her to conclude that topical applications of CBD are the best way to maximize its anti-inflammatory qualities.
If you decide to try CBD topicals to tackle pain and inflammation, Jessica recommends applying your CBD topical every four hours, or as needed. Since hemp-derived CBD products are non-psychoactive, there isn’t a concern about getting high while using them.
“We’ve found that repeated applications help keep inflammation down. Some use our products morning and night. Others use creams or gels at home and our sprays at work,” says Jessica. “Different delivery systems seem to work best with different body chemistries, so experimenting is encouraged.”
There are lots of hemp CBD products on the market. But some aren’t lab-tested and come from hemp grown using pesticides and other chemicals that end up in the final product. Even with topicals, you want to make sure that they don’t contain any harmful ingredients and that the product actually contains the amount of healing CBD that it says on the label.
“One of most important things for anyone using CBD products is that all CBD should be tested,” advises Jessica. “You should know the concentration in the material you are using.”
“Before any CBD enters our facility, it’s tested in its raw state by independent, third-party certifiers,” she adds. Jessica says that more testing is undertaken once their products are manufactured.
Jessica was thrilled to report that Washington recently granted Basic Jane a state-issued license to research cannabis plant biology.
“We’re very interested in some of the other molecules in cannabis, including cannabichromene (CBC). Maybe the next awesome pain killer is within the cannabis plant. There are many amazing indications for some of the other, little-studied cannabinoids,” says Jessica.
With the passage of the Farm Bill, scientists like Jessica are hopeful that cannabinoid research will become easier to conduct. This way people can have more options to treat painful and potentially harmful conditions like inflammation to improve overall health and wellness.
Photo credit: Tatiana