Not Your Mama's Hippy Grass: The Uses + Benefits of CBD Oil - ft. Inflammation Expert Dr. Sunil Pai
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*image derived from fibromyalgianewstoday.com
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That’s right, today we are talking about Cannabis, THC, and CBD.
While there are many names for this herb that freethinkers all over the country have endearingly bestowed upon this ancient plant, Americans might be a bit bummed to learn that Cannabis has been used by human civilizations for thousands of years both ceremonially and medicinally. So sorry to burst the bubble of hippies and hipsters who thought they were being rebellious trendsetters.
This gorgeous green has taken quite a large leap into our society’s spotlight within the past decade as states all over the country have begun to legalize both medical and recreational use of Cannabis, aka marijuana, as a result of its scientifically proven and wide-ranging health benefits. While there are still mixed reviews regarding the cultural approval of marijuana legalization, there is one particular compound found in Cannabis that offers a myriad of benefit that I believe everyone can enjoy.
The compound I am speaking about is Cannabidiol, also known as CBD and I have been experimenting with it for about 2 months. After publicly discussing my love of adopting an anti-inflammatory diet that promotes healing and improved gut health, I was approached by a new clinically-based supplement company known as Phivida that manufacturers an impeccably high-quality CBD oil and CBD-infused line of products that support an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. After explaining the benefits of incorporating CBD oil into my daily regimen, Phivida kindly supplied me with a sample of their clinical grade organic CBD oil, which I began to use 2x/day for a month.
Here are the changes and benefits I noticed during this time:
· improved muscle recovery after weight bearing activity
· reduced time needed to fall asleep at night (about 10 minutes vs my usual 30 minutes)
· improved skin clarity and less hormonal acne outbreaks
· deeper, more restorative sleep
· calmer demeanor throughout the day, less easily excitable
· clearer thoughts and focus
· less joint pain and stiffness
· improved digestive symptoms (i.e. less bloat and pain)
After observing and physically experiencing these benefits, I knew I had to do as much as I could to help others learn about the healing power of CBD oil. In full disclosure, I consider myself to be someone who is very perceptive to small changes in my well being whenever I introduce a new supplement or food. With that being said, if you are not as aware of subtle changes, short-term use of CBD oil may not provide you with the same amount of benefit as I experienced in my 2 months of using Phivida CBD oil. However, if you could supplement your lifestyle with a compound that has been heavily researched and proven to endow its user with benefits such as improved immune function, more efficient healing, and reduced inflammation, pain, anxiety, and insomnia, would you want to learn more about it?
Of course you would, and that’s why I asked Phivida Clinical Advisor Dr. Sunil Pai, author of “An Inflammation Nation” and overall inflammation expert to weigh in on the background, uses, and wide-reaching benefits of CBD oil supplementation.
I hope you enjoy the following interview with Dr. Sunil Pai!
Tristan: Thank you so much Dr. Pai for taking the time to share your expertise on Inflammation and how anti-inflammatory agents such as CBD oils can aid in reducing this issue so many Americans struggle with. To get things started, can you talk about the relationship between systemic/whole-body inflammation and chronic health conditions that are prevalent in America?
Dr. Pai: As described in detail in my critically acclaimed book An Inflammation Nation (www.AnInflammationNation.com), and my weekly radio show called Take Back Your Health! (on VoiceAmerica.com Health & Wellness Channel on Mondays at 1 PM PST/ 4 PM EST) the triggers of inflammation make every disease worse. Inflammation simply means “fire or flam” and is translated into the word “-itis”. Thus every condition that has the word “-itis” at the end, means inflammation of that area. For example, arthritis is inflammation of the joints, dermatitis is inflammation of the skin, colitis is inflammation of the colon, bronchitis is inflammation of the lungs and the list goes on and on. Now there are about 200 different “itis” conditions, and therefore inflammation is more prevalent than people think as it pertains to almost everyone who has any health problems from a simple cold to metabolic problems like diabetes to severe conditions like cancer.
Tristan: The pervasive nature of inflammation is an aspect of chronic illness that I do not think is brought to our attention enough. Inflammation plays a role to some extent in nearly every issue we have with our health, but identifying the root cause of inflammation can be challenging. Can you describe what the main causes of inflammation are in relation to chronic disease and health conditions?
Dr. Pai: The main cause of inflammation is first and foremost diet. The Standard American Diet is high in pro-inflammatory foods – high animal protein, high animal fats, high in refined oils and sugars. In addition to dietary factors, environmental factors such as pollution, chemicals, heavy metals, infections (viruses, bacteria, fungal and parasitic infections), cigarette smoke, alcohol consumption, and stress and other contributory factors are pro-inflammatory.
Tristan: I agree that the Standard American Diet is incredibly problematic in that it creates more inflammation than our body was ever designed to combat. This excessive burden of inflammation is obvious given the relationship that you stated previously between diet and chronic disease. Given the prevalence of inflammation in our country, how big of an impact do anti- inflammatory foods and compounds have in reducing the burden?
Dr. Pai: Eating a whole foods plant based diet, or as I call The Anti-Inflammatory Diet is the most important action to lowering inflammation directly and significantly. If one does not change the diet, then the pharmaceuticals and even natural dietary supplements for inflammation do not work as effectively, as one must first stop the source of the fuel of the inflammation before just adding anti-inflammatory therapies to treat symptoms.
*image derived from mnphysicalmedicine.com
Tristan: I completely agree, diet is the first place to start before we consider adding in anti-inflammatory supplements or compounds. Let’s say someone has been working very hard to clean up their diet by reducing inflammatory food consumption from processed oils, sugar, excessive consumption of animal protein and fats. If they were still experiencing symptoms of excess inflammation, how can anti-inflammatory compounds derived from nature be useful? Specifically, Cannabis derivatives have become a very hot topic lately in the realm of reducing inflammation. Can you talk about how the anti-inflammatory compounds in Cannabis where discovered to be useful for reducing inflammation?
Dr. Pai: This is a complex question as Cannabis has been used as early as 2,500 years ago in many cultures for a variety of aspects ranging from use in sacred ceremony to applying its healing properties. For example, Ayurveda has been using cannabis and other natural indigenous medicines and Indian cultures have used it for pain and inflammation and in spiritual practices. However, it wasn’t until more recently over the past few decades that the western scientific community has started to investigate the specific compounds (THC, CBD and terpenes) and more recently through better understanding of immunology has been able to identify various immunological receptors, pathways and beneficial effects that the anti-inflammatory compounds in cannabis.
Tristan: How fascinating! I had no idea that Cannabis has been used for thousands of years! I think American culture in particular has trouble accepting that these compounds have been used throughout centuries of human existence. Yet we still struggle with the “taboo” nature of using compounds that have a psychoactive component, such as Cannabis, for therapeutic purposes. Can you talk about the difference between CBD and THC, and what some clinical applications for both could be?
Dr. Pai: There are some distinct differences between CBD and THC and the sources from which it comes from. When we think of cannabis or “marijuana” or medical cannabis from a dispensary, it has both CBD and THC.
CBD is a collection of between 140-200 compounds called cannabinoids and THC is a specific compound as well. The CBD has further differences as it contains more potent compounds called terpenes which provide specific and unique qualities for health such as with inflammation, anxiety, focus, immune function, neuro-regeneration, etc. CBD from industrial hemp (sister plant in the same family of cannabis) has high CBD and trace THC (usually less than 0.3%).
THC is the compound that makes people “high”. It does have an important role, as it is very helpful for severe pain control. When used appropriately under medical supervision, it can be a lifesaver with chronic pain and unlike opioids, which over 42,000 people died from in the U.S. last year; no one dies directly from cannabis. It does not cause respiratory depression like opioids and does not cause constipation. THC helps improve appetite (helpful for those with cancer that have cachexia), helps with nausea and vomiting (for those undergoing chemotherapy), helps with cancer directly and with chronic severe pain (like metastasis to bone).
Therefore in my opinion, THC from medical cannabis can be very useful with cancer patients that have those specific symptoms or health issues. However when I use it in those patients I still recommend high CBD/low THC tinctures in general and only go up if indicated.
In contrast, CBD that comes from hemp can be used for everyone, including cancer patients when they don’t need those other aspects as mentioned above. In addition, CBD that comes from hemp and processed correctly provides full spectrum of compounds and terpenes. These important compounds are minimized or lost when people just rely on CBD from medical cannabis since as the THC goes up in the plant, the CBD and other compounds go down in concentration.
CBD helps with stimulating the CB1 (predominately brain and Central Nervous System) and CB2 (predominately the organs, GI barrier, bone, muscle, skin, etc). It helps stimulate these endocannabinioid receptors (which are your own internal immune receptors) to initiate a cascade of effects that aid in immune repair. This repairing helps heal tissue naturally. That is why the body has those receptors to begin with.
The benefits of CBD derived from hemp are that you get the healing aspects without the high, which is what most people want and need. In my practice we predominantly use CBD from hemp, and for specific patients we recommend medical cannabis when they qualify with our state guidelines on certain health conditions for which it has been approved. CBD from hemp can be useful for helping people with anxiety, sleep, inflammatory problems, injury and recovery. Thus most people can use CBD in their daily lives for improvement of health and sense of well being of keeping the immune system stronger.
*image derived from www.marijuanatimes.org
Tristan: Thank you for that valuable distinction between THC and CBD, I think that should help clear up the confusion around what each compound targets in the body. Given the clinically proven benefits of CBD, can you talk about the potential effects of long-term use that users should consider before trying CBD oil?
Dr. Pai: We now understand that CB1 and CB2 receptors although throughout the body, have an activity level of being in a resting state or an active state. This means when someone is healthy, those receptors maybe in a resting state and not very active. Thus taking CBD daily can be useful for keeping the body in more a healthy state and provide more wellness benefits. These benefits, however, work better when it is taken consistently or more chronically rather than just acutely. Since CBD effects immune system functioning, most conditions are a process of healing which takes time rather than just an immediate response, which usually treats symptoms (i.e. when using pharmaceuticals).
Thus one should not expect immediate results, but if they take it consistently they will notice the benefits and those benefits have a longer lasting effects once the immune system is in balance and stronger. CBD receptors are more active is when someone has injury and disease. These receptors are active as the body is in the mode for trying to repair and defend itself. Thus people with more serious health conditions may be dose differently than someone who is healthier.
Tristan: I can personally speak to the benefits of taking CBD oil, as I have been utilizing the anti-inflammatory benefits of Phivida CBD oil for a few months now. As with any supplement or health product, there are a ton of different companies that have begun to produce CBD oil due to its recent popularity in the health world. How is Phivida CBD oil different from other products on the market?
Dr. Pai: Phivida provides organic full spectrum CBD. It is certified organic from Canadian authorities, which in my opinion have more strict requirements, which leads to better quality of products.
Phivida CBD products differ from others in the marketplace in terms of purity, potency and efficacy. Phivida is organic, where most companies who sell CBD are not. Some claim that they are “clean”, but when tested for harmful chemicals such as solvents, they fail. Most companies that use hemp and/or cannabis derived CBD that is cultivated in the U.S, (especially in states that cannabis is legal) have a tendency to test positive for pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals. This because the industry is growing so fast and in many cases, since it’s a cash crop, growers rush to the marketplace by using chemicals to speed the growth of the plants or use harsh chemicals to process the CBD cheaply.
Although many people use these chemicals in industrial farming or growing of ornamental plants, these should never be used when trying to make products for human consumption or for health in general. In addition, many companies claim they control the product from “seed to shelf” but when their Certificate of Analysis are reviewed, they do not have the terpene profile that is important for the full spectrum of health benefits. Phivida, as a publicly traded company in Canada, has to ensure quality, potency and purity throughout the process from farm to table. Most private companies and local growers are not held to any standards or high standards and thus can cut corners in growing and processing.
Unfortunately, the industry is basically self-regulated although there are guidelines in certain states and by certain agencies. However, there are no checks and balances due to the massive growth of the demand of the products worldwide. There are large suppliers of CBD in the U.S. that source the CBD oil from China and other countries that may not have the higher quality of regulatory standards, thus cheaper, less effective and potentially harmful products are on the market. Since I utilize CBD with my patients in my clinic, I have to ensure that the Certificates of Analysis are clean of contaminants, heavy metals, and pesticides/herbicides and have the full spectrum CBD with terpene profile.
With Phivida, I get those assurances and can verify them. With their CBD oil they have different potencies and there are no colors, flavors, sweeteners or additives. They will soon be releasing a variety of Nano-encapsulated CBD infused products, which increases absorption through a proprietary process. So less CBD can be taken for enhanced benefits. These products will range from vitamin shots, juices, and iced teas with certain nutraceuticals like organic vitamins and patented herbal ingredients. All of these products will be organic, vegan, and with no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners.
Tristan: Wow! I am blown away by the care that Phivida takes when producing its CBD oil and related products. As both a health professional and a consumer, it is incredibly important that the products I use and recommend to my clients are 100% pure, safe, and effective. Given the high demand for CBD oil and the popularity it has gained in our health culture, what are some potential future applications of CBD oil that you find promising or exciting?
Dr. Pai: We are excited that since January 1, 2018, WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) that regulates the Olympics has approved the use of CBD for sport athletes to use. This will help bring more awareness to the public about CBD due to exposure that the media will soon cover with athletes who use CBD for their health in training, injury and recovery. For further reassurance, Phivida with their Nano-encapsulated CBD products will be THC- free. Therefore, it will be 100% THC free oil. Thus athletes and the public can use it for the health benefits without any worry.
Tristan: That’s incredible! I am so excited that CBD oil will be able to be used by such a wide array of individuals who need the anti-inflammatory and immune boosting benefits. Given the approval of the W.A.D.A. for CBD oil use in athletes, it makes me think of other types of people who could utilize the healing benefit of CBD oil. In your professional opinion, who or what type of person is CBD oil perfect for OR who can benefit from CBD oil?
Dr. Pai: CBD can be used by anyone. It can be used for the maintenance of health and also for its benefits for healing. It is especially helpful for those with inflammatory problems or just need to recover from training or injury. It is helpful with anxiety and can help people feel more relaxed and with people with sleep difficulties. It is also useful for those with chronic pain, seizure disorders, IBS, Crohn's/Ulcerative Colitis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury or CTE to name a few.
Tristan: The vast application of CBD oil is so promising and exciting. Given my understanding of its uses and the points we have touched on thus far, CBD oil is mostly used for its ability to reduce pain and inflammation. Are there any other interesting ways to use CBD oil?
*image derived from www.medicalnewstoday.com
Dr. Pai: Yes, it is used for those indications but it again works through its natural effect on your immune system becoming activated to then trigger a cascade of effects like lowering inflammation. For those with more serious health conditions as mentioned before, the full benefit of CBD comes by taking it more frequently like 3-4 times a day.
Thus the full benefits come by more frequent dosing rather than taking a large dose at one time. When people take the hemp oil extract, they need to place the instructed amount (by a health provider or if taking by themselves start at a lower dose and titrate upwards over time), under their tongue sublingually and hold for about one minute and swallow. This allows for the CBD to be absorbed better and travel directly into the immune system for improved efficacy.
Tristan: Well Dr. Pai, I want to sincerely thank you for this educational conversation about the new and exciting applications of CBD oil. I love how this is a product that everyone can benefit from! I think we have expanded upon the main topics of interest most people have when thinking about CBD, but is there anything else you would like to add before we wrap up?
Dr. Pai: Yes, for those who want to learn more about how to reduce inflammation and what other safe, natural and clinical effective products that can be taken along with CBD to make it work better, such as Bosmeric-SR, I recommend reading my book An Inflammation Nation. It is the Definitive 10 Step Guide to Preventing, Reversing and Treating All Diseases through Diet, Lifestyle and the Use of Natural Anti-Inflammatories.
If they follow the ten steps, then they will have amazing results as we have seen with thousands of patients in our clinic over the past decade.
For those who want to learn more about my book check out www.AnInflammationNation.com. To listen to my weekly radio show, go to www.voiceamerica.com/show/2725/take-back-your-health. To make an appointment, get on a newsletter about health events and topics or learn about Integrative Medicine go to www.sanjevani.net. For more information on Phivida CBD oils and CBD-infused products, head to https://phivida.com/