CBD, the same cannabis component that proved beneficial alongside THC for MS, may also work on other hard-to-treat diseases. Tests on cell cultures and lab animals have revealed that CBD fights inflammation and mitigates the psychoactive effects of THC.
Crohn’s disease, which can lead to chronic pain, diarrhea and ulcerations, could be a fitting target for CBD. In Crohn’s disease, inflammatory proteins damage the intestinal lining, causing leaks that allow bacteria in the gut to spread where they shouldn’t. This spread leads to a vicious cycle that can trigger more inflammation.
Karen Wright, a pharmacologist at Lancaster University in England, and her colleagues have found that CBD inhibits this inflammation and can reverse the microscopic intestinal leakiness in lab tests of human cells. Adding THC doesn’t seem to boost the benefit, Wright reported in December 2009 in London at a meeting of the British Pharmacological Society. The results bolster earlier findings by Wright’s team showing that cannabinoids could improve wound healing in intestinal cells. CBD’s anti-inflammatory effect may work, at least in some cases, through its antioxidant properties – the ability to soak up highly reactive molecules called free radicals, which cause cell damage.
In the brain and eye, CBD slows the action of microglia, immune cells that can foster harmful inflammation when hyperactivated by free radicals. Working with rats whose retinas were induced to have inflammation, biochemist Gregory Liou of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and his team found that CBD neutralized free radicals, preventing eye damage. This finding could have implications for people with diabetes who develop vision loss.
Apart from being an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, CBD tones down the psychoactive effect of THC without eliminating its medical properties. CBD also mutes the occasional anxiety and even paranoia that THC can induce. This has been welcome news to scientists, who consider the “buzz” of cannabis little more than psychoactive baggage.
But CBD has paid a price for this anti-upper effect. “CBD has essentially been bred out of North American black market drug strains,” Russo says. People growing cannabis for its recreational qualities have preferred plants high in THC, so people lighting up for medical purposes, whether to boost appetite in AIDS patients or alleviate cancer pain, may be missing a valuable cannabis component.
Not just a high. By- Seppa, Nathan, Science News, 00368423, 6_19_2010, Vol. 177, Issue 13