The Cannabis Plant 101

People have been using the Cannabis plant for its therapeutic ben- efits for thousands of years. A great number of those benefits are derived from CBD, one of the two main active ingredients in the plant. These days, hemp, a non-intoxicating form of the cannabis plant, is used to create health and wellness products that can deliver those therapeutic benefits.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is part of a class of chemical compounds called cannabinoids. While there are over 144 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, the human body also creates its own endogenous cannabinoids and has a network of receptors that interact with both types.

By interacting with the endocannabinoid system, as those recep- tors and cannabinoids (alongside their degrading and synthesizing enzymes) are called, CBD and other chemicals in hemp can impact those functions and systems in our bodies.

Known Benefits and Research

By studying animal models and later humans, scientists have deter- mined that the endocannabinoid system is responsible for helping to regulate a significant number of vital functions and systems. Among them are sleep, mood, memory, pain, the immune system and inflam- mation, thermoregulation, the reproductive system, and appetite.

Because of the rapidly changing legal status of CBD, hemp, and cannabis, clinical research into how CBD affects those systems is still very much in its early days. There is, however, a small body of research that’s growing every year.

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The only FDA approved drug containing CBD is Epidiolex, a medica- tion used to treat rare forms of epilepsy in children. There has been evidence that cannabis can reduce epileptic seizures since 1980, and subsequent clinical trials have shown CBD’s ability to reduce seizures in certain types of epilepsy.


Because the endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating the immune system, it is also involved in immune responses like inflam- mation. CBD has been shown to slow or stop inflammatory processes such as producing cytokines. In animal models, it has been shown to stop the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.


Strong evidence points to the endocannabinoid system’s involvement in neuropathic pain and stimulating cannabinoid receptors has been shown to reduce it. While most research into neuropathy and can- nabis-based treatments used formulations with higher levels of THC, some studies have shown CBD reducing neuropathic pain for patients with diabetes.

Parkinson’s Disease

Although the research isn’t conclusive, several studies on CBD for Parkinson’s patients demonstrated improvements on several measures and symptoms. In one study CBD was found to improve tremors, motor function, and irritability. Another study found that CBD led to an overall improvement in quality of life in Parkinson’s patients. Yet another study found that CBD led to improvements in psychiatric issues in Parkinson’s patients.

Skin Conditions

The endocannabinoid system is present in the skin and CBD is an an- ti-inflammatory agent. A study on chronic skin conditions from 2019 found that CBD ointment significantly reduced psoriasis severity and other skin health measures. Animal studies have also found that can- nabinoids reduced skin inflammation and the rapid growth of certain skin cells involved in psoriasis.

New Directions for Hemp and CBD Research

The US Food and Drug Administration recently laid out draft rules for expanding medical research of hemp and CBD products, which means that we can expect more studies unlocking the potential of cannabis and CBD in the years to come.
Already, CBD is being explored as a potential treatment in a number of exciting areas.

Already, CBD is being explored as a potential treatment in a number of exciting areas.

Scientists at Australia’s University of Queensland are looking at using CBD as a way to fight off certain kinds of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. “The combination of inherent antimicrobial activity and potential to reduce damage caused by the inflammatory response to infections is particularly attractive,” lead researcher Dr. Blaskovich has said.

Meanwhile, a number of studies have been looking at novel ap- proaches to using CBD to treat the symptoms of COVID-19, partic- ularly by leveraging its anti-inflammatory properties. One study is looking at CBD’s potential to tame cytokine storms. Another study is looking at delivering CBD directly into the lungs in order to reduce COVID-19 related inflammation.


Anxiety is one of the more common reasons people use CBD and hemp products. The endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating mood and emotional responses, and several studies have shown cannabis and CBD’s potential to reduce certain measures of anxiety.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

A number of pre-clinical and clinical trials are looking into CBD as a treatment for dementia. In animal models, CBD was found to reduce the destruction of neurons in the hippocampus and promote the formation of new cells. Similar studies found that it prevented the onset of some mental deterioration, leading other researchers to suggest that it could be used to treat the symptoms of and prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.


We know that the endocannabinoid system is involved in mood reg- ulation, and pre-clinical research indicates that it plays a significant role in depression. A 2014 review of animal studies found that CBD had anxiolytic and antidepressant properties. A more recent study found that a single dose of CBD brought on rapid antidepressant-like effects.

Endometriosis and Menstrual Pain

Women have used cannabis for the relief of menstrual pain and PMS symptoms for thousands of years. The endocannabinoid system is present in the female reproductive system and its functions. While there is no clinical evidence for its effectiveness for menstrual pain, CBD is known for relieving inflammation, anxiety, and other symp- toms surrounding menstruation. Research is currently being done on cannabis-based treatments for endometriosis.