All About Hemp—Part 2

by Mary Beth Janssen

The endocannabinoid system, an exciting scientific discovery, is the raison d’être for hemp therapy. Here is Part 2 of our two-part series on hemp.

We’ve long known of our body’s major systems, and we can now add the endocannabinoid system (ECS), perhaps one of science’s most exciting discoveries of our time. ECS means “the Cannabinoid System inside the body.”

Your body makes its own cannabinoids (anandamide and 2-AG), which are similar to plant-based cannabinoids. Its cannabinoid receptors–CB1 and CB2–are found on cells throughout our body. They’re most abundant in the brain, central and peripheral nervous systems, and the immune system. When you ingest hemp extract with CBD, you activate your cannabinoid receptors, strengthening your ECS system. To maintain consistent endocannabinoid tone is to assist in maintaining whole body homeostasis/balance.

Science indicates that the ECS holds therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans, including obesity/metabolic syndrome, diabetes, neurodegenerative, inflammatory, cardiovascular, liver, gastrointestinal, skin diseases, pain, psychiatric disorders, cachexia, cancer, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, among many others. In short, your ECS system is responsible for making sure your entire body stays balanced and works optimally.

A lack of endocannabinoid activity is thought to be present in many debilitating ailments like fibromyalgia, migraines, MS, seizure disorders, chronic fatigue, IBS and more. This condition is known as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome (CEDS).

When an imbalance is detected, our body synthesizes endocannabinoids that interact with the cannabinoid receptors. This works to return us to balance. However, in some cases, there’s a deficiency in ECS signaling. Reasons vary to as why this occurs. The phyto-cannabinoids in hemp extract can be used to supplement this deficiency. By regularly “feeding” your endocannabinoid system, not only does this serve to moderate the stress response, but we may find relief from a multitude of illnesses and conditions.


Hemp/CBD Guidelines

The explosive growth of the hemp market has opened the door to a large number of scam-artists making cheap product, with questionable purity and potency. Here are some guidelines to help identify high-quality hemp/CBD extracts.

How was the hemp grown? 
U.S.-grown organic hemp is always a good bet, as U.S. farmers are required to get certified by state departments of agriculture. Due to hemp’s characteristic as a “hyperaccumulator,” it easily absorbs anything present in the ground where cultivated and farmed—including heavy metals and other toxins. If a hemp plant grew in nutrient-rich soil and was nurtured through the entire growing process, the resulting plant will be of the highest quality.

What extraction process was used? 
Some companies may use cheap methods with toxic solvents that are dangerous to our health such as propane, hexane, pentane and butane. Look for methods that either use organic, pharmaceutical grade ethanol (grain alcohol), or supercritical CO2 extraction. Find the extraction information on a company’s website, or talk to a customer service representative.

Verify the amount of THC in the product. 
The optimal level of THC in hemp/CBD extracts shouldn’t exceed <0.3 percent, so check labels and/or ask for lab results for the product before purchasing. Although low, the original amount of THC present in hemp may still cause a certain level of psychoactivity when processed incorrectly (and could render a positive drug test).

Look for a “Whole-Plant” or “Full Spectrum” Label. 
Extracting from the whole plant, rather than using only one part (like CBD isolate), ensures that the product contains not just CBD, but also the full range of bioactive constituents of the hemp plant. These include terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids that are generally believed to work synergistically with CBD—called the “entourage” effect—making the wellness benefit higher than CBD alone. Check labels and/or websites to determine if the manufacturer uses the whole plant.

Ask for third-party lab results.
Reputable hemp/CBD companies provide third-party lab results to their customers. 
These independent labs ensure the product is everything it claims to be, with a high level of CBD, low THC, and lacking in harmful impurities. Companies should always have recent lab results available (monthly). Some provide them on their website, while others include them in the packaging or both.


Resources

Read more about the endocannabinoid system at the National Institutes of Health, and research hemp/CBD at the National Hemp Association, and Medical News Today, leafly.com, ministryofhemp.com and cbdoilreviews.com.

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