As is the case with any plant that constitutes a crop, cannabis plants have been selectively bred over the years to bolster one or another desired characteristic. This means that some plants provide a more potent psychotropic effect, others possess more prominent seeds (used in the production of cooking oil traditionally), while others may make for sturdier textile fibers.
Cannabis, on the other hand, has been known to reduce pain – and has been used to do so for thousands of years. Recent studies, most notably those published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, have demonstrated the link between CBD and pain/inflammation reduction. (2) While some sufferers of chronic pain resort to traditional marijuana use, it may not be necessary. Because of how CBD interacts with the body, it may be just as effective.
Studies have demonstrated that CBD has a low affinity for the CB1 receptors, but even at low concentrations, CBD decreases G-protein activity (3). CB1 receptors are expressed on many glutamatergic synapses that have been implicated in seizure threshold modulation. CBD may act at CB1 receptors to inhibit glutamate release (4). Studies have shown changes in the expression of CB1 receptors during epileptogenesis and after recurrent seizures (5). CB1 receptor expression is upregulated at GABAergic synapses and shown to be downregulated at glutamatergic synapses in epilepsy, contributing to lowering seizure thresholds.

And then I woke up on the concrete, a worried crowd gathered around me. “You had a seizure,” my friend said gently as I blinked my eyes, trying to process this new information. I remember it was warm that night because I was wearing a sundress, and when I finally regained consciousness my first worry was that my dress flew up and everyone could see my underwear.
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Then there is the matter of which part of the plant is used. THC tends to be more concentrated in the leaves of the plant, while CBD in its stem and seeds. It should be noted that these aspects are relative. Some degree of agreement exists that for the purest CBD, the stalk of a hemp plant (varieties of cannabis generally grown for fiber manufacturing, low in THC), or much less often the seeds. Taking into account the fact that CBD supplements are usually in an oil form, one may fathom the origins of the nearly ubiquitous hemp oil dietary supplements.
That leaves those touting CBD’s effectiveness pointing primarily to research in mice and petri dishes. There, CBD (sometimes combined with small amounts of THC) has shown promise for helping pain, neurological conditions like anxiety and PTSD, and the immune system—and therefore potentially arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and more.
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A survey of patients seen in a tertiary epilepsy center found that 21% of patients admitted to using marijuana in the last year, and 24% of patients believed marijuana to be effective for their seizures (10). While interesting, this anecdotal observation does not rise to the level of evidence needed to evaluate a potential new therapeutic modality.