Don't panic, it's organic: why CBD is the new TLC

We’ve got good news and bad news.

The bad news is that using the marijuana plant recreationally isn’t considered cool and edgy anymore.

The goods news is that its uses are now so mainstream that doctors and adults (and anyone who 50 years ago would have called you a punk for using it) are now recommending it, or at least parts of it, to treat medical conditions.

Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydocannabinol (THC) are two cannabinoids out of hundreds that can be extracted from the cannabis plant. Unlike its polarizing cousin THC, CBD offers the benefits of the marijuana plant (antiemetic, appetite stimulant, calming properties) without the “high” effect. It’s also more predictable than THC, as it doesn’t carry the same risk of inducing psychoactive effects. THC is often used in conjunction with CBD, as it seems to have a better effect on cramping and spasms, but it’s more difficult to obtain with current laws.

While CBD sometimes gets a bad rap due to its association with THC, a recent study by the University of New Mexico found that THC showed “the strongest correlation with therapeutic relief and far less evidence for the benefits of relying on the more socially acceptable chemical, cannabidiol or ‘CBD’”. This groundbreaking study found that when properly prescribed and dosed, THC can be just as effective at treating and preventing symptoms as CBD. The primary difference, however, is that THC still carries long-term risks to the brain and heart, while CBD does not carry these same risks.

The scientific community has a firm understanding of the long-term effects of CBD and THC because these are not new developments; cannabis has been used as sleep aid and relaxant for centuries. In fact, the ancient Assyrians even used it to induce trances during ritual and religious meetings. It was hailed as a fascinating and useful tool for creating not only rope and paper, but making connections and settling disputes. It only began to gain a negative reputation when governments began using it as an excuse to disallow immigration, claiming rowdy, untrustworthy neighbors were bringing in cannabis and disrupting their carefully controlled society.


Cannabis continued to be used experimentally in the medical community, and in the late 20th century, it was used to treat symptoms caused by the AIDS virus. Since then, scientists have identified and mastered how to extract the positive effects of cannabis for use both recreationally and medically. Today, CBD and THC are used to treat:

  • Pain related to chronic illness or cancer

  • Epilepsy

  • ALS

  • Parkinson’s

  • Depression (and its effects, including substance abuse, eating disorders, OCD, etc)

  • Diabetes

  • Anxiety

  • IBS

  • Heart disease

among a host of other conditions. Did we mention it can treat these same conditions in animals and babies as well?
To understand how this seemingly miraculous substance works, we first must understand that our bodies have their own endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is implicated in almost all diseases, including mental illnesses, because it consists of receptors and enzymes that maintain balance in all areas of the body.

Cannabinoids affect cells based on what type of condition the organism is afflicted with, which means that the ESC is highly responsive and varies greatly in its reactions to cannabinoids. When we consume cannabis, our cannabinoid receptors and ECS reacts by affecting our central nervous system almost instantly to bring the body’s systems back into equilibrium. For example, if a patient has PTSD and their brain is firing incorrectly (creating flashbacks, panic attacks, dissociating), CBD cannabinoids trigger the release of anandamide, a memory loss endocannabinoid. This helps people with anxiety and PTSD disconnect from their trauma, and when combined with regular therapy and adequate medication, these people are often able to live normal, functional lives.

The same can be said for people with insomnia or other sleep disorders. Whether the insomnia is caused by chronic pain, anxiety, or simply feeling overstimulated by external factors, CBD relaxes the neurological processes that are preventing you from falling asleep. A gummy, drop, or capsule before bed is said to aid in restful, uninterrupted sleep. Better yet, it can prevent nightmares and provide sweeter dreams.

When the body isn’t producing enough endocannabinoids or endocannabinoid receptors, the body is unable to maintain its balance, which can result in the conditions that CBD is known to treat (Parkinson’s, IBS, MS, asthma, etc). Essentially, when the ECS is malfunctioning, consuming cannabis can balance it out and result in the reduction of negative symptoms. Think of the ECS as a balanced scale. When there isn’t enough weight (endocannabinoids) on one side, adding cannabis on the other side brings things back to equilibrium.

Despite playing such an important role in cellular health, some people still question whether CBD is a healthy option for managing symptoms. But not only is CBD safe enough for infants and animals, it’s a far safer option than any other pain management treatment on the market. The current opioid epidemic kills over 140 people every day. CBD hasn’t killed a single person - and it is actually used to treat opioid addictions. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin are all responsible for more overdoses and deaths than a lot.

CBD is legal in all 50 states, and comes in as many forms as any vitamin. Chocolates, gummies, oils, and capsules are all available in specialty shops and online, though their prices vary depending on their concentration and potency. For something that’s so useful, healthy, and readily available, it’s a wonder why it’s still so controversial. Unless you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or told otherwise by your doctor, CBD can be a life-changing addition to your daily health routine. And it’s way tastier than adding kale to everything you consume.

Regardless of how you choose to consume it, or whether you choose to consume it at all, CBD and the scientific conversation surrounding it is a testament to our society’s unwavering creativity and innovation. It’s truly a feat of science that anyone can go online and order something that can potentially stop seizures, pain, and anxiety. Because CBD is such a hot topic, there are dozens of sites and shops that sell it. Choosing which bottle to buy can be overwhelming and intimidating. We recommend purchasing from a brand who sources their cannabis from organic farms in the U.S. Our favorite is Lokus, a brand that is transparent and passionate about its practices. Be sure to use the code “primary” for 10% off your order at

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Ethan Russo (2006). Raphael Mechoulam, ed. Cannabis in India: ancient lore and modern medicine (PDF). Cannabinoids as Therapeutics. Springer. pp. 3–5. ISBN 9783764373580.