What Cannabidiol Therapy Can Do for You

Megan, an old friend, messaged me on Facebook asking if I could write an article about her reactions to cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive sister cannabinoid to THC. Like THC, CBD binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, but they elicit a wide array of effects not hallucinogenic in nature. Some of the reported effects include an improvement in mood, increased sleep and appetite, pain modulation, and refined memory (Butterfield, 2016). It has gained popularity with an increasing number of patients interested in adopting cannabis as a form of treatment for their ailments but want to do so without experiencing the taxing head highs that marijuana is popular for.

With her permission, I am allowed to reveal why Megan chose CBD as her preferred treatment. Simply put, Megan suffers from mild depression and severe anxiety, and it took great courage for her to admit that to me when we consider the disastrous public mental health stigmas that plague Americans and ultimately turn them off from the getting help they so desperately need (Parcesepe & Cabassa, 2013). A common mental health stigma is that anxious or depressed people are weak. We know that to not always be the case.

But Megan’s story doesn’t end with this article—she wants to encourage other sufferers of depression and anxiety to not only seek possible treatments, but to seek natural treatments. Because while drugs like Prozac and Xanax have their respective benefits, one causes radical personality changes and the other yields a high potential for abuse, overdoses, and hospital admissions, especially when used irresponsibly (Harding, 2009; MacLaren, 2017). If I can use Megan’s story to spread the word that natural remedies are indeed out there and work just as effectively as synthetic drugs, I like to think that I’d be doing the world a service.

Then again, it’s very easy say that CBD therapy works, but that does not necessarily mean it will work for you. As such, this article will provide a brief rundown of Megan’s documented experiences with CBD over a period of 15 days so that you, the reader, can judge whether or not it is the right treatment option.

Before continuing, let me address the elephant in the room: CBD’s legal status. I’m sure you don’t want to obtain CBD hemp oil only to discover that it’s no less illegal in your state than THC is, so what does the legality of CBD look like both state-by-state and at the federal level? The short answer is “it’s complicated.” In December of 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration articulated that any extracts from a cannabis plant are Schedule I controlled substances, effectively putting them on the same level as heroin, LSD, and bath salts. Nonetheless, CBD laws are inconsistent across the country. That is, in the 28 states allowing for the possession and consumption of medical marijuana, CBD is also legal for medical purposes. Sixteen more states have passed laws that, although restrictive, have legalized CBD. In the 6 remaining states—Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana, and West Virginia—CBD, THC, and alternative cannabis extracts are 100 percent illegal (Summers, 2017).

Now that we’ve gotten that part out of the way, how has Megan’s time with CBD been?

Day 1: This was the first day that Megan ingested CBD to treat her anxiety. She writes in the e-mail that she used a vape oil called “FX Chill.” The device she used for ingestion was the high-grade vaporizer Yocan Evolve C. She took two puffs from it at 9 A.M. and pledged to take two every morning and two every night. Instantly, she felt rejuvenated—a little high-strung from the events of the previous day, but much less apprehensive than she would have been otherwise.

Day 2: Megan woke up slightly anxious from what she puts as an “odd dream.” To her surprise, she wasn’t as on-edge as she normally is when she wakes up, and her typical anxious symptoms like heavy breathing and rapid heartbeat were absent. She also mentions that she lost the mouthpiece to her vaporizer. Whereas before, her anxiety would have snowballed, this time she felt tranquil. “That is abnormal to me,” she writes.

Day 3: This was a Saturday, and Megan felt unusually contented. She worked in the evening and arrived home feeling calm.

Day 4: This day was an emotional rollercoaster for Megan. Apparently, she felt fine for the first half of it, then depressed toward the evening, and better at night. She also felt a tad nervous here and there.  Despite this, Megan asserted that she would continue on with CBD therapy hoping for longer-term mood improvements.

Day 5: This day was a Monday, and Megan complained that Mondays are stressful for her because they net the most traffic at her workplace. She still felt calm and collected, and it turned out to be a fine day.

Day 6: Megan explains that Tuesdays are hard because after working for 16 straight hours, she refuses to get any sleep. As a consequence of her lack of patience to rest up, she becomes very tired and thus aggravates her anxiety. However, on this particular day all her negative feelings—her depression, anxiety, and apprehension—were absent, and she only felt happy and carefree. She notes, “I am able to experience a glimpse of what life was like pre-onset of my anxiety and that was something I never thought I would see again.”

Day 7: Nothing of much importance happened on this day. Megan went out at midnight to celebrate her friend’s 21st birthday, emphasizing that while she normally feels uncomfortable in social situations of that nature, she felt like she could handle it well.

Day 8: On this day, Megan felt tired and restless but still wasn’t anxious. She worked a run-of-the-mill 8-4 shift and arrived home, relieved to discover that her boyfriend, in a gesture of affection, had completed an assortment of household tasks for her. However, he was troubled by things going on in his life, and Megan did all she could to make him feel better, but nothing worked. Even so, with the help of CBD, she felt more than capable of handling the acute stress associated with trying to console a partner who’s clearly distressed.

Day 9: Here, we start to notice a theme of liberation. Megan once again expresses that she just feels free, like all her troubles are ever present but minimized and less threatening. Later on, however, a rude and obnoxious customer triggered an episode of aggressive anxiety in her. She took a few more puffs of CBD to quell her frustration, but didn’t feel much better afterward.

Day 10: This was a bit of an off day for Megan. Still upset from yesterday, she cried intermittently but was able to pull herself together. In addition, she attended lunch with her dad and dinner with friends, and on both occasions, she drank alcohol.

Day 11: “It was a fairly normal Monday,” Megan writes. She experienced very little anxiety.

Days 12/13/14/15: After forgetting to take CBD on Tuesday and Wednesday, Megan’s anxiety came back in full force, with feelings of extreme sensitivity, despondency, loathsomeness, and most of all, doubt about herself and her capabilities. When she resumed treatment late on Wednesday and into Thursday, she could get back to living life on her terms again, attesting that all this time CBD has worked wonders for her and that she wouldn’t know what to do without it. The quality of her life, she states, has improved dramatically, and she didn’t realize how much better she felt until she missed her dosages.

Based on Megan’s feedback, does CBD therapy work? If so, is it within your best interest? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

I would like to thank Megan for opening up a window into her life and allowing me to post this article. It is people like her who remind us that depression and anxiety are not simply character flaws, but rather afflictions that, much like a physical disability, can be treated and coped with. I hope that through sharing her story today, I can lift the stigma off mental health issues just a little bit and encourage my audience to finally request help.

 

References

Butterfield, D. (2017, February 09). CBD: Everything You Need To Know About Cannabidiol. Retrieved October 10, 2017, from https://herb.co/2016/07/26/everything-you-need-to-know-about-cbd/

 

Harding, A. (2009, December 08). Antidepressants change personality, study suggests. Retrieved October 10, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/12/08/antidepressant.personality.changes/index.html

 

MacLaren, E. (2016, October 06). Xanax History and Statistics. Retrieved October 10, 2017, from https://drugabuse.com/library/xanax-history-and-statistics/

 

Parcesepe, A. M., & Cabassa, L. J. (2013). Public Stigma of Mental Illness in the United States: A Systematic Literature Review. Adm Policy Ment Health, 40(5), 384-399. Retrieved October 10, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3835659/

 

Summers, D. (2017, March 22). Is CBD Oil Legal? Depends on Where You Are and Who You Ask. Retrieved October 10, 2017, from https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/cbd-oil-legal-depends-ask

The Origins of Meme Culture

“Oh God… eleven articles in and he’s writing about memes? He must be REALLY out of ideas.”

Actually, memes fascinate me. I’ve always wondered how something as innocent as Rick Astley’s 1987 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up” could be turned into an Internet sensation. And ‘Rick Rolling’ isn’t your average meme, too. You might discover that a movie trailer you’ve looked everywhere for has been cruelly switched out with this 1980s dance-pop song, at which point the disappointment and frustration you feel are overwhelming. You also can’t help but feel slightly outsmarted.

Another meme that I’ve taken a guilty pleasure in was “Darude – Sandstorm.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with the background of this particular meme, the comedic appeal was that any question asking for the name of a song or movie was answered with “Darude – Sandstorm,” and that was it. That was your answer. That one film from 1997 with Harrison Ford about the terrorists and the plane? Darude – Sandstorm. That one catchy song you heard on the radio the other day, but couldn’t remember the name of? Darude – Sandstorm. For me, the crux of the “joke,” if that’s what you want to call it, was the unapologetically apathetic nature of responding to legitimate inquiries with “Darude – Sandstorm.”

What, like other viral phenomena, made the song special enough for cyber stardom? The website KnowYourMeme.com was founded to answer these types of questions. Special Internet analysts known as “Meme Scientists” are tasked with not only tracking down the origins of memes, but their popularity and interest over time. A common trend they’ve noticed across memes of all varieties is that they are many times short-lived and readily transmittable, spreading through social media like a flu virus.

The way I see it, memes are the fast food of the Internet in that they’re cheap, quick to prepare, and accessible to everyone. They’re just on the cusp of meeting the criteria for trueborn jokes, yet routinely fail in their mission to deliver any remote substance. They might as well be caught in an identity crisis, because if they cannot be classified as jokes, what are they?

To answer this question, we need to turn back the clocks a little bit. In the 1960s, the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, or ARPANET, was conceived by the U.S. Department of Defense to establish a single communication network between multiple computers and thereby exchange vital information (Andrews, 2013). This technology then snowballed in the next three decades, first beginning in the 1970s with the groundbreaking work of Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, who both developed the first protocols for exchanging data across a wide array of networks. On January 1st, 1983, ARPANET incorporated ICP and IP into its connectivity parameters, becoming the pioneer of the modern day Internet. In 1990, computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, and helped to finally bring the first iteration of the Internet into the public eye.

With all of the technological advances made by such innovators as Robert Kahn, Vinton Cerf, and Tim Berners-Lee, and the amazing distance the Internet has traveled since then, nobody could have possibly predicted something as anomalous as meme culture to arise. Perhaps, then, our taste in memes lies not in the roots of the Internet itself, but in our own genetic makeup.

There are many characteristics differentiating human beings from animals. Politics, language, religion, law, and art are several, and all tie into a fundamental need for expression, or the need to feel like we’re being listened to.

In the early days of civilization, people devised unique methods of communicating their thoughts about the world, like the creation of cave paintings where they would draw on the walls of dank caves to tell stories. Thousands of years later, they assimilated such things as writing, music, and fashion into their lifestyles, effectively becoming the only species on the planet to express itself at such a sophisticated level. But what about the Internet?

The Internet has provided us with a remarkable capacity to both connect with people and exchange information across major geographical distances. As I’ve discussed, it started off as a military communications network but progressed into an entity of its own. With it came a slew of perks that would make our lives better, easier, and more enriched every day (video pornography comes to mind right now). So what role do memes play in all of this beautiful, and sexy, chaos?

In short, memes are another, more modernized way of expressing ourselves. They extend from the rise of major social media venues such as YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, and Vine, which have all contributed to the popularization of meme culture. More importantly, people enjoy memes so much because they see a part of themselves in the posts they share. Personality theorists all agree that the best way to measure individuality is by taking a look at the clothes people wear, the music they listen to, the food they eat, the movies they watch, and in this case, the memes they share on Twitter. All of those things? They’re not aspects of personality, but rather projections of personality.

When you like, share, or comment on a post, you do so because it resonates with you in a significant way, or because it speaks to you. I wouldn’t be writing this article right now if I didn’t believe memes were worth talking about. Therefore, I use language to project my personality onto the world, whereas others might use more subtle methods of accomplishing this task.

Memes are great expressive tools because they take on such an exaggeratory and emphatic quality. The informal phrases, “when you,” “be like,” and “all like” are often used to help convey universal truths about the human condition, such as waking up early for school, running into your ex-girlfriend at the mall, or going on a new diet. For example, a person wishing to make a commentary on college lectures might make a video of their dog sitting in a classroom to create the impression of cluelessness and confusion, two feelings that all college-level students are familiar with.

Another example would be minion memes. In the films Despicable Me (2010) and Minions (2015), these little yellow beans do not speak a single word of coherent English. However, people have created memes in which sassy and audacious statements like “I was born to be awesome, not perfect” are paired alongside a minion, thereby taking a seemingly neutral image and imbuing it with meaning and personality.

Furthermore, memes have gained popularity because they facilitate short attention spans. The traditional picture meme can only contain two lines of text: one on the top and one on the bottom. Snapchat only allows several lines of text, with videos and pictures lasting up to 10 seconds before they are no longer viewable. Additionally, 60 characters of text is the soft cap on Twitter posts, while the video-sharing service Vine only permitted its users to submit videos that were a few seconds in length.

Whatever the case may be, memes are symbols as much as they are communications of identity. Love them or hate them, they won’t disappear anytime soon.

 

Reference

Andrews, E. (2013, December 18). Who invented the internet? Retrieved September 27, 2016,   from http://www.history.com/news/ask-history/who-invented-the-internet

 

Will Pot Ever Shake its Schedule I Status?

Marijuana, or cannabis, is the most commonly used illicit substance in the United States, and has frequently been subjected to heated controversy regarding its erratic legal nature. Its main psychoactive constituent, delta-9-tetrohydrocannibinol (THC), accounts for much of the surrounding controversy. Regardless of the plant’s rough legal edges, people derive profound medical and recreational value from it that simply cannot be understated.

The politics behind the drug reek of corruption. Following a lengthy revision as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration, marijuana remains in the same category as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. The DEA has even had the audacity to claim that marijuana has “no accepted medical use,” despite it being legal for medicinal purposes in 25 states and Washington D.C. as of June 2016.

No accepted medical use, are you kidding? It has been consistently proven that marijuana is remarkably effective at suppressing nausea induced by undergoing chemotherapy and treating arthritis pain, or treating pain in general. And that’s barely scratching the surface (Welsh & Loria, 2014).

I have never been able to fathom the logic behind legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes in 25 states, legalizing it for recreational purposes in 4 states and D.C., yet keeping it illegal in the rest of the country and withholding it from patients with legitimately severe health conditions; patients who would prefer not to suffer through the added side-effects of the powerful drugs that are used to treat them. What is more, a drug such as alcohol, which has been legal since 1933, is responsible for nearly 88,000 deaths and a 2.5 million year reduction in potential life lost every year between 2006 and 2010 in the United States (“Fact Sheets – Alcohol Use and Your Health,” 2016). Alcohol not only erodes personal and professional relationships, it also presents a much higher abuse potential than marijuana does on its own, and there hasn’t even been any marijuana-related recorded overdoses. So I will pose the question: does marijuana truly have no accepted medical use, or is the DEA up to something?

Not surprisingly, major pharmaceutical companies, or “Big Pharma” manufacturers, have an immense grasp on the DEA and legislators at Capitol Hill, and that is not a paranoid conspiracy. It is simply the only explanation that exists for why a select few states have legalized the plant for medicinal and/or recreational purposes while others have condemned it to its Schedule I status. Big Pharma runs the law as much as it does its very own market.

The pharmaceutical industry earns billions of dollars every year through its marketing and shared distribution of prescription drugs and state-of-the-art medical technology, and is present in the majority of the world. It’s no wonder that marijuana is illegal in dozens of countries. According to Mike Ludwig (2015), the global market for pharmaceuticals amassed a total of $1 trillion in 2014. Companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, and Roche, which are the top 3 distributors in the world, took in combined profits as high as 174.1 billion in 2013 and 182 billion in 2014. I am not an economist, so I cannot provide an exact reduction figure, but I can assume that federally legalizing marijuana would prove calamitous to these companies. They would lose an enormous cut of total revenue generated by prescription medications while smaller-scale companies at home and abroad would be forever driven out of business.

While Big Pharma swims in a pool of hundred dollar bills, the rates at which people die from opioid drug overdoses are growing. Nora D. Volkow, M.D. (2014) explains how, given their almost effortless accessibility, opioid pain prescriptions are among the most widely abused drugs in the United States, with a 131 million increase in prescriptions like Vicodin and oxycodone from 1991 to 2013. In addition, cases of emergency care involving the use of illegally obtained opioid analgesics increased by upwards of about 161,300 between 2004 and 2008.

So, what can we do? There’s nothing we can do except wait and hope for the best. The legalization of marijuana would never 100% eliminate the escalating drug crisis facing America right now, but it could at the very least mitigate the crisis by promoting a safer way for individuals to treat their diseases and, if necessary, satisfy their curiosity.

There are two ways we can insure marijuana gets legalized in the foreseeable future. One way would be turning against the government for its futile War on Drugs. A war that is, mind you, not even really considered a “war.”

George Carlin (1992) perfectly illustrates my point, saying, “We love to declare war on things here in America. Anything we don’t like about ourselves, we have to declare war on it. Don’t do anything about it, we just declare war on it. It’s the only metaphor we have in our public discourse for solving a problem. It’s called “declaring a war.” Got a War on Poverty, The War on Crime, The War on Litter, The War on Cancer, The War on Drugs, but you ever notice, there’s no War on Homelessness, is there? You know why? There’s no money in that problem.”

The other way we could insure that marijuana gets legalized is by getting the government to recognize that more people are dying every year from opioid drug overdoses, and that the problem will not be solving itself anytime soon if marijuana remains illegal.

In the meantime, money will supersede public health.

 

References

Carlin, G. (Writer). (1992). George Carlin live at the Paramount: Jammin’ in New York [Video     file].

 

Fact Sheets – Alcohol Use and Your Health. (2016, July 25). Retrieved August 26, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm

 

Loria, J. W. (2014, April 20). 23 Health Benefits Of Marijuana. Retrieved August 26, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/health-benefits-of-medical-marijuana-2014-4

 

Ludwig, M. (2015, September 30). How Much of Big Pharma’s Massive Profits Are Used to Influence Politicians? Retrieved August 26, 2016, from http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33010-how-much-of-big-pharma-s-massive-profits-are-used-to-influence-politicians

 

Volkow, N. (2014, May 14). America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse. Retrieved August 26, 2016, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse