Despite the countless claims made on the covers of popular magazines and late-night infomercials, there is no single magic pill or potion that can cure all that ails you. The real not-so-secret secret to feeling and living better is to go all in, do your homework, and give it all you've got. Usually, people find the best results from a combination of treatments and lifestyle changes.
I know that isn't what you wanted to hear. But there is some good news.
While there is no cure-all, Mother Nature has supplied us with many remedies, some of which can work just as well as pharmaceuticals.
Whether or not you're in the know about natural health, you've probably heard of specific remedies, like essential oils, turmeric, ginger, and, of course, CBD (cannabidiol) and medical marijuana.
All of these may have some benefits worth exploring.
CBD vs. Medical Marijuana
CBD and medical marijuana are unique in that they can provide multiple benefits, while most natural supplements have one or two specialties.
Millions of people use CBD, medical marijuana, or a combination of the two to treat a broad range of conditions, from chronic pain to neurological disorders and cancer symptoms. (Of course, as with anything, they can affect different people in different ways).
Because of the different ways THC and CBD interact with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), CBD may be more effective than THC in treating specific conditions and visa versa. And because of a phenomenon known as the "entourage effect," THC and CBD are sometimes most effective together.
CBD is most popularly used as a treatment for seizure disorders (including epilepsy), pain, inflammation, arthritis, nausea, migraines, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, psychosis or mental disorders, anxiety, insomnia, certain neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), depression, and addiction disorders such as opioid withdrawal.
THC, or medical marijuana, is most often used to treat pain, muscle spasticity, glaucoma, insomnia, low appetite, nausea, certain neurological conditions, and anxiety.
As you can see, there is quite a bit of overlap.
Some people find CBD is more effective than THC in treating ailments such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD because it does not carry a risk of side effects such as paranoia, sedation, or brain fog, which can accompany those disorders. It's also helpful to know that CBD can reduce THC's less desirable effects when taken alongside THC.
Thus far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only approved one cannabis-derived drug, Epidiolex. Made with CBD and no THC, it is used to treat a rare, aggressive form of childhood epilepsy. However, while cannabis is not yet federally legal, many states have approved both marijuana and CBD for medicinal use.
A growing body of research confirms CBD and medical marijuana's benefits, and these studies are complemented by countless anecdotal accounts.
For example, Charlotte Figi was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy known as Dravet's Syndrome. Her story is one of the most famous in the medicinal cannabis world. Charlotte was just three years old when she started having seizures. By the time she was five, she had suffered about 300 grand mal seizures every week. The condition took such a toll on her body that her doctor and parents determined it was in her best interest to put her in a medically induced coma. Desperate for a solution, the family decided to try medical cannabis. The Stanley Brothers produced a particular strain of CBD oil with no THC just for Charlotte. Charlotte had no seizures within the first week. In her honor, the Stanley Brothers named the strain Charlotte's Web.
There's also Margaret, whose story is an example of the benefits of using CBD and medical cannabis together. After nearly two decades of relying on narcotics and finding little relief, Margaret registered with New York's medical cannabis program. She shared her story with the site Hello MD.
After a tractor-trailer accident in 1999, Margaret received five cervical neck fusions. In addition to limited mobility, she suffered chronic pain, for which she was prescribed multiple opioids.
"My outlook wasn't too great because narcotics definitely taint your quality of life," she said. "You're always exhausted, and the side effects, I can't begin to tell you."
Margaret said she tried "everything out there" to no avail before looking into medical marijuana and CBD oil.
After just four months of using medicinal marijuana and CBD oil together, she experienced tremendous improvements no other treatment had provided. She is now taking fewer narcotics and intends to cut back to just one, Opana ER, which her doctor said she will need for life.
"My outlook is better, and my mood is better because I finally found something that helps after everything that I've gone through," she told HelloMD. "I know my life will never be the same, and I've accepted that fact, but I can't begin to tell you what cannabis has done for me."
CBD vs. Other Natural Remedies
One of the simplest ways to start living your best life is to try different techniques, including supplements, dietary changes, healthy sleep habits, and stress reduction practices, that may altogether help you feel better.
In the health and wellness world, along with medicinal marijuana and CBD, some of the heavy-hitters we often hear about are turmeric, ginger, ginkgo Biloba, and essential oils such as lavender. L-theanine, melatonin, and 5-HTP are also popular. Certain CBD and medicinal marijuana products even incorporate these natural remedies for added benefits.
Healthline outlines some of the best natural remedies you may want to incorporate into your health regimen.
While there have been several studies done on specific natural remedies, most evidence is inconclusive. That being said, as long as your doctor gives you the OK, it may be worth a try. For instance, ginger is both delicious and may help calm an upset stomach, while turmeric (also tasty) may reduce inflammation.
In many cases, different natural cures work best as a team. For instance, CBD can mitigate the potentially harmful effects of iron supplements for people who need to take iron to balance out a deficiency. As always, it's essential to talk with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet. But you can also find a helpful list of CBD and supplement interactions here.