What is CBD?
What Is Cannabis Made Of?
Cannabis is made up of chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Perhaps the best-known cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). But those aren’t the only two. Other lesser-known cannabinoids include cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabicitran (CBT). The nomenclature gets even more complicated when those broad categories are further subdivided into such compounds as cannabinerolic acid A, cannabichromevarinic acid A, and cannabinol methyl ether.
More broadly, cannabinoids fall into three categories:
- Phytocannabinoids (found in the cannabis plant)
- Endocannabinoids (found naturally in the body)
- Synthetic cannabinoids (manufactured artificially)
Scientists have isolated 113 different phytocannabinoids (the natural kind) from the cannabis plant. To truly understand CBD effects, it’s essential that we know what cannabinoids do as it relates to our bodies.
The Endocannabinoid System and CBD
Have you ever wondered how cannabinoids interact with your body? The answer is through the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating balance in our body’s immune response, communication between cells, appetite and metabolism, memory, and more. It is through this system that the naturally occurring cannabinoids from medical marijuana interact with our bodies and trigger its beneficial effects.
Whenever there are deviations from homeostasis in the body’s functions, the endocannabinoid system is activated and begins to respond accordingly by synthesizing endocannabinoids, which act as neurotransmitters.
When the body creates neurotransmitters for the endocannabinoid system, they are picked up by specialized cannabinoid receptors, which sit on the surface of cells. These receptors are found in a wide range of physiological regions, such as in:
- The immune system
- Organs and glands
- Connective tissue
- The brain (most significantly)
Like a key fits into a lock, endocannabinoids interact with these receptors and transmit information about changing conditions to kick-start a response, with the goal of helping the body achieve homeostasis, or equilibrium, within the body despite outside influences.
The endocannabinoid system’s receptor sites include CB1 and CB2 receptor variants, which respond differently to various cannabinoids. CB1 receptors are most prevalent in the central nervous system and are linked to the following benefits:
- Modulation of stress and anxiety
- Increased appetite
- Decreased nausea
- Balance of immune system
- Inhibition of tumors
CB2 receptors are found mostly on cells in the immune system and seem to dominate in fighting inflammation and damage to tissue. Some cells can even contain both types of receptors, each responsible for a different function. These receptors are an integral part in the relationship between CBD and our health.
Does CBD Get You High?
One of the key differences between CBD and THC is whether the cannabinoid will cause a euphoric effect, or “high,” when consumed.
THC is the cannabinoid people think of when they think of marijuana. It is a direct agonist of the endocannabinoid system’s cannabinoid 1 receptors (CB1), found primarily in the brain and the central nervous system. The psychoactive effect that most associate with recreational or medical marijuana use is exclusively brought about by activating CB1 receptors.
CBD doesn’t bind with CB1 receptors and is actually is considered an antagonist of CB1 agonists. This not only means that CBD can never cause a high, no matter how much is consumed, but that it also acts to suppress the CB1-activating qualities of compounds like THC.
CBD and THC are both found throughout the seeds, stalks, and flowers of both hemp and marijuana. The two exist in cannabis plants in a wide range of proportions. However, while THC is most plentiful in marijuana, CBD is present in higher quantities in hemp.
In marijuana, THC dominates the plant’s chemical makeup. Marijuana is generally cultivated specifically to maximize its THC content. Over many decades, marijuana has been manipulated and cloned with particular emphasis on increasing its THC concentration and producing more powerful intoxicating effects. While THC content can be as low as 3 percent in marijuana, on average, marijuana strains today contain approximately 12 percent THC.
Hemp’s chemical makeup, on the other hand, is dominated by CBD. By definition, hemp’s THC content is no more than 0.3 percent, nearly 10 times less than the least potent strain of marijuana. Instead, hemp naturally has more CBD vs. THC, making it an ideal source of CBD from cannabis.
What Are The Beneficial Effects Of CBD?
We’ve already discussed how CBD (cannabidiol) keeps you from getting high. But while it’s doing that, it’s also counteracting many of the intoxicating effects of THC, like drowsiness, paranoia, and memory loss.
In addition to those two important effects, CBD also acts as an:
- Antiemetic (reduces nausea and vomiting)
- Anticonvulsant (suppresses seizures)
- Anti-inflammatory (mitigates inflammatory disorders)
- Antitumoral (fights tumor and cancer cells)
- Anxiolytic (Combats anxiety and depression)
- Antioxidant (tempers neurodegenerative disorders)
- Antipsychotic (mediates psychotic disorders)
Because of that long and broad list of effects, CBD can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions. See Conditions.
What Are The Side Effects Of CBD?
One of the biggest benefits that CBD has to offer is that it doesn’t produce any side effects. Let’s say that again: CBD doesn’t have any side effects. The scientific community has yet to state that cannabidiol is 100-percent safe, but numerous studies are leading popular opinion in that direction.
Side effects are considered to be just that if they impact your food intake, your heart rate, your body temperature, or your blood pressure. CBD does none of that. Some may say, “Wait! CBD can be used to combat loss of appetite.” That’s true, but CBD doesn’t stimulate appetite like THC does. Rather, the increase in appetite (or perhaps normalization of the appetite) comes as a result of reducing nausea. CBD doesn’t directly affect food intake.
CBD can, however, affect the salivary gland and result in dry mouth. Whether or not dry mouth could be considered a side effect depends on the person who experiences it. Remember, side effects are usually negative and unwanted in some way. But dry mouth may be a small price to pay for a reduction in pain or psychosis. Especially if side effects from other medications are almost as bad as the disease itself.
The only other potential side effect is the fact that CBD inhibits liver enzymes from metabolizing most of the drugs humans take. So, for example, if you’re taking a heart medication, introducing CBD into your system can prevent your body from using the heart medication properly. That can lead to other serious problems, so be sure to discuss any potential conflicts with your doctor before taking CBD or discontinuing any medication in favor of CBD.
Legal Status: THC vs. CBD
The legality of cannabinoid products in the United States is dependent on their concentration and source.
Marijuana and THC are both specifically listed in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act and therefore prohibited under federal law. Twenty-nine U.S. states and Washington D.C. have passed their own cannabis policies permitting the use of medical marijuana with high levels of THC, provided it’s recommended by a licensed physician. Eight of those states and Washington D.C. have gone a step further and legalized the recreational use of marijuana and THC.
CBD is legally available in the United States, but it must be derived from imported high-CBD, low-THC hemp. CBD itself it not listed under the Controlled Substances Act, so it’s legal in all 50 states provided it’s not extracted from marijuana.
If derived from marijuana, CBD is illegal unless obtained through a state-regulated medical marijuana program or in a state that permits recreational marijuana use. CBD products derived from hemp are considered dietary supplements in the U.S. and legal to buy and sell.
Is CBD Right For You?
The best way to find out is to try it for yourself. The benefits are myriad, and the side effects are negligible. Really, what have you got to lose? It’s like asking, “Should I eat this apple?” There’s really no downside to it. All you get is good stuff. Talk to a knowledgeable doctor or consult a local dispensary to find the cannabidiol strain that’s just right for you.
Source: MedicalMarijuanaInc.com, HonestMarijuana.com