CBD (Cannabidiol) is a compound found in cannabis that, unlike THC, has no psychoactive effects. Plus, it improves mood, alleviates pain and calms the nervous system.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the 60 compounds that can be found in cannabis. CBD is part of cannabinoids, a class of molecules that act on cannabinoid receptors in cells that affect neurotransmitter release in the brain. CBD and THC are the compounds found in the highest concentrations in cannabis, so they are the best known and most studied.
CBD is believed to be the most abundant cannabinoid, making up close to 40% of cannabis resin. So, if a plant has more CBD, it may reduce the effects of THC. If a plant has less Cannabidiol, it can have a greater psychological impact and trigger unwanted effects such as anxiety. So, all in all, it is generally accepted that CBD is safer than THC.
How Does CBD Work?
It’s actually interesting that most people don’t know our body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is also called “the body’s own cannabinoid system”. The ECS is located in the brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous system. It is involved in multiple physiological processes, including memory, mood, appetite or pain sensation, but also in mediating the psychoactive effects of cannabis. Having said that, it’s important to note that CBD is non-psychoactive.
CBD works by affecting ECS receptors throughout the body. The primary ones are CB1 receptors, which are mostly found in the brain and nervous system, and CB2 receptors, which are part of the immune system. They are located at intersections of the body’s systems, which may explain why both CBD and THC affect the body in so many ways. While THC binds to CB1 receptors, making you feel “high”, CBD does not directly bind to either receptor, but actually prevents the activation of the receptors by other cannabinoids and endocannabinoids. This helps lessen the effects THC has on the body.
The presence of Cannabidiol in the body prevents the breakdown of endocannabinoids, which are naturally produced by the body, helping the ECS receptors achieve homeostasis. It also bind to other receptors in your system, especially those linked to anxiety, appetite, sleep, depression, pain perception and anti-inflammation, promoting overall physiological well-being.
CBD Vs THC
In time, by using various breeding techniques, scientists have created cannabis that is very high in CBD and extremely low (close to zero) in THC. CBD naturally protects you from getting high, working to reduce the intoxicating effects of THC, which can include paranoia, anxiety or memory impairment. CBD can also fight the sleep-inducing effects of THC, with some strains being specifically bred to boost alertness.
As far as the safety of these two cannabinoids goes, they present no risk of lethal overdose.
CBD Is Non-Psychoactive (It Won’t Get You High)
Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it does not cause a high. This is why CBD is not a top choice for recreational users and a preferred one for health professionals, because it has minimal side effects.
A study published in Current Drug Safety in 2011 concluded that Cannabidiol is “well tolerated and safe” even in high doses and that it “does not interfere with several psychomotor and psychological functions”.
The benefits of Cannabidiol are one of the main reasons for which public attention has shifted from THC. Even though they don’t act on the same pathways in the body, CBD and THC share plenty of medical benefits.
A 2013 review from the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology established CBD has the following benefits:
- Fights anxiety and depression disorders
- Fights inflammatory disorders
- Fights neurodegenerative disorders
- Fights psychosis disorders
- Reduces nausea and vomiting
- Fights cancer cells and tumor
- Suppresses seizure activity
Presently, UK companies are funding clinical trials on CBD to establish if it is a suitable treatment for schizophrenia and specific types of epilepsy.
CBD has other medicinal uses as well, being included in the treatment of cigarette addiction, acne, diabetes, fibromyalgia, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease or insomnia.
Cannabidiol has many medical uses, with people choosing it to get relief from a specific medical condition.
CBD from Cannabis or Hemp?
There’s a debate going on regarding the source of CBD: should it come from marijuana or hemp? First of all, both marijuana and hemp are cannabis plants, containing the same cannabinoids, but in different quantities and percentages. When extracted properly, the CBD extracted from hemp can be just as potent as that extracted from cannabis (marijuana). The only impediment of hemp-derived CBD is that it requires a considerably higher quantity of raw product (hemp cannabis) to extract the same amounts of Cannabidiol, when compared to cannabis. This means the cost will be higher for processing the product and, of course, an increased cost for the end consumer. However, hemp-derived CBD oil contains significantly fewer THC traces. This happens because hemp has a higher Cannabidiol content, which means the CBD oil is purer.