What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in the resinous flower of cannabis, a plant with a rich history as a medicine going back thousands of years. Today the therapeutic properties of CBD are being tested and confirmed by scientists and doctors around the world. A safe, non-addictive substance.
CBD is one of the 113+ compounds found in industrial Hemp plants. It’s a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that has the ability to act on cannabinoid receptors that are part of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
Plant cannabinoids, also known as phytocannabinoids, bind with this system which helps regulate certain vital functions of the body, including:
- Immune System
When the ECS is in sync, the human body is able to achieve what is called homeostasis, which means your body is operating at optimal human performance.
CBD vs THC
Marijuana is the dried flower of the female cannabis plant, and it can come from either the cannabis indica or cannabis sativa species. Hemp is only a member of the cannabis sativa family.
Although marijuana and hemp can both come from the cannabis sativa family, they’re distinctly different. It’s differences in their chemical composition that really set them apart.
More than 113+ chemical cannabinoids are found in cannabis, but the amount of these cannabinoids differs dramatically between hemp and marijuana.
Marijuana’s most common cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the chemical cannabinoid associated with the plant’s psychoactive effect. In marijuana, THC levels can reach 30%, depending on the strain, but THC levels in hemp are less than 0.3%.
The low levels of THC in hemp mean that, unlike marijuana, it has historically been used for industrial purposes. Hemp’s rapid growth and strong fibers made it ideal for crafting durable rope, clothing, sail, and paper.
Although hemp won’t get you high, it does contain significant amounts of another cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), which is also found in marijuana. CBD is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, and its interaction with receptors in the central nervous system and immune system can offer medicinal benefits. And with the introduction of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, Hemp is now legal in the United States.
The fact that CBD is therapeutically potent as well as non-intoxicating, makes it an appealing for therapeutic applications and it’s the driving factor behind the rapid rise of CBD based products in the last few years here in the United States.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD and THC interact with our bodies in a variety of ways. One of the main ways is by mimicking and augmenting the effects of the compounds in our bodies called “endogenous cannabinoids” – so named because of their similarity to compounds found in the cannabis plant. These “endocannabinoids” are part of what scientists refer to as the “endocannabinoid system.”
The discovery of the endocannabinoid system has significantly advanced our understanding of health and disease. It has major implications for nearly every area of medical science and helps to explain how and why CBD and THC are such versatile compounds – and why cannabis is such a widely consumed plant, despite its illegal status.
The endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in regulating a broad range of physiological processes that affect our everyday experience – our mood, our energy level, our intestinal fortitude, immune activity, blood pressure, bone density, glucose metabolism, how we experience pain, stress, hunger, and more.
What happens if the endocannabinoid system doesn’t function properly? What are the consequences of a chronically deficient or overactive endocannabinoid system?
In a word, disease.
Cutting-edge science has shown that the endocannabinoid system is dysregulated in nearly all pathological conditions. Thus, it stands to reason that “modulating endocannabinoid system activity may have therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans,” as Pal Pacher and George Kunos, scientists with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), suggested in a 2014 publication.
By modulating the endocannabinoid system and enhancing endocannabinoid tone, CBD and THC can slow – or in some cases stop – disease progression.
The ECS involves three core components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes.
Endocannabinoids, also called endogenous cannabinoids, are molecules made by your body. They’re similar to cannabinoids, but they’re produced by your body.
Experts have identified two key endocannabinoids so far:
- anandamide (AEA)
- 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG)
These help keep internal functions running smoothly. Your body produces them as needed, making it difficult to know what typical levels are for each.
These receptors are found throughout your body. Endocannabinoids bind to them in order to signal that the ECS needs to take action.
There are two main endocannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 receptors, which are mostly found in the central nervous system
- CB2 receptors, which are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells
Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor. The effects that result depend on where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid it binds to.
For example, endocannabinoids might target CB1 receptors in a spinal nerve to relieve pain. Others might bind to a CB2 receptor in your immune cells to signal that your body’s experiencing inflammation, a common sign of autoimmune disorders.
Enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids once they’ve carried out their function.
There are two main enzymes responsible for this:
- fatty acid amide hydrolase, which breaks down AEA
- monoacylglycerol acid lipase, which typically breaks down 2-AG
The ECS is complicated, and experts haven’t yet determined exactly how it works or all of its potential functions.
ResearchTrusted Source has linked the ECS to the following processes:
- appetite and digestion
- chronic pain
- inflammation and other immune system responses
- learning and memory
- motor control
- cardiovascular system function
- muscle formation
- bone remodeling and growth
- liver function
- reproductive system function
- skin and nerve function
These functions all contribute to homeostasis, which refers to stability of your internal environment. For example, if an outside force, such as pain from an injury or a fever, throws off your body’s homeostasis, your ECS kicks in to help your body return to its ideal operation.
Today, experts believe that maintaining homeostasis if the primary role of the ECS.