CBD or cannabidiol is not marijuana, neither is it “weed” or anything of the sort. Granted it is related to the above mentioned but not in the way most people think. Cannabidiol might be related to marijuana or the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, but it can also stand on its own as an independent compound or plant extract. The Cannabis sativa plant is one that has been through a lot of pressure and “persecution” over the years. A lot of the accusations and pieces of evidence laid against the hemp plant over the years are not exactly baseless. But with the means to extract, synthesize and fully utilize cannabinoids, the plant is now getting to play a more therapeutic role in the wider society.
The times are quickly changing and research into the cannabis plant is getting more and more in-depth. The cannabis species are under various degrees of a ban in different countries. But it is a Schedule 2 drug or substance in most countries. But regardless of that, the cannabis plant with its various extracts and off-shoot products, has birthed a multibillion-dollar industry over time. The reason lies majorly in one word, “cannabinoids”. In order to understand what CBD really is and how it got to the prominent position it is today (with regard to the therapeutic use of the cannabis plant), we must first understand what cannabinoids are.
Brief Introduction to Cannabinoids
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds with a very wide range. For the Cannabis sativa plant alone, there are more than a hundred cannabinoids that have been isolated and recorded. Although some are more prominent than others at the moment, the possibility that a groundbreaking discovery would be made with regard to a currently overlooked cannabinoid cannot be ignored or overlooked. Cannabinoids function by affecting the endocannabinoid system of the body. Although much more research is needed in the area of the endocannabinoid system, for now, we are aware that the system is vital. It is suspected to have intricate connections with both certain cognitive processes (such as pregnancy and fertility) and the regulation of the body’s physiological functions. The endocannabinoid system is made up of neurotransmitters of lipid nature that bind to cannabinoid receptors. These cannabinoid receptors can be located throughout the nervous system including both the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system. The two major receptors for this system have been recognized and are referred to as CB-1 and CB-2. CB-1 is majorly found in the brain and actively binds with the phytocannabinoid known as tetrahydrocannabinol or THC for short and anandamide. While CB-2 receptors bind more freely with the CBN or cannabinol component of the plant. The over hundred cannabinoids extracted from the cannabis plant alone all have different effects and are uniquely important in their way.
There are about 90 cannabinoid extract of the cannabis plant with either confirmed or suspected therapeutic uses. There are about five cannabinoids who are serving as the faces of the cannabinoid family. These 5 are:
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabinol (CBN).
Out of the five of them, CBD and THC are the most studied and essential currently. They represent different branches with regard to the effects of the cannabis plant. THC is psychoactive and more intoxicating than CBD. Hence, it (THC) is responsible for the “high” feeling that the plant is so famous or popular for inducing in its users. While CBD on the other hand, is not psychoactive, instead, it has been discovered to possess antipsychotic effects. While they are all important, we will be moving on to the main focus of the article, cannabidiol or CBD for short.
All About Cannabidiol (CBD)
First and foremost, CBD is a cannabinoid. They sound similar but are different. So try and remember that cannabidiol or CBD is a cannabinoid but it is not the only one. The CBD content of the extracts of the cannabis plant could be as high as 40%. Hence it is one of the most important extracts, the other being THC. The other cannabinoids require special cultivation and extraction techniques to get them in considerably large quantities.
CBD as a cannabinoid, can be taken into the body in a number of ways including vaping, smoking and even into the cheek when it is in aerosol form. Although it is an extract of cannabis and can be smoked just like normal marijuana, CBD is safer than smoking marijuana. Do not get confused into thinking that they are both the same thing. Marijuana is the dry, pure, unadulterated form of the cannabis plant including its leaves, seeds, flowers and other parts. While CBD is simply an extract from the plant. So while over a hundred cannabinoids are present in marijuana, the one we are concerned about is CBD. You might wonder what exactly makes it so special.
To understand how special CBD is, remember that cannabis in recent times is gaining the title of the “miracle drug”. This is because it has been found useful nitrating a number of conditions such as
- Lack of appetite
- Severe pain
- Phantom pain
Not to mention its use in the cosmetic industry where it is used for hair treatment and other things. On the other hand, the cannabis plant has also been discovered to be responsible for other health conditions. Ranging from severe cerebral conditions such as psychosis to behavioral conditions such as increased rage; to even unfavorable effects to the physiology of the brain.
With both the good and bad mixed, how amazingly awesome would it be to be able to isolate the good from the bad? That is exactly how important CBD is. As an extract, it does not have the psychoactive effect that THC produces and still retains a whole lot of the therapeutic benefits or functions of the plant. A major benefit is in the management of epilepsy. Here, combining medical-grade CBD with regular anti-epileptic drugs is able to minimize seizures.
You might be wondering why it is essential to extract it from the cannabis plant since a few of the side effects may be able to be managed. Well, THC is psychoactive (as we all know by now) and CBD is not as it is antipsychotic. But when they interact together, it is not as simple as one canceling out the other. Instead, CBD has been found to inhibit THC removal or degradation in the bloodstream. Hence, the amount of THC in the plasma increases, this may eventually lead to addiction.
CBD on its own is not particularly fond of any of the cannabinoid receptors. But it plays an inhibitory role on both receptors given the right conditions. So it has an inhibitory effect on the agonists of these receptors. This might just be the reason behind its antipsychotic effect.
At this point, you should be aware of just what CBD is and why it is so important. So do not be so quick to brushoff cannabinoids next time you hear of them. in a few years, they might just be the active ingredients in cases of severe inflammation and extreme pain.