What Is CBD (Cannabidiol) ?
As it is in the case of THC, CBD is a special cannabinoid too. So, special that it’s worth looking at it and explore what is CBD further. As THC and CBD are the compounds with the highest concentration in cannabis, they are the most popular and well-researched ones. Unlike THC, CBD being a non-psychoactive compound is more welcomed by the society because of its various medical benefits. Also, because it doesn’t get you high.
The Discovery of CBD
As THC, CBD was discovered quite recently. Around 1940 the CBD was isolated by two groups of scientists that worked independently. An American scientist Dr. Roger Adams and his team isolated THC from marijuana. But at the same time, British researcher Alexander R. Todd also isolated it from marijuana. It is even known that he used Cannabis Indica to extract THC. Todd also described that it’s used in dangerous proportions in America.
The chemical structure of CBD wasn’t discovered until 1963 when it was done by Israeli scientists Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and Dr. Yuval Shvo. Only a year later, in 1964 Mechoulam and his colleague Dr. Yehiel Gaoni deciphered the chemical structure of the main psychoactive component of marijuana – THC.
Even though CBD was discovered more than 20 years before THC, tetrahydrocannabinol has always dominated marijuana research. However, this situation has changed a lot during the past decade due to the realization of CBD’s medical values.
The Chemistry behind CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the main cannabinoids (out of more than 85) that is present in the naturally growing and industrially cultivated strains of Cannabis Sativa L. As well as other cannabinoids it’s most concentrated in the resin glands or trichomes of the plant.
Even though as a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBD has been selectively eliminated from recreational varieties of marijuana to increase the level of THC, many strains still contain it. In fact, industrial hemp which is a variety of Cannabis sativa plant contains high levels of CBD. However, during the recent years, many professional cannabis growers have managed to breed strains with high levels of this compound.
Just like THC, CBD also presents itself through the endocannabinoid system in our bodies. The brain, central and peripheral nervous system, fat, muscle, and immune cells, all contain receptors of this system. The cannabinoids in weed and body-produced substances “endocannabinoids” are the main effectors there.
THC is many times stronger activator of the endocannabinoid system and has a greater impact on it than CBD. But the actions of cannabidiol are more complicated. THC binds to the receptor CB1, as well as CBD does. But CBD has a weaker connection to CB1, so it releases glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter. CB1 is one of the most important receptors, as its task is to maintain a normal brain activity to protect it from seizures.
Besides, cannabidiol also boosts the levels of Anandamide responsible for that joyful sensation. Surprisingly, CBD also affects Anandamide in a way that it creates anti-inflammatory effects.
Also, CBD increases the signaling of a serotonin receptor. Serotonin is a body-produced chemical that regulates the balance of mood. Thus, CBD’s actions on serotonin receptors are linked with the reduction of anxiety and the protection of brain cells from damage.
If you’re waiting for a high from CBD, it’s not going to happen because this compound is non-psychoactive. Many studies confirm the safety of it.
A review published in Current Drug Safety describes cannabidiol as safe and well tolerated even if used at high doses. They also point out that this compound does not interfere with psychomotor and psychological functions, nor affects physiological parameters like blood pressure, body temperature or heart rate.
CBD is like a natural protection against the high. It reduces the negative effects of THC like paranoia, dizziness, and memory impairment.
Although CBD heavy strains can cause tiredness and sleepiness, in general, it’s a positive side effect for those who have been looking for a natural sleeping aid. However, in some cases, CBD can counteract the sleep-inducing effects of THC, thus, it explains why some marijuana strains make stoners more alert.
CBD is well-known for its positive effects on different conditions and illnesses. According to British scientists, it combats tumor and cancer cells. This compound not only fights psychosis effectively but also – anxiety and depression disorders. It reduces nausea and vomiting and has anti-inflammatory values. CBD also suppresses seizures and treats pain.
The only bad side effect reported is a dry mouth, also known as “a cotton mouth”. Apparently, when CBD affects the receptors of the endocannabinoid system CB1 and CB2, their activation reduces the production of saliva, leading to the unpleasant feeling of dryness in the mouth.
Taking into account all the medical benefits CBD has, it’s surprising that it hasn’t been fully legalized yet. Its legal status actually is confusing and complicated. Every country seems to have its own laws on recreational use and use for medical purposes. For instance, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service has officially declared CBD a medicine.
In the USA legality of CBD depends heavily on its source. CBD products derived from industrial hemp are legal, while products obtained from cannabis plants are illegal, even though CBD in both plants is the same. However, the legal definition doesn’t agree with that.
Unfortunately, The United States Controlled Substances Act considers all products of cannabis a schedule 1 drug. Thus, these products in the eyes of the law have no medical value at all. Possession of these products can lead to criminal penalties.
At the moment, only the scientists can prove the instances wrong, convince them and society to stop the ignorance of a medicine. It’s a nature’s gift that could give a relief to millions of suffering people.