What is CBD?

CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is a chemical compound that naturally comes from Cannabis Sativa. This is one of the many chemical compounds, classified as phytocannabinoids (phyto-plant), that provides various health and medicinal benefits.

Although CBD is present in cannabis, it is most commonly extracted from industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is a plant that produces a higher content of CBD and a lower content of THC (0.3% or less delta 9 THC). This helps to provide all the benefits of cannabis without the individual becoming “high.”

CBD is psychoactive, because it affects the brain but does not make one feel “high” unlike its cousin THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), In fact, CBD counteracts the unwanted psychoactive properties of THC, including paranoia, anxiety, scatterbrain, etc.

Brief History Overview

Phytocannabinoids were discovered in the 1940s, with the first three being CBN (Cannabinol), THC and CBD. Research primarily focused on THC until 1998 when a medical company called GW Pharmaceuticals based in Great Britain began to cultivate cannabis for medical trials.

Their primary focus was on creating a concise, efficient method to extract CBD from the cannabis plant. This research led to scientific studies conducted by the International Cannabinoid Research Society, Society of Cannabis Clinicians, and the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicine.

By 2010, the public began to truly see what an intense effect CBD extract could have on treating a variety of life-threatening ailments, especially in children. After several profound miracle stories surfacing publicly, including the story about Charlotte Figi, CBD rapidly evolved into the new “it” medication/supplement.

The Endocannabinoid System

Before we go into how CBD can do all that it can do, it is important to understand the part of the human body that CBD interacts with. This system is known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

The endocannabinoid system plays a vital role in the human body by regulating our physiology, mood, and everyday experience. It is also known as the Biochemical Communication System in the human body. 

Its role is to maintain physiological balance in the body, known as homeostasis.

To briefly explain, this system is made up of neurotransmitters (primarily anandamide and 2-AG) and receptors (primarily CB1 and CB2) that regulate our mood, appetite, sleep rhythm, energy levels, immunity, and cognitive functioning. Further explanation of the receptors in subsequent sections. 

The ECS resides in the mammalian central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), and the peripheral nervous system (nerves and ganglia outside of the brain and spinal cord). It regulates various physiological and cognitive processes including appetite, pain sensation, mood, memory, fertility, pregnancy, both prenatal and postnatal development, and mediating the pharmacological effects of cannabis. It is an extensive system as it interacts with every organ in the body.

The ECS is also associated with mediating the physiological and cognitive effects of voluntary physical exercise in humans and other animals. For example, it contributes to exercise-induced euphoria, also known as runner’s high.

Endocannabinoid system
As part of the nervous system, the endocannabinoid system is spread throughout the entire human body.

Homeostasis

When the ECS is working appropriately, then all systems of the human body are harmonized and are working as one unit. This is also known as homeostasis. Homeostasis alludes to stability, balance, or equilibrium within a cell or the body. It is an organism’s ability to keep a constant internal environment.

When a person experiences a fully balanced system, they may feel a sense of bliss in everything they do, even things they may not even like to do. Staying positive can come easier when everything is aligned and flowing. Both physical and emotional pain may subside and the user may fall into the present moment. Stress doesn’t seem to really affect how a person feels when they are able to maintain homeostasis. This is why CBD, while it does not make a person high, may make you feel emotionally elevated. It enhances the quality of experiencing this present life by helping your body maintain homeostasis.

Being knocked out of homeostasis can be due to any sort of chemical, physiological or hormonal imbalance, and the ECS’s job is to realign those imbalances. Being out of internal balance for too long increases the chance of developing a disease or sickness. The ECS is spread throughout the body, as shown in the picture. The two most researched cannabinoid receptors are the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are expressed generally in the immune system and the brain respectively.

Examples of both CB1 and CB2 receptor in the human body.
Examples of both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the human body.

CB1 Receptors

CB1 receptors are located throughout the brain, central nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, glands, and related organs. These receptors also mediate the psychotropic effects of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta9 THC), the principal psychoactive component of cannabis.

In addition, they are one component of an interesting and widespread paracrine signaling system, the endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system is comprised of cannabinoid receptors, endogenous cannabinoids, and the metabolic pathways responsible for their synthesis and degradation.

The details of the endocannabinoid system have been most thoroughly studied in the brain. It has been shown to be intimately involved in several forms of neuronal plasticity.

That is, activation of CB1 receptors by endocannabinoids produces either short- or long-term changes in the efficacy of synaptic transmission. Synaptic transmission is the biological process by which a neuron communicates with a target cell across a synapse. 

The behavioral consequences of these changes are many, but some of the most striking and relevant to the current symposium are those associated with endogenous reward and consumptive behavior.

CB2 Receptors

CB2 receptors are located throughout the immune system and related organs, like the tissues of the spleen, tonsils, and thymus gland. They are also common in the brain, although they do not appear as densely as CB1 sites and are found on different types of cells.

CB2 sites are also found in greater amounts throughout the GI system, where they attune intestinal inflammatory response. This is why sufferers of IBS and Crohn’s Disease gain such relief from CBD, as well as other cannabinoids. It is also a powerful example of how the ECS, when supplemented by external cannabinoids (such as from cannabis), can provide such powerful and long-lasting relief for patients of diseases like Crohn’s. Cannabis has been shown to have such great efficacy for this condition that, in nearly half of cases, the kind herb puts the disease into full remission.

Endocannabinoids

While cannabinoids are found in cannabis, our bodies produce cannabinoids naturally as part of our biology. These are known as endocannabinoids (endo- within the body).

Both endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids are messaging molecules used by the ECS. Think of the ECS as a lock (receptors) and key (cannabinoids) system, with endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids being two different keys that can access the same locks. Cannabinoids like THC bind to receptor sites which produce various psycho-active effects from euphoria to anxiety. The difference with CBD is that it doesn’t actually bind to receptor sites; instead, it prevents the breakdown of the endocannabinoids. It also modulates cannabinoid receptors signaling, which is why CBD can counteract the unwanted side effects of THC.

While there is still much to discover in the realms of the ECS, research focuses primarily on two endocannabinoids that play a vital role in modulating homeostasis. These two endocannabinoids are 2-AG (2-Arachidonoylglycerol) and AnandamideAnandamide (other known as the bliss molecule) is closely associated with the phytocannabinoid THC. 2-AG is closely associated with the phytocannabinoid CBD. The ECS is a vital bridge between the body and brain, and cannabinoids are the messengers that keep the system running.

Endocannabinoid Deficiency

It is possible to have endocannabinoid deficiency, which is a lack of endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoid deficiency is a primary cause of many diseases and illnesses including migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome. Newer research revealed that conditions including cystic fibrosis, PTSD, bipolar disease, unexplained fetal wastage (repetitive miscarriages) are also due to a lack of certain endocannabinoids within the body. This is where CBD comes in: CBD can help boost the function of the ECS by preventing the breakdown of endocannabinoids. Thus, helping the body maintain a state of homeostasis.

CBD Benefits

Now you are probably wondering… What can CBD do for me?

If you struggle with chronic health issues, whether mild or severe, CBD may just be the answer to finding relief. It serves as a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.

Even if you don’t suffer from chronic health issues, it can be useful to take as a dietary supplement as it can promote longevity and general wellness. It can work as a healthier alternative to painkillers like Advil or Tylenol. It also can help boost your athletic performance and post-workout recovery!

Here is a list of conditions that CBD can help treat:

(We are constantly adding more information to this list and it will continue to be updated as more research surfaces to the public.)

There are various kinds of CBD products available to purchase. From tinctures, tablets, capsules, and topicals–to edibles, infused water, infused drink mixes, skincare products, skin patches, plus much more. Check out our vetted list for premium quality CBD products.

Are There Side Effects?

This is one of the best parts about CBD… unlike many medications, especially pharmaceuticals, there are no known “dirty” side effects that come with using it. The most a person might experience using CBD is sleepiness, dry mouth, and lightheadedness.

However, if you are currently on pharmaceuticals or daily medication, it would be wise to consult with your doctor before starting CBD. Recent studies have found that another side effect of using CBD is that it inhibits the cleansing system of the liver, known as the cytochrome P-450 enzyme system. By inhibiting this system, it stops the liver from being able to filter the other medications you may be on. This can lead to unwanted side effects or even overdose. You can find a list of medications that CBD interacts within this way, here.

Pets Benefit from CBD too!

As stated above, all mammals have endocannabinoid systems, which include dogs, cats, horses, and other pets. CBD helps pets in very similar ways that it can help us.

Here is a list of benefits animals gain from using CBD:

  • Painkiller
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Stress/anxiety reliever
  • Antiemetic
  • Anticancer Effects
  • Promotes Homeostasis

Depending on what kind of pet you have, most pet CBD products come as tinctures, capsules or treats. It might take a couple of products to find what will work best to administer to it to your furry friend. My cats, for example, will only take their CBD as a tincture. The only way they will take their CBD is by applying a couple of drops on one of their paws for them to lick off. They won’t eat treats, capsules or the oil mixed in their food!

Depending on the animal will determine the dosage. Cats only need a couple drops daily, for example. Like humans, pets cannot overdose on CBD, but too much might sedate them and make them sleepy.

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