WHAT IS CBD?
What Is CBD (Cannabidiol)?
It’s not a stretch to say that CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the most exciting and promising compounds currently undergoing rigorous medical and scientific research. CBD has made headlines in recent years for some pretty stunning results -- including a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed it to reduce seizures in children with epilepsy.
Still, misinformation and confusion about CBD abounds due to the relatively recent emergence and widespread awareness of this incredible compound. Let’s take a deep dive into what cannabidiol (CBD) is, and exactly what it does -- and doesn’t -- do.
What Does CBD Stand For?
CBD is simply short for “cannabidiol”, the second-most abundant cannabinoid molecule produced by the cannabis or hemp plant. The most abundant molecule, of course, being THC: the psychoactive chemical famous for making users feel “high” (CBD does not have this effect). Keep in mind that your body already has an endocannabinoid system, an extremely important molecular system that your body uses to regulate and perform various critical functions. CBD binds to receptors in this system; our bodies were designed to interface with cannabinoids from the very beginning -- we even naturally produce them!
Cannabidiol (CBD) Facts
- CBD does not get you “high” (non-psychoactive)
- Comes from hemp or cannabis plants
- Potential medical applications include anxiety and pain relief
- Has been shown to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
- Indirectly interacts with CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors
- CBD is legal to buy and own
How Does CBD Work?
As we stated earlier, your body already has a wildly complex endocannabinoid system that affects several different areas and functions. That system is rife with “receptors,” sites that await cannabinoid molecules presence. When the cannabinoid nears, the receptor will bind it to itself, creating a sophisticated chemical interaction that modern science is only just beginning to scratch the surface of understanding.
Unlike its sister molecule THC, CBD does not make you feel high -- but don’t think that a lack of psychoactive or intoxicating effect means that nothing is occurring. On the contrary, it’s very clear that there are many chemical responses that occur when CBD binds to those cannabinoid receptors. That being said, the endocannabinoid system is ubiquitous in the human body, affecting nearly all major functions in some way (especially homeostatic regulation). Because of this, it’s quite a task to discern everything that CBD does, exactly, when the binding occurs. That’s where the research is at right now: trying to solve that very mystery.
Though they share the same source plant family (cannabis), there is a huge difference between CBD and THC -- both in the effect they have and they way they chemically interact with your body. Until recently, CBD was somewhat stigmatized and not taken seriously as a potential medically therapeutic agent due to its chemical proximity to THC (the chemical that creates an intoxicating “high”) Let’s set the record straight once and for all
- Not psychoactive/intoxicating
- Possible anti-anxiety applications
- Legal to buy and own
- Indirect agonist of cannabinoids
- Binds to the allosteric receptor site
- Legal to buy and own in the USA
- Highly psychoactive/intoxicating
- Has been shown to cause anxiety in some users
- Still illegal in some parts of the USA
- Directly binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors
- Binds to the orthosteric receptor site
- Legality varies from state to state
News About CBD Potential Benefits
Not a week goes by these days without CBD grabbing a headline or two, and the news is incredibly encouraging for people who suffer from a wide variety of ailments. One of the CBD stories that most closely captured national news was the New England Journal of Medicine published study that showed CBD to reduce seizures in children with epilepsy. They were even able to measure the amount by which it reduced them: 23%.
That’s just one area where CBD holds incredible promise. Two other applications that currently have strongly funded research in place (much of it by the US government itself) include pain relief and anxiety relief. You don’t have to look far to find people who vehemently follow a daily CBD regimen for these types of issues: take this account of a 70 year old mountain guide in Climbing Magazine who swears by it for his arthritic hands; or this published study in Neuropsychopharmacology (a medical journal) that showed a biologically observable reduction in Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder when public speakers dosed CBD.
On top of all of that, the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted an exhaustive report in 2017 on the public health impact and efficacy of CBD. They found no public health risks and no potential for abuse in regards to cannabidiol. Furthermore, WHO acknowledged CBD’s anti-seizure effect, saying CBD has “been demonstrated as an effective treatment for epilepsy.” What’s more, the report notes the particular potential in the future for CBD to be part of a treatment plan for Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, cancer, psychosis, and other conditions.
What Is CBD Oil Used For?
Before we discuss some uses for CBD oil, we should clear up one area of confusion: what is CBD hemp oil, exactly? CBD hemp oil is simply the natural extracted oil product of the hemp plant, a non-psychoactive species of the cannabis family. Although CBD oil can also be derived from the psychoactive species as well, those oils can end up containing higher traces of THC, which is not ideal for all CBD users.
Humans’ endocannabinoid system, which CBD directly affects, has a profound influence on a myriad of different areas and functions in our body. Therefore, CBD oil is being self-administered as a supplement by people all over the world to combat conditions such as anxiety, chronic pain, depression, PTSD, epilepsy, arthritis, and even Parkinson’s Disease.
The fact is that new medical research is being performed on CBD every single day, and we don’t quite know definitively how it works -- but the potential is astounding. The financial sector is certainly betting on CBD hemp oil’s continued popularity: a recent Forbes article estimated that the CBD market will grow 700% by 2020.
Yes -- although CBD comes from the cannabis plant family like its intoxicating cousin compound THC, you will not feel a “high” or psychoactive effect from CBD. Although there are tiny trace amounts of THC in most CBD products, the amount is so low that it is functionally impossible to get intoxicated from it. Therefore, CBD is legal to purchase and own across the United States. You can shop for CBD products with full confidence (and at CBDfx, we provide unique batch lab reports so that you can see exactly what you’re putting in your body, and in what proportion).
By all measurable results, CBD is extremely safe for humans to ingest. In fact, clinical trial data published by the journal Current Pharmaceutical Design showed that oral administration of CBD is safe even in extremely high doses.
That being said, some users do report mild side effects when using CBD. CBD will affect everyone differently, and you should always consult with your physician before beginning to supplement with CBD. Even when you do begin dosing with CBD, you should start with a small dose and work your way up until you understand how CBD affects your unique physiology.
Mild side effects from CBD are usually reported by users who took relatively high doses. Drowsiness or grogginess was the most common of these side effects. More than this, however, the most important consideration before taking CBD is to determine how it interacts with any drugs you are currently on. CBD may interfere with the way your drug regimen is working, so it’s critical that you have a conversation with your doctor to confirm that it’s appropriate to begin using CBD on your own.
No -- CBD will not get you “high” like the other famous chemical compound found in cannabis (THC). However, just because it doesn’t give you a “body buzz” or intoxicating high does not mean that you won’t feel an effect from taking CBD. The most commonly reported effects include a general sense of well-being or anxiety reduction, or a calm clarity of focus. Regardless, there is no intoxication involved. The World Health Organization has determined that there is no potential for abuse in terms of CBD usage.
CBD affects everyone differently, but don’t go into your first CBD dose expecting to feel a “body high” or effect similar to THC-rich cannabis. It simply doesn’t work that way. THC binds directly to your CB1 and CB2 receptors; CBD, on the other hand, acts as a sneaky indirect agonist of cannabinoid receptors. That all means, in layman’s terms, that you won’t “feel” a prominent effect from taking CBD.
In fact, for many CBD users, it’s more about what they don’t feel when they dose CBD. Many people report that they feel calmer, with less anxiety, more able to fall asleep, and less agitated or irritable. And of course, many people also swear by CBD’s ability to alleviate or resolve chronic pain and inflammation issues.
The CBD molecule formula is C21H30O2, with a molecular weight of 314.469 g/mol. It’s a phytocannabinoid (cannabinoid derived from a plant; specifically, the cannabis species) that is “devoid of psychoactive activity, with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic and chemopreventive activities (source: PubChem, National Institute of Health).
As mentioned earlier, the CBD molecule is a mysterious one for several reasons. While THC binds so neatly to the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, CBD probably does not. We do know that it stimulates endoplasmic reticulum stress and “inhibits AKT/mTOR signaling” -- which means that CBD probably helps promote the normal breakdown and regeneration of dead cells, processes known as autophagy and apoptosis.
This is the million dollar question: what can CBD be used for? Before we dive into some of the uses, we need to make clear the fact that CBD research is in its infancy, and there are only a handful of definitive CBD studies right now. Therefore, it would be highly irresponsible to suggest that CBD is definitely or directly linked to any of these potential applications. Right now, CBD usage is wide open, and people are self-treating for a wide variety of symptoms.
- Pain and Inflammation Relief
One of the most highly researched potential applications of CBD right now is its analgesic effect. It's likely that CBD disrupts pain receptors, paradoxically triggering release of dopamine and serotonin instead. There's evidence to suggest that this can work even in patients for whom pharmaceutical options aren't working, or for whom it isn't safe to prescribe them.
- Anxiety Relief
One of the most popular reasons people purchase products on CBDfx.com, according to reviews and anecdotal user reports, is for anxiety relief. CBD has even been shown to counteract many of the effects of THC, including reduction of paranoia, stress, and anxiety. Several studies have already demonstrated measurable anxiety reduction from CBD usage based on biometric data while participants engaged in public speaking.
- Anti-Nausea Effect
Via indirect agonism of 5-HT(1A), CBD has been shown to attenuate vomiting and nausea-related behavior according to a 2012 study. CBD indirectly activates autoreceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus, which produces an anti-emetic (anti-nausea) effect. This can be an unspeakable relief for people who are experiencing nausea for a wide variety of reasons.
- Epilepsy Treatment
The most widely covered research around CBD in the mainstream media revolves around its proven ability to reduce seizures in epileptic children by an average of 23%. There are multiple trials in progress aimed at understanding the scope of CBD’s future application in treating seizures and epilepsy.
- Cancer Prevention
In several studies, CBD was injected directly into cancerous tumors -- and the tumor was reduced or entirely eliminated. That’s huge in terms of a direct application of CBD against cancer; but there are indirect applications as well. Since CBD likely provides anti-mutagenic effects due to its antioxidant composition, this probably has a protective effect against developing cancer in the first place.
CBD is often discussed as part of a potential future treatment for schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis. The compound has been shown to induce a calming, anti-psychotic property in both humans and animals in more than one study.
- Skin Care
Particularly when it comes to the cessation of eczema and acne, CBD oil (used as a topical treatment) is becoming increasingly popular. It’s thought that CBD’s anti-inflammatory potential could work synergistically with its positive effect on skin appearance and health.
- Insomnia Treatment
CBD can have a sedative effect, particularly at higher doses. If you’ve ever suffered from insomnia or a condition that was keeping you from falling asleep, you know what a relief it can be to finally drift off for even a few hours. This potential application of CBD can help people afflicted with insomnia for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from PTSD to restless leg syndrome.