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.
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.