CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients present in Cannabis sativa — right behind its more well-known cousin, THC. However, while CBD is a component of marijuana, unlike THC, by itself, it does not induce a feeling of “being high.” Instead, it can alleviate many health conditions.
Even though further research is certainly needed — including more human studies and clinical trials — current data shows promise for CBD as an effective solution for treating inflammatory and neuropathic pain. According to a report from the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
With CBD oil and other CBD products becoming more and more popular, it is wise to take more interest in this non-psychoactive substance and explore what benefits it can actually offer.
What Are the Health Benefits of CBD?
Consumers use CBD for various health issues, including stress, anxiety, skin conditions, chronic pain, and inflammation. Whether a component of medical cannabis or the primary ingredient in hemp-derived CBD products, cannabidiol has proven numerous times it may be as effective as prescribed medications without causing significant adverse effects.
Here is a list of conditions that CBD treatment can improve:
- Multiple sclerosis (MS) — According to a 2018 study, CBD can successfully alleviate various symptoms of MS (such as muscle spasticity), providing much-needed pain relief for those affected by this disease.
- Anxiety disorders — As numerous studies indicate CBD may prove to be a helpful option for managing anxiety disorders. For instance, in a study from 2011, researchers noted that, contrary to the placebo group, study participants who took CBD in a simulated public speaking test exhibited significantly fewer symptoms of social anxiety. Still, more research is needed to fully understand how CBD interacts with neuroreceptors to induce its wellness effects.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — A case series from 2019 concludes that the administration of oral CBD resulted in symptom reduction in adults with PTSD. Similarly, another study published by the Frontiers in Neuroscience states that CBD “shows an action profile with fewer side effects than the pharmacological therapy currently used to treat this type of disorder.”
- Cancer-related symptoms — Besides being considered an option for improving mental health, its pain-relieving effects make CBD a promising anti-cancer drug. As research indicates, it can improve the immune system’s response to cancer treatment, making it an attractive addition to already-established cancer pain management programs.
- Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome (DS) — Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome are severe forms of epilepsy — both of which, according to research, can be managed with the help of CBD. For example, in 2020, a group of Korean researchers noted a significant reduction of seizure frequency in both LGS and DS groups due to CBD administration.
- Chronic pain — The ability to treat pain is one of the most well-known health benefits of CBD. However, while some researchers encourage or offer a balanced approach for CBD use in treating chronic pain, others outright deny mentioning it among other pain medications. Consequently, there is still a raging debate over the effectiveness of CBD in treating nerve pain.
- High blood pressure — In 2017, in a randomized crossover study, researchers found out that CBD oil offers cardiovascular benefits, such as reduced blood pressure response to stress.
- Sleep disorders — Although there is some evidence CBD may help people fall asleep, a study from 2020 notes that “there is insufficient evidence to support routine clinical use of cannabinoid therapies for the treatment of any sleep disorder.” As such, more research is needed to establish just how advantageous CBD can be in treating the causes of sleeplessness.
Currently, the only CBD medication that is FDA-approved is Epidiolex, which the agency approved last year for the treatment of certain types of epilepsy. Other CBD products still await the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
Many people integrate CBD into their health routine to support their cellular and molecular health. Cannabidiol is just one of over 80+ cannabinoids that can be extracted from hemp. Among the many benefits that users experience, some of the main ones are a sense of calm for focus, relief from everyday stresses, help in recovery from exercise-induced inflammation, and support for healthy sleep cycles.
Nevertheless, before you try to explore the helpful effects of CBD, contact a healthcare professional. As many nonprescription CBD products might interact with other medications and dietary supplements, talking to your doctor about how CBD may affect your health is a wise approach.
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What Is the Difference Between Marijuana and Hemp?
Although CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is usually derived directly from the hemp plant — a version of the cannabis plant that contains 0.3 percent or less THC content by dry weight.
Technically speaking, hemp and marijuana are the same plant. There are distinct differences, however, between the two.
Making the distinction between hemp and marijuana can be done in a few different ways. These include appearance, chemical composition, and cultivation.
Hemp and marijuana look similar, but there are noticeable differences between the two, particularly between industrial hemp and marijuana. A marijuana plant, for example, has broad leaves and is typically bushy in appearance, and produces thick, resinous, pungent flowers. Hemp, on the other hand, contains skinnier leaves that are more concentrated at the top of the plant and is much taller and skinnier than the marijuana plant.
Aside from the differences in appearance detectable by a trained eye, the chemical composition is also different.
Cannabis contains more than 500 chemical components. Of these, over 100 various cannabinoids have been identified. The most famous of these are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Research has shown that both THC and CBD contain a myriad of different health and wellness benefits; however, THC is known to produce the psychoactive effects associated with the “high” that’s made marijuana famous, while CBD does not contain these psychoactive attributes.
Here’s where there is a HUGE difference between hemp and marijuana. Hemp plants contain virtually no THC at all (0.3% or less), while marijuana is abundant in the psychoactive cannabinoid and can contain anywhere from 5-30% THC (or more). Because hemp plants contain such a minute amount of THC, hemp doesn’t get you high.
How Does CBD Affect Your Brain and Body?
CBD — and indeed, all cannabinoids — interact with your brain in a similar way to neurons and synapses.
When introduced into your bloodstream, cannabidiol molecules activate (or turn on) specific groups of receptors, including:
- CB1 and CB2
These receptors influence such body functions as appetite, pain sensation, mood, memory, and anxiety and have a great deal to do with CBD’s effects.
Does CBD Get You High?
No, CBD does not get you high. In fact, when taken with THC, CBD actually reduces just how high you can get through interactions with CB1 and CB2 Receptors.
Think of THC and CBD as batteries. THC is a AA, and CBD is a AAA. The cannabinoid receptor CB1 in your brain only turns on when the right size battery is inserted—in this case, the AA (THC). The AA fits nicely into the receptor, turns it on, and produces the psychoactive high we all know and love.
But the AAA (CBD) also fits into the receptor. It’s not an exact match like the AA, so the AAA doesn’t activate the receptor. That’s why CBD doesn’t get you high: it’s not built to activate the receptors that cause a psychoactive effect.
What Are Cannabinoids?
The cannabinoid is a term used to refer to molecules that are found in the cannabis plant that interact with cannabinoid receptors.
Why Are They of Value?
Your body has a natural system (much like your nervous system) called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is a Communication system within the body that cannabinoids can interact with.
Common cannabinoids that are found in Cannabis include:
What Is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system includes receptors, endocannabinoids (cannabinoids naturally produced by the human body), and enzymes. While receptors are binding sites for cannabinoids within the brain and body, endocannabinoids and molecules made by your body that enzymes break down once they’ve carried out their function.
- CB1 receptors are mainly located in the nervous system and brain.
- CB2 receptors are primarily located in the immune system, at many sites throughout the body, and in the brain.
The ECS is involved in a wide range of processes, including pain perception, memory, appetite, metabolism, immunity, sleep, stress, modulation of neurotransmitter release, regulation of pain perception, regulation of the cardiovascular system, and gastrointestinal function and liver functions.
Full-Spectrum vs. Isolate vs. Broad-Spectrum
- The two most common types of cannabidiol (CBD) oil you’ll find on the market today are isolate and full spectrum.
- CBD isolate is 99.9% pure CBD. During the CBD isolate extraction process, everything contained in the plant matter is removed, including any traces of THC, terpenes, waxes, oils, chlorophyll, and more. What you’re left with is CBD… and nothing else.
- Full-spectrum CBD contains everything the plant contains and is full of all the terpenes, cannabinoids, flavonoids, and fatty acids found in hemp, all of which have a therapeutic value of their own and help create what’s known as the entourage effect. CBD is mixed with a base (carrier) oil, like hemp seed oil or coconut oil.
- Broad-spectrum CBD is full-spectrum CBD without any THC. It offers all the entourage benefits associated with full-spectrum, without any chances of THC being ingested into the body.