What is Cannabidiol?

What is Cannabidiol?

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, has received a lot of media attention recently due to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. There are thousands of companies retailing a wide variety of cannabidiol products such as CBD oils, CBD topicals, CBD vapes, CBD concentrates, CBD flower, and CBD extracts. Companies and consumers have shared astonishing testimonials of medical benefits from, a decrease in seizures, reduction of anxiety, relaxation, and many more. However, with these products not approved by the FDA it makes one wonder what exactly is CBD, and can it help me?

Is CBD marijuana?

CBD is the second most prevalent cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant family; it can be found in both the marijuana and the hemp plant. Although marijuana and hemp are both apart of the cannabis family, they differ greatly in their potency of cannabinoids and their legality. Marijuana products containing CBD always contain more than 0.3% THC and consumers need a state-issued medical marijuana card to obtain these types of products in states where marijuana is not recreational. However, CBD products derived from the hemp plant contain less than 0.3% and sometimes no THC at all. CBD hemp products can be found online and also in health food stores, gyms, and spas.

THC v. CBD

CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are both cannabinoids found in cannabis. Unlike the most abundant and familiar cannabinoid we all know about, THC, CBD doesn’t  necessarily get you “high”. The cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors are responsible for mediating the effects of cannabinoids on humans. THC is an agonist, or “activator”, of the CB1 receptor. A study conducted by Dr. Marilyn Huestis with the National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA) showed people who have had their CB1 receptors blocked by an antagonist drug did not feel the psychoactive effects of THC and did not feel “high”.  Through this study, we know the CB1 receptor must be the critical target in the brain that produces intoxication.

In another study conducted by Dr. Rocio Martin-Santos, it was shown that there is increased blood flow to the prefrontal cortex region of the brain during THC intoxication. The prefrontal cortex region of the brain is responsible for decision-making, attention, and other executive functions. In essence, THC intoxication can affect any of these functions to various levels depending on the person and the amount consumed.  

Another aspect of cannabis intoxication involves the activation of the brain’s reward circuit which is responsible for our emotional and memory processes. Ultimately, the activity in these regions produce pleasurable sensations and emotions that encourage us subconsciously to revisit those feelings again. Cannabis activates the brain’s reward pathway that causes us to feel good and increases our likelihood of partaking again in the future. THC binding to CB1 receptors in the brain’s reward system plays a big role in cannabis’ ability to produce feelings of euphoria.

Although CBD is proudly advertised as the cannabinoid that does not get you “high” this statement is somewhat misleading. Similar to THC, CBD still has a direct impact on brain function. Any substance that has a direct impact on brain function is considered to be psychoactive. CBD most definitely has a direct impact on brain function as it has very powerful anti-seizure and anti-anxiety properties.

To further clarify, CBD is indeed psychoactive; it’s just not intoxicating. Studies have shown CBD actually interferes with the CB1 receptor especially in the presence of THC. When users combined CBD with THC they experienced overall less paranoia. Essentially, THC activates the CB1 receptors while CBD inhibits them.

Is CBD right for me?

CBD has been shown through non-FDA approved studies to decrease anxiety, reduce seizures, minimize inflammation, and so much more. If you are looking to try a plant-based approach to your ailments, CBD may provide you with the relief you are seeking without the intoxication that is normally associated with cannabis products. If you are taking prescribed medication, please consult with a health care professional before switching to CBD oil or a combination of treatments.