What does CBD do?
CBD oil has been the star of 2018, at least when it comes to health (and beauty, for that matter). And the pandemonium is warranted. The natural, holistic remedy has real medicinal use spanning from stopping seizures to alleviating anxiety and helping insomniacs get some much-needed rest—with little to no side effects, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the two most abundant cannabinoid chemicals found in the cannabis (marijuana) plant. Whether in oil, vapor, candy, or coffee, CBD is growing in popularity for its effects on pain, chronic illness, inflammation, cancer, brain disorders, and so much more.
The other well-known chemical in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The main differences between the two, coming up. Read on to find out all about CBD, what is it effects on body and mind how it’s made, how to take it, the legal stuff, and more.
THC vs. CBD: Getting High vs. Getting Healthy
Scientists have known about CBD for some time, over 60 years to be exact, but have generally ignored it in favour of its much sexier and spectacular cousin, THC, which is the main active ingredient in marijuana (cannabis) responsible for the “high” people experience when smoking it. However, as research into the plant advanced in the 1970s, scientists began to study CBD’s benefits more closely and realized that it was just as important as THC, if not more so in many ways. And furthermore, CBD was non-psychoactive, meaning that it doesn’t get you high.
For that reason, CBD oil is legal in all 50 U.S. states and in most places around the world (as long as the cbd oil is extracted from the hemp plant and not marijuana). A good way to think about it is THC gets you high and CBD doesn’t. The two are related but entirely different compounds existing in both the cannabis (marijuana) and hemp plants. They both work independently of each other and synergistically together to produce healing and health in the mind and body, however, CBD oil just makes you feel good—without any kind of intoxicating high.
So, CBD and pot aren’t the same thing, unless you’re a politician.
CBD and its Effects on the Human Brain
To say the science of the human brain is complicated is putting it mildly. The scientific community understands more about the most mind-blowing and complicated astrophysics than they do about how the human brain works. There is a growing body of research on how cannabinoids interact with the brain. Breakthroughs were made in the 1960s by a team of Israeli scientists led by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. They were able to identify the chemical structures of CBD and THC. Since then, the endocannabinoid system has been discovered in the human body—the system these cannabinoids interact with. There is remarkable serendipity in humans (and other animals) evolving a biological system directly responsive to cannabis.
The endocannabinoid system has cannabinoid receptors throughout the human body. These are linked to the human nervous system, which itself is linked to the brain. Without getting into very complicated neuroscience, chemicals have different reactions with different kinds of receptors. In the case of CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD may actually dampen their response. Other receptors will bind well with CBD and trigger a neural connection through synapses in the brain. The impact CBD has on other chemicals in the brain reveals much about its potential therapeutic applications.
The 5-HT1A receptor is involved in serotonin neurotransmission. Serotonin regulates mood and this particular receptor may be linked to the mediation of anxiety and depression. CBD is thought to have anxiolytic properties which reduce anxiety. There may even be a compounding effect whereby CBD boosts the body's own naturally-produced cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids.
Non-cannabinoid chemicals are also impacted by CBD. There are signs CBD disrupts opioid receptors. This makes cannabis a promising treatment for opioid addiction by altering the brain's reward mechanism. Dopamine, the chemical by which we feel a sense of reward, also interacts with CBD. Anandamide is another chemical discovered by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. He named it after the Sanskrit word for bliss as he observed it impact on human joy. CBD however, seems to inhibit anandamide reuptake and breakdown, which increases endocannabinoid levels. CBD is also believed to stimulate the growth of neurons in the hippocampus. Enlarging the hippocampus, memory and anxiety management are improved.