The letters C-B-D have been popping up all over the place, appearing on bottles of oil and capsules, finding their way into medical literature, and rolling off tongues during conversations about curing conditions from nervous jitters to annoying aches. So what is CBD and what can it do for you?
What is CBD… and What does Weed Have to Do With It?
Picture a grass green field of the ubiquitous Cannabis plant. You would recognize its familiar silhouette in any context; it automatically brings to mind images of stoned hippies and the distinct smell of marijuana. What you might not realize is that the plant contains over 500 compounds, including over a hundred cannabinoids such as THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). While THC has earned celebrity as that psychoactive ingredient in weed that elicits a “high” in its consumers, CBD remains a mystery to many potential fans.
It’s All Relative
CBD is not merely a relative of Cannabis; it is a key compound found within the actual plant. Cannabidiol, its formal name, is the chemical compound responsible for many of the healthy marvels generally attributed to the famous plant. From uncontrolled blood sugar levels to epileptic seizures and from pains to inflammation, CBD has been studied for its potential benefits in many areas.
So while Cannabis is home to this magical compound, not every weed plant is ideal for sourcing CBD. Grown for recreational and medicinal purposes, the marijuana plant tends to contain high amounts of THC- the psychotropic component- and relatively little CBD; meanwhile, industrially-grown hemp enjoys mere traces of THC with relatively potent amounts of CBD.
Compare CBD and THC
CBD and THC both are compounds found within Cannabis, but they differ substantially.
THC is a cannabinoid and the primary constituent of medical marijuana. Users and physicians alike credit the compound to be a potent analgesic. Many other beneficial attributes are widely ascribed to THC. There are students who believe that marijuana helps them memorize material for tests as well as get rid of writer’s block. These effects are caused by THC’s interaction with the human body where it attaches to receptors within the brain which affect pleasure, coordination, thinking and perception. The compound is well-known for altering the function of the human brain; for this reason, marijuana makes you “high.”
CBD also is a predominant cannabinoid within the Cannabis plant. Its highest concentration is found in the plant variety specifically cultivated for industrial purposes, referred to as “industrial hemp.” CBD is credited with many of the same favorable effects as THC, such as numbing detrimental physical pains associated with medical conditions and their treatments.
Unlike THC, CBD delivers these benefits without mind-altering side-effects; consequently, industrial hemp is not classified as psychotropic.
CBD Benefits: A Star is Born
In the beginning, the medical marvels experienced by weed enthusiasts were commonly attributed to the plant as a whole. Once the medical community began to study Cannabis and its effects in more detail, they began to ascribe a variety of these benefits specifically to CBD.
It became legal to grow industrial hemp in many parts worldwide. U.S. President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the 2014 Farm Bill, giving federal permission to states to allow cultivation and research of industrial hemp within designated areas. CBD was now readily available to be extracted and studied.
Anecdotal evidence began to reveal that CBD functions as natural remedy for many common issues. By helping the endocannabinoid system function properly, CBD is a popular tool for those with issues related to sleep, stress or anxiety. Vaping CBD oil has become popular for those looking for a quick delivery or alternative to smoking.
On the research frontier, some small trials have demonstrated the compound’s ability to potentially reduce treatment-resistant epilepsy. Research is still ongoing, however. There currently aren’t any large-scale clinical trials.
Users and researchers alike are hailing CBD as a star in helping people in a natural way.
How Does CBD Interact with the Body?
CBD is one of many cannabinoids within the Cannabis plant. Human bodies also produce their own variety of cannabinoids. When consumed, these compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream. Regardless of their source, once inside the human body, all cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). They have distinct affinities to the system’s receptors, with some cannabinoids favoring type 1 receptors, others favoring type 2 receptors, and another group having no affinity for either type of receptor. The endocannabinoid receptors are engaged in different parts of the human body, with type 1 mostly related to the brain and nervous system and type 2 mostly involved with the immune system.
CBD is believed to have a low affinity to both type 1 and type 2 cannabinoid receptors, allowing it to help restore balance the ECS without causing intoxicating side effects. Many scientists are now studying the intricate interaction among CBD, receptors, and genes in a universal effort to combat many ailments.
What Does CBD do to You?
While researchers and consumers make many different claims about CBD’s benefits, the bottom line is that this cannabinoid seems to restore balance within the body.
Homeostasis is not just a word your science teacher scribbled on the chalkboard, it is the state of balance your body aims to maintain. From PH level to temperature, your body needs to achieve that perfect balance so nothing tips over to one extreme or the other. If all systems are balanced, there is no need for annoying symptoms calling out for your help: no headache begging you to tend to an imbalance of electrolytes, no annoying twitch demanding you regulate your hours of sleep, no inflammation alerting you that your sugar consumption has tipped the scale to one side.
CBD is like the referee who makes sure that everything is fair and even. By interacting with receptors of your body’s endocannabinoid system within the nervous and immune systems, CBD regulates the availability of hormones and neurotransmitters. For example, researchers have established that CBD binds to and activates the serotonin-1A receptor which plays a major role in anxiety disorders as well as depression. When serotonin levels are maintained at the ideal level, symptoms may subside.
So when you take CBD supplements on a regular basis, they can help your body maintain a state of balance. When everything is perfectly balanced, there are no symptoms crying out for your attention. Let your body and mind relax.
Where Does that Leave You?
Around the world, there is a quest to find a natural remedy for every condition known to humankind. While medical claims regarding CBD cannot be made until research has made irrefutable findings, the consensus among consumers seems to be that they benefit from the supplement.
You, too, might be entertaining the possibility of adding CBD to your daily routine to achieve a wellness goal. There’s only one way to find out for certain; try CBD for yourself.
Buying CBD products is easy enough; they’re just a click away online from many reputable companies. With so many online stores catering to the high CBD demand, and products ranging from tinctures and creams to gummy bears and CBD vapes, you have a lot of options at your disposal.