Cannabidiol often referred to as CBD, is one of the more well-known cannabinoids found in marijuana and holds the key to the wide variety of medicinal and therapeutic benefits that marijuana has to offer. THC is perhaps the only cannabinoid that may be better known than CBD, and while these two compounds are vastly different, there is one main difference that sets them apart. THC has psychoactive effects while CBD does not. In other words, THC is the compound that is responsible for giving users a high.
In this article, we will be covering everything you need to know on cannabinoids and more importantly cannabidiol (CBD), what exactly it is, how it works, and why it is so different to the notorious compound, THC.
What is cannabidiol (CBD)
I’m sure that all of you who are reading this love marijuana and are aware of the two main components that are found in cannabis, THC, and CBD. But did you know that the cannabis plant produces more than 400 different compounds? 480 natural components to be exact, of which 66 are completely specific to the cannabis plant, and these have been classified as cannabinoids. But not all of these cannabinoids have been created equal. CBD holds the key to the many medicinal benefits that cannabis is known for, and the more we learn about this miraculous compound, the more it seems set to revolutionize medicine as we know it.
One of the most vitally important qualities of CBD is that it is not psychoactive. Whereas delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the scientific term for THC, will make users high thanks to its psychoactive effects, CBD is inert and will have no such effect. Since a great deal of negative publicity surrounds marijuana in general because of the effects of THC, CBD has always been under the radar, used primarily in the form of medical cannabis.
Since CBD doesn’t get you high, this cannabinoid is legal almost everywhere. Products that only contain CBD can dodge the legal ban on cannabis because they are generally used for medicinal purposes.
CBD has a similar structure to other chemicals that our body produces, known as endocannabinoids, and is thus able to communicate with different cells in our bodies. Our endocannabinoid system (ECS) runs throughout our body and is loaded with receptors that bind to the cannabinoids that enter the bloodstream when we consume weed. It’s the chemical interactions of these bonds that create a series of responses in the body. Although CBD doesn’t have any toxicity for humans, it’s still reactive with the endocannabinoid system. When the CBD binds to receptors in the ECS, it stimulates all kinds of changes in the body, most of which are incredibly beneficial.
A particularly well-known strain of cannabis due to its high level of CBD is Charlotte’s Web. It’s a strain with less than 0.3% THC and a CBD content that is as high as 20%. It’s gained much popularity for treating seizures and in fact, gained a great deal of media exposure when it was used to treat a young girl named Charlotte, who suffered from severe and almost continuous epileptic seizures brought on by Dravet syndrome. Thanks to this miraculous strain, her parents and physicians have reported that she experienced a significant reduction in epileptic seizures, after using her first does of Charlotte’s web.
Another interesting and impressive element of CBD is that it’s thought to counteract the THC content. In other words, if there is both CBD and THC present in a specific strain, the CBD will reduce the psychoactive high. When CBD and THC combine, it’s known as the “entourage effect.” This means that both compounds enhance the positive qualities of the other. For instance, while pure THC could cause stress and anxiety, when CBD is mixed in many users will experience relaxation and the onset of positive emotions. CBD is thought to improve the pain killing properties of THC.
Now that we have a better understanding of CBD, the secret ingredient of cannabis, it’s important that we understand that it is not alone in the cannabinoid world. There are a number of cannabinoids associated with the cannabis plant, and these have been divided into subclasses:
- Cannabigerol (CBG);
- Cannabidiol (CBD);
- Cannabinol (CBN) and cannabinodiol (CBDL);
- Cannabichromene (CBC);
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC);
- Other cannabinoids (such as Cannabicyclol (CBL), cannabielsoin (CBE), cannabitriol (CBT) and other miscellaneous types).
Many people have reported success in using CBD to ease a variety of symptoms and treat various medical conditions. It’s often used by medical patients who suffer from chronic conditions such as lupus, cancer, chronic pain, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis, in the form of CBD oil extract.
CBD is often found in percentages that vary from 0.6% to 1%, with 0.6% or less being considered weak in the effects of CBD and 1% or higher considered to be very strong. This number may seem relatively small, but in reality, it’s all that is needed. It’s possible to get higher percentages, like Charlotte’s web which contains 20% but these potent strains are not readily available and much rarer to come by. The percentage indicates the amount of CBD that is present in comparison to other components that make up cannabis. For example, if you had 100ml of marijuana in a liquid form, 1ml would be CBD.
What Do Cannabinoids Do?
In essence, cannabinoids work their medicinal magic by imitating the compounds that our bodies produce naturally, known as endocannabinoids. These activate to maintain internal stability and health. In other words, they moderate the communication between cells, and when there is a deficiency or problem with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), unpleasant symptoms and physical complications occur.
Research has found that the human body contains receptors for cannabinoids, as well as an entire endocannabinoid system that processes cannabinoids. The ECS is what allows the body to benefit from the cannabinoids found in cannabis, several of which won’t be found anywhere else in nature. Our ECS regulates many of the functions of the human body: food intake, appetite, motor behavior, reproduction and much more.
The receptors and cannabinoids that can are found in the ECS can be thought of as a lock and key system. The cannabinoids bind to the cannabinoid receptors like a key would fit into a lock. The unlocking of the receptor is what causes the changes in how our cells function, and this leads to different effects in the body.
When weed is consumed, the cannabinoids bind to the receptors sites throughout our brain. These receptors are known as CB1 and CB2. In theory, different cannabinoids will have different effects depending on which receptors they bind to. For example, THC binds to the receptors in the brain, but CBN (cannabinol) has a strong association with CB2 receptors located throughout the body.
CB1 receptors are primarily found in the nervous system, gonads, connective tissues, glands, and organs; while CB2 receptors are primarily found in our immune system and other periphery structures. It’s also important to note that some tissues may contain both receptors, and this is why each is responsible for a different action. Interestingly, Scientists suspect there is another receptor that has yet to be discovered.
What is the Difference Between Cannabinoids?
Naturally, each cannabinoid has its own characteristics, and the major difference between these is determined by the extent to which they are active on a psychological level. In other words, how they affect our body. Three classes of cannabinoids, CBG, CBD, and CBC, are not known to have mind-blowing effects, while THC, CBDL, CBN, and a few others, are known to have psychoactive effects of varying degrees – they will make users high.
CBD is possibly the most abundant cannabinoid, as it contributes up to 40% of cannabis resin. A ton of money is being thrown into research to help us better understand the cannabis plant and explore the vast benefits of CBD, since it is one of the most well-known cannabinoids and also because most health benefits of cannabis are associated with CBD.
As mentioned earlier, it is thought that CBD could counteract the psychoactive effects of THC. When THC is exposed to air, it becomes oxidized and forms CBN which also interacts with THC to lessen the impact. For this reason, cannabis that has been left out unused has a less potent effect when smoked, due to the increased CNB to THC ratio.
Cannabinoids may also differ when it comes to the conditions that they are used to treat. Studies have shown that THC can help to manage depression and anxiety, nausea, spasms, pain, and sleep disorders, along with other conditions. CBD has been reported to help treat Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, psychosis, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and other serious conditions. Naturally, each cannabinoid will have its own benefits and potential uses.
It’s also important to understand that just because one cannabinoid is present in a particular strain of marijuana, it doesn’t mean that there is no other cannabinoid is present in that strain. These cannabinoids co-exist, but there will often be a higher level of one particular cannabinoid in a strain. Medical research today is looking to find the right combination of THC and CBD to successfully cure serious medical conditions such as epilepsy and cancer. The ultimate goal of this research is to create custom strains that will help to treat specific conditions, as well as knowing the right doses needed, especially since CBD is known to counteract THC.
Which cannabinoid can help for which condition
As we have already mentioned, different cannabinoids can be used to treat different medical conditions. So just how would you go about getting medical marijuana? There are few ways to get your hands on marijuana to treat specific conditions. but you will likely need a written recommendation from a licensed doctor in a state where it is legal. However, not every doctor will be willing to recommend medical cannabis to their patients. One of the requirements is that you must have a condition that qualifies as one for medical marijuana use. Each state will also have its own list of qualifying conditions. In addition, some states may require that you get a medical marijuana ID card. This will then allow you to buy medical marijuana at a store called a dispensary.
One of the great things about medical marijuana is that it can be consumed in several ways. If you are not comfortable smoking or vaping, there is also often the option of eating it, applying it to your skin, taking a few drops under your tongue or even taking it in the form of a capsule. Although some methods may be preferred over others for certain conditions, how you take it is up to you. Each method will work differently in the body. For instance, if you smoke or vape, you will feel the effects quickly, but if you consume it in the form of edibles, it could take significantly longer to take effect.
We have created an overview below that will hopefully give you a good understanding of what cannabinoids can be used to treat specific conditions.
|Anti-spasmodic for spasm control||✔||✔||✔|
|Anti-hypertensive (high blood pressure)||✔|
|Analgesic (pain killer)||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Bronchodilator (asthma control)||✔|
Final Thoughts on Cannabinoids.
While research and studies into cannabinoids are still in their infancy, initial findings have clearly shown that the cannabis plant and its components have incredible medical benefits. Furthermore, only a small amount of the cannabinoids have been studied thus far, and there’s great speculation that with more research, further medical cures will be discovered. Thanks to the increased awareness of marijuana and all its goodness, things are looking up for this phenomenal substance, and we can only hope that more patients will turn to cannabis when in need.