Beyond a doubt: CBD is the trendy, buzzy wellness and lifestyle product of the moment. It’s exploded across multiple industries; it’s not uncommon to see coffee shops with CBD lattes, spas offering anti-inflammatory facials with CBD, or skincare that features the compound.
Despite it becoming a major part of the public lexicon, there’s still quite a bit of confusion concerning CBD and not many clear answers. In this article, we will work double-time to make sure you walk away with a better understanding of CBD.
So, What is CBD? (A Look Into the Science)
CBD is the shortened name for the full compound, cannabidiol. Cannabidiol occurs naturally in the flower of both cannabis and hemp sativa plants. CBD is such a notable substance because it’s the second most prevalent active ingredient in the cannabis plant– right behind THC.
Cannabidiol is one of more than a hundred phytocannabinoids, but it is not psychoactive; so it doesn’t alter your mind. Report from the World Health Organization says, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”
While the therapeutic attributes of both THC and CBD have been widely explored, CBD’s lack of psychoactive effects on its user makes it a perfect alternative to other anti-inflammatory therapies. This difference in effects can be attributed to the individual endocannabinoid receptors.
THC vs CBD: The Difference In Your Body
First off, the endocannabinoid system was discovered by researchers who were doing work to better understand THC, perhaps the best-known cannabinoid. This system is a complex communication system amongst cells. We are still unclear of the total capabilities and purposes of the ECS, but science has found that it plays a key role in regulating important functions and processes like sleep mood, memory, and even fertility.
The endocannabinoid system plays an important role in your body– even if you don’t use cannabis.
How are Endocannabinoids Different Than Cannabinoids?
Endogenous cannabinoids, more commonly known as endocannabinoids, are the compounds that are made by your own body. Researchers have identified two of these compounds so far:
- Anandamide (AEA)
- 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG)
Endocannabinoids bind to endocannabinoid receptors that are found throughout your body. These receptors signal to the endocannabinoid system that it needs to go to work. There’s two different types of these receptors:
- CB1 Receptors: these are commonly found in the central nervous system
- CB2 Receptors: found mostly in the peripheral nervous system and are especially present in immune cells.
Endocannabinoids are able to bind to either type of receptor.
How Does THC Interact with the Endocannabinoid System?
THC is one of the main cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It’s a psychoactive compound that makes people feel euphoria or intoxicated. Once consumed, THC interacts with the endocannabinoid system by binding to endocannabinoid receptors in the same way that endocannabinoids do. THC’s power lies in the fact that it can bind to both CB1 or CB2 receptors.
This ability allows THC to have a wide range of effects on the body and mind. For example, THC may help manage pain and it may stimulate appetite, but it can also cause paranoia and anxiety.
How Does CBD Interact with the Endocannabinoid System?
The second most prevalent cannabinoid is CBD. Unlike THC, CBD isn’t psychoactive and won’t cause you to feel intoxicated.
Also, unlike THC (and most cannabinoids, to be frank), the phytocannabinoid cannabidiol doesn’t directly trigger either the CB1 receptor or the CB2 receptor, but instead modifies the receptor’s ability to bind to cannabinoids.
CBD also plays a much larger role in the endocannabinoid system than THC. It acts to influence other types of receptors and enhances natural levels of endocannabinoids by occupying specific enzymes.
Cannabidiol also activates internally through a number of receptor-independent pathways. This can take a number of forms- for example, by prolonging the reuptake of specific endogenous neurotransmitters or by either boosting or reducing the binding of a few G-protein coupled receptors.
Some research suggests that using CBD can help to directly activate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, which is G-protein coupled. This receptor is closely associated with a range of biological and neurological processes.
Cannabidiol also has the ability to directly bind with ion channels like TRPV1, which is a vanilloid receptor.
There is research demonstrating that CBD blocks another G-protein coupled receptor by the name of GPR55. This is considered an “orphan receptor” as it’s not known if it belongs to a larger cluster of receptors. GPR55 is present in the brain, especially in the cerebellum. This receptor is responsible for the modulation of physiological processes like bone density or blood pressure.
A disease like osteoporosis- a condition that results in the body losing too much bone, can be a direct side effect of overactive GPR55 signaling. Research has also observed GPR55 in various malignant conditions. As cannabidiol acts as an antagonist for this specific receptor it may act to decrease bone decay and malignant cell growth.
There has also been research conducted on the compound cannabidiol and its benefits that concluded that CBD’s therapeutic benefits are, in part, induced by activating peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors. PPAR’s are located on the actual nucleus of cells. Activating these receptors produces anti-proliferative effects that evoke tumor regression in human cancer cells.
This same PPAR-gamma activation also works to degrade amyloid-beta plaque– this plays a critical role in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. These same receptors also regulate lipid uptake, insulin sensitivity, and other critical metabolic functions.
One Last Note:
The research that supports CBD as an alternative to other therapies has come a long way in the last two decades, but it’s quite obvious that we have a long way to go. What we do know is that the potential to be enormously beneficial to a large portion of the population exists- and there may be potential uses in the treatment plan of folks with chronic medical conditions. Cannabidiol is a fantastic tool in your wellness management arsenal for a wide array of reasons.
The great thing about CBD is that it can be taken several different ways to suit your preference. We encourage each of our customers to find the right product suited for their individual needs thanks to our wide array of organic hemp products.