What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound and potentially highly therapeutic component found in most varieties of cannabis including Cannabis Sativa L (Industrial Hemp). The main difference between CBD and THC (the other central cannabinoid present in marijuana) is that CBD has no hallucinogenic or psychoactive effects, and will not get you "stoned" or "high".
The 2 main active compounds in marijuana are the cannabinoids THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). They are compounds that have been used together in the past for recreation and medication. However, CBD has zero psychotropic effects and can actually counteract the effects of THC. It is therefore considered to have potential to be used for a wide range of medical applications.
Thousands of researchers worldwide are focussed on researching the use of CBD for the treatment of multiple illnesses, disorders, and diseases, including epilepsy, cancer, chronic pain, anxiety disorders, depression, inflammation and arthritis. CBD extracted from hemp plants is being used to formulate many new types of medications, each targeting specific illnesses and diseases. According to many researchers, CBD might even be the most essential cannabinoid discovered so far.
CBD is being studied to assess its neuroprotective and neurogenic effects. It is also being researched to determine if it could be effective against cancer and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. The interest in cannabidiol has gained traction worldwide, and scientists are conducting studies in the UK, United States, and many centres of academic research around the world.
The absence of psychoactive effects and the favourable legal status of cannabidiol has prompted the medical community to take a growing interest in this cannabinoid. No individual research licences are required for cannabidiol research (unlike THC), so work is now underway to develop new cannabis-based medicines for the treatment of many diseases including depression, epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease, as well as plenty of other disorders and conditions.
Let’s dive into how CBD works in your body and how it could potentially become the next significant development for the treatment of a wide range of illnesses.
How Does CBD Work In Our Body?
Cannabidiol is known to interact with the human endocannabinoid system. It is believed that one way in which cannabidiol acts is by stimulating 5HT1A receptors, which are type 1A serotonergic receptors located in the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract in our bodies. For example, serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, appetite, libido, stress management, aggressiveness, body temperature, vomiting, among other physiological functions.
When there is an imbalance due to lack of the neurotransmitter (like what happens in depression), some of these bodily functions eventually become unbalanced. People begin experiencing sleeping problems, loss of appetite, libido, and anxiety. CBD is being analysed to determine if it can interact with these 5HT1A receptors to produce an anxiolytic, soothing effect, which, if confirmed, could also imply it may have value as an antidepressant and sleep regulator.
On the other hand, CBD’s potential anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects cannot be explained this way. It has been hypothesised that the mechanism of action to reduce pain could rely on CBD behaving as a regulator, interacting with CB2 receptors of the body and creating chemical reactions that reduce pain and localised inflammation.
But perhaps one of the most studied effects right now is how CBD relates to cancer. In recent years, several study groups have been researching CBD to determine if it may produce antineoplastic results, which primarily refers to a drugs capability to stop cancer cells from growing. Scientists believe that there may be potential due to CBD’s interaction with G-protein-coupled or GPR receptors. These molecules are expressed in cancer cells, and their activation determines an increase in the rate of cell proliferation, favouring tumour progression. We know that CBD acts as an antagonist of GPR55 receptors, i.e. "blocks" them, which produces antiproliferative effects.
Can CBD Reverse Tobacco Abstinence Symptoms?
It can be hard to give up smoking, so what about replacing tobacco with something else instead? Something that is not harmful.
In an experimental study made with thirty tobacco-dependent patients recruited in the community, the researchers applied CBD and placebo as a nicotine withdrawal method. A single oral dose of 800 mg of cannabidiol (CBD) was able to reproduce the pleasure signals of the cigarette compared to the placebo after one day from cigarette abstinence.
Can Alzheimer's Be Prevented By Consuming Low Doses Of CBD?
Smoking cannabis every day could save lives for the elderly, according to Dr Gary Wenk, a researcher at the Ohio State University. Dr Wenk, who studies the effects of marijuana on the human brain, has made some surprising discoveries. As you know, Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disease that tends to affect people over 60 and leads to the loss of cognitive abilities of the person who suffers from it, making up for 65% of reported cases of dementia.
Although the cause is unknown, Alzheimer’s has been initially associated with a reduction in cerebral production of acetylcholine, which causes deterioration of cholinergic brain circuits. Vulnerable groups include people over 60, the female sex, and it has a genetic cause in almost 40% of patients.
It is a progressive disease, and it is precisely this process of degeneration of neural capabilities where the use of CBD has been studied. It is hoped that cannabidiol may one day offer us a way to prevent further neuroinflammation and oxidative stress generated by neurotoxicity and loss of brain cells.
Studies have focused on the application of Cannabidiol to treat patients in the medium and long-term as a way to ease the symptoms and counter neuroinflammation. Since CBD is thought to be an anti-inflammatory that balances CNS levels, it is becoming a prominent subject in a wide range of clinical trials.
What’s more striking is that, in the medium and long-term, CBD has been able to show an evident improvement in cognitive skills, such as verbal language, communication and emotional stability in a majority of patients. Current studies and clinical trials will determine if CBD and other cannabinoids will ever be a part of the therapeutic approach for these patients.
Can You Increase Your Chances Of Surviving Cancer By Consuming CBD?
A new study referenced by Forbes Magazine and which was performed on mice with pancreatic cancer used a combination treatment of CBD and chemotherapy. The result of this research was a three-time greater survival rate in mice that used the mix, compared to mice that had only used chemotherapy. The study highlights the potential for human treatment as it has been shown that cannabidiol or CBD could also alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy, proving that these latest studies justify that further testing in humans is vital.
Can CBD Help To Control Epileptic Seizures?
Epilepsy is a neurological disease that manifests as a result of an alteration in neuronal activity in a specific region of the brain. A potentially exciting therapeutic property of CBD is its possible anticonvulsant or antiepileptic effect. Current research may open up new therapeutic perspectives for some types of drug-resistant types of seizures.
Epileptic seizures and the disease itself can cause many cognitive and psychological problems. Some cannabinoids, including CBD, are thought to modulate neuronal activity, therefore potentially mitigating the hyperexcitability presented in an epileptic patient. But what’s more, CBD is also being researched to assess if it has anti-inflammatory effects that could reduce neural inflammation and oxidative stress, possibly preventing further degeneration and cognitive issues.
Why Is CBD Being Researched For Potential Therapeutic Benefits?
CBD became famous for being investigated as a potential treatment for specific drug-resistant forms of childhood epilepsy. Plenty of clinical trials are currently trying to test the efficacy of CBD in epilepsy patients. From the evidence provided by in vitro and animal studies, CBD might have neuroprotective, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties and even a beneficial value in the treatment of specific psychiatric disorders like addiction, depression, and anxiety. It's important to note that large-scale human studies are required before the animal study data can be accepted as applying to humans.
From a biological point of view, the full range of potential benefits offered by CBD is due to its promiscuous pharmacology. It can interact with several receptor systems – besides the cannabinoid system – both in the brain and the rest of the body. Because of its ability to influence dopamine and opioid receptors, the intriguing possibility of potential use in dampening withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings arises. However, more research on CBD's interaction with these receptor systems in needed before we can say this for sure.
CBD's potential therapeutic effect on addiction also extends to its interaction with the serotonin system. According to some animal studies, CBD can directly activate multiple brain serotonin receptors implicated in reducing the drug-seeking behaviour. Also, CBD's interaction with serotonin might also account for some part of its anti-anxiety properties.
CBD And Psychiatry
Cannabidiol's pharmacology is challenging to understand because of a large number of receptors with which it interacts. However, as some scientists point out, this complexity might be the key to its potential therapeutic value. Highly complex motivational disorders, such as anxiety and addiction, are not fully understood yet but are thought to involve several neural networks and receptor systems in the brain. Maybe CBD's complex and multi-targeted effects could be the key to treating such conditions. What is certain is that in the years to come, researchers will likely continue to gain knowledge over its complexity and finally be able to discover the full scope of CBD’s medicinal potential.
How Can You Take Cannabidiol?
CBD oil is consumed primarily when longer-lasting effects are desired. It is best to use sublingually, as this method of consumption offers the benefit of high bioavailability. Ingestion of CBD oil is the administration method often adopted when dealing with children. Generally, CBD oil has greatly more potentially active compounds than hemp seed oil and does not have the adverse psychological effects that some people experience when using marijuana. It is a particular subclass of compounds present in the hemp plant, separated from the other subclasses and researched primarily for its potential medical benefits.
All the discussion about medical marijuana's credibility as a health aid (due to its psychoactive/psychedelic side-effects) can now be thrown out of the window. The high is out: scientific studies will hopefully soon provide substantial evidence supporting CBD’s potential health benefits—and you won’t need to worry about fear, munchies, or ending up completely non-functional.
CBD capsules are one of the best ways to ingest cannabidiol. However, the CBD takes time to act, and you should take the same precautions as with THC: start with a small dose and wait one hour before you see the effects. The effects of CBD capsules can last longer than other methods of administration as the capsules slow down the rate of absorption.
CBD e-liquid, also known as vape oil and e-juice, is a fluid used in vaporisers, vape pens, and e-cigarettes. This type of technology is becoming very popular with smokers, and those who enjoy vaping. The use of vaporisers has branched out into the world of medicinal cannabis. And so much that nowadays, vaping is considered the most convenient and efficient way of taking CBD.
E-liquids are absorbed quicker because they are vaporised directly into your lungs and then diffuse right into your bloodstream. Rather than waiting hours for them to pass through your gut when taken orally, e-liquids bypass the intestines and the liver and achieve their effects almost instantly and with much smaller amounts of CBD. Because of this, vaping has become the most popular way of taking any cannabis-derived product.
But what exactly does CBD do in your brain?
If you did some previous research, you probably read that CBD is a non-psychoactive compound, but that doesn’t mean it doesn't have any effects on the brain. Like all cannabinoids, CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors that form the endocannabinoid system. While THC acts as the primary psychoactive component of cannabis by activating these receptors, CBD actually blocks them from being activated by THC and other compounds produced in your body. Because of this antagonising action, it doesn’t have any psychoactive power. However, it has made it much easier for CBD to be researched for a wide range of potential medicinal applications.
CBD can also be vaporised from several extractions, most THC extractions have their CBD equivalent and are consumable in the same way: by DAB or concentrated aerosols.
CBD Lotion And Cosmetics
Cannabidiol rich cosmetics come in different forms, from balsams to body lotion, to face creams, and are applied to the skin. They have been created to satisfy demand from consumers seeking a convenient method for their skin to benefit from any anti-inflammatory, nutritious or relaxing effects of CBD.
These products are, of course, non-psychotropic, whatever their concentration of CBD. Cannabidiol creams are used by those hoping to reduce inflammation, for example, in cases of arthritic pain in joints or muscle pain.
Food Infused With CBD
Chewing gum or candy, biscuits and smoothies... CBD can be integrated almost into all meals. However, CBD oil does poorly when heated so concentrate on raw dishes or add at the last minute as seasoning. The CBD terpenes will combine the useful with the enjoyable by adding the flavours of your favourite herbs into your favourite dishes.
Water-soluble CBD facilitates the infusion of CBD into almost any liquid. Depending on the product, 1 or 2 drops are sufficient for .5 to 1 litre of water. Of course, doses can be increased according to the needs or expectations. Water-soluble CBD is not available in whole plant - full spectrum preparations. This is due to the nanoengineering necessary to modify the CBD molecules so they can dissolve in water.
Is CBD Legal In The UK?
In an epic decision, the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, decided in 2017 to classify CBD as a pharmaceutical ingredient. This decision came after a large number of scientific reports supported the efficacy of CBD. Although this marks a significant step forward for many patients in the United Kingdom, the agency has also established several regulations that CBD manufacturers must meet.
The decision means that CBD is now recognised officially as being on the list of the UK medications. This means that products containing CBD-derived extracts are legally considered as medicines and not just nutritional supplements, as has been the case in the past. As a result, the CBD market and the quality of its products are both expected to see increases.
Only CBD Is Recognized
There is no doubt this is a favourable decision; however, we have to remember that in the United Kingdom, the possession, consumption and cultivation of marijuana remains an illegal activity. According to the MHRA, only CBD is recognised as a cannabinoid with therapeutic properties. While some might object to this, this means that the whole plant remains classified as a class B drug (narcotics).
The strength of the cannabis plants' therapeutic effects is determined by the number of its active ingredients, which are the phytocannabinoids. The main cannabinoids found in most strains of Cannabis are THC and CBD. There is no doubt that THC is the best known of the two due to its psychoactive effects; however, for those only seeking its medical benefits, it can be an unpleasant side effect.
Because of that, CBD-derived products have continuously been gaining more attention in the market. To this day, this compound is one of the most studied cannabinoids ever. We now know that it lacks psychoactive effects and, in fact, acts as a potent antagonist to THC's effects. This is why it’s accepted in most countries as a legal supplement.
This lack of psychoactivity has caused the medical community to take a growing interest in this compound. With the substantial evidence at hand, CBD is being researched to determine if it could be useful for the treatment of multiple disorders such as depression, epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn's disease, among other conditions. In fact, according to the MHRA, CBD has a therapeutic effect on human brain activity that could be beneficial for some situations.
However, some cannabis supporters are advocating for plenty of other compounds that are also found in the plant. They argue against the vast stigmatisation of everything that is derived from the cannabis plant, like THC, which has been found to have therapeutic potential for treating conditions such a post-traumatic stress disorder.
What Is The Future Of CBD?
It has been said that for a substance or drug to be beneficial, it should provide more noticeable therapeutic effects than its side effects. In the case of cannabinoids, it has been found that CBD does an exceptional job at dampening unwanted effects of conventional drugs or therapies such as chemotherapy. It also can attenuate, even eliminate, the psychedelic effects produced by THC. So beyond just not having side effects, cannabidiol is being used to counter the side effects of other drugs and pharmaceutical medications.
Thanks to the results found in different research studies around the world, a growing acceptance within the regulatory and bureaucratic framework for the use of cannabinoid-based therapeutic alternatives is emerging.
Much needs to be learned about the potential and complex mechanisms of CBD in other conditions and disorders, but as research with more extensive clinical trials is being encouraged, the poor reputation of the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids is being erased.