What is CBD?

Written by BlackbirdGo October 18, 2018
The Plant

In this article, we’re continuing with our exploration into the science of the plant. In last week’s article, we learned about THC the most famous cannabinoid found in the cannabis sativa plant that produces the intoxicating effect weed is known for. Today we’re going to learn about CBD, another chemical compound found in the cannabis plant.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabinoid that can be found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are the naturally-occurring chemical compounds that are secreted by the cannabis plant. The presence of CBD was discovered before the presence of the mind-altering cannabinoid THC. As early as 1946, chemists had discovered the possible health benefits of CBD while also determining that it did not have the same psychoactive properties cannabis was known for through lab testing on animals.

Different Types of CBD

Unlike THC, which is concentrated primarily in the flower and reproductive organs of the cannabis plant, CBD can be found in moderate concentrations throughout the entire plant. This means that strains of the Cannabis plant with low concentrations of THC, like industrial hemp which has under .3% concentration of THC, can still be used for CBD extraction. This is how many states that have not legalized cannabis are still dabbling in the CBD game.

Essentially, this creates a difference between the kinds of CBD products available to consumers -- CBD extracted from industrial hemp, or plants that have less than .3% THC in them, and CBD extracted from cannabis plants with higher concentrations of THC (no pun intended). The biggest difference between the two would be the potential presence of THC, which can be mind altering particularly to users who may be sensitive to cannabis. Through the process of extraction, CBD that is from a plant with a high level of THC may retain more THC than an extract from industrial hemp. However, research shows that THC may be integral in the way our body’s interact with all cannabinoids due to its similar structure to naturally-occuring chemicals in our brain and its synergistic relationship with other cannabinoids.

How Does it Work?

Like we discussed in this article, CBD and other cannabinoids are absorbed in our body through our endocannabinoid system -- more specifically they react with our CB1 and CB2 receptors.

CB1 receptors are concentrated in the brain, but there are other CB1 receptors in your eyes, your heart and lungs, your reproductive organs, and the lining of your colon. These sites, spread throughout the nervous system and beyond, are the primary points where weed compounds interact with your body.

CB2 receptors tend to be less distributed throughout the body. They’re most concentrated in and around your body’s immune system.

Due to a lack of research on cannabis as a whole, it is unclear exactly how CBD impacts the endocannabinoid system. It is believed that CBD interacts more closely with CB2 receptors in the immune system, as opposed to the CB1 receptors in the brain. This is most likely why CBD is believed to be useful in treating inflammation and pain but does not have the same mind-altering effects as THC -- a compound that does bind to CB1 receptors in the brain resulting in intoxication.

CBD is not known to cause intoxication. However, when consuming CBD that has been derived from a plant with a higher concentration of THC, there is always a possibility that those who are sensitive to THC may feel intoxicated. Many people have reported feeling the effects of CBD in the form of released tension in their body which could be perceived as a “body high”.

The Entourage Effect and Total Plant Medicine

Research suggests that the use of pure extracts of any cannabinoid or terpene is not as effective as when they are paired with other cannabinoids and terpenes. These compounds have a synergistic effect -- working in tandem to interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system. Studies have shown that consistent use as well as the use of a variety of cannabinoids at different potencies show better results in the treatment of various symptoms.

Think of it like taking a multivitamin, the increased and consistent levels of vitamins in your immune system promote the overall efficiency of your immune system and will show improvement over time. Similarly, research suggests that consistency of use of cannabinoids promotes the overall effectiveness of the endocannabinoid system.

Possible Risks of CBD

There is not enough long-term data to accurately discuss the potential risks of CBD in adults. Research has shown that adults can consume large doses of CBD with little side-effects other than fatigue and diarrhea. There is not enough research on CBD’s effects in children and people who are pregnant. In any situation, if you are worried about your health it is best to consult with your doctor.