Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the chemical found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Many people will recognize this herbaceous plant as hemp or marijuana. In total, this plant contains more than 80 cannabinoids. The most active is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This cannabidiol is what gives marijuana its inducing effects. This is often where much confusion surrounding CBD comes from.
Hemp, of the same family as marijuana, also contains cannabidiols and contains a very small amount of THC. For reference, most CBD products available today contain less than 0.3% THC. Today’s marijuana obtained from US dispensaries contains between 12% - 15% THC, with some species containing up to 30%.
The Endocannabinoid System
The human body produces endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), which are molecules whose chemical structure is similar to that of cannabinoids except it is naturally produced by the body. The body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS) has three components: endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes; which work together to regulate sleep, mood, memory, appetite, reproduction and fertility.
The body produces endocannabinoids when needed, which are detected and received by receptors located in the central and peripheral nervous system. Following completion of their function enzymes break down the endocannabinoids. The purpose of the ECS is to maintain homeostasis.
CBD & The Endocannabinoid System
THC affects the brain by binding to the receptors of the ECS and disrupts the regular function of the nervous system, effectively making you high. CBD does not bind to the receptors. Instead, it is suspected that CBD works to reduce the breakdown of endocannabinoids allowing them to have more effect on the body. For this reason, it is believed CBD can reduce pain, nausea and symptoms associated with other nervous system related disorders.
Benefits of CBD
CBD has been found to be beneficial in treating and effective for:
- Anxiety & Depression
- Dystonia - a movement disorder characterized by involuntary muscle movements
- Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders
- Graft-Versus-Host Disease - typically occurs following bone marrow transplant
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Quitting Smoking
- Reducing Nausea - especially nausea associated with chemotherapy
- Reducing Pain
- Withdrawal Symptoms - associated with heroin, morphine or other opioid drugs
Does CBD have side effects?
CBD has minimal side effects, if any, which is why it is seen as such a highly desirable treatment for many conditions.
Is CBD safe?
The U.S. National Library of Medicine and the FDA have not supplied a formal conclusion on this and it is likely to not come for some time as significant research is still needed to determine the safety and implications of taking CBD. That being said, there are some general conclusions that can be drawn from their reports. When taken by mouth CBD is considered possibly safe when taken by mouth or sprayed under the tongue appropriately. Cannabidiol in doses of up to 300 mg daily have been taken by mouth safely for up to 6 months. Higher doses of 1200-1500 mg daily have been taken by mouth safely for up to 4 weeks.*
Does CBD interact with anything?
Yes, CBD can interact with a number or things.
Prescriptions: Major interactions can occur if taking Clobazam (Onfi) or Valproate. Moderate interactions can occur if taking Bricaracetam (Briviact), Eslicarbazepine (Aptiom), Everolimus (Zostress), Rufinamide (Banzel), Sedatives or CNS depressants, Tacrolimus (Prograf), Topiramate (Topamax) or Zonisamide. Consult your physician if you are taking or have taken medications for liver health, or have a history of liver disease.
Herbs: CBD can interact with certain herbs such as Calamus, California Poppy, Catnip, Hops, Jamaican Dogwood, Kava, L-Tryptophan, Melatonin, Sage, SAMe, St. John’s Wort, Sassafras, and Skullcap.
Fats: CBD when taken with foods that are high in fat can increase the amount of CBD absorbed by the body.