CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis (hemp plant as well as marijuana plant). Cannabidiol is the second-most abundant cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant after THC. It has many potential therapeutic benefits, including anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, seizure-suppressant, analgesic, and pain-relieving properties. CBD can be sourced from both marijuana and hemp plants. CBD sourced from hemp containing less than 0.3% THC is legal in the US.

What is CBD?

CBD is one of over 113 active compounds found in the hemp plant called cannabinoids. CBD is known to work naturally with your body’s endocannabinoid system without causing any psycho-active effects or “high.”

How CBD works

CBD directly interacts with several proteins in the body and central nervous system, a few of which are components of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). CBD binds to our body’s cannabinoid receptors and its possible anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects may occur through these pathways.

CBD has some other very important roles outside the ECS. For instance, CBD mildly activates one of the brain’s predominant serotonin receptors (5-HT1A) in mice, which may explain its supposed effects on depression and anxiety. It also acts at the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) in mice, which may indicate its usefulness in fighting inflammation.  

CBD can affect liver function, however. Similar to grapefruit, CBD can inhibit certain drug-metabolizing enzymes in the liver, resulting in much higher levels of some prescription medications in the bloodstream. If you are taking medication, check with your physician before using CBD.

Legality

In the United States

The legality of CBD in the United States depends on whether it is derived from industrial hemp or marijuana plants. Following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC became legal.  Marijuana-derived CBD remains illegal under federal law but it is available in states that have legalized marijuana for medical and adult-use.

Medical Uses

Consumers report using CBD for a huge variety of health and wellness reasons, but significantly more research is needed to determine the symptoms and ailments it can most successfully treat. Currently, 66 clinical trials are examining the effectiveness of CBD for a variety of conditions. 

Research into CBD has been conducted for the following conditions.

Pain Relief / Anti-inflammation

According to research, when CBD is introduced to our endocannabinoid system, it prevents the body from absorbing a pain-regulating compound known as anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid. Inhibiting the absorption of this compound shunts excess quantities into the bloodstream that in turn, may reduce pain. CBD may also target specific spinal receptors helping to suppress pain and inflammation. In both human and animal models, CBD seems to have a variety of anti-inflammatory properties.

Epilepsy and seizures

One of CBD’s chief benefits is its anticonvulsant properties. CBD has been documented as a potential antiepileptic since 1881; it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating severe types of childhood epilepsy in 2018. However, its anticonvulsant mechanisms are still not fully understood. One possible explanation for CBD’s perceived neuroprotective effects is its interaction with NMDA receptors, which play a key role in the type of neuronal activity that is a hallmark of epilepsy.

Addiction treatment

In 2015 University of Montreal researchers conducted a comprehensive review of CBD as an intervention for addictive behaviors. They concluded that CBD might have a beneficial impact on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction. In addition, studies suggest that CBD may also be helpful in the treatment of tobacco addiction. One reason may be CBD’s potential ability to ease the anxiety that leads people to crave drugs such as heroin.

Single compound vs. whole plant (full spectrum)

The Hebrew University of Israel published a study in 2015 that documented the potency of single-molecule CBD extract versus the potency of whole-plant CBD-rich extract. It found that extract taken from whole plant CBD-rich cannabis seemed to be therapeutically superior to single-molecule extract. 

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