Cannabidiol (CBD)

kan-ə-bə-ˈdī-ˌȯl | Noun

If you’re new to cannabis, you may be wondering about the meaning of CBD. CBD stands for cannabidiol.It is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis. Cannabidiol is the second-most abundant cannabinoid in the plant after tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It has many potential therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, and seizure-suppressant properties. CBD can be sourced from both marijuana and hemp plants.

 

CBD is the yang to THC’s yin; it may calm anxiety and elevate your level of chill without intoxication.

 

Combine THC and CBD to fully enjoy the entourage effect.

What Is CBD?

The phytocannabinoid cannabidiol is a non-intoxicating molecule that results from the heating, or decarboxylation, of cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). Most cannabis cultivars have lower concentrations of CBD than THC. However, following an explosive discovery in 2009, droves of CBD-rich cultivars began cropping up across the US.

(Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

How CBD works

CBD’s actions within the brain and body are quite complicated. It’s very likely that the beneficial effects of CBD operate through diverse biological pathways, rather than by a single action. More research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms by which CBD relieves ailments such seizures.

 

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 has an affinity for both the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. Our bodies have several other receptor proteins that participate in the endocannabinoid system, such as GPR3, GPR6, TRPV1, and TRPV2, for example. CBD binds to all of these, 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.

Internationally

The mosaic of laws that govern CBD legality across the globe varies just as much as the legislation across the United States. Most Group of 20 (G20) countries allow CBD extracted from industrial hemp, but not CBD extracted from whole-plant marijuana. 

(Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

Is CBD a Drug? 

CBD fits the definition of a psychoactive substance as it can subtly alter perception and mood. However, it’s important to reiterate that unlike weed, CBD does not cause intoxication. CBD is a non-intoxicating substance, so it cannot stimulate the level of sensory and psychological effects that THC does. 

How Does CBD Relate to THC?

The relationship between THC and CBD is complex, but in short, CBD appears to minimize some of THC’s less desirable effects, such as paranoia, heart palpitations, and impaired thinking. A combination of THC and CBD may offer enhanced therapeutic value to patients. This phenomenon of cannabis-derived molecules working more synergistically together than they do in isolation is commonly referred to as the entourage effect.

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. 

 

If you’re using CBD, it’s a good idea to do some research to inform your dosage. Young children can tolerate daily doses of up to 20 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. For a 175-pound (79.4-kilogram) adult, that’s more than 1,500 milligrams. The most common side effect of large doses of CBD is sleepiness.

 

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.

Does CBD Affect Mood? 

Existing evidence suggests that CBD could help treat some anxiety disorders. For instance, at doses of 400 to 600 milligrams, CBD can alleviate situational anxiety, such as public speaking. Interestingly, cannabis cultivars that are high in CBD and low in THC may be better than other cultivars for alleviating depression

(Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

Single compound vs. whole plant

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. 

 

The scientists behind this study noticed that researchers had been utilizing pure, single-molecule CBD, which resulted in a bell-shaped dose-response curve. This curve indicates that CBD’s efficacy plummets at very high and very low doses. 

Industrial hemp and whole-plant marijuana

Industrial hemp contains far less CBD by weight than CBD-rich cultivars such as Harlequin or Sour Tsunami. A single 10 milliliter dose of CBD requires the cultivation and extraction of significantly more hemp than whole-plant marijuana, thus raising the risk of exposing users to more contaminants. Hemp is classified as a bio-accumulator, or a plant that naturally absorbs toxins from the soil.

 

Also, CBD derived from industrial hemp lacks the incredibly diverse profile of different cannabinoids and terpenes found in whole-plant marijuana. CBD derived from hemp seems to have a weaker entourage effect.

(Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

High-CBD Strains

AC/DC: A sativa-dominant phenotype of Cannatonic, this cultivar boasts one of the highest ratios of CBD to THC, clocking in at 20:1. 

 

Harlequin: This cultivar was bred by crossing classic landraces from Nepal, Switzerland, and Thailand. Its consistent 5:2 CBD to THC ratio ranks it among CBD-rich staple cultivars. 

 

Sour Tsunami: One of the first strains bred for its CBD content, this cultivar typically sports a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC. 

CBD Products

Cannabidiol is as versatile as THC, if not more so, and has worked its way into a host of products.

 

Flower: Combusting or vaporizing CBD weed allows users to feel the potential therapeutic effects of CBD almost immediately.

 

Isolate: CBD isolate is cannabidiol in its purest form: a fine white powder. This crystalline form of CBD is versatile and allows users to measure precise doses.

 

Concentrates: CBD can also be purchased in concentrate form, including raw CBD oil, cartridges, vape pens, syringes, and more. Concentrates bridge the gap between CBD flower and CBD isolate. 

 

Infusions: Research and opportunity have driven chefs and chemists to infuse CBD into all sorts of readily usable products, including edibles, elixirs, sublingual sprays, and even topicals.