Cannabidiol 101: what is CBD?
For the uninitiated, Cannabis contains hundreds of chemical compounds, of which two have been researched and studied for decades : THC and CBD. Both were studied, yet, for entirely different reasons.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is the more famous (or should we say infamous) of the two. It is a psychoactive compound. THC is associated with the pleasant “high” that users experience after ingesting or smoking marijuana. If you absolutely cannot do without your weekly or daily dose of marijuana, blame it on THC.
CBD was first isolated from the chemical structure of Cannabis Sativa in 1940. However, archaic laws relating to marijuana and medical cannabis made research extremely difficult. Thus, CBD remained a mystery for a long time. This was true at least until 1974 when a series of clinical trials revealed that pure CBD can limit the effect of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in humans. In other words: CBD has an antipsychotic effect.
It was discovered that besides the exciting high THC gives its consumers, some unpleasant side effects also creep in. For example, there is a tendency towards unconnected trains of thought. Furthermore, short-term memory impairment and even anxiety were found to be side effects of TCB. CBD helps to contain these side effects.
What difference between CBD/cannabidiol and THC?
We briefly touched on this earlier. CBD is one of the many cannabinoids found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. It has no psychoactive effects. This means, that, when ingested into the body, it does not cause the euphoria or high that marijuana users experience. Instead, it has shown remarkable therapeutic benefits. Cannabidiol has shown such benefits in treating conditions like epilepsy, depression, anxiety, as well as psychotic disorders. Other conditions where Cannabidiol has provided relieve are nausea caused by chemotherapy, PTSD, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, liver injury, as well as Parkinson's disease. And that's not even half the list.
CBD or Cannabidiol
Cannabidiol was first isolated from the chemical structure of Cannabis Sativa as early as 1940. However, arcane laws relating to Marijuana made research extremely difficult. This was the reason why CBD was always shrouded in mystery. That was, until a clinical CBD trial, conducted in 1974, revealed the ability of CBD in limiting the negative effects of THC (9 "“ tetrahydrocannabinol) in humans.
THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol
THC, apart from bestowing upon users, an exhilarating high, also sneaks in a few unpleasant symptoms. Among those symptoms are, disjointed thoughts or short-term memory impairment, as well as anxiety. CBD helps to limit these side effects. This allows researchers and scientists to use THC and medical marijuana purely with beneficial properties. Now they were also able to use THC in doses that would have otherwise been impossible to administer.
Research on CBD and Cannabidiol
Thus, CBD or cannabidiol enables researchers and scientists to use THC exclusively with its beneficial properties. This also applies to doses that could not possibly be administered without cannabidiol.
Subsequently, CBD has become the go to component of the medical research community. Numerous clinical trials were conducted to explore the potential that the compound has in an ever-increasing range of medical applications.
A clinical trial phase I was ongoing until the end of 2019 to study the “Treatment of Chronic Pain With Cannabidiol (CBD) and Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)” This study was completed under the supervision of Deborah Yurgelun-Todd from the University of Utah.
Another clinical trial, labeled “Evaluation of the Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) Compared to Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Alprazolam” from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) in the USA completed successfully in June of 2018.
Hemp or Marijuana? What does it have to do with CBD?
We admit that it does get confusing. This is especially true, since there's a very thin and blurred line to differentiate between the cannabis plants. Hemp and Marijuana both belong to the same species of the plant, Cannabis Sativa. Hence, the name often gets interchangeably used, especially by laymen who are as far from taxonomy as we are from the moon. So, Hemp is called Marijuana and Marijuana is called Hemp (mistakenly). And both may be called Cannabis and contain CBD. Whew! Did we lose you? No? Great!
Hemp or hemp stalk
Hemp or hemp stalk, or agricultural hemp, is a type of Cannabis Sativa. This type is specially cultivated for industrial applications. This includes CBD Oil, seeds, fibres, paper and cloth. The hemp plant has an extremely low THC content compared to marijuana. It grows higher (almost six metres) and has an easily recognizable thin and bamboo-like appearance. It is very adaptable and grows without much effort under a wide range of climatic conditions.
Marijuana, on the other hand, is a short, stout bush (not taller than five feet) that has to be carefully grown in a controlled environment. It is grown to source the glands or Trichomes that grow on the leaves and buds. It is those Trichomes from which weed or pot or whatever it's called, is extracted. The most important difference is the chemical makeup. The marijuana plant has significant levels of THC and very sparse CBD content.
Low THC content
15-20 feet tall skinny plant
Reared for its industrial applications
Mostly used to produce CBD hemp oil
High THC content
3-5 feet tall, stout bush,
reared for its resin-rich glands or aromatic trichomes
Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about the classification of Hemp-extracted CBD and Marijuana. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines Hemp-extracted CBD, as products sourced from Cannabis Sativa. Most importantly, the FDA specifies, that Hemp extracted Cannabidiol or CBD does not have any psychoactive properties. Since the introduction of the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD from hemp is considered a dietary supplement in the United States and federally legal. However, the only FDA approved prescription of CBD is Epidiolex, a medicine used to treat seizures in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome.
Europe defines hemp as products sourced from Cannabis Sativa that have less than 0,2 or 0,3% of THC. Here in Switzerland, the level of legally permitted THC content in CBD products is 1%. Anything more is considered a controlled substance and is termed as illegal Marijuana possession.
So, for now, let's say that the level of THC and the way the plant is reared will define whether it's legal Hemp or illegal Marijuana that you have.
Usage of CBD, Cannabidiol and THC in medical conditions
Cannabidiol, or CBD is one of the most abundant, as well as important cannabinoids. CBD has a very similar chemical formula to THC, but the atoms are arranged slightly different, making CBD non-psychotropic and not causing the familiar “high” associated with THC.
CBD is probably one of the most researched cannabinoids, having proven to be an effective treatment protocol for a wide variety of symptoms and diseases. A few of those include:
The endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in regulating a broad range of physiological processes. Those processes affect our everyday experiences like, our mood, our energy level, our intestinal fortitude, as well as our body’s immune system activity. That is however not all, it also positively affects our blood pressure, as well as our bone density, glucose metabolism, how we experience pain, stress, hunger, and more.
Cannabidiol or CBD and other cannabinoids
THC, when ingested into the body interacts with CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain and the central nervous system. Thereby THC alters the cellular response in these systems. This creates the pleasure, as well as the euphoria, but also the notorious mind-altering effects.
CBD or Cannabidiol, on the other hand, is different altogether:
Rather than interacting directly with these receptor sites, CBD or Cannabidiol stimulates the production of more endocannabinoids in the body. So, you suddenly have more connectivity hotspots with the potential for a variety of cellular responses.
Furthermore, CBD also influences these two (CB1 & CB2) receptor sites. But it does this indirectly rather than directly binding to it. Hence it does not cause any mind-altering effects.
It works on non-cannabinoid receptor sites also. For example, the Opioid receptor sites, which are associated with pain regulation. This might assist in treating addiction to painkillers and opioid drugs like morphine and fentanyl
A trend that has grown from the addition of CBD drops in tea or salad to inhaling through vaping as well as the consumption of gummy bears with CBD As you can see, cannabidiol can be consumed in many different ways. And the users have a thoroughly great experience with it.
Types of CBD products & how to use Cannabidiol
CBD comes in a variety of different Cannabidiol product types. They cover a variety of life styles, conditions and needs. The most popular products types and their usages are summarized in the table below.
Place a few drops under the tongue and hold it for 30-60 seconds
- Available in a wide variety of types, strengths and concentrations
- Effective for acute and chronic symptoms
- Ideal as a supplement for general health and wellness
Swallow a capsule with water
- Ease of application
- Effective for acute and chronic symptoms
- Ideal as a supplement for general health and wellness
Enjoy in the same way as any other candy or baked product
- Precision dosed
- Successful against acute and chronic symptoms
- Great as a supplement for general health and wellness
Apply the product directly to the affected area and cover with a bandage if necessary
- Effective for acute conditions such as pain and strains from injury
- Ideal for chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
Apply the product directly to the skin / use as directed
Vape products come in either concentrate or in a “tank” style and can be either disposable or refillable
- Helpful against acute conditions such as neuropathic pain, anxiety, tremors and seizures
Smoking, dabbing or vaping
- Effective for acute conditions such as neuropathic pain, anxiety, tremors and seizures