While many historical research documents highlighting the Sativa herb will focus on cannabis, due to the controversial history of this element of the plant, we will instead be focusing on cannabidiol, a phytocannabinoid that account for up to 40% of cannabis-plant extracts.
What Is Cannabidiol?
During the 1940s, scientists discovered Cannabidiol, yet the chemical structure was not determined until later in the year 1963. Not much research went into its potential uses as a remedy up until the turn of the millennium. As more and more countries legalized the growing and selling CBD and even medical cannabis, more focus shifted to CBD and its seemingly never-ending list of potential health benefits.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most abundant cannabinoid and is among 104 compounds isolated from cannabis extracts. The compound isn’t psychoactive and has been observed to dampen the psychoactive effects of THC. CBD has received widespread acclaim for its apparent health benefits and potential to treat a number of illnesses. Preliminary studies show promise of CBD being used to complement conventional pharmacological interventions prescribed for pain, anxiety, pediatric epilepsy, opioid addiction and more.
Biochemistry of CBD.
Cannabidiol is water-insoluble but is soluble in organic solvents such as alcohol and lipid-based solvents. It has an identical chemical composition to THC with the only exception being the placement of a single atom. CBD similarlegally interacts directly with the ECS; a network of receptors that interact with cannabinoids to control vital functions such as immunity, pain perception, mood, appetite and more. The action of CBD on cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 sets off TRPV1 receptors that regulate functions such as, inflammation.
The interaction of CBD with Serotonin receptors blocks reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, which increases the availability of serotonin in the synaptic space. The increased concentration of serotonin in the synaptic space improves transmission of serotonin signals which translates to better sleep, improved memory, a general feeling of wellness and a great mood. Low serotonin amounts have been linked to depression and anxiety.
THC And CBD; What’s the Difference?
CBD and THC are nearly identical in their chemical makeup. Both compounds are made up of 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. However, position of a single atom makes CBD non-psychoactive. THC binds directly to CB1 receptors forming a complex that triggers signals in the brain hence simulating the sensation of getting high.
CBD, on the other hand, is incapable of directly binding to CB1 receptors and its presence has been noted to cause uncoupling of THC and CB1 receptors. THC and CBD share many of the same medical benefits. Each can provide some relief from the same conditions the other can provide relief for. Due to the euphoric effects associated with THC, CBD is more widely preferred.
THC elicits psychoactive properties such as the feeling of hunger, paranoia or short-term memory impairment. There are reported indications that CBD may act as anti-psychotic agent.
Neuropathic pain, insomnia, anxiety, and depression are a few conditions that can be managed through the proper and prescribed use of CBD based preparations.
The Endocannabinoid System.
The endocannabinoid system is involved in the regulation of numerous cognitive and physiological processes which include mediation of the pharmacological effects of cannabinoids, appetite, mood, pain-sensation, memory, and more. The human Endocannabinoid system has two receptors, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are located within the brain and nervous system. THC interacts with and directly binds to CB1 receptors which explains why THC causes a high.
CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are located throughout the body and are associated with the immune system. CBD does not interact with or bind to CB1 receptors but has instead been observed to promote uncoupling of THC-CB1 complexes which dampen the psychoactive effects of THC.
CB2 receptors are associated with appetite regulation, immune response and pain management. CBD oil helps with pain by stimulating the production of the body’s endogenous endocannabinoids. Since CBD interacts with CB2 receptors that are present in the cells of the immune system, the body can deal with inflammation and chronic pain that may be a symptom of an underlying condition. CBD oil blocks the degradation of anandamide, a compound associated with pain regulation. Elevated levels of anandamide in the bloodstream can help lessen the amount of pain a person experiences.
The human endocannabinoid system (ECS) can easily be thrown off balance without the proper concentration of endogenous cannabinoids and neurotransmitters. In this state the body is unable to maintain homeostasis and deal with pain. CBD oil helps restore homeostatic balance by promoting the release of endogenous painkillers, hormones and neurotransmitters. This is achieved by activating CB2 receptors and associated receptors that collectively contribute to better immune response to pain and inflammation. CBD has also been noted to display anti-oxidant properties which add onto its already impressive list of benefits.
Benefits of CBD.
Scientific studies have demonstrated that it is possible to stimulate the ECS using CBD products as a handful variety of medical conditions can be managed and even effectively potentially treated and cured. Cannabidiol oils and tinctures are potent in the management of conditions which include but aren’t limited to:
- Social phobia.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
- Reducing inflammation and relieving pain.
- Lowering blood pressure.
- Managing opioid addiction.
- Management of various panic disorders.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Cannabidiol CBD oil has also been used effectively in the management of cancer-related symptoms such as nausea and pain from therapy, chronic acne, and has demonstrated antitumor properties in animal test subjects. CBD has also been shown to dampen the psychoactive effects of THC.
The effects of long-term cannabidiol use are yet to be well studied and documented. However, the short-term benefits of CBD on a number of chronic illnesses are quite impressive.
Possible Risks, Side Effects and Contra-Indications.
While CBD has many documented benefits on human health, but there are some expected side effects and risks associated with its use. It is always recommended to first seek the opinion of a qualified medical practitioner before using CBD products. This rule is also applicable when you are currently on other medications so as to avoid negative drug interactions. This is especially the case with some anti-epilepsy drugs. Pregnant women are advised against using CBD as it has been observed that CBD enhances the permeability of the placental barrier which puts the developing fetus at a risk.
Other side effects might include:
- Overproduction of Liver enzymes, which is a marker for liver damage.
If you live in an area where sativa derivatives have been legalized, you may be able to grow CBD-rich strains yourself. Hemp is best grown in an area that is well-drain and aerated with sufficient irrigation and a PH range of 6-7.5 Growers must also beware of Aphids, which are known to eat the plant and also spread diseases among different plants. Most importantly, please be sure that there is no restriction on growing this plant in your local area. While there is a sense of easing of laws and policies with regards to how cannabis and cannabinoids are viewed, strict licensing procedures are now common in countries and territories where CBD use is controlled.
Sara Jane Adkins is a health coach, writer, food-lover and mother. Thriving to develop innovative & compelling data-driven stories, Sara has personally penned and ghost-written articles, books and training guides for consultants, authors and organizations in a variety of industries. Currently serving as chief content editor at her blog: Wellbeing Facts. Sara seeks to inspire people to become more nutritionally conscious and physically fit while still enjoying the foods that they love to eat and living fulfilling unrestricted lives. Sara also is a contributor on health and fitness blogs as well as lifestyle publications. Sara is a creative and innovative thinker with 10+ years writing for online publications; her work has appeared on Huffington Post, LifeHack, VegKitchen, Calorie Count, Share Care, Healthy Fit Natural, the Chicago Tribune and many other globally-recognized publications.