What is CBD?
CBD is an abbreviation for Cannabinol which is a chemical compound that is derived from the Hemp plant, also known as Cannabis Sativa. It is one of at least 113 cannabinoids discovered in the cannabis plant and is non-intoxicating.
Is CBD Marijuana?
CBD is not Marijuana. Marijuana is also a type of Cannabis Sativa. In the family of Cannabis plants, Hemp is the male and Marijuana is the female, which makes them quite different.
The main psychoactive constituent of Cannabis or Marijuana is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is not produced in high concentrations in the plant in which CBD is derived.
Marijuana has a much higher THC concentration which is responsible for its mind-altering effects. Hemp, on the other hand, has only 0.3% THC.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
Research began in the 1960’s by the U.S. government to better understand the potential harmful effects of Marijuana and THC. This research led to the discovery of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) within the human body.
The ECS consists of:
- Enzymes that control the creation and destruction of cannabinoids
- Receptor sites on cells to which cannabinoids attach and send signals into
- Endocannabinoids which are naturally produced in the body
The ECS has been referred to as the “master” or “universal” regulator of the body. This means that the Endocannabinoid System has the primary function of stabilizing physiological activity in the body in order to promote homeostasis or a balance within the body.
When the receptor sites are activated, signals are sent from cell to cell and to specific areas of the body and brain in order to coordinate a balanced function between the central nervous system (brain & spinal cord) and the entire body. This is how homeostasis is achieved. This communication within the body affects and regulates pain perception, inflammation, anxiety, fear, body temperature, muscle control, the stress response, appetite and more.
If the Endocannabinoid System is activated when physiological activities in the body become overactive, this activity will decrease and return to homeostasis. Similarly, if the Endocannabinoid System is activated when physiological activities become underactive, this activity will increase and return to homeostasis. This is also how Acupuncture works.
How Can CBD Help Me?
It’s accurate to say that how close our body is to homeostasis determines how healthy we are. The further we are from homeostasis, the closer we are to ending up diseased.
Due to CBD’s effects on the Endocannabinoid System, there are potentially many positive effects CBD can have on overall health and wellbeing and there has been some very significant research findings that demonstrate how CBD can do this.
Research in animals has shown that the disruption of the Endocannabinoid System triggers a fight or flight response (adrenal/stress response) by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPAA). This increases anxiety, depression, fear, impairs cognitive flexibility, and normal behavior in general. Cannabinoids such as CBD potentially increase one’s ability to adapt to stressful situations and overcome emotionally painful memories.
Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) brain imagery has given at least a partial explanation why CBD may be effective in decreasing anxiety. In this research, CBD was shown to decrease blood flow to areas of the brain within the limbic system that were associated with anxiety. THC was not shown to do this which may be why THC is known to increase anxiety in some people.
There has also been some research which strongly suggests that CBD may be useful in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases. Certain cannabinoid (CB) receptors, when activated by CBD, have shown to promote the clearance of beta-amyloid plaques which are associated with both dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Another systemic review of studies came to a conclusion that CBD may also be effective in helping to resolve addictive behaviors.
We are in the beginning stages of understanding the potential medicinal qualities and the wide variety of beneficial effects of CBD. There is still a lot of research to be done and discoveries to be made. With that said, it is very apparent that CBD has far reaching regulating effects within the central nervous system and upon the body as a whole. This alone makes CBD a potentially powerful health promoting natural chemical compound.