Updated: Oct 14
Marijuana has been a hot topic for decades now, but it’s recently gained even more attention due to its changing legal status. Another major reason it’s such a hot topic right now is because of the newly designated differentiation between cannabis and CBD. What is CBD, what are its potential benefits and side effects, how does it work, and what is its legal status? All of these questions will be covered in this article, giving you some insight into CBD.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound found in the cannabis plant, as part of the cannabinoid family. The cannabis plant is generally referred to as marijuana, or hemp, according to the amount of THC present in it. Discovered in the 1940s, CBD is one of the 113 cannabinoids isolated from the cannabis plant.
Cannabinoids isolated from cannabis sativa plants have been used for centuries for the treatment of various health conditions. According to research, CBD has been found to have antiemetic, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties. This is one of the reasons why it has garnered so much recent attention.
Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been known to be the most active component of marijuana. However, marijuana consists of both THC and CBD, both of which have distinct properties and effects.
Unlike THC, CBD is not a psychoactive compound and does not produce a "high" when smoked or consumed. This implies that CBD does not have mind-altering effects. Research has, however, shown that CBD has therapeutic benefits.
How Does CBD Work?
There are several specialized systems in the human body that control internal balance or homeostasis. One of these specialized systems, present in all cell types, is the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is involved in sleep regulation, pain management, immune response, and appetite. This system consists of three components:
The endocannabinoids (inner cannabis), made from fats in the diet
Enzymes for the production and breakdown of endocannabinoids (eCBs)
Cannabinoid receptors are found on the surface of the cells in various parts of the body and brain, e.g. the areas regulating pain. eCBs work like neurotransmitters, transmitting messages throughout the body for the maintenance of homeostasis. During the process of an injury or sickness, eCBs are released and attach to their receptors like a lock and key. This leads to the activation of the cells, which triggers a chemical reaction inside the cell that regulates the disturbance in the normal balance.
When the endocannabinoids in the body are deficient, cellular imbalances are not easily regulated in harmony. This results in a failure to bring about homeostasis, which is when CBD can come into play. It mimics endocannabinoids by binding to their receptors and fixing the body's balance by interacting with the endocannabinoid system at two receptors, known as CB1 and CB2.
CB1 receptors, although present throughout the body, are primarily found in the brain and are involved with memory, coordination, pain, emotions, motor skills, etc. THC binds to these receptors and prevents the release of neurotransmitters, shifting normal function.
CB2 receptors are found in the gastrointestinal system, immune system, brain, and nervous system. It was once believed that CBD worked like THC on the CB2 receptors, but this no longer stands true. The exact way in which CBD affects our bodies is still unknown, but it is believed that CBD promotes the production of the body’s own endocannabinoids, which subsequently help relieve pain, anxiety, and inflammation.
Reasons Behind The Popularity Of CBD
CBD is being used for a host of medicinal and therapeutic virtues, including the following:
Potent pain relieving and anti-inflammatory agent – A study shows that CBD reduces chronic inflammation and pain and can emerge as an effective treatment for chronic pain. Its potential analgesic property also makes CBD effective for use in conditions of pain such as migraine.
Helps in drug withdrawal – CBD is believed to alleviate withdrawal symptoms associated with substance use. Research has shown its efficacy for the treatment of opioid addiction.
Used for other neurological disorders – CBD has been found to produce effects similar to some antipsychotic drugs and provides an effective treatment for schizophrenia.
Fights cancer – Researchers have found CBD to act as a potent anti-cancer drug, also helping to prevent the spread of the disease.
Helps relieve anxiety – according to a clinical review, CBD reduces anxiety-related behaviors in several health conditions, e.g. panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.
Protects against type 1 diabetes – CBD is found to ease inflammation in the pancreas. This helps to protect against and delay the onset of type 1 diabetes.
Potential treatment for acne vulgaris – CBD has been found to reduce inflammation as well as decrease the production of sebum, over-secretion of which causes acne. This protects against the problem, making CBD the best potential treatment for acne in the future.
Slows down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease – it has been found that CBD helps in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, preventing the development of social recognition deficit.
Side Effects Of CBD
According to several studies researching the safety of CBD, adults can tolerate a long range of CBD doses.
CBD has been shown to have no significant side effects on the vital signs, mood, or the central nervous system, even at high doses.
The most common side effects include:
Changes in appetite
Alterations in weight
CBD may interact with some over-the-counter drugs and supplements, as well as prescription medicines.
CBD can also impede an enzyme called cytochrome P450 complex. This interference can influence the ability of the liver to break down toxins, thereby increasing the risk of liver toxicity.
It is recommended that you discuss with your doctor any pros and cons of using CBD for an ailment and whether it will be suitable in your case.
Legal Status Of CBD
At present, the legal status of CBD is ambiguous. The 2018 Farm Bill legalizes products that are derived from hemp, so long as the THC content in them is less than 0.3%. However, new laws around CBD keep developing with time, making changes and creating confusion over its legality. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any over-the-counter CBD products without prescription.
It is thus important to keep up to date with the newest developments. You should check the laws in your state and anywhere you’re travelling.