What is CBD (Cannabidiol)?

CBD explained

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the cannabinoid compounds, called ligands, which are in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a high. It is a type of a ligand, a type of chemical that binds to neuroreceptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). While the body produces endocannabinoids, the ligands that bind to and regulate the ECS, CBD mimics the effects of endocannabinoids.

Research is still being done to find how effective CBD is for treating mental illnesses, but the findings show potential for treating conditions like OCD, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. It has been used successfully in controlling the frequency and severity of convulsive epileptic seizures. It may even help sufferers of autoimmune disorders by suppressing the immune system.

Cannabidiol can be extracted from two plants: marijuana and hemp. While these plants are closely related, hemp does not have anywhere near as much THC as marijuana, even though it can have similar levels of CBD. Cannabis can be bred in order to lower THC and have much higher levels of CBD.

What is the endocannabinoid system?

To understand what CBD is we must first look at the endocannabinoid system, which CBD uses to work within our bodies, and its purpose. The primary purpose of the endocannabinoid system is to keep the body in a state of homeostasis. Homeostasis is the ideal condition the body needs to be in order to be healthy. The endocannabinoid system primarily consists of three components:

Small molecules that activate cannabinoid receptors.

Receptors found on the surface of cell.

Enzymes break down endocannabinoids after they are used.

There are two primary naturally occuring endocannabinoids in our bodies:

  • Anandamide: Is a naturally occurring reward molecule that helps encourage healthy behaviour such as physical activity it is thought to be associated with the runners high.
  • 2-Arachidonoylglycerol(2-AG): Is a molecule involved in the regulation of appetite, immune system functions and pain management. 

These naturally occurring molecules have similarities in compounds found in cannabis.

  • THC: Is a molecule similar to anandamide and provides a mind altering effect.
  • (CBD): Is similar to 2-AG and helps in the regulation of the body.

Cannabinoid receptors can be found on the surface of many cells throughout the body. There are two primary cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 is found primarily in the brain and nervous system. CB2 is found in the immune system, the nervous system, and many locations throughout the body. These receptors require the help of endocannabinoids to be activated. These endocannabinoids are produced as needed the destroyed by metabolic enzymes.

To help regulate these endocannabinoids so they are only used as needed our body uses two primary metabolic enzymes:

  • Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH): This enzyme degrades the anandamide molecule into monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL).
  • MAGL: Breaks down 2-AG.

While these regulators work on our naturally occurring molecule they do not work on their cannabinoidal counterparts thus allowing them to continue working in our bodies longer.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are quite simply organic compounds that give plants their natural scent and taste.  They are found in the natural oils secreted by all plants. They are what help you differentiate an apple from a banana. They are easily affected by the environment the plants are raised in so a hemp plants grown in different environment can have different levels of CBD content and properties. It would allow for certain strains of CBD to have more potent anti- anxiety or anti-inflammatory effects depending on what you may need. 

While more research does need to be done in regards  to the overall effect terpenes can have. The current accepted science is that terpenes compounds lighten the effects of cannabinoids like CBD by binding to endocannabinoid receptors and emitting compounds our bodies naturally produce. There are multiple studies that have looked into the strong analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and even anti-cancer properties of CBD but these are all areas where continued research needs to take place.

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