Plants of the cannabis genus contain a wide range of active compounds known as cannabinoids. There are more than a hundred cannabinoids identified in cannabis plants. The two most common cannabinoids found in these plants are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (cbd). THC is the major psychoactive compound in cannabis plants that causes mood changes and alterations in a person’s cognitive functions, basically, it induces a “high”. CBD, on the other hand, does not cause mood or cognitive disturbances, it does not have a psychoactive effect.
These two active chemicals are commonly found in the cannabis Sativa plants. They are extracted from the same species but different strains of the plant, namely marijuana, and hemp. Marijuana typically contains more THC than CBD. It contains more than 0.3% of THC and causes a psychoactive effect.
Hemp is any cannabis Sativa plant that contains large amounts of CBD compared to THC. Hemp plants contain less than 0.3% of THC, which makes it less psychoactive than marijuana.
HOW DOES CANNABIDIOL AFFECT THE BODY?
Since cannabidiol has little to no psychoactive effects in the body for which the cannabis plants are commonly used and known for, the question possibly brewing in your mind is “what does it do in the body then?” The answer is not far-fetched.
Cannabinoids in general including CBD produce effects in the body by attaching to specific receptors. The human body produces its own cannabinoids called endocannabinoids. The endocannabinoids in the body help to balance mood, appetite, sleep, bowel movements, and other major functions in the body including reproductive and immune functions.
The body has two receptors for cannabinoids known as the CB1 and the CB2 receptors. The CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain, although they can also be found throughout the body.
The CB1 receptors found in the brain play a role in the control of motor functions, pain, appetite, memory amongst a host of other functions. The CB2 receptors are more abundant in the immune system and they play a role in pain and inflammatory functions.
Initially, researchers assumed that cannabidiol from the cannabis plant attaches to these receptors when consumed into the body, but along the line, it was confirmed through a number of studies that the compound does not bind to cannabinoid receptors but directly interacts with the body’s endocannabinoids. CBD works in the body by blocking the breakdown of endocannabinoids, thereby making the body use more of the endocannabinoids (it’s own naturally produced cannabinoids).
It affects non-cannabinoid receptors too. It triggers the activation of serotonin receptors that cause the release of many neurotransmitters, including hormones that affect mood.
These receptors also affect biological and neurological processes such as anxiety, aggression, cognition, and memory. It also attaches to TRPV1(transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1) also called the vanilloid and capsaicin receptors.
The TRPVI detects and regulates body temperature and it is activated by temperatures greater than 43°C and capsaicin (a compound found in hot chili peppers). The activation causes a painful and burning sensation in the body.
TRPVI influences how our bodies experience pain. It causes and reduces pain in the body. Once exposed to activating agents such as chili peppers, it causes pain and burning in the body. However, long and continuous exposure to these agents makes it less sensitive to them and requires a higher dose for activation.
Aside from its pain-inducing functions, the activation of TRPV1 can be beneficial to health by reducing pain, preventing seizures caused by epilepsy and reducing chronic inflammation that is implicated in rheumatoid arthritis. The attachment of CBD to TRPV1 can trigger its activation, hence it plays a role in preventing seizures and reducing inflammation.
CBD also affects another type of cannabinoid receptor in the body called GPR55 also known as the orphan receptor. Some studies suggest that CBD blocks the activities of the orphan receptor. The GPR55 is involved in bone reabsorption and in the modulation of blood pressure amongst other functions.
The prolonged activation of the receptor is associated with osteoporosis. It has also been shown to promote cancer proliferation when activated. The antagonist function of CBD can help decrease bone reabsorption. It can also prevent the proliferation of cancer cells.
A study published recently in the journal of neuroscience has shown that CBD can also counteract the negative effects caused by THC in the body. CBD can be consumed in the body in the form of oils, gummies, candies, and beverages. It can also be smoked, vaped, inhaled, sprayed into the mouth or applied topically on the skin.
IS CBD ALSO MARIJUANA?
Most people cannot clearly distinguish between CBD and marijuana. CBD and marijuana are not the same things. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second active ingredient found in marijuana. Although it is a compound found in marijuana, it is mostly extracted from hemp, which is another plant related to marijuana.
Both Hemp and marijuana belong to the same species of cannabis Sativa plants but are made of different cultivars. Marijuana contains very few amounts of CBD, while hemp contains a large amount of CBD. Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted directly from the hemp plant and has no psychoactive properties like marijuana, in other words, it does not cause a “high”. It also has no known side effects associated with its use, unlike marijuana.
IS CANNABIDIOL SAFE TO USE?
The non-psychoactive properties of CBD and it’s associated health benefits have made its use and production on a commercial scale very high.
CBD is gradually gaining momentum in the health and fitness sector as a number of scientific studies have confirmed its role in treating ailments like childhood epilepsy syndrome, anxiety problems and in the reduction of chronic pain. But the question is, is this cannabis compound safe to use?
The World Health Organization has clearly stated that Cannabidiol has no known side effects and causes no potential threats following its use. According to a report released by the WHO, Cannabidiol in its pure form is safe and it is tolerated in both humans and animals.
The report also pointed out that CBD has no abuse potential, and linked CBD with many potential health benefits that include treatment of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Psychosis, Cancer and other health conditions. It also mentioned CBD’s success in treating Epilepsy.
Despite this report by the WHO, experts have warned that CBD may cause side effects if not extracted or produced under safe conditions.
The major concern regarding the safety of CBD is that it is mostly marketed as a dietary supplement and not as medication. In addition to this, there are no regulations for the purity and safety of these supplements, which means they can also be contaminated with other impure elements that may be dangerous to health. However, there are many tested and trusted distributors with high-quality CBD
Some CBD food product manufacturers have been strongly criticized by the FDA for marketing CBD products under false claims. These companies claimed that CBD cures cancer. The FDA issued a stern letter of warning to the companies in question. It is cases like this, that put the safety of Using CBD based products in question.
Also, the FDA has expressed some concerns over the use of CBD, where they mentioned that CBD may have adverse health effects such as liver injury, gastrointestinal disorders, mood-altering effects, and interference with the mechanism of other prescription drugs.
IS CANNABIDIOL LEGAL?
The World Health organization in 2018 proposed that Cannabidiol (CBD) should not be classified as a scheduled drug(an illegal drug) under international laws.
They recommended that Cannabidiol derived purely from hemp should not be scheduled. This was based on the increasing and emerging pieces of evidence that support its use for medical purposes. The compound still remains unscheduled under the United Nations international drug laws.
The European commission in 2019 announced that Cannabidiol would be classified as “novel foods”. This means that food products made with CBD will require authorization from the European union Novel food regulation before being marketed.
In the United States, Cannabidiol (CBD) derived from Marijuana is classified as a schedule 1 controlled substance which makes it illegal for use or sells as a prescription drug or as food and dietary products. However, the passing of the farm bill made hemp_derived cannabidiol legal.
Cannabidiol extracted from hemp that is within the range of 0.3% THC or lower are allowed to be sold as an ingredient for cosmetic products but it is prohibited to be sold as an ingredient in food or dietary supplements.
Also, the U. S Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approves the sale of cannabidiol based prescription drugs called epidiolex for the treatment of epilepsy. Nonetheless, the drug still requires rescheduling in some states before it can be sold or prescribed legally.
It is important to check with state laws wherever you are before deciding to use or sell cannabidiol based products. Also, note that non-prescription Cannabidiol CBD products are not approved by the FDA and may be labeled wrongly.