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What is CBD?

Updated: Mar 26, 2022

With the recent legalization of CBD, thanks to the passing of the farm bill in December of 2018, there has been a lot of talk about this new “cannabinoid”, without an explanation of what it is and how it is interacting with our body.

Cannabinoids are a class of lipophilic molecules that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Cannabis is actually a name that defines two very similar plants, hemp and marijuana. Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, does not have the psychoactive properties of THC, and is much higher in CBD than marijuana, which contains high amounts of THC, and provides the “high” people experience from smoking . CBD is not the same as its closely related active cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), each of these cannabinoids use different receptors in the body, and have different effects.

A Quick History of Cannabis:

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in the resinous flower of cannabis, which has a very rich history as a medicine going back thousands of years.

Experts believe use of cannabis may reach back as far as 12,000 years. Chinese paintings dating back to 6,200 BC contain images of the cannabis plant. The Chinese Emperor Sheng Nung, in 2737 BC, used a tea infused with cannabis. Around 2000 BC, cannabis slowly migrated from Asia to the west. Many cultures have used both cannabis and hemp, which played a major role in many societies. Ancient Egypt used it for various reasons, as well as Greece and Rome. Hemp fiber was also used for clothes, ropes, sacks, mats and fishing nets since ancient times, and continued up until the 1900's. Cannabis use continued to expand, Western Europe and Africa saw its introduction during the late 1700's, and the plant was brought to America in the 1600's and its use spread west. It saw widespread use, until the 1920's/30's when it was banned in the USA. Since the 1960's it has seen a steady resurgence, and finally its increased legalization worldwide.

Properties of CBD: CBD is a safe, non-addictive substance, and one of more than a hundred phytocannabinoids, which are unique to cannabis and provide the plant with many properties. We all know THC is the compound that causes the high that cannabis is famous for but, these are the two different components of cannabis that have been studied more in depth by scientists recently.

Both CBD and THC do have some similar reactions. Although THC and CBD both come from cannabis there are striking differences in what they both provide to their users. Unlike THC, CBD does not make you feel intoxicated and that’s because CBD and THC act in different ways on different receptors in the brain and body. So many people who enjoy using cannabis, can use CBD without the “high”.

Types of CBD:

It is very important to understand there are three different types of CBD which have different results from using it. When shopping with a reputable CBD store you will be asked if you are looking for a Full-Spectrum, Broad-Spectrum or and Isolate CBD. Full-Spectrum is sometimes referred to as pure spectrum which is a CBD that contains all of the cannabinoids as well as trace amounts of THC. Since it only contains 0.3% or less THC, being such an insignificant amount there are no psychoactive attributes. However if you are required to or expect to be given a drug test, you might want to try one of the other options, as there is a small chance it will show up in the test. Broad spectrum has all of the same components as Full Spectrum, but does not have any THC, so anyone can use the broad spectrum without the worry that it might show up on a drug test. The Isolate CBD is the most pure, as it only contains CBD, and no other cannabinoids. There is still a lot of controversy about whether Broad or Isolate is better. Many studies show that all the cannabinoids have what is called an “entourage effect”, that they all are better together than apart. Others say that the Isolate is much stronger, but overtime, it might decrease how well it is.

CBD Regulation:

CBD acts as a regulator of many systems in the body.

Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds found in cannabis, and cannabidiol (CBD) is a major constituent of the plant. There are at least 113 different cannabinoids isolated from cannabis, each with varied effects. When certain cannabinoids, such as THC, meet the receptors, the individual would feel the psychoactive effect.

Final thoughts:

It’s important to remember that CBD and other cannabinoids can be extracted from the cannabis plant, and the THC can be removed to eliminate the unwanted psychoactive side effect. The fact that our bodies as well as our pets contain receptors suggests that cannabinoids may play a natural role within the bodies systems. This is further supported by the existence of the endocannabinoid system, which includes naturally occurring chemicals with the human body that stimulate the cannabinoid receptors.

There are hundreds of different types of cannabinoids and one that is becoming popular is cannabigerol also known as CBG. Although CBG is a newer cannabinoid, scientists are very excited about these initial findings and are promoting future research with CBG on its own or CBG in combination with other cannabinoids and therapies for any potential benefits. Another type of cannabinoid is cannabinol or more commonly known as CBN. Research is currently ongoing to see what it may be able to provide.

The body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short, is a complex cell-signaling system identified in the early 1990s by researchers exploring THC. Experts are still learning and trying to fully understand the endocannabinoid receptor system, but so far, we know it plays a role in regulating certain systems. Its also known that the endocannabinoid system is active in your body even if you don’t use cannabis. This is a natural part of not only the human body but is also found in animals as well. Now there are three components of the ECS, there’s the endocannabinoid, the receptors and the enzymes. Endogenous cannabinoids also called endocannabinoids are molecules made by your body. They are similar to cannabinoids, but it’s produced by your body to help with internal functions. The receptors are found throughout the body and the endocannabinoid attaches to them to let the endocannabinoid system know that it needs to activate. There are two main receptors that are found throughout the body. There is one which is mostly found in the central nervous system and the other is in your peripheral nervous system, and especially immune cells. Finally the enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids once they’ve carried out their function.

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