What is Cannabidiol?
There are around 500 compounds present in the cannabis plant, which are called cannabinoids. Although cannabidiol (CBD) is only one of those compounds, it has been shown to have various medical benefits, and accounts for around 40% of the plant’s extract.
It is believed that CBD doesn’t have the intoxicating effects of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is also present in the cannabis plant. Moreover, several CBD safety studies in human have found that it is safe to use.
CBD is found in the stalks and flowers of the cannabis plants. In contrast the other cannabinoid compounds, CBD is found naturally in significant quantities in cannabis, making it easy to extract.
Scientific and clinical research in patients have demonstrated the effectiveness of CBD for treating epilepsy, cancer, autism, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and many other mental and physical conditions. Furthermore, CBD protects brain cells (neuroprotective), and also promotes their growth.
The beneficial effects of CBD for various diseases and conditions, are mediated through the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a central component of the health and healing of every human being and almost every animal. The ECS is closely interconnected with the nervous and immune systems.
Humans and other mammals such as birds, fish and sea urchins contain the ECS. The ECS is a collection of receptors present in the nervous system.
Our bodies contain natural compounds called endocannabinoids (EC). EC act through the ECS’s collection of receptors to regulate the production of hormones, proteins, controlling the immune system, all organs, how we feel and what we think.
Therefore, the equivalent of EC in nature are those present in the cannabis plant. They are called phytocannabinoids, and are basically the same substances as EC that the human body produces. This explains why cannabis is safe to use, and it works well in our body to benefit us.
Cannabinoids fit as keys on locks called receptors that are scattered throughout the body in the ECS. The ECS contains two main types of receptors, cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2).
Most cannabinoids interact with these two cannabinoid receptors, however CBD interacts very mildly with the cannabinoid receptors in various ways. They can be activators or blockers of these receptors.
CBD either helps other cannabinoids to be better absorbed, increase their duration of effects, or it improves the cannabinoids receptor’s effectiveness by increasing the number of receptors on the surface of cells.
However, there remains other ways CBD interacts with its receptors to bring about beneficial effects that have still not been discovered.
Imbalance in the endocannabinoid system
It is believed that many diseases are a result from an imbalance or interruptions in the human ECS. This could be related to abnormal functions of the EC.
However, and thankfully this balance can be often easily and most importantly quickly restored by ingesting nature’s own cannabinoids found in preparations such as cannabis oil.
It has also been suggested that when such an imbalance is restored by ingesting nature’s cannabinoids, eventually less is needed and usage can be skipped gradually. This in a way indicates that somehow the human body remembers and achieves the right balance in the ECS. This suggests that cannabinoids “wake up” the ECS to restore its balance.
There remains other ways CBD interacts with its receptors to bring about beneficial effects that have still not been discovered. Also, only a handful of the 500 cannabinoids have been studied and named so there is a lot that needs to be done in this field.
However, with the little number of cannabinoids that we know we already know that they possess so many beneficial effects. This indicates that there is a huge potential of finding new and much more beneficial effects of cannabinoids for many more conditions that afflict us.