Investigating CBD and Cannabinoid Research

Cannabis research has mostly revolved around two cannabinoids – one psychoactive, one non-psychoactive – since the early 1960s: these are cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The latter is noted for having potent therapeutic effects but is often discredited due to the euphoric “high” that comes from taking it. Conversely, CBD is known for having a wide range of medicinal uses but has no recreational abuse potential because of the lack of psychoactive effects.

Studies have shown CBD to help with several mental and physical health ailments, many of which existing medication fails to treat efficiently. All age groups can be helped with CBD, and indeed, child epilepsy patients from around the world have travelled to Colorado, California and other legal states to access working, side effect-free CBD treatment. The media has focused closely on these stories, and the positive press that non-psychoactive cannabis has received in recent times has helped fuel an explosion in the market.

What you need to know about CBD and other cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are certainly a fascinating set of chemicals, yet only a few of the 113 discovered so far have been studied seriously – with CBD and THC easily the most researched. These two cannabinoids were first isolated in Israel in the early 1960s, although the psychoactive THC was of the most interest at this time.

While THC influences the endocannabinoid system by taking anandamide’s place at the landing point of CB1 receptors, CBD has more of a modulating effect on this important network. CBD can stimulate receptors to increase their binding affinity to endocannabinoids, and also block enzymes to prevent anandamide degradation.

Crucially, CBD is not just non-intoxicating, the compound causes very few side effects in general – research has consistently showed that CBD has no adverse effects on memory and cognition. Indeed, as an antipsychotic cannabinoid that suppresses the CB1 receptor, CBD actively works to reduce psychoactivity.

CBD products are legal in all 50 states providing they contain a maximum of 0.3 percent THC and the extract used is from the industrial hemp plant. Hemp is a cannabis sativa strain with a reputation for being rare, in that it is high in CBD and low in THC.

CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory and effective regulator of immune system response. The cannabinoid also has a relaxing effect on the brain, promoting inhibitory GABA neurotransmitters to ease anxiety.

The neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids like CBD are fairly well documented now, and a recent study on rats even found that it was possible to regenerate hippocampus brain tissue with cannabinoid treatment. All being well, CBD could be used in the future as a remedy for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Until the endocannabinoid system (ECS) came to the attention of researchers, we had little knowledge about the effects of cannabinoids on the body, just that they appeared to be therapeutic. But our newfound knowledge of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors and the areas of health that the ECS keeps in balance has given us scientific clarification. Through the CB1 receptor, CBD controls appetite and mood, while CB2 receptors are the pathway to influencing immune system response.

The consumption method will have a big impact on how the body responds to cannabinoids like CBD. For example, inhaling vapor from CBD e-liquid will have a significantly different effect than applying a CBD-infused topical. When inhaling, eating or sublingually absorbing CBD, the cannabinoids go all around the body in the bloodstream. But with creams and salves, the effects are localized, with the CBD staying in the skin to interact with the cannabinoid receptors there.

The non-psychoactive medical cannabis market is becoming bigger each year, and many users are choosing full-spectrum oils and products infused with terpenes for extra relief. Several other non-intoxicating cannabinoids have intriguing medicinal value, with cannabichromene (CBC) for one demonstrating neuroprotective and neurogenesis properties. The “entourage effect” suggests that whole-plant cannabis extracts are preferable to products where cannabinoids have been isolated from the rest of the plant, hence why interest for full-spectrum CBD has risen markedly.

Understanding the effects of CBD  

However, while full-spectrum products may well be more effective, CBD is a potent therapeutic agent when administered on its own.

CBD’s anti-convulsant, anti-seizure and all-round anti-epileptic effects are realized by the cannabinoid reducing brain excitation – seizures are caused by a hyperactive brain. Dravet’s syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome are two complex forms of epilepsy that CBD has worked better for than previously approved treatments.

The anti-nausea properties of CBD are beneficial for chemotherapy patients, who often find themselves feeling nauseous and in chronic pain after treatment. High-strength CBD vape oil and e-liquid or a tincture oil is suitable for relieving chemotherapy symptoms.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), arthritis and other inflammatory conditions stand no chance when up against CBD and its immune system-modulating effects. With minimal side effects and impressive efficiency, CBD could be the best anti-inflammatory out there.

Experts are confident that CBD produces useful painkilling effects, beyond simply reducing inflammatory pain. This may happen thanks to anandamide’s interactions with the capsaicin receptor.

Final thoughts

The ECS and plant-based cannabinoids are a fascinating area for medical science, and the research being carried out at the moment may be incredibly important. It is clear that various forms of cannabis can be used to make major improvements to our health, with regulation of the ECS imperative for homeostasis. Hopefully, now that the restrictions to research are gradually being lifted, we can finally drill down on the precise benefits of the plant.

Understanding the pharmacokinetics of CBD (i.e. where it travels in the body) was an important first step, and scientists now must get to grips with the pharmacodynamics of the cannabinoid. Thankfully, research into CBD at least should be much easier now that the benefits of the compound – as a separate entity from the rest of the cannabis herb – are being recognized.

CBD is a safe compound with no addictive properties, nor does it produce any long-term side effects. However, this article should not be taken as medical advice – please consult a doctor for professional guidance.


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