There is growing interest in preventing and treating illnesses and other maladies naturally. The cannabis plant is making a comeback and has been earning a lot of attention as a viable alternative to synthetic pharmaceuticals. In 10 states, cannabis has been made legal for Adult Use, and in 33 states and counting, cannabis has been made legal for Medical Use.
For those who are not interested in the “high” that is often associated with cannabis but are interested in the other therapeutic applications that are being discovered, CBD is a great option. CBD will not get you high.
CBD is one of the many chemical compounds (cannabinoids) found in the cannabis plant. The healing properties that are being discovered make CBD a wonderful natural option for people who suffer from a variety of conditions that do not respond well to pharmaceutical drugs.
Cannabis is a tall plant that produces three different species of flowering plants: Cannabis sativa (associated with energy, creativity, and is sometimes used during the day), Cannabis indica (which is associated with pain/anxiety relief and is often used at night to help one sleep), and Cannabis ruderalis (this is primarily an industrial hemp plant but sometimes contains CBD).
Cannabinoids (can - na – bi – noids) are chemical compounds in the cannabis plant that interact with the body’s cannabinoid receptors. The cannabis plant contains dozens of cannabinoids – two of the most abundant and well known are THC and CBD.
What is CBD?
CBD, the abbreviation for cannabidiol (can - na – bi - diol) has been identified as a very promising component of the cannabis plan for its healing properties. It is also referred to as Full Spectrum Hemp Oil. CBD is the second most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant (THC is the most abundant). It is non-psychoactive so does not produce any “high” when consumed. CBD is becoming more broadly known for its many healing properties. Per the Hemp Act of 2018, it is legal in all states as long as it contains 0.3% THC or less.
There are many CBD products available legally today. These products range from gum, capsules, drops/tinctures to salves, coffee/tea, and vape pens. Choosing the right product requires sampling and keeping track of what works for you.
How CBD Works: The Endocannabinoid System & Homeostasis
To understand how CBD works in the body, it is helpful to understand the endocannabinoid system and homeostasis. Our bodies function well when our systems are in balance (in homeostasis). The endocannabinoid system was discovered in the 1990’s, prompting a lot of excitement about the possibilities for health breakthroughs. Located within the central nervous system and the immune system, it contains a network of cells that have cannabinoid receptors. Our bodies are filled with CB1 and CB2 receptors. As a matter of fact, we have the ability to make our own cannabinoids – two examples are the “runner’s high” that runners experience, and the state of calm that meditation produces. CBD works with the central nervous system and the immune system in a very similar way.
It has only been within the last decade or two that researchers have learned more about the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors throughout the brain and body. When activated, these receptors allow communication between body systems. In other words, our bodies are wired to deal with cannabinoids. While THC “binds with” the CB1 cannabinoid receptors, which are located in the brain and around the neck. CBD does not, which helps explain why CBD is non-psychoactive. Instead, CBD binds to CB2 receptors which are located throughout the body, not in the brain. One of the main benefits of CBD is that it fights inflammation naturally and allows one’s body to begin to heal. Especially when combined with small amounts of THC, CBD has potential to bring balance (homeostasis) to the central nervous system and immune system.
Most cannabis products contain both THC and CBD since the two work together. Many products that are designed for health benefits are very low in THC, so they do not produce a “high.” CBD products must contain less than (<) 0.3% THC in order to be sold and purchased legally. However, there are some illnesses and diseases that are best treated with high-THC/low-CBD strains of cannabis. Patients with these conditions must check their state to determine whether or not these products are legal.