Cannabidiol (or CBD) is just one of over 85 cannabinoids discovered so far in the cannabis plant. CBD is considered the "medical part of marijuana" since it is a non-psychoactive compound. CBD is widely regarded as the cannabinoid with the most medicinal potential by researchers. CBD interacts with the body’s natural Endocannabinoid system to maintain physiological stability.
The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids and CBD: A Brief Primer
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) consists of this network of endocannabinoid receptors, which are distributed throughout the body. The system is a very complex regulatory system, broad in its function, found in all complex animals - from fish to humans. The ECS supports such diverse functions such as memory, digestion, motor function, immune response, appetite, pain, blood pressure, bone growth, and protection of neural tissues. Many researchers believe that there are even more physiological processes with which the ECS is involved, still yet to be discovered.
The two primary sub types of cannabinoid receptors in the ECS are CB1 and CB2. These receptors are distributed throughout the central nervous system, immune system, and within many other tissues such as the brain, gastrointestinal system, reproductive and urinary tracts, spleen, endocrine system, heart and circulatory system. Furthermore, researchers have uncovered new evidence that points to at least three other endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body, in addition to the CB1 and CB2.
Following the discovery of the cannabinoid receptors, the hunt was launched for the substances produced within the body that were binding them. This led to the discovery of the first endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-AG in the early 1990's. So far, five endocannabinoids have been isolated. All of them are derivatives of polyunsaturated fatty acids, closely related to the popular omega 3 fatty acids (which are also very abundant within hemp). Since they are fats, endocannabinoids are not water soluble and have difficulty moving through the body efficiently, thus they are designed to work locally.
One local activity occurs when endocannabinoids serve as the primary messenger across synapses (the gaps between nerve cells): they signal neurons to communicate to each other through the release of neurotransmitters. Endocannabinoids modulate the flow of neurotransmitters, keeping our nervous system running smoothly.
Endocannabinoids are produced on demand, released back across the synapse, then taken up into the cells and rapidly metabolized. Endocannabinoids appear to be profoundly connected to the concept of homeostasis, helping redress specific imbalances presented by disease or injury. Endocannabinoids role in pain signaling has led to the hypothesis that endocannabinoid levels may be responsible for the baseline of pain throughout the body, which is why cannabinoid based medicines are useful in treating such conditions as Fibromyalgia. The value of proper "endocannabinoid tone" throughout the body could be very significant to general well-being.
The CB1 receptor is expressed throughout the brain, where endocannabinoids and CB1 combine to form a "circuit breaker," which modulates the release of neurotransmitters. The list of brain functions that are affected by the endocannabinoid system is enormous: decision-making, cognition, emotions, learning, an f bodily memory, as well as regulation o movement, anxiety, stress, fear, pain, body temperature, appetite, sense of reinforcement or reward, motor control, and much more. One brain region that does not have many CB1 receptors is the brain stem, responsible for respiration and circulation, which is a primary reason why cannabis overdoses are not fatal. It is activation of this CB1 receptor that is responsible for the psychoactive effects cannabis.
While CB1 activation results in the psychological and physical effects commonly associated with cannabis ingestion, CB2 receptor activation does not. The CB2 receptors are primarily found in blood cells, tonsils, and the spleen. From these sites, CB2 receptors control the release of cytokines (immunoregulatory proteins) linked to inflammation and general immune function throughout the body.
The body produces its own cannabinoids the form of endocannabinoids. By contrast, phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant in the form of carboxylic acids: THCA, CBDA, and so on. Upon heating, or gradually warming up to room temperature over time, these cannabinoid acids are converted to their chemically neutral and more widely known form: THC, CBD, etc. It is this neutral form of THC that is psychoactive in humans. Cannabinoids have extremely high lethal dose requirements in humans, which is why no fatal overdose has ever been directly attributable to cannabinoids
Until very recently, the term "phytocannabinoids" referred solely to those cannabinoids that are produced by the cannabis plant. More recently however, it has been discovered that compounds produced by other plants, including lichens and even black pepper, can interact with cannabinoid receptors as well; therefore the definition of phytocannabinoids has been expanded to include any natural plant compounds that interact with cannabinoid receptors. For much of the last 100 years, a small handful of cannabinoids were thought to only active pharmacological constituents cannabis. But over the last decade, researchers have tried to get to the bottom of why different varieties of herbal cannabis appear to produce differing medicinal or psychoactive effects. One explanation for the variation is a synergy between cannabinoids and other components of cannabis' essential oil, called terpenoids or terpenes. It is now believed that both cannabinoids and terpenes, acting in concert, are responsible for the differences in both medicinal and psychoactive effects produced by cannabis varieties.
Cannabinoids: THC and CBD
While there are over 100 cannabinoids produce by cannabis, only a few are produced in any significant quantity. They can be categorized into 5 structural types, of which four are primary:
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol), CBG (cannabigerol), CBC (cannabichromene), and a fifth type, CBN (cannabinol), is not produced by the plant but results from the oxidation of THC as it breaks down.
THC Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid or THCA is the most common phytocannabinoid produced by drug cannabis varieties. Certain varieties of drug cannabis can produce up to 25 percent of the plant's dry weight in THC acid -an extraordinary amount for a single secondary metabolite in any plant species. The production of THC within the plant is controlled by a small group of genes. These genes controlling THC production are dominant in most drug forms of cannabis. THC is produced by an enzyme reaction within the plant using CBG as its precursor.
THC is the primary psychoactive constituent of cannabis, although in its raw acidic form within the plant, it is not at all psychoactive. Upon heating through smoking, vaporization, or cooking, THCA is converted (decarboxylated) into THC and becomes highly psychoactive. Besides its psychoactivity, THC is a potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic, 32 33 and reduces intraocular neuroprotective, 34 pressure, spasticity, and muscle tension.
THC interacts with both the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors. While THC is nontoxic, some physicians have characterized the unpleasant effects of THC overdoses as "psychotoxic." For example, THC can produce anxiety, sedation, and rapid heartbeat in novice users although some of these adverse effects can decline over a course of treatment. High doses of THC over time are linked to receptor downregulation and tolerance to its effects.
CBD Cannabidiolic acid or CBDA is most common phytocannabinoid produced by fiber cannabis (hemp) varieties, and the second most common in some drug cannabis varieties. CBDA can be converted to CBD by heat over time, like THC. However, there are preliminary indications that CBD blood plasma levels are more easily achieved by using CBDA, rather than decarboxylated CBD. This study contradicts our current understanding of how cannabinoids work and more research needs to be conducted to confirm this assertion. CBD is also produced from CBG, like THC, but employs a different set of genes and a different enzymatic reaction.
CBD interacts with a wide range of more than THC-which may explain receptors its broad effects. While CBD doesn't interact with CB1 and CB2, it does interact with a host of other signaling systems. These interactions may lead to CBD-based treatments for conditions ranging from strokes to acne. CBD is even effective in inhibiting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) more so than the antibiotic vancomycin.
At Palm CBD, we are in strict compliance with all laws regarding CBD, and do not promote certain studies regarding cannabinoids. Therefore, we suggest you do your own research on CBD and cannabinoids from a trusted source (such as Clinicaltrials.gov) to determine if CBD is right for you.