What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?
The plant genus Cannabis contains two unique plant species — hemp, a tall cane-like plant resembling bamboo that originated in Central Asia and is now cultivated worldwide; and marijuana, hemp’s shorter, leafier, cousin.
Cannabis naturally produces more than 80 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids. The two most common, and therefore most studied, are tetrahydrocannabinol (referred to as THC) and cannabidoil (or the simpler term, CBD.) THC is the compound responsible for psychoactive effects. CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t cause a “high.” In very general terms, cannabis plants with high THC content are considered marijuana; while plants with less than 1% THC are considered hemp.
CBD is what we’ll be discussing here today. There’s no standard amount in hemp or marijuana, so they may have high or low amounts. CBD is fully legal in the United States as long as it comes from imported industrial hemp seeds and stalks. Industrial hemp is typically grown for its fibers, seeds and other parts, which are used to make thousands of products. When hemp oil is extracted from these plants, they can have a surprising amount of CBD.
Many stores now carry CBD oil. But, these are considered food or supplements. They’re intended to support overall health and wellness.
CBD has been studied all over the world by renowned scientists and universities. These pre-clinical studies are suggesting CBD’s potential for reducing a number of different symptoms such as anxiety, nausea and inflammation, among others. These studies are still underway and the FDA does not allow claims to be made about the effectiveness of CBD for any particular health concern.
Based on anecdotes, a common response to CBD is an overall feeling of calmness and relaxation. Although plenty of other narratives can be seen in the news, and some states have already legalized the use of domestically grown CBD oil to reduce seizures or other ailments — more clinical studies are needed to influence a change in federal laws.
How Does CBD Work?
We all have an endocannabinoid system, which consists of receptors in our brain, spinal cord and nervous systems, among other areas. Its regulation of different biological processes is still being studied, but the apparent overall goal is homeostasis, or bringing that area of the body to a neutral state.
There are two receptors that make up this system, called CB1 and CB2. CBD and other cannabinoids work by interacting with these receptors.
There are 2 types of natural cannabinoids that we know of. These cannabinoids are believed to modulate a variety of processes in our body, including motor learning, appetite and pain sensation.
The first, your body actually produces by itself. These are known as endo-cannabinoids and include compounds like anandamide, which is named after a Sanskrit word meaning “joy, bliss, and delight.”
The second type is found in cannabis. These are more specifically called phyto-cannabinoids.
It’s an exciting time for research into hemp plants and cannabinoids including CBD. We hope that this brief overview has been helpful and encourage you to continue your own research into the benefits that these natural compounds may offer.
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