What is CBD?
CBD is an abbreviation for Cannabidiol which is one of 85+ cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. The most prominent cannabinoid that most of us know of is THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is psychoactive, and, although it has health benefits, it can make one feel euphoric or “high.” CBD is non-psychoactive and it delivers the desired health benefits without getting you high. In fact, CBD is often used to counteract the effects of THC and will assist with bringing someone back to their normal state-of-mind. Studies show that CBD improves memory and clarity of mind along with a long list of other health benefits. Studies can be found on PubMed, a free online service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
While CBD is completely separated and isolated from THC and CBD cannot get you “high,” there is still a lot of stigma as many people tend to mistake CBD for THC. These fears, though unfounded, are understandable to an extent, especially since the terminology surrounding CBD can be very confusing. Nonetheless, it is impossible to get “high” by smoking or ingesting CBD-high hemp (that has only traces of THC), as it is also impossible to get high by consuming CBD oil products (that contain virtually no THC). So, what is a cannabinoid you may be thinking? Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most prevalent chemical compounds found inside the resin glands (trichomes) of the female hemp plant. These chemical compounds are known as cannabinoids, or substrates that bind to special receptors on your cells. These cell receptors make up a larger endocannabinoid system.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is a vast network of cell receptor proteins with many functions. Certain receptors are heavily concentrated in the central nervous system. But, others are found all over the body. They’re in your skin, digestive tract, and even in your reproductive organs. Although the endocannabinoid system affects a wide variety of biological processes, experts believe that its overall function is to regulate homeostasis. In recent years, researchers from all parts of the world have come to acknowledge the vast medical potential of the endocannabinoid system. Summarized in a 2006 review by the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
“In the past decade, the endocannabinoid system has been implicated in a growing number of physiological functions, both in the central and peripheral nervous systems and in peripheral organs… modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system turned out to hold therapeutic promise in a wide range of disparate diseases and pathological conditions, ranging from mood and anxiety disorders, movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension, glaucoma, obesity/metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis, to name just a few…”
The endocannabinoid system helps control everything from mood, cognition, movement, appetite, immune response, sleep, ovulation, and sperm development. The human body produces compounds similar to those in the hemp plant, called endocannabinoids. Molecules found on the herb are technically called phytocannabinoids. Decades of scientific research on the endocannabinoid system has resulted in the discovery of two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. Cannabinoid receptors continue to be identified in unique parts of the body as research on the endocannabinoid system progresses. Researchers have discovered a few ways that CBD interacts with the body, but this area of research is still inits infancy. New discoveries are made each year. Here’s a simple summary of what we currently know about CBD. The cannabinoid activates receptors such as vanilloid, adenosine, and serotonin receptors.
- Vanilloid receptors help mediate pain signals in the body
- Adenosine receptors help determine your sleep-wake cycle
- Serotonin receptors help control mood
CBD also regulates the endocannabinoids that occur naturally in your body. It blocks a fatty acid known as fatty-acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). This enzyme is responsible for breaking down the naturally occurring endocannabinoid anandamide in your body. Anandamide helps regulate basic functions like pleasure and reward, appetite, ovulation, memory, sleep, and pain. With nothing to break anandamide into smaller parts, CBD boosts the amount of this chemical in your system. But that’s not all. CBD has been shown to engage with receptors that help modulate body temperature and immune function, reducing inflammation.
United States Department of Health and Human Services – Patent 6630507.
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds with potent antioxidant and neuroprotective functions found in hemp. The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services actually has a patent on cannabinoids – Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants, US Patent 6630507. In short, the patent explains, “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke or trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia. Non-psychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention.”
What are neuroprotectants?
Neuroprotectants promote proper function of the Central Nervous System. Suboptimal blood flow in your brain can decrease cognitive functions. Neuroprotectants can help maintain healthy blood flow by counteracting factors that can decrease blood flow in the brain. Wikipedia states, “Neuroprotection aims to prevent or slow disease progression and secondary injuries by halting or at least slowing the loss of neurons.” Simply put a neuroprotectant is any substance that helps to shield nerve cells from damage or death. Due to its influence on cannabinoid and serotonin receptors, CBD may also modulate issues associated with limited oxygen in the brain, including inflammation and cell death.
Why is this important for you?
CBD assists with maintaining homeostasis (balance) within the body. Homeostasis is so important that most disease is regarded as a result of its disturbance. As we get older, the body’s internal environment becomes progressively less stable. As a result we are more vulnerable to illnesses. If we take into account the amount of stress that most of us are under in a normal day, as well as the lack of good nutrition in the average diet, it’s no wonder that we are experiencing unprecedented levels of diabetes, obesity, autism, anxiety, autoimmune conditions, and other expressions of imbalance. CBD delivers a wide range of benefits of its own, which can figure into maintaining an existing state of wellness as well as addressing a state of imbalance.
Nutrition – You Are What You Eat!
Regardless of an individual’s physical condition or medical problems, a functional endocannabinoid system is beneficial. We are capable of producing our own cannabinoids, and our bodies were not designed to need an external source. However, in order for the body to produce the appropriate amounts of endogenous cannabinoids, research has shown that it requires a healthy amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, modern diets don’t always contain the proper nutrition, and many people have endocannabinoid systems that are not functioning properly. Furthermore, when a certain ailment, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, causes significant amounts of pain or other uncomfortable symptoms, additional cannabinoids introduced into the body from an external source can effectively alleviate them.