Understanding Cannabidiol: The Therapeutic Cannabinoid
The cannabis plant contains many naturally occurring chemical compounds, and some of the most important are cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are responsible for many of the effects that come from the consumption of cannabis and related products. Cannabidiol -- also known as CBD -- is one of them.
Cannabidiol was first originally discovered in 1940 by Dr. Roger Adams and his team of scientists at the University of Illinois. Although the cannabinoid was discovered in 1940, there was very little clarity on its structure until the 1960s.
The molecular structures of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
Cannabidiol is the second most common cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, after Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Both cannabinoids differ greatly from each other. THC has psychoactive effects when consumed. CBD, on the other hand, has no psychoactive effects but instead has many therapeutic and healing benefits when ingested. THC can deliver feelings of ecstasy and euphoria, a phenomenon referred to as a ‘high’, whereas CBD will not. This makes CBD safe for consumption by children and even pets.
The cannabinoid is primarily extracted from the hemp plant, which is a variety of Cannabis Sativa L. This plant contains relatively high levels of CBD when compared to the marijuana plant, but low THC levels. The cannabinoid may also be extracted from some marijuana strains. CBD extracted from the hemp plant contains notably lower concentrations of THC in comparison to those extracted from marijuana strains, which is why hemp is preferred for CBD products.
Once extracted, CBD concentrations may be diluted with carrier oils to form CBD oils. The most popular carrier oils for these concentrates include:
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Hemp seed oil
CBD concentrates may also be infused into alcohol to form CBD tinctures.
What are the Health Benefits of Using CBD?
The benefits of CBD, particularly CBD oils, can be seen across many areas of natural and pharmaceutical health. Here are some of the most notable health benefits of CBD.
The Treatment and Management of Mental Health Disorders.
Patients who suffer from mental health disorders are often advised to steer clear of cannabis and its by-products. Cannabis -- THC in particular -- is known to exacerbate these conditions, having a negative effect on patients. However, research has proven cannabis-derived products containing only CBD to be beneficial for the treatment and management of a number of mental health disorders.
A study noted that CBD significantly reduced anxiety in patients without the repercussions of pharmaceutical medications. Patients who suffer from anxiety can experience symptoms including sexual dysfunction and weight gain as a result of anti-anxiety medications. With CBD, patients can get the same benefit from the medication with fewer side effects.
The cannabinoid has also shown significant promise in the field of paediatrics. Studies have shown CBD to be an effective means of managing the symptoms of anxiety and insomnia in children who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
A 2018 survey by Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research discovered that 62% of their survey pool achieved an overall better standard of health when they began administering CBD for the management of conditions including depression and chronic pain.
The Treatment and Management of Pain and Anti-Inflammatory Disorders.
There are many completed and ongoing projects which highlight the efficacy of CBD for the treatment and management of pain disorders.
Experts have concluded that CBD’s ability to interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and its receptors is an effective way to manage pain while reducing the side effects commonly associated with pain medication. Patients who use CBD experience significantly reduced symptoms of pain with little to no adverse effects.
In 2015, a study concluded that CBD significantly reduced inflammation and pain in patients who suffered from diseases including arthritis, sclerosis and chronic joint pain.
The Management of Oxidative Stress.
Oxidative stress is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants within the body. Free radicals are toxic by-products of oxygen which may cause damage to living cells and tissues if left unmanaged. This phenomenon is a natural occurrence and it is referred to as oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress plays a significant role in the natural aging process. However, this process can be made worse by a number of factors including lifestyle, diet, environmental factors and health conditions.
If left unchecked, oxidative stress can contribute to the development of chronic and terminal health conditions such as diabetes and cancer.
CBD is excellent at neutralising free radicals and oxidants as it is full of antioxidants. Studies have proven that CBD has neuroprotective qualities due to these antioxidants.
Uses of CBD
CBD can be administered in a number of ways. According to Drugpolicy.org, there are four major ways in which cannabis can be consumed:
CBD, particularly oils and tinctures, can be consumed using all these methods. CBD oils can be consumed via inhalation through vaporisers. Orally, they can be infused into food and drink items. Sublingual consumption involves placing a drop of CBD, whether oil or tincture, underneath the tongue until it is absorbed into the bloodstream. CBD oils can also be applied directly to the affected area as a topical treatment.
CBD has a negative reputation in some arenas due to its confusion with products containing THC. Research has shown and is continuing to show a large number of positive health benefits offered by CBD products. As a natural product that avoids many of the side effects of other comparable medicines while still delivering the benefits, it’s no surprise that CBD is becoming a widely prescribed medicine that offers relief to a large number of patients.