CBD or Cannabidiol, is a chemical compound that can be extracted from the plant material of the cannabis plant. It is one of many phytocannabinoids that naturally occur in the cannabis genus of plants. A cannabinoid is a class of chemical compound that occurs naturally in the human body (endocannabinoid) as well as in plants (phytocannabinoid) that act on a group of receptors found on cells in what is called the endocannabinoid system.
To best understand what cannabidiol is, we must first understand the plant where it naturally occurs. Cannabis sativa var L. is the genus, species and variety of plant that is commonly known as industrial hemp, but also just as commonly known as marijuana. How can that be? In one word, genetics.
Technically, it is all one plant. Cannabis the plant’s genus is the umbrella term to describe both hemp and marijuana. Certain varieties, or strains, have higher levels of certain chemical compounds like CBD or THC (the naturally occurring phytocannabinoid that many associate with “getting high”).
Plants rich in THC are what we call marijuana. Plants low in THC, the mind-altering substance, but high in CBD are often classified as hemp. Today, the only difference between a marijuana plant and a hemp plant is the level of THC contained in the biomass. To be legal (according to the 2018 Farm Bill) the plant must contain less than 0.3% THC. That’s it. It all comes down to a lab test.
How does CBD work?
First discovered in 1946 by Raphael Mecholum, the molecular structure for CBD was identified in a small Israeli Lab. The true pathway for how CBD works in the body wasn’t discovered until 1992, over 45 years later. Now called the Endocannabinoid system this pathway includes three key components including a series of receptors located throughout the body, endocannabinoid chemical messengers that natural occur in all mammals and enzymes that help create and break down these compounds.
This complex system is responsible for helping your body to return to a state of homeostasis, or balance. The ECS balances the systems that balance your body.
How might CBD help me?
Phytocannabinoids work in the body to complement this ECS. CBD is one of many phytocannabinoids found in plants that can influence all aspects of the ECS. Alone the compound cannabidiol (CBD) works to antagonize CB1 receptors, regulate CB2 receptors, down regulate production of FAHH enzymes, increase production of 2AG plus over 60 other ways to help the endocannabinoid system find balance.
But what does that mean to you? CB1 receptors are primarily located in the brain and central nervous system and are responsible for many things including regulation of mood. CBD slightly alters the receptors preventing other substances from bind. For example, research indicates that when you take a high THC product after consuming CBD or a CBD-rich extract you lesson the intensity of the high. CBD also down regulates the production an enzyme that breaks down a naturally occurring cannabinoid called Anandamide. Anandamide is our “joy” chemical. When we are short, we feel stressed, sad and even depressed. When we introduce CBD into our system research has shown that less FAAH enzyme is present to break down anandamide resulting in an improved mood. So in short, CBD doesn’t help directly with stress, it just supports the systems in your body that balance stress.
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