Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, is one of the two most prevalent cannabinoids found in the resin of the cannabis plant. Concentration levels can vary, but the compound comprises up to 40% of the cannabis plant’s extract. It is one of dozens of other cannabinoids, but as the most prevalent next to (of course) THC, it has been the subject of more research than the others. At this time, there are still plenty of things about CBD that we don’t know for sure, but we understand more about how cannabis and marijuana work than we ever have before. In this article, I’ll give you an in-depth look at everything we currently know about CBD.
Where Does It Come From?
has a THC content of less than 0.3%, while marijuana contains anywhere from 5-35%. While CBD is found in both types of cannabis, it matters which one the CBD is extracted from. Extract from marijuana often contains small amounts of THC – possibly enough that the user could experience some of the psychoactive effects. The extracted from hemp contains no THC, so medical users who have no desire to experience any psychoactive effects should seek out the hemp-derived extracts.
How Does CBD Affect the Body?
CBD takes effect by interacting with the cannabinoid system, but its relationship to the human body is a bit more complex than other cannabinoids’. The endocannabinoid system contains the CB1 and CB2 receptors that cannabinoids bind to. CB1 receptors are found in skeletal muscle, the liver, the GI tract, the pancreatic islet, throughout the peripheral nervous system, and all throughout the brain. CB2 receptors are mainly found throughout the immune system, though some are also present in the brain’s reward regions.
Interestingly, CBD has a very low affinity for both types of cannabinoid receptor. This means that while it does bind to the CB receptors, it doesn’t do so as regularly as other cannabinoids, such as THC. CBD’s effects are indirect, but significant.
The dictionary definition of an agonist is “a substance which initiates a physiological response when combined with a receptor.” An antagonist is defined as “a substance that interferes with or inhibits the physiological action of another.” THC is an agonist of the body’s cannabinoid receptors, and it produces its effect by binding with the CB1 receptor. CBD has a low binding affinity for both CB1 and CB2 receptors. Instead it acts as an antagonist of THC, as well as several other cannabinoids.
For anyone who wants to experience the psychoactive effects of THC, this may sound like a mark against CBD. If CBD “interferes with or inhibits the physiological action” of THC, the THC won’t have as significant an effect. Right? Actually, no. Studies have shown that CBD does not reduce THC’s effect, and may actually intensify it. However, CBD has been shown to reduce THC’s less pleasant side effects, such as a fuzzy short-term memory and occasional anxiety.