June 15

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What Is CBD? Guide to the Endocannabinoid System

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of over 100 different chemicals found in the cannabis plant that belongs to a class of molecules called cannabinoids.

CBD does not produce the mind-altering "high" that comes from THC, and it's non-psychoactive, meaning it won't get you “stoned” or “high.”

CBD has many therapeutic benefits and the potential to treat various medical conditions. But what is CBD, exactly? Where does it come from? And how does it interact with our bodies?

In this article, we will explore these questions so that you can make an informed decision about whether CBD extract is right for you!

What is CBD?

CBD (cannabidiol) is one of over 100 different cannabinoids in cannabis and can be extracted from either hemp or marijuana plants.

Cannabinoids are just one of the many compounds in cannabis and are thought to have various benefits.

CBD is one of the most abundant cannabinoids in cannabis, and unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it does not produce a mind-altering "high" or any psychoactivity.

Cannabinoids like CBD interact with our bodies by attaching to specific receptors on cells that influence what’s known as “homeostasis” - essentially, how stable an individual is emotionally and physically.

In a medical sense, cannabinoids have only been researched for a short period of time; however, the research that has been done is promising.

When were cannabinoids discovered?

CBD was first extracted in the '40s by Roger Adams. This paved the way for Dr. Raphael Mechoulam to continue his work in the '60s.

Mechoulam, along with Yechiel Gaoni, was able to identify and describe the chemical structure of CBD, which eventually led to understanding the chemical structure of THC.

This was considered a breakthrough because it allowed researchers to study the effects of cannabis on humans; many studies and experiments were to follow through the decades.

The Endocannabinoid System

Despite CBD and THC being studied all the way back then, researchers only recently discovered the Endocannabinoid System in the '90s.

The Endocannabinoid System is a vast network of receptors that cannabinoids attach to. These receptors are located throughout the body, with high concentrations in the brain and nervous system.

The two main cannabinoid receptors are called CB1 and CB2.

Cannabinoids bind themselves to these receptors and activate or depress them; this allows the cannabinoids to produce different effects throughout the body.

The Endocannabinoid System regulates a variety of important functions, including but not limited to: pain sensation, mood/emotion regulation, appetite control, sleep patterns, memory retention and many others.

Endocannabinoids

Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids that our bodies naturally produce. They bind to cannabinoid receptors just like plant cannabinoids do and are instrumental in various bodily functions such as appetite, pain sensation, mood regulation and sleep patterns.

2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) and arachidonoyl ethanolamide (anandamide) are two of the most common endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids).

Anandamide is known as the "bliss molecule" and binds to the same receptor that THC does - CB1.

Mechoulam theorized in 1992 that if the THC interacts with a specific receptor in our brains, we must produce similar chemicals naturally in our bodies.

This theory would prove to be correct.

Interestingly enough, the chemical structure of THC and anandamide are very similar; researchers suggest that the two may affect our bodies in similar ways as well; however, anandamide does not affect us the same way and is not nearly as potent or psychoactive as THC.

Phytocannabinoids

Phytocannabinoids are plant cannabinoids. These are found in both marijuana and hemp plants.

They have a similar chemical structure to endocannabinoids, but they interact with the cannabinoid receptors in different ways and at varying intensity rates.

To date, there have been over 100 different phytocannabinoids that have been discovered, including CBD, THC, CBG, CBN, and CBC, to name a few.

How CBD Works

CBD works by interacting with the cannabinoid receptors in our body. CBD binds to what is known as CB-receptors, which are concentrated in areas of the brain that regulate memory, mood, sleep and other functions.

The result when these endocannabinoid pathways are stimulated by CBD lead to all sorts of different effects, including pain relief, relaxation, and a sense of calm.

The Entourage Effect

The Entourage Effect is the effect that cannabinoids have in combination with other cannabinoids.

In other words, when CBD interacts with all naturally occurring cannabinoids such as THC and CBN that are present in marijuana plants, it produces what many people refer to as "the entourage effect."

This means that different types of phytocannabinoids work together synergistically to produce various desired effects.

Benefits of CBD

Studies suggest that CBD and other cannabinoids may have a very wide range of potential medical benefits; this is due to how these cannabinoids work in the Endocannabinoid System.

Some of the different conditions that CBD may be used for are:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Acne
  • Stress
  • Sleep issues/insomnia
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation
  • Chronic pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Migraine headaches

This is by no means an exhaustive list of conditions that CBD may be able to treat. Research is ongoing, and more is needed to say definitively what CBD is capable of treating.

The benefits that these cannabinoids provide may be due to what they can do for your Endocannabinoid System, so it's important to understand the basics of this system to get a complete understanding of how and why cannabinoids work.

Side Effects of CBD 

The side effects of CBD are generally mild and may include a dry mouth, dizziness and lightheadedness, nausea, upset stomach or digestive problems, and lowered blood pressure.

If you have an existing condition or are taking medication that may interact with CBD, be sure to consult your doctor before starting a new regimen of cannabinoid treatments.

CBD interacts in the same way as grapefruit does and can cause medications to stay in the system for longer than they need to. This can have serious adverse side effects and be very dangerous.

How to use CBD

CBD can be used in many ways. It is most commonly found as an oil or tincture. It is also available in capsules or gummies for those who don't like the taste of oils. CBD may be ingested orally, inhaled or applied topically.

There are three main types of CBD products available:

Full Spectrum

Full Spectrum CBD contains all cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids found naturally in the hemp or cannabis plant. Full Spectrum CBD is the most effective form of CBD for treating various symptoms, as it has a greater impact on receptors throughout your body than just CBD by itself.

Broad Spectrum

Broad Spectrum CBD contains the majority of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids found in cannabis, but the THC has been removed.

CBD Isolate

Isolate CBD products contain only CBD and are processed to remove any other compounds found in the hemp or cannabis plant.

Dosage for CBD

Because no one person is the same, there is no one size fits all dosage for CBD. The best way to determine your ideal dose is by starting with a low dose and working up from there.

Over time, you can gradually increase your dose until you find what is best for you.

Final thoughts on CBD and the Endocannabinoid System

If you’re looking for a natural and safe way to reduce pain, inflammation, anxiety, or improve your mood, CBD may be the answer.

CBD works by way of the Endocannabinoid System in our body responsible for regulating many functions, including sleep cycles and appetite.

While more research is necessary, the studies suggest that CBD may have huge potential in the medical field in the future.


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