Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical compound that is found in the cannabis plant. There are multiple species of cannabis that naturally contain CBD. In the mid-1960s, scientists identified the first cannabinoid. Since then, scientists have gone on to identify more than 80 individual cannabinoids and continue to investigate them for their potential symptom-relieving and disease-fighting abilities.
Cannabis has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of medical issues such as pain, nausea, anxiety, and other mood irregularities. Two of the cannabinoids that are most widely recognized for their medicinal value are THC and CBD. They each have distinctly different effects within the body, and different potential uses for health and disease.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a chemical compound that delivers the “high” that occurs from ingesting marijuana. CBD, on the other hand, has no “high” associated with it. Instead, this compound has calming, anti-anxiety, and anti-psychotic effects. It is CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system that produces this result.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is a vast network of chemical compounds and receptors throughout the body. The primary function of the ECS is to regulate all the multitude of functions from inflammation and pain regulation, immune response, mood, neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. The primary endocannabinoid receptor is the CB1 receptor, which is located the brain and throughout the nervous system. CB2 receptors are more common in the immune system. They influence inflammation, the immune system, and pain. When the endocannabinoid system is ignored, or out of homeostasis, many functions in the human body are impacted – such as energy level, sleep patterns, mood, and eating habits.
The human body produces certain cannabinoids on its own. The endocannabinoid system receptors also respond specifically to cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. When marijuana is consumed, compounds like THC and CBD travel through the bloodstream to the brain and activate the endocannabinoid system. In the brain, THC binds to CB1 receptors to produce many psychological effects. These effects include short-term memory impairments, heightened mood, increased hunger, and pain relief. CBD is non-psychoactive because it does not act on the same receptors as THC. Numerous studiessuggest that CBD acts to reduce the intoxicating effects of THC, such as memory impairment and paranoia.
Scientists have made a lot of progress in understanding how CBD produces its calming, pain-reducing, anti-inflammatory effects in the body—and there’s still more to learn. We know that CBD interacts with many different receptors, proteins, and other chemicals in the brain. These interactions create changes in the activity of neurotransmitters, hormones, and other cells throughout the brain and body. CBD also seems to influence the body to use more of its own cannabinoids, while encouraging neurogenesis (production of new brain cells). Through these interactions, CBD appears to be able to affect many of the body’s functions, from sleep-wake cycles and emotional regulation to inflammation, pain perception, and seizures.
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