UNDERSTANDING THE MISUNDERSTOOD: Everybody's talking about CBD
Source: Lemur Legal
In my previous blog post you could read all about the basics on Cannabis, while in today’s post we will focus on one of the cannabinoids present in the Cannabis plant – Cannabidiol or better known as CBD.
Before we jump to CBD let's talk cannabinoids for a brief moment. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in Cannabis, which mingle with the brain's receptors, leading to a range of different physical and mental effects. There are at least 85 known cannabinoids isolated from Cannabis, out of which CBD and THC being the most well-known.
The interesting part is that cannabinoids are naturally occurring not only in plants, such as Cannabis, but also in animals and humans. In 1990, an Israeli Cannabis researcher, dr. Raphael Mechoulam, discovered the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), a biological system composed of natural Cannabis-like molecules produced by human body, i.e. endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptorsand enzymes. ECS presents a biological regulatory system that promotes balance and well-being in mammals and with its help scientists were able to explain how cannabinoids work with the body's receptors. These receptors are activated either by the body's own internal (endogenous) cannabinoids or by plant cannabinoids, such as CBD or THC. Initially it was thought that endocannabinoid receptors were present only in human brain and nerves, however later research showed that these receptors are present throughout the human body,including skin, immune cells, blood vessels, skeletal muscles and bone. The ECS is involved in many processed occurring within the body such as pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress, sleep and metabolism.
Before we focus on CBD there are a few other cannabinoids you should know about. Cannabinol or CBN isn’t as potent as THC, however the substance can still elicit mild psychoactive effects. It is a byproduct of THC after its exposure to light or heat and it often appears in aged Cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabivarin or THCV is a psychoactive cannabinoid, for which it is said that it reduces panic attacks, helps relieve symptoms associated with diabetes and acts as an appetite suppressant. Cannabichromene or CBC is known for helping with various inflammation, pain and acne. Cannabigerol or CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that shows promising treatment for colorectal cancer.
Cannabidiol or CBD is one of the many active cannabinoids found in Cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning that it does not create that immediate euphoria and it also does not bind to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors quite well as THC does. CBD causes an increase in the endocannabinoids naturally found in the body. The substance reaches the body’s receptors associated with pain, anxiety and inflammation. According to the World Health Organization’s report on CBD, published in 2018, CBD has “been demonstrated as an effective treatment of epilepsy in several clinical trials”. Furthermore, that same report also states that there is no evidence that there is no public health risk or potential for abuse in relation with the use of pure CBD.
CBD can be consumed in many different ways, all from orally to inhalation. Each method delivers the CBD to the body in a different way, which affects what it can be used for and how often you will take it. It is important to emphasize that each body reacts differently to CBD, meaning that there is no one-size fits all instructions on what the best way is how to use it.
The slowest route for CBD to reach our body, however on the other side also the longest time that the substance is active, is taking CBD orally, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. In case of CBD oil or tinctures, CBD can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream from underneath the tongue area, along with the gums and cheeks. Another option is inhaling CBD, in which case it passes to the lungs where it quickly enters the bloodstream, avoiding first-pass metabolism. Inhalation is the quickest way to get CBD circulation through the human body, however it is also effective for the shortest period of time.
In case of creams and lotions with CBD we are talking about so called topical useof CBD preparations, in which case CBD diffuses across the skin reaching local targets, such as muscles, inflammatory cells, pain-perceiving nerves, etc. Certain creams in applicators can be also applied vaginally or anally, having the strongest effect locally at muscles, inflammatory cells and pain-perceiving nerves. Comparing this way of using CBD to topical usage of CBD preparations, some CBD could be also absorbed in the bloodstream, especially due to the areas rich in capillaries.
To sum up, from what I managed to read there are more and more evidence that CBD could help treat variety of conditions. In my opinion the key challenge will be how to take advantage CBD or Cannabis in general for maximum therapeutic benefit, while connecting all this new knowledge on CBD with “classical” health professionals in order to combine forces for their patients to get the best from both worlds.