Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few years (no offense to our rock-dwelling readers), you’ve probably heard from somebody in your life raving about the benefits of cannabidiol, or CBD for short. CBD has long garnered attention in the realm of natural medicines, but has recently become more openly accepted among the allopathic medical community, and for good reason.
Despite the discovery of
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) long being considered
the birth of cannabinoid research, CBD was actually discovered before THC
by a few decades. CBD was first isolated from mexican cannabis and indian
charas (a type of hashish) by Roger Adams and Alexander Todd respectively
back in 1940. Not much was done with the compound from a research standpoint
until Raphael Mechoulam revisited the compound on his way to elucidating
the structure of THC.
At first glance, THC and CBD look
nearly identical! The difference between the
two is that CBD has an open ring with a hydroxyl and alkene group, whereas
THC has a closed ring with an ester group. While this is a subtle variation,
it makes a world of difference in the human body. In fact, this small change
in structure is the root cause of why CBD isn’t psychoactive. But how, you
might ask? The answer lies within all of us.
In just the past couple of decades,
scientists have discovered an entire physiological
network in the human body that researchers refer to as the endocannabinoid system.
It is comprised of many different types of cannabinoid receptors, though just how
many has yet to still be established. The best known subtypes are CB1 and CB2
receptors, often referred to as the central and peripheral cannabinoid receptors because
of how they are distributed in the human body. CB1 receptors are primarily found
in the central nervous system, as in your brain and your spine, while CB2 receptors are
more commonly found in your peripheral nervous system and immune system.
It is the activation of CB1
receptors in the brain that causes somebody to get “high”.
THC binds to the CB1 receptor much in the same way that a key slides into a lock.
You need a very specific configuration in order for the two to fit together. Modify just
one ridge in a key, and the lock won’t turn. The same concept applies to THC
and CBD. Because of that open ring structure, CBD will not bind effectively to the
CB1 receptor, while THC will. Upon binding of THC, the CB1 receptor is activated,
causing the psychoactive effects to occur. But since CBD won’t bind to the CB1
receptor, it doesn’t cause the same effect. In fact, the presence of CBD will inhibit the
binding of THC to the CB1 receptor, which can significantly reduce mind-altering
effects of THC!
Although the true mechanism of
action cannabidiol is unclear, its supportive effects
on a healthy lifestyle cannot be denied. Millions are finally able to benefit from the
homeostatic support that CBD can provide. The expansion of extraction methods
for producing high CBD hemp oil from natural sources allows for safe and legal
consumption of cannabidiol by the general public.
But, with all the new CBD products now emerging, how do you choose the right
Here are a few questions you should ask when choosing a CBD product:
Is the manufacturing company committed to:
Ensuring full traceability through its supply chain?
Testing each batch for cannabinoid content and potency?
Sending its products to a third party laboratory for independent testing?
Meeting label claims - provide accurate MG of CBD per serving?
Guaranteeing the product is non-GMO and Gluten Free?
Educating with responsibility - never oversimplifying the science?