CBD – Cannabidiol

by Janice M. May 14, 2020 10 min read

CBD – Cannabidiol

  1. General
  2. Does CBD have psychoactive effects?
  3. CBD and other cannabinoids
  4. Methods of action
  5. CBD oil
  6. CBD for diabetes
  7. CBD for asthma
  8. CBD for relief of pain
  9. CBD for skin care
  10. CBD as an antioxidant

General

In recent years, the phytocannabinoid from the hemp plant has made a name for itself without standing in the shadow of its famous brother, THC. CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of many cannabinoids that science and medicine are increasingly interested in.

CBD is mainly sourced from the female cannabis plant and has been universally classified by the World Health Organisation as a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. However, despite this, there are still some similarities to tetrahydrocannabinol. At the moment, CBD and THC are not the only top priorities in cannabinoid research as they come from the molecular source CBG and have the same source chemical, CBGV. Like many phytocannabinoids, CBGV only takes full effect after being heated. This is called the decarboxylation process. By applying heat and light, CBGV converts to CBD. A big advantage is that the cannabinoid is easier to absorb and can develop more easily in the body.

Recent studies also show that when CBD gets to work, it is supported by CBGV and can bind more easily to receptors in the endocannabinoid system. This finding is relatively new as most cannabis plants only have a low CBGV concentration. Naturally higher levels of CBGV are found in cannabis plants in northwest India and Nepal.

CBD has an anxiolytic, relaxing and anti-epileptic effect without making those who consume it feel ‘high’. It also acts as an antioxidant and has a direct effect on the mitochondria as it can regulate energy production in the cells. This can also help epilepsy patients when dealing with attacks due to involuntary brain functional disorders.

For this reason, the world of medicine has high hopes for CBD.

With around half a million people suffering in Germany alone and around 38,000 new cases of epilepsy on an annual basis, CBD as a potential medication gets widespread support.

Does CBD have psychoactive effects?

In the past, scientists thought that THC was the only cannabinoid in the cannabis plant to have a psychoactive effect and that cannabidiol, or CBD for short, could reduce this effect. For this reason, in recent years, growers have been careful to harvest female hemp plants with an increasingly lower level of CBD. This is intended to guarantee consumers get the psychoactive effect, i.e. the classic drug intoxication caused by cannabis, despite the possibility of increased THC tolerance.

However, new studies show a different picture for CBD. Participants in the study were divided into four groups and consumed either THC only, CBD only or a THC-CBD mixture. The last group inhaled a mock substance (a placebo). All cannabinoids were inhaled through a vaporiser, i.e. not burned but only vaporised.

This showed that even pure CBD has a certain psychoactive effect on consumers, albeit low. Even the effect of CBD on THC has been reconsidered. Participants from the group using a THC-CBD mixture showed a higher level of intoxication than consumers of pure THC.

One reason for this could be the two-phase effect of CBD. Since CBD is only weak when binding to receptors in the endocannabinoid system, the phytocannabinoid uses a different trick. It appears to be able to change and balance the properties of the ECS receptors so that THC can more actively stimulate the CB1 and CB2 receptors when consumed at the same time. Above all, this interaction shows that research on cannabinoids and their effects is more complex than previously thought. We are still unable to grasp the full range of effects on the human body.

Further studies have shown that if certain criteria for blood circulation and stomach acid are in place, the stomach can convert CBD to THC.[1]

This can take place because CBD is a precursor to THC. Through stomach acid, CBD can turn into THC and also other cannabinoids. Scientists refer to this process as isomerisation. However, to demonstrate this process, they artificially created the gastric fluid then adjusted it to the exact pH value needed for CBD to dissolve. However, the conversion rate to THC fluctuates enormously with different gastric fluid pH levels. This also makes it difficult to correctly identify and interpret all the recorded data. Also, it is still unclear whether CBD is better protected by natural gastric enzymes such as pepsin, gastrin or amylase.

It is still an unlikely consequence that CBD will qualify under the Narcotics Act at some point since phytocannabinoids are not water-soluble. They are only fat and alcohol-soluble. This decreases the bioavailability and means that the human body only absorbs around 20% of the cannabinoid. The remaining 80% is classed as part of the decomposition process.

CBD and other cannabinoids

When CBD is ingested orally and once the cannabinoid has reached the bloodstream, it targets and controls its receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Starting out from these binding sites, the cannabinoid spreads to take effect on the nerve cells. In particular, it inhibits certain enzymes.

It changes the release of neurotransmitters, altering messenger substances in the nerve cells and triggering a psychoactive effect.

If you consume CBD with THC, the effect is completely different. However, in general terms, the exact effect on the human body is not fully known. The cannabis ‘high’ depends not only on the original cannabis plant but also on the consumer.

For example, we know that plants with a rich CBD content can increase the ‘high’ delivered by THC, while CBG has the opposite effect. Phytocannabinoids mutually influence and regulate each other.

Since cannabidiol (CBD) is not contained in synthetic cannabinoids, which show increased binding to receptors, consumers often experience the high more intensely than from plant cannabinoids. Studies tend to suggest that there is an increased risk of psychosis. The consequences of ‘horror trips’ (as people call them) far exceed the actual side effects of synthetic cannabinoids as a drug.

Like CBD, CBDA, i.e. cannabidiolic acid, is a cannabinoid from the cannabis plant. It can be seen as a precursor to CBD since CBDA appears in raw plant material. CBD is ultimately created through a decarboxylation process, either when the plants are stored and dried for a long period or by means of heat. CBDA also has no psychoactive effect. It is not psychotropic and cannot cause a state of intoxication with changes in consciousness.

Methods of action

Just like THC, cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is one of the psychoactive phytocannabinoids in the female hemp plant. It is predominantly an acid and was first discovered in the 1940s. In 1963, the Israeli university teacher, Raphael Mechoulam [2], successfully isolated it and classed is as a molecule with a therapeutic effect without any notable psychoactive influence. Today, CBD is obtained through industrial hemp before the active ingredient is extracted by industrial heating.

Due to its almost non-existent psychoactive effect, the cannabis active ingredient has a different status and better reputation than its close relative, THC. It is not listed on the United Nations' List of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), nor is it illegal in this country (Germany).

With EU-wide approval, CBD is often classed as a “novel food” when compiling nutritional supplements.

CBD cannot be freely sold if the THC content exceeds 2%.

Once ingested, CBD attaches to receptors in the nervous system. However, it has almost the opposite effect to THC. CBD displays inhibitory and blocking effects that ultimately moderate our hunger, cause sedation and lower blood pressure.

Because CBD is also responsible for blocking the further uptake of THC by receptors, the ‘high’ is reduced or completely blocked. Therefore, growers are rearing cannabis plants with an increasingly lower CBD content.

Today, CBD is mainly taken orally as an oil or a paste. The active ingredient is absorbed through the oral mucosa and binds directly to receptors in the brain. Effects are delayed when capsules are consumed and digested through the lining of the stomach. Clinical studies have also shown that CBD oil can reduce the rate of seizures in sufferers of epilepsy when previously resistant to other procedures. It is therefore used increasingly in children and adolescents.

Studies indicate that CBD may increase learning performance, relieve anxiety and have an antipsychotic effect. Side effects can vary from dizziness to tiredness, poor appetite, elevated transaminase levels and diarrhea.

CBD oil

True to the motto "Many roads lead to Rome", producing CBD oil can take various routes.

One widespread method is decarbosylation and extraction using olive oil. This process mainly uses the flowers and leaves of the female cannabis plant because they have a higher CBD content.

CBD oils are now sold in pharmacies, health food stores and chemists. Online shops are also increasingly offering CBD oil at different levels of potency.

The use of CBD oil very diverse in line with the needs of consumers. Reference to CBD oil for dealing with chronic bowel problems is becoming more common. People with asthma and arthritis also have easier access to CBD. Even psychoactive drugs to relieve anxiety can now be replaced by CBD oil. This legal and non-psychoactive cannabinoid has so many health benefits that we tend to call it a little miracle cure.

The gamma-linoleic acid it contains has an anti-inflammatory effect while omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids can stimulate healthy cell generation. In addition, these can be important building blocks for a well-functioning cardiovascular system.

CBD oils contain minerals and trace elements such as calcium and magnesium. Carotenoids and chlorophyll can also strengthen cell membranes and the immune system. Of course, with so many beneficial properties, opportunities for use are vast. Consumers can use CBD oil as a simple dietary supplement when trying to use a natural pain relief. CBD quickly binds to ECS receptors when ingested. Then, its effect can be transported to various cells throughout the body. The low side effects compared to many other pain medications are an advantage.

CBD for diabetes

Various studies have also tested the effects of CBD on both types of diabetes. Findings have revealed that cannabidiol can actually decrease the likelihood of developing type 1 diabetes and delay the onset of the disease. THC also plays a role here, since the enzyme can suppress the autoimmune reaction of the disease and reduce the required insulin content.

Type 2 diabetics could use CBD oil to rebalance a possible endocannabinoid imbalance and thereby help with weight problems due to illness. Even with type 2 diabetes, CBD can lower the build-up of insulin resistance as the ideal accompanying product.

CBD is an all-round alternative during overwhelmingly stressful situations or sleep disorders so that people do not have to resort to medications which can make them sluggish and listless due to the strong side effects. Scientists have examined the effects of CBD on anxiety and sleep behaviour in many studies.[3] They have confirmed on multiple occasions that CBD can relax people who consume it and improve sleep quality.

However, many side effects remain unknown despite years of CBD use. Incorrect (excessive) dosages can lead to various negative symptoms such as diarrhea, decreased appetite or unpleasant fatigue. From time to time, consumers also report a dry mouth.

When taking other medications, it is always advisable to consult the doctor in charge of dealing with your condition before using CBD oil.

CBD for asthma

In Germany, the number of asthma cases among children alone is around 10-15%. Different types of asthma range from allergic reactions, hypersensitivity to environmental factors and severe, uncontrollable eosinophilic asthma.

The disease, which is basically a collective term for inflammatory respiratory tract reactions, often leads to a narrowing of the bronchi. This leads to an uncontrollable cough, loud and/or painful breathing and in the worst case, even shortness of breath.

Using CBD oil for asthma patients should definitely be discussed with a doctor. Any procedure for different underlying conditions and diverse symptoms cannot be considered universal.

Tests have already been carried out to see whether CBD drops can be used as an effective alternative to cortisone medicine while being free from side effects. Because of its relaxing effect, patients can curb their asthma attacks through a calmer mind. Common side effects of the disease like chest pain can also be reduced. CBD is also effective in reducing paralysis and muscular pressure.

CBD for relief of pain

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine in 2012  dealt with the ability of cannabinoids to suppress pain, inflammation and neuropathic pain.[4] Using animal studies, scientists have discovered that CBD helps to relieve pain by binding to receptors in the endocannabinoid system and supporting a positive neurological reaction through stimulation. A number of other clinical studies have also shown that CBD, like THC, is an effective alternative compared to traditional medicine for patients with neuropathic pain and various types of chronic pain.

CBD for skin care

It would seem that cannabinoids have surpassed the boundaries of pure medical science. In particular, CBD is coming to the fore as a solo therapy for skincare, among others. Cosmetic companies have recognised the potential of CBD to deal with inflammation and skin irritation. Cannabidiol not only fights these symptoms, but the natural phytocannabinoid has a dual antioxidant effect. Its anti-inflammatory properties already enrich many skin creams to deal with dermatological conditions like psoriasis and eczema.

CBD products can also be successful for patients suffering from neurodermatitis and acne since it can reduce the fat content in the skin and fight skin conditions. Although the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of CBD are significant, a healthy diet and a balanced lifestyle should not be neglected anyhow.

CBD as an antioxidant

For many decades, vitamin C and vitamin E were thought to have the strongest antioxidant properties. Carrots, melons, dark berries and nuts are rich in these and can intercept aggressive free radicals that form in the body during the natural metabolic process.

These free radicals are thought to bring on faster tissue aging. This theory comes from the American professor and biogerontologist, Denham Harman, who claimed that molecules are burned by mitochondria and this disrupts and damages the genetic material of cells, thereby stimulating the aging process.[5]This cell damage through free radicals can even lead to cancer.

However, there is no sound scientific evidence for this theory.

Instead, it is now known that free radicals are important in controlling cell reproduction and function. Sporting activities increase the formation of new free radicals, which helps our bodies to be more resistant to oxidative stress. However, a permanent increase in the formation of free radicals is quite dangerous. Not only does the risk of developing cancer increase, but the dangers of type 2 diabetes and various brain disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's also increase.

New studies show that cannabinoids are in no way inferior to conventional sources of antioxidants.[6] They are possibly the richest source of antioxidants known to us at present.

Cannabinoids with a CBD structure have a free oxygen atom which is donated to free radicals and can then neutralise them. This free oxygen atom is responsible for the antioxidant properties of cannabidiol.

This effect means that is CBD important in researching new methods for dealing with neurodegenerative diseases. Thanks to its neuroprotective properties, it can better protect the body against a variety of diseases of the brain’s nerve cells.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5510776/

[2] https://academictree.org/chemistry/peopleinfo.php?pid=83350

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/

[4] http://jem.rupress.org/content/209/6/1121

[5] https://hplusmagazine.com/2009/07/14/leaders-modern-gerontology-denham-harman-takes-free-radicals/

[6] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/US-patent-6630507.pdf
Janice M.
Janice M.



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