what is cbd? (cannabidiol)

you may have heard the term “cbd” thrown around in casual conversation lately, whether it be among friends, at the office, or if you overheard two strangers discussing it. or maybe you’ve seen it on a billboard or a menu at a restaurant.

there’s no denying that cbd (cannabidiol), is a sort of buzz word these days. but what is cbd? where does it come from? how and why does it work? how do you consume it? these questions and more will be discussed further below.

in order to answer the question of what cbd is, we must first understand where it comes from. cbd is a cannabinoid, which is simply a class of chemical compounds that interact with the endocannabinoid system inside our bodies. it is one of more than 100 known cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant.

cannabis and cannabidiol

cbd occurs naturally within all plants of the cannabis genus, along with many other chemical compounds. it is one of the most studied cannabinoids, with research indicating its efficacy related to brain function, pain, inflammation, and anxiety in addition to displaying antioxidant and anti-convulsant properties.

cbd is non-psychoactive, meaning your mental state will remain unaltered when consuming cbd on its own. it can be extracted into an isolated form from the hemp plant, which like marijuana is a strain of cannabis. though hemp and marijuana are both forms of cannabis, they are very different. marijuana has been bred to have a high percentage of another primary cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (thc). thc is known primarily for its psychoactive effects; in other words, it is what makes people “high.” hemp, on the other hand, has less than 0.3 percent thc, a small enough amount that the psychoactive effects of THC are not present.

have you seen other hemp products commercially available elsewhere before? maybe you’ve seen hemp-based rope, fabrics, paper, or shampoo somewhere. or maybe you’ve enjoyed its nutritional value via hemp milk or hemp seeds. (hemp is incredibly nutrient-dense, containing high levels of protein, dietary fiber, magnesium, and a handful of other vitamins and minerals.) now you understand where all of those products are derived from!

let's understand how cbd works.

all mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ecs) inside our bodies (this is why cats, dogs, and other pets can safely consume cbd too). the system is composed of endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors all throughout both our central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system, which is composed of the nerves and ganglia that connect the central nervous system to our limbs and organs.

as we learned, cannabinoids are naturally occurring inside the cannabis plant. we have now learned the ecs inside each and every one of us exists to interact with cannabinoids. thus, the ecs is the system at work when we consume cbd (and/or any other cannabinoids, for that matter). but how does cbd interact with the ecs and what are the effects of the relationship between the two?

there are two known types of cannabinoid receptors in the human body, known as cb1 and cb2. cb1 receptors have been shown to be linked to the maintenance of homeostasis in health and disease, regulating stress and anxiety and more, while cb2 receptors are found more within the immune system, moderating its response to any pathogenic activity.

unlike other cannabinoids which can bond to both cb1 and cb2 receptors, cbd can bond to neither. instead, it binds to many other receptors such as those for anxiety (serotonin 5-ht1a receptor) and pain and inflammation (trvp1 receptor). another one of the most important benefits of cbd is its ability to bind to fatty acid binding protein (fabp), which allows it to pass through the cell membrane and inhibit the breakdown of anandamide, a neurotransmitter that reacts with CB1. when anandamide reuptake is thus inhibited, endocannabinoid levels increase and result in increased levels of health in our bodies. similar functions occur with a chemical known as adenosine, with increased adenosine levels in the brain showing beneficial effects toward cardiovascular function and displaying anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety effects in the body.

generally speaking, the ecs is highly involved in regulating a wide range of processes in our daily lives. we have already touched briefly on some areas in which that exists, such as stress, brain function, and pain. other areas that the ecs can play a role in our health include hunger, energy level, blood pressure, and our immune activity. we are beginning to learn that when the ecs is functioning properly, it has a compounding beneficial effect on many other systems in our bodies. conversely, a deficient or out-of-sync ecs can lead to disease.

the effects of cbd (cannabidiol)

we have learned that cbd has no psychoactive properties as it acts on the ecs, which helps regulate many of our bodily processes. but what do those mean towards the output of cbd consumption?

because the ecs is so interwoven with other processes, cbd’s effects can be wide-reaching. those effects can also be different for different people. some people, for example, may use cbd to help with inflammation or arthritis, whereas others may use it to help with skin issues such as psoriasis or eczema. but that’s not all – there are plenty of people who experience simply an overall feeling of well-being upon consuming cbd. you do not need to have an ailment in order to experience its positive effects.

another effect of cbd due to its regulatory properties is that it can work in conjunction with other compounds that have similar effects, known as adaptogens, which promote normal body function by regulating various processes in our bodies. examples of adaptogens include ginseng (known to help boost working memory and the immune system), ashwagandha (reduces stress and anxiety), and turmeric (reduces depression and inflammation while boosting brain function), and the potential for an even greater synergistic effect exists when various adaptogens are taken in conjunction with CBD.

are you interested in learning more about cbd? visit the science page or our faq page to see more on cbd. this blog will address every question you might have in future posts, so make sure to come back to find out more.