Cannabinoid CBD has recently become a phenomenon that is gaining popularity around the world. There is a growing number of studies confirming its therapeutic use for a range of serious and chronic diseases. It also appears to have an unprecedentedly high safety profile, and even more conservative physicians are beginning to claim that this cannabinoid could be an effective drug that can replace many chemical drugs, even without unpleasant side effects.
What exactly is CBD?
CBD is one of the more than hundreds of cannabinoids contained in the cannabis plant. Other cannabinoids include the popular THC, but also the lesser-known CBC, CBN and others. However, it is the compounds of CBD and THC that are found in the highest concentration in the plant, so they are thought to be responsible for the therapeutic effects, which have been known to humans for thousands of years. In recent years, it has become a trend to study isolated cannabinoid CBD, which, thanks to its low to zero safety risk, finds application in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries.
What is the difference between CBD and THC?
Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive and does not affect the user’s consciousness. It can then provide therapeutic effects without narcotic conditions, which may be undesirable in certain cases. It follows that CBD could have great potential for use in medicine. Although the possibility of treatment without psychoactive side effects may sound tempting, it has recently been found that the two cannabinoids complement each other and their therapeutic effects are maximized when used together. Thus, treatments based on the application of both mentioned cannabinoids are currently being developed.
Another difference between CBD and THC is certainly legality. While products with THC (above 0.3%) are illegal in our country and are only available on prescription in specific pharmacies, products containing CBD are fully legal and can be freely purchased in many stores.
Biochemical effects of CBD
Cannabinoids binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system in the human body. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the nervous system, connective tissues, gonadal and other glands, and organs, while CB2 receptors are found primarily in the immune system and other peripheral structures.
The action of the cannabinoids CBD and THC on CB1 receptors, which are responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, explains how these two molecules complement each other. Each of the cannabinoids acts on these receptors in a completely different way. While the THC activates the receptor, resulting in psychoactive effects and euphoric states, CBD does not have such a strong binding to the receptor, it only “sits” at it, but does not activate it. This blocks the binding sites on the receptor for other substances (such as THC) that would like to bind to the receptor. This explains why CBD is not only not psychoactive, but also reduces the psychoactive effects of THC itself.
However, the place where CBD feels like at home are CB2 receptors, which affect the body’s immune system and vitality, which only confirms the designation of CBD as a therapeutic cannabinoid. By its secondary action on CB2 receptors, THC complements the therapeutic effects of CBD, and a number of studies are currently underway to test different THC: CBD ratios for certain diseases. The aim is to minimize the side (psychoactive) effects of THC and maximize the therapeutic effects that result from the synergistic action of both cannabinoids.
Last but not least, researchers are finding that not only cannabinoids, but also other substances contained in cannabis contribute to its therapeutic effects. These substances include terpenes, phenols and flavonoids, which are responsible for the specific smell of cannabis. These substances need to be further investigated, but the importance of their role is already being taken into account and better quality CBD products are also rich in these compounds.
What does CBD do and what diseases is it suitable for?
The therapeutic effects of this cannabinoid have been used for centuries. CBD was applied in the non-isolated form of classical cannabis in combination with other cannabinoids. Only in recent years, thanks to modern methods, the possibility of examining the CBD itself has opened up. Current research confirms that CBD is a powerful antioxidant, antipsychotic and antidepressant in one. It also has strong anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. It even causes neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells.
CBD itself is not psychoactive and does not change the user’s consciousness, but it turns out that it can suppress the nervous system in a similar way to THC. It therefore appears to be a suitable means of treating many mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders, depression or even post-traumatic stress disorder.
The main therapeutic potential of CBD appears in its analgesic effects, which can be used in the treatment of acute and chronic pain such as migraines, convulsions and muscle pain. CBD can also help with insomnia and has been shown to improve sleep quality. With its positive effects on the immune system, it helps alleviate the symptoms of serious diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or epilepsy. Due to its antipsychotic effects, CBD is able to suppress the symptoms of schizophrenia. It also helps in the treatment of indigestion, nausea or anorexia. Together with THC, it thus becomes the primary remedy used by cancer patients, helping them to alleviate the effects of chemotherapy. Last but not least, CBD has been shown to be an effective means of helping to withdraw from addictive substances such as nicotine or alcohol.
How can CBD be used?
CBD can be used in several ways, each with its own pros and cons. They differ mainly in terms of efficacy, time of onset of action, and duration. The most popular methods include smoking and vaporization of cannabis flowers and e-liquids. The use of CBD oils and other edible CBD products such as capsules, pills, tinctures and CBD isolates is also popular.
From the point of view of efficiency, the vaporization of whole flowers seems to be the most suitable form. Vaporization is a process in which cannabis is heated to the desired temperature using a vaporizer. CBD thus begins to be released from the flowers in the form of vapors which are inhaled by the user. In this way, the maximum amount of the total CBD content in the plant is utilized. Another advantage is that whole flowers contain, in addition to CBD, other substances that act synergistically with CBD and support its healing effects – terpenes, flavonoids and trace amounts of THC (max. 0.3%). Of course, dried flowers can also be smoked. However, by failing to meet the optimum temperature condition, this method appears to be less effective.
Cannabis flowers with a legal THC content of no more than 0.3% are now available on the Czech Internet. This cannabis is referred to as technical and can (according to Act No. 167/1998 Coll.) freely bought, stored, and sold for the purpose of collecting, industrial or technical processing.
Another popular form of application is the use of CBD oil. Although it appears to be less effective than vaporization of dried flowers, the discretion and simplicity of its application makes it a suitable method for many individuals who do not like the use of flowers for certain reasons. Due to the presence of other substances from cannabis, this method of application appears to be more effective than pure CBD isolates.
Although we already know enough information about CBD and its designation as a safe substance seems justified, its research is still in its infancy and only time will show us what other properties this substance has, how it synergizes with other substances, but also which combinations can be potentially dangerous and in which situations it is advisable to avoid its use. Therefore, it is claimed that it is always appropriate to consult your doctor before using CBD products.
You can find more about application methods, optimal dosing, and other recommendations regarding CBD products in our herbarium.