With a broad range of potential health benefits and therapeutic values, CBD (cannabidiol) hemp oils take center stage in today’s pantheon of effective herbal medications. From conditions of anxiety, sleeping disorders, and poor eating habits to the prevention and treatment of the most ghastly conditions like fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and cancer, CBD impacts the way the body experiences and responds to these conditions.
It probably sounds too good to be true and yet there are no claims made here that aren’t substantiated by established scientific fact. In the following article, we will illustrate exactly how CBD and other cannabinoids interface with an important communications system within the mammalian body.
At the forefront of treatments that engage the endocannabinoid system in an effort to improve health is CBD hemp oil. So, let’s take a look at the scientific evidence behind the wave of publicity surrounding cannabis, cannabinoids, and CBD hemp oils.
What is CBD Hemp Oil?
Cannabis is one of the oldest domesticated crops in the book. Hemp is a member of the cannabis family that is cultivated primarily for industrial uses as opposed to marijuana which is cultivated for its THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content.
CBD hemp oils are derived from the hemp plant, which is considerably higher in CBD. The marijuana plant, which contains higher amounts of THC, is the famous psychotropic cannabinoid. There is still much debate about the legalities and benefits of allowing marijuana or specifically THC, to be cultivated and distributed without regulation.
CBD, on the other hand, has been considered a therapeutic herbal compound due to its lack of mind-bending properties. CBD hemp oils, which contain only trace amounts of THC, have been greatly studied for their capacity to improve health, soothe the nerves and balance the body’s systems boosting homeostasis.
If you have ever wondered why there is so much commotion over the legality of a simple plant, you may be interested to know it all comes down to two almost identical organic compounds: THC and CBD.
If not for THC’s notoriety, cannabis would undoubtedly have been adopted into established western medicine long ago.
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However, due to the fascinating way these two phytocannabinoids occur naturally in a single plant and work to address the conditions of the mind and body, cannabis and cannabinoids simply cannot be ignored. Understanding the important nature of these two notable cannabinoids is an important first step in finding effective treatments and health benefits from your cannabinoids.
Chemical Structures of THC vs CBD
THC and CBD are not very different from the chemical point of view. Cannabinoids, like many secondary metabolites, are hydrophobic compounds and won’t mix into water, but are highly soluble in oil, wax or alcohol. As you can see in the following comparison, CBD and THC share very similar molecular qualities.
Molecular Formula: C21H30O2
Molecular Mass: 314.469 g/mol
Molecular Formula: C21H30O2
Molecular Mass: 314.469 g/mol
Despite how similar they seem, there are some important differences in the biosynthesis of THC and CBD that greatly alter their physiological effects on the body.
Biosynthesis of THC and CBD
Biosynthesis describes the process of producing complex products from simpler molecules using enzymatic action. The cannabis plant biosynthesizes a fascinating array of complex molecules called cannabinoids. Exhaustive research has identified over 100 different cannabinoids to date.
THC and CBD have received the greatest amounts of attention culturally, historically and scientifically. But in the cannabis plant itself, THC and CBD exist in their acidic forms, THC-A (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) and CBD-A (cannabidiolic acid) respectively. Before they can be effective in the body, these acidic forms must be transformed into THC and CBD through the process of decarboxylation, described below.
The story of THC and CBD begins in the trichomes or the resin on a cannabis plant. Much like an assembly line, cannabinoids are created through binding of smaller molecules.
THC-A and CBD-A are the acidic compounds of THC and CBD and are made from a cannabinoid called Cannabigerolic acid (CBG-A).
THC is given a cyclic ring while a hydroxyl group is added to CBD. While these may seem like minor differences, it completely changes how these compounds interact in the body.3
The CBD-A or THC-A found in the cannabis plant are not ready to be absorbed by the body for their signature benefits. Decarboxylation is a reaction that causes these acidic forms to release a carbon dioxide molecule (CO2) and transform into CBD or THC.
Decarboxylation of these compounds essentially activates them so that they can effectively interact with the endocannabinoid receptors to produce therapeutic effects.4
Decarboxylation can occur in a variety of ways. CBD or THC edibles get activated when that are heated up or cooked in an oven. One of the most common and effective forms of decarboxylation is by smoking or vaping cannabinoid products.
THC and CBD in the Body
Once properly introduced to the body, the cannabinoids begin to interact with the endocannabinoid system. This system runs through the nervous and peripheral nervous system consisting of receptors scattered throughout the major organs and systems of the body.
There are two receptors of the endocannabinoid system that are of special importance: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors exist primarily in the brain and nervous system and also play a pivotal role in neurotransmissions. CB2 receptors can be found in the immune system, but are also found in the skin, spleen, gastrointestinal tract, and associated organs.5
Due to the special differences in their molecular structures, THC and CBD interact with these two receptors in a very different way. THC functions as an agonist to CB1 and CB2 receptors, which means it binds well with these receptors and activates their functions. Once these receptors are activated effects like muscle relaxation, feelings of euphoria and pain relief are commonly experienced.
CBD has a very different effect on these same receptors. Rather than activating or suppressing their function, CBD has a negative modulating effect on them, meaning CBD does not directly bind to these receptors. One of the immediate effects is that CBD opposes the function of THC.
CBD also activates other receptors that affect the health of the body. CBD activates a receptor and can affect the experience of pain, process of inflammation, and body temperatures.6
Health Benefits of CBD
Medical science has placed special interest in the way CBD hemp oils, CBD, and cannabinoids affect many aspects of human health holistically. There is still much to learn about cannabinoids and how they can best be applied in clinical application for specific conditions. Nevertheless, pre-clinical testing has reported a lengthy list of effects that can be beneficial to a wide range of conditions.
Some of the most notable effects of CBD:
CBD has exhibited neuroprotective capacity in treating damage caused by Alzheimer’s, stroke, gluten toxicity, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s. Sativex, which contains THC and CBD, has been approved in most of Europe for treating multiple sclerosis.8
From acne to rheumatoid arthritis, CBD works to soothe inflammatory conditions allowing natural healing to occur.9
Cannabinoids have been used since ancient times to address all types of painful conditions. CBD is even effective against the unimaginable pains of fibromyalgia, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.10
CBD could be the next big treatment for controlling and eliminating tumors and cancerous cells.11
Schizophrenia only affects a small portion of the population but can hamper normal living. CBD has been found an effective treatment in ameliorating the severity of this condition.12
Helps With Substance Abuse
CBD can be used to reduce the uncomfortable cravings accompanying withdrawal from alcohol or tobacco. Vaping CBD oils are one of the smoothest ways to kick nicotine habit.14
CBD Hemp Oil
Finally, don’t confuse CBD Hemp oils with Hemp oils. Hemp oils are typically made from the oily extracts of the cannabis seed. While these are a very healthy source of essential nutrients, the seed carries practically no CBD cannabinoids.
Hemp oils are a much cheaper product than CBD oil and due to the extraction process, it is sold in various qualities and concentrations so be aware by looking at product labels.
CBD not only treats these conditions effectively but has not been associated with any negative side effects. Something that cannot be said for any of the pharmaceutical options available for the very same maladies.
Still, those looking to address these conditions with CBD hemp oils should consider discussing their plans with a medical professional. A qualified physician will help you choose the best products, decarboxylation methods, and possibly help you avoid inferior or confusing products.
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