Cannabidiol: A Revolutionary Alternative Treatment
More and more people are turning to cannabidiol as a powerful alternative treatment for a wide variety of ailments. SolCBD explains the science behind CBD.
Up until the last few decades, cannabidiol was a relatively unknown substance. Primarily because it is so closely associated with cannabis, it remained elusive to scientists looking to study it. Legal issues mired attempts to explore its full potential. More recently, the barriers surrounding it have been opening up to both scientists and patients alike. Only now is cannabidiols’ huge potential as a viable and powerful alternative treatment for a wide variety of ailments coming to light.
What exactly is Cannabidiol?
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is one of more than 85 phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Phytocannabinoids have such a powerful effect on the human body, because they interact with the body’s own endocannabinoid system. This system, in essence, is a body-wide network of cell receptors which moderate mood, pain, the digestive system, the immune system, cognition and movement just to name a few. Some areas of the body have much higher concentrations of these endocannabinoid receptors than others, particularly in the central nervous system and brain. Your body produces its own endocannabinoids to interact with these receptors when needed, but it will also interact with cannabinoids produced by plants such as hemp and cannabis, which is where CBD comes into play.
Another, and more notorious, phytocannabinoid found within cannabis is THC, or delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol. Although CBD and THC are both found within the same plant and both interact with your endocannabinoid system, they do so in very different ways. Higher levels of cannabidiol is only now being bred into cannabis plants for its therapeutic treatment potential, while THC is being bred out in some strains. Also, CBD can be found and extracted from cannabis’s sister plant, hemp, while THC is not found in any significant quantity.
The essential difference between CBD and THC, is that CBD does not cause many of the negative side effects people tend to associate with THC. Cannabidiol does not cause changes to appetite, heart rate, blood pressure, or body temperature. It also doesn’t increase hunger or drowsiness and is not psychoactive.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
The differences between these two prominent cannabinoids continue in terms of the way they interact with the endocannabinoid system. One one hand, THC binds directly with two specific receptors, CB1 and CB2. Cannabidiol on the other, does not bind directly and prefers to park next to these receptors influencing them in other ways which are still being studied. Cannabidiol also seems to stimulate a host of other receptors such as vanilloid, adenosine, and serotonin receptors.
Although CBD does not bind directly with CB receptors, it still has a powerful effect on the system by suppressing FAAH, or fatty acid amide hydroxylase. This fatty acid is in charge of regulating anandamide within the body, specifically within the brain where anandamide interacts directly with the CB receptors. Anandamide is a naturally produced endocannabinoid. As anandamide works to stimulate the receptors, FAAH is in charge of breaking it down and thereby limiting the timeline where the stimulation can occur. Since cannabidiol suppresses the functionality of FAAH, which therefore isn’t able to break down anandamides as quickly, it extends the lifetime of anandamides in your system. This allows for longer stimulation of your receptors, and an enhanced endocannabinoid functionality.
CBD and the Vanilloid Receptor
The vanilloid receptor (also known as the TRPV-1 receptor) is responsible for regulating pain, body temperature and inflammation within the body. Interestingly, although CBD does not interact directly with either CB1 or CB2, it does directly stimulate the vanilloid receptor. Since CBD has been found to be an effective alternative treatment for neuropathic pain, its ability to stimulate the vanilloid receptor is likely a contributing factor as to why.
CBD and the Serotonin Receptor
Other research has discovered that CBD treatments, especially in higher doses, have a particularly potent effect on depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. This is likely due to the way CBD directly activates the serotonin, or 5-HT1A, receptor within the brain. This receptor is a part of the 5-HT family of receptors, which are triggered by serotonin releases, and is responsible for a variety responses throughout the central nervous system. The serotonin receptor specifically is linked to many different processes within the brain and body, including anxiety, addiction, appetite, sleep, pain perception, nausea and vomiting. Treatment with CBD will inhibit the excitatory effects of this receptor in order to calm its stimulation throughout the mind and body.
CBD and the Adenosine Receptor
Adenosine is responsible for regulating cardiovascular function (oxygen and blood flow), and also has a prominent role as an anti-inflammatory throughout the body. It has also been found to regulate the release of dopamine and glutamate. It is just another receptor which CBD has a direct relationship with. Its ability to activate the receptor likely is a contributing factor to CBD’s extremely powerful anti-inflammatory characteristics. Also, because this receptor regulates cardiovascular function, CBD therapy could also help to calm the body during times of anxiety and stress.
As you can see, the potential for CBD as a viable alternative treatment is great. There is an increasing library of research delving into its capabilities as well as the specifics as to how and why it interacts with our bodies the way it does. More and more people are turning to it instead of more traditional medicines in order to find effective relief for a wide variety symptoms without any strong side effects. It seems as the research continues to support the positive effects of CBD, and the cultural understanding of the substance expands, it can only lead to CBD becoming a mainstream option instead of simply an alternative.