The Science of Cannabidiol (CBD)

The Green Science of CBD

Cannabis and cannabis-based medicines such as CBD (cannabidiol) are finally enjoying recognition as valid forms of medicine. Although cannabis has been used for pain, nausea, and convulsions for millennia, negative propaganda in the early 20th century led to its fall from favour.

Promisingly, the global use of medicinal marijuana is increasing at an unprecedented rate. Patents related to recreational and medical cannabis have increased by 257% in recent years.

Solid scientific evidence underpins the newfound enthusiasm for CBD as a universal panacea. As research drives forward CBD’s success, at Purity Hemp Company we continue to deliver educational resources centred in evidence-based research.

Read on to explore the science of CBD, and how this incredible product rooted in traditional medicine could benefit your wellbeing.

“As research drives forward CBD’s success, at Purity Hemp Company we continue to deliver educational resources centred in evidence-based research.

What is CBD?

CBD is the second most prevalent active ingredient of cannabis. The Cannabis sativa (C. sativa) plant contains around 500 known compounds, of which at least 100 are chemical structures called cannabinoids, each of which has unique therapeutic properties.

Many people recognise the name THC, which is the most well-known of the cannabinoids. However, don’t confuse THC with CBD. The two cannabinoids share the same molecular formula, C21H30O2, and practically the same molecular mass, however, the difference of just one atomic bond between them elicits differing mental and physical effects.

Whereas THC is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis that imbues the recognised state of “high,” non-psychoactive CBD does not mirror this effect.

THC is the factor used to determine the legality of cannabis products. CBD is typically derived from the hemp plant, a specific variety of C. sativa traditionally used for its fibre. Legally in the UK, hemp and hemp products like CBD must have a THC content of below 0.2%.

Like THC, CBD delivers a spectrum of health benefits and is safe and typically well-tolerated. A fact highlighted by the World Health Organization in a report stating, “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.” They continue, “To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

“CBD exerts its therapeutic effects by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), the universal regulator of homeostasis.”

Human Physiology and CBD Oil Science

CBD exerts its therapeutic effects by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), the universal regulator of homeostasis. It’s a complex and widespread biological system with three core components: endocannabinoids, endocannabinoid receptors, and enzymes that break down the endocannabinoids once processed.

Homeostasis regulates every aspect of human physiology and is critical to the maintenance of perfect physiological and mental balance. A single event can cause a ripple effect that challenges this equilibrium and can sequentially affect every element the body depends on for health.

If an outside force such as pain or fever impact homeostasis, the ECS immediately acts to reinstate biological stability.

Research confirms the ECS has an essential role in many bodily processes, including:

  • appetite and metabolism
  • immunity
  • inflammation
  • metabolism
  • pain
  • reproduction and fertility
  • sleep

Endocannabinoids interact with two principal cannabinoid receptors:

  • CB1 receptors are found in the brain and central nervous system
  • CB2 receptors are prevalent in the peripheral nervous system and immune cells

Endocannabinoids can bind either type of receptor, with the results dependent on the receptors location and the bound endocannabinoid.

THC interacts with the ECS and can bind with cannabinoid receptors in the same manner as endocannabinoids. In contrast, CBD does not bind to these receptors. Although scientists have not fully elucidated how CBD interacts with the ECS, they have found it acts as an agonist, preventing enzymes from breaking down endocannabinoids.

Additionally, CBD binds with TRPV ion channels, which are involved in pain perception and inflammation, and activates the GPR55 receptor, which has the potential to treat pain and inflammation.

“Don’t confuse THC with CBD. The two cannabinoids share the same molecular formula however, the difference of just one atomic bond between them elicits very different mental and physical effects.”

Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency

If the ECS detects an imbalance, it reacts by synthesising endocannabinoids to interact with the receptors. The resulting chemical response ensures the body returns to homeostasis.

However, some experts believe that anomalies in this process can lead to ECS signalling issues known as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD).

CECD could occur if the ECS balance is upset through insufficient endocannabinoids or receptors or overly abundant enzymes. Foods and medications may also be implicated in imperfect ECS signalling.

A review of a decade of research concluded that the CECD theory could suggest why individuals develop conditions without a clear cause that are frequently resistant to treatment, such as migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and more.

If CECD is implicated, then targeting ECS imbalances through plant-sourced cannabinoids like CBD could prove pivotal in treating these and potentially other conditions.

“CBD is garnering attention as a potential therapeutic agent for a wide variety of health issues. Some of the most compelling scientific evidence is for its effectiveness is in treating devastating, lifelong illnesses.”

The Evidence for CBD Science-Based Medicine

CBD is garnering attention as a potential therapeutic agent for a wide variety of health issues. Some of the most compelling scientific evidence is for its effectiveness is in treating devastating epilepsy syndromes, including Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically resist pharmacological treatment.

Recently the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Epidiolex, a cannabis-derived medication containing CBD, to treat these rare and severe forms of epilepsy, thereby further cementing the premise of CBD as a beneficial therapeutic agent.

Credible research for other conditions, including chemotherapy-induced nausea and multiple sclerosis-related spasticities, has resulted in marketing authorisations for other cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs), allowing them to be legally prescribed.

There is substantial data from research and clinical trials that indicate the potential CBD has in treating numerous health conditions, including:

  • anorexia
  • anxiety
  • cancer
  • cardiovascular disorders
  • chronic pain
  • emesis or nausea
  • epilepsy
  • glaucoma
  • inflammation
  • insomnia
  • metabolic syndrome-related disorders
  • multiple sclerosis
  • neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease
  • obesity
  • osteoporosis
  • schizophrenia

Because of CBD’s low toxicity and typically benign side-effects, disregarding its clinical potential is no longer a possibility. Many medical professionals are now optimistic that new, high-quality research will further underpin the benefits of CBD, thereby adding to a growing body of scientific evidence supporting CBD oil as a medicine.

“CBD has the potential to help manage anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and a range of other health issues that can impact people’s quality of life.”

The Low Down on CBD

CBD is undoubtedly a potent therapeutic agent. Because of its excellent tolerability and safety profile combined with lack of psychoactive effects, and low potential for abuse, many agree it is an ideal candidate for treating many health conditions.

The focus of considerable research has indicated a range of therapeutic applications that draw upon its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties.

CBD has the potential to help manage anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and a range of other health issues that can impact people’s quality of life.

Author Zia Sherrell

Zia is a digital health journalist and content creator with over a decade of experience covering diverse topics from public health to medical cannabis, nutrition, and biomedical science. She has written for Medical News Today, NetDoctor, and Insider, among other publications.

About Zia

Her mission is to empower and educate people by bringing health matters to life with engaging, evidence-based writing. By reaching a wide-audience, Zia hopes to help people understand the wonders of health and wellness so that they can become advocates for their own wellbeing.

Zia has worked in the healthcare industry as a researcher, clinical data manager, and clinical trial monitor. She pivoted into freelance writing and now works as a health copywriter, and contributing writer to well-known publications worldwide. When she isn’t at the computer, she enjoys travelling and chasing after her dogs and horses.

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