The cannabis plant has been used medicinally for nearly 4,000 years. Ancient texts from China, Egypt, Greece, India and more describe the plant’s applications and benefits. While our ancestors did not have the science to back their beliefs of healing, health and wellbeing, we are now learning that they were valid in their claims. The cannabis plant’s composition is the reason behind its myriad of uses, and its cannabinoids are the elements of many of our reactions to the plant. Over 113 cannabinoids can be isolated from the cannabis plant and one of those is receiving an entire scientific community’s worth of attention for its interactions with our most essential regulatory system. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is emerging as a viable tool for regulating, equalizing and enhancing our health, wellness and even happiness.
So, what is CBD?
CBD, or Cannabidiol, is one of the most prominent cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, known for its antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. CBD is non-intoxicating, as opposed to its sister cannabinoid, THC, which is the molecule that causes the ‘high’ typically associated with cannabis ingestion. In fact, CBD is known to mitigate the anxiety-inducing effects that can accompany THC ingestion. Its properties are associated with healing and harmonizing, working with our bodies to find equilibrium.
CBD does this through its interactions with the body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a physiologic system that regulates many of our basic functions and patterns including appetite, immunity, inflammation, memory, metabolism, mood, pain and sleep, among others.
The Endocannabinoid System Explained
The endocannabinoid system is often referred to as the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Comprised of several interlocking mechanisms, including enzymes that create or destroy cannabinoids, cannabinoids, and cannabinoid receptors, its components work to maintain stable internal environments. The total number of endocannabinoid receptors in the body is believed to be greater than all the other neuromodulatory receptors combined, including receptors for serotonin and dopamine.
Endocannabinoid receptors receive both naturally-occurring cannabinoids (made within the body) and external cannabinoids (such as phyto-cannabinoids, produced by plants). These receptors are found in different areas of the body and perform different roles. CB1 receptors are located mainly in the brain, central nervous system, connective tissues, glands and organs. These are known to bind with the cannabinoid THC. CB2 receptors can mostly be found within the immune system and related organs such as the spleen, tonsils and the gastrointestinal tract, and are known to be affected by the cannabinoid CBD. These locales aren’t absolute, however, and many tissues throughout the body are known to contain both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
As a system, the combined components of the ECS work to regulate the body’s immune and central nervous systems to ensure they are operating in a state of dynamic equilibrium, or homeostasis. Your body produces endocannabinoids in order to trigger essential body functions and patterns that facilitate this equilibrium. Cannabinoids (such as CBD) can be used as externally-introduced options to do the same.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
CBD interacts with CB2 receptors within the Endocannabinoid System to produce a myriad of effects, in order to achieve homeostasis. It is the locations of these receptors that bring such varied and valuable benefits. CB2 receptors are primarily found in our gut, liver, heart, kidneys, bones, blood cells and vessels, lymph cells and reproductive organs. When CBD enters the body, it reacts with irritated, inflamed and/or depleted receptor sites in order to re-establish equilibrium. The interactions between cannabinoids and receptor sites can result in powerful and long-lasting relief from pain and even chronic illnesses related to inflammation.
Now that you’re getting a feel of how one small aspect of an entire plant works, the question must arise: How do I get it? CBD is generally extracted from two variations of the cannabis plant: the traditional cannabis plant, which contains high levels of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC, and the hemp plant, the fully-legal and non-psychoactive version of cannabis. At noteCBD (abbreviated for Nectar Of The Earth), we extract our full-spectrum, phytocannabinoid-rich, whole plant hemp oil from organically grown hemp plants with low THC.
Hemp is being farmed in over 40 U.S. states for research, and many companies are partnering with those farms and universities to bring the beneficial cannabinoids to the public. Hemp oil, often referred to as CBD oil, is available for consumption across the nation. Similar to an essential oil, the plant’s residue has been crafted into tinctures, balms, capsules, and more. By law, hemp oil contains less than 3% THC, meaning there are no highs/intoxicating effects associated with the products.
Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil
Hemp oil and CBD oil are often used interchangeably. However, they can be different. Full-spectrum hemp oil, such as the one used in noteCBD products, means the oil includes the full array of cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant. It contains all the elements that comprise the specific plant’s strain. Products that contain full-spectrum oil are known to encourage what is known as the Entourage Effect, meaning each element complements and elevates the medicinal properties of each other.
CBD isolate is just that, an isolate. Extracted as hemp oil, the product is then purified to strip any additional cannabinoids, fatty acids, terpenes and other plant materials. The end result is 100% pure CBD.
As we already know, CBD works with the endocannabinoid system, interacting with receptors across the body to facilitate equilibrium. While the endocannabinoid system is linked to so many processes related to the brain, nervous system and reproductive organs, it has not been linked to regions of the brain that control heart and lung function. This is one of the main reasons that fatal overdoses of cannabinoids do not occur.
CBD and other elements of the cannabis plant continue to be studied, and its benefits continue to be recognized and applied to a wide array of ailments and illnesses.
It is only a matter of time before more applications of the plant, approvals of its use as medicine, and acceptance of its benefits are realized.