If you’re familiar with the cannabis scene—and especially medical cannabis—you’ve probably heard of cannabidiol, or CBD for short. But what is cannabidiol? And why is it so important? Why does it always pop up in conversations about medical cannabis? This article will give you everything you need to know.
What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?
Scientists have discovered that cannabis produces more than 400 different compounds. Some of the most important are called cannabinoids. There are over 60 of them.
Cannabinoids are special compounds produced by cannabis that interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). When you consume cannabis, cannabinoids bind to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. That bond ends up impacting all sorts of things in your body.
That’s because the endocannabinoid system is linked to mechanisms in your body that regulate things like mood, appetite, pain, memory, and more. In fact, weed’s ability to trigger and activate the endocannabinoid system is exactly why it produces such a broad range of effects.
Out of all those cannabinoids, there are two that are especially critical: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol. THC is the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis. This is the stuff that gets you high.
CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive. In fact, it helps balance out some of the potentially negative side effects of THC. For example, the intense psychoactive effects of THC can sometimes produce strong feelings of anxiety and paranoia.
But CBD helps mellow it out, so you can enjoy a pleasant, calming high. Simply put, cannabidiol decreases memory impairment, paranoia, and other less-pleasant side effects of THC.
Medical Uses Of Cannabidiol
Beyond that, researchers have discovered that CBD has some powerful medicinal properties. So far, researchers have found that CBD may be useful in treating a wide variety of health conditions and illnesses.
While the body of research into CBD continues to grow, there have already been some important findings. Many of these CBD studies provide evidence for the cannabinoid’s medical properties.
For example, in 2012, researchers with the British Epilepsy Association published a paper about CBD’s anti-convulsant and anti-seizure potential. Their paper said that the “evidence strongly supports CBD as a therapeutic candidate for a diverse range of human epilepsies.”
Similarly, another important study was published in 2006. This one looked at whether CBD might help treat neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and multiple sclerosis.
Researchers working on the project wrote that their work ” new molecular insight regarding the neuroprotective effect of cannabidiol and its possible role in the pharmacological management of AD, especially in view of its low toxicity in humans.”
Simply put, CBD can protect the neurons in the human brain. This property could make cannabidiol a powerful form of treatment for many brain-related illnesses.
There are numerous other studies corroborating these findings. Taking them all together, researchers have found that CBD may be effective in treating:
- nausea and vomiting
- some psychotic disorders
- some neurodegenerative disorders
- certain kinds of tumors and cancer cells
- multiple sclerosis.
CBD Cannabis Strains
Because of weed’s medical properties, breeders and growers have started creating new strains of cannabis that are high in cannabidiol.
One of the most famous is called “Charlotte’s Web.” This strain was designed specifically for children with epilepsy. Similarly, a cannabis company in Minnesota created a strain called Katelyn Faith. This strain is supposed to be one of the most CBD-rich strains in the world.
Like Charlotte’s Web, it was designed to be medicine for young people, especially children with epilepsy. These strains are ideal for treating not only kids, but anybody who’s trying to access the medical side of cannabis without getting high.
There are tons of other CBD-rich strains besides these two. Some of the most well-known include:
- Harlequin: This sativa-dominant strain consistently produces buds with a 5:2 ratio of CBD/THC.
- Critical Mass: This strain is interesting. While it typically has high levels of CBD, it also produces a heavy dose of THC. Critical Mass is a good choice for patients who are also looking for a high.
- ACDC: This hybrid strain packs a punch when it comes cannabidiol levels. Buds have been tested with as much as 19 percent CBD.
- Cannatonic: This strain sometimes produces an even 1:1 ratio of CBD/THC. Other plants are much heavier on the CBD side, producing buds with as much as five times more cannabidiol than THC.
How To Consume Cannabidiol
While looking for strains with high levels of CBD is one approach to tapping into the medical and health potential of cannabis, it’s not the only way.
In fact, cannabinoids tend to be more powerful and effective when they interact together inside your body. This is called the “entourage effect.” Essentially, CBD will be even more effective and will produce a more pronounced set of effects when you consume it alongside other cannabinoids.
The easiest way to take advantage of the entourage effect is to smoke or vape a strain that has a nice blend of both THC and CBD. Similarly, you can look for whole-plant extracts and medical products.
On the other hand, if you want to isolate cannabidiol exclusively, you can consume a growing number of CBD products. Probably the most popular way to get cannabidiol is in oil form.
Typically, you consume CBD oil orally. It’s an easy way to get precise and effective doses without any of the psychoactive effects. It’s also convenient and discreet.
Along with flower and oil, companies now sell tons of different cannabidiol products. These include topicals, patches, bath bombs, tinctures, vapable cartridges, cannabidiol capsules, and even CBD water. It’s easier than ever before to access cannabidiol in whatever form works best for you.
Unclear Legal Status Of Cannabidiol
Despite the promising research, cannabidiol still lives in some murky legal waters. That’s because it’s a compound found in cannabis. And cannabis is still a Schedule I illegal drug in the U.S. It’s also illegal in most other countries around the world.
Some of those laws are changing. In places with medical marijuana programs, CBD oil and other cannabidiol products are easy to get.
But in places where medical marijuana isn’t legal, it gets a bit more confusing. Some places will allow you to use CBD oil. Others won’t.
Fortunately, there are now medical cannabis companies that can ship high-grade cannabidiol oil to your home. That way, you can still get it even if you don’t live near any dispensaries.
You can even buy small-scale extractors. These let you make cannabis oil right at home. The only potential challenge with this is that you still need to get your hands on a lot of bud.
CBD: Everything You Need To Know About Cannabidiol
Cannabidiol is one of the most promising frontiers in marijuana research. So far, scientists think it could be helpful in treating a wide number of health conditions. And as this research continues, we’ll keep learning even more.
Doing this kind of the investigation could become easier as cannabis laws change. So far, the DEA has not reclassified cannabis. But in 2016, the agency said it would make it easier for researchers to study the plant. Many medical cannabis patients have already used cannabidiol to successfully treat illnesses and other health conditions.