The volume of research on CBD and its medicinal benefits continues to grow. At the time of writing, the National Institutes of Health service (PubMed) has already included more than 2,600 studies on CBD in its index. This is the first time in history that such a large amount of research has been conducted on cannabinoids such as CBD. As a result, there is a clearer idea of how CBD can be used as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of different diseases and disorders.
CBD vs. THC: The question of psychoactivity
After THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol), cannabidiol (CBD) is the most studied natural cannabinoid with the greatest therapeutic potential. Among all the cannabinoid compounds contained in hemp, CBD and THC are present in the highest concentrations. Although CBD and THC have different properties, they share an interdependent relationship that enhances and mediates the therapeutic benefits of each.
THC produces the psychoactive effect of hemp, while CBD is not psychoactive. This means that it does not produce effects at the cerebral level. In fact, CBD is even considered to have anti-psychotic effects, by mediating and neutralizing the psychoactivity of THC when the two are administered together.
For this reason, recreational hemp strains typically contain higher levels of THC, while medical hemp may focus on both CBD and THC, depending on the disease being treated.
One of the biggest obstacles to the medical hemp movement in recent years has been the psychoactivity of THC. The advent of CBD research and understanding has helped mitigate this problem by demonstrating the therapeutic benefits of hemp in the absence of the psychoactive compound, THC. The understanding and popularization of CBD has had a profound impact on how the medical community and the general public interpret hemp and its place in medicine.
Physicians and healthcare professionals are increasingly in favor of prescribing CBD products in the treatment of certain diseases. The lack of psychoactivity, minimal side effects and sustainability of CBD production are the reasons why CBD has received positive attention from the medical community. CBD has been legalized almost everywhere in Europe (with the exception of a few countries like Slovakia), in the U.S. and Australia, and the U.S. government has even obtained a patent for the medical use of CBD.
CBD and the endocannabinoid system
There are mainly two types of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) in the human body, which are present in greater abundance in the central nervous system (CB1) and in the immune system (CB2).
These cannabinoid receptors, together with endogenous cannabinoids (cannabinoids produced in the human body) constitute the endocannabinoid system of the human body. The interaction of THC with the CB1 receptor is possibly what leads to the psychoactive effect of THC. CBD, on the other hand, does not have a strong affinity for CB1 receptors and exerts its effects in more peripheral ways.
In contrast, CBD affects the endocannabinoid system indirectly by modifying the ability of the cannabinoid receptor to bind to both phytocannabinoids and endogenous cannabinoids. It also acts indirectly on certain enzymes responsible for the breakdown or degradation of endocannabinoids. We find an example in that CBD inhibits the degradation of anandamide by the enzyme FAAH. This leads to increased serum levels of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid vital to human health.
The endocannabinoid system influences a wide range of physiological functions because its primary goal is to maintain physiological homeostasis. It moderates brain function, the endocrine system, the integumentary system and the immune system. When the endocannabinoid system is stimulated, either by endogenous cannabinoids or phytocannabinoids such as CBD, many different aspects of physical and mental function are affected. This is why CBD, along with other phytocannabinoids, is a potential treatment for a wide range of diseases and disorders.
Ethan Russo, M.D., Ph.D., a medical doctor, and hemp researcher, hypothesizes that a dysfunctional endocannabinoid system is the cause of many treatment-resistant diseases, such as migraine, fibromyalgia, IBD and other disorders. Based on their research, an explanation is found as to why CBD and the endocannabinoid system are such important targets in the treatment of these particular conditions.
Until the 1960s, it was not even known that the human body contained an endocannabinoid system or that such a physiological phenomenon existed. Since this discovery, the endocannabinoid system has been linked to the healing and recovery processes of the human body. This has been a huge driving force behind hemp and CBD research.
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