People frequently wonder what is CBD or what is cannabidiol? Cannabidiol is also called CBD, so these two are the same thing, and they are a compound derived from cannabis that is said to have medical and therapeutic benefits. Proponents of CBD say that it can help deal with conditions including inflammation, chronic pain, psychosis, anxiety, and seizures among others.
Despite the fact that people in favor of using cannabidiol therapeutically say that it does have benefits, the U.S. government has done research that isn’t necessarily completely conclusive or in favor of these assertions, although there is some early evidence showing the use of CBD does have some benefits. The following information provides an overview of answers to the following questions:
- What is CBD and what is cannabidiol?
- Is CBD hemp oil marijuana?
- Are CBD and marijuana the same thing?
- What’s the difference between low THC and high THC CBD?
- What are the effects of CBD?
- What are the benefits of CBD?
- Does CBD help anxiety or make it worse?
- Can CBD help with cancer?
As touched on above, cannabidiol or CBD is derived from cannabis. The CBD is one of the most prevalent chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, but it’s different from something called THC that’s also derived from CBD because it’s not psychoactive. People in favor of the use of CBD often say that it’s a way to get relaxation and therapeutic benefits without feeling high, but undoubtedly the compound does have effects on the person using it. Although it is one of the most numerous compounds found in the cannabis plant, CBD isn’t the only one, and there are different concentrations of CBD oil as well.
CBD, which is often used in therapeutic and medical contexts, comes from the hemp part of the cannabis sativa plant, as does marijuana, but though they are both processed from the same component of the plant, CBD and marijuana are thought to be very different. For example, in the past marijuana farmers have tended to breed their hemp plants to have high amounts of THC because of the effects that component has to the user, but when people are farming hemp to get CBD oil, they don’t try to make it higher in THC. It’s actually better to reduce the amount of TCH as much as possible. People frequently wonder is CBD hemp oil marijuana? Or Is CBD marijuana? The answer is no. These substances are derived from the same type of plant, but they’re not exactly the same nor do they have the same uses.
There are different varieties of the cannabis plant, and hemp is the nonpsychoactive type of cannabis. Hemp and marijuana are derived from the same the species of cannabis, but their uses, chemical components and how they’re cultivated are different from one another. Hemp is favored in use for a variety of industrial applications because it’s renewable and versatile. It’s relatively easy to grow, requiring minimal water and no pesticides, so it’s environmentally friendly as compared to many of its counterparts. Also, since hemp doesn’t contain THC, it can’t produce the high associated with marijuana.
Despite the advantages of hemp and the fact that it can’t be used to get high, the Controlled Substances Act describes it as a Schedule I drug, so it’s illegal to grow it in the U.S. and it’s imported from other countries, as long as minimal amounts of THC are present. Regarding CBD and hemp, CBD oil is found in both marijuana and industrial hemp, and it’s the CBD derived from industrial hemp that’s most often used since it contains less than 1% THC. There have been moves in many states to legalize medical marijuana, at least in a limited way, in order to provide greater access to CBD for the treatment of certain medical conditions.
This brings about the importance of understanding the distinctions between industrial hemp-derived CBD and CBD derived from cannabis. It’s much easier to access CBD derived from industrial hemp, and it has the same properties as cannabis-derived CBD, which is why it’s become a viable alternative for people who live in states that don’t allow them to access medical marijuana but they can legally get access to CBD derived from hemp. So, is CBD hemp oil marijuana? No, not technically in most cases. There is CBD from marijuana, but it’s not what’s used for medical reasons in most cases.
- Medical marijuana and industrial hemp are both derived from the Cannabis Sativa L. plant
- When someone grows industrial or agricultural hemp, it’s done in a different way than cannabis that has THC
- It’s nearly impossible for high THC products to be grown with hemp
- It’s frequently argued that when CBD oils and other CBD products are made from industrial or agricultural hemp, it’s not actually a violation of the Controlled Substances Act
- Unlike THC you won’t get a sense of euphoria from using CBD
- If you’re getting CBD that’s made from industrial hemp you don’t need a prescription
- People who are in favor of the therapeutic use of CBD oil feel it has physical and psychological benefits
When someone takes CBD, it impacts the endocannabinoid system which includes receptors that are located throughout the body and brain. THC specifically activates two receptors, which are the CB1 and CB2 receptors. On the other hand, CBD doesn’t stimulate these receptors, at least not directly. The cannabinoid receptors that are found inside the human body regulate a lot of different processes that we experience daily including mood, appetite, memory and pain sensation, and when they’re activated, it can be by naturally-occurring endocannabinoids, as well as the plant cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis.
CB1 receptors are found primarily in the central nervous system, although also in smaller amounts throughout the body including in the liver and lungs. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are part of the human immune system, and they’re found in certain blood cells. CB1 receptors are part of how the body and the central nervous system produces and releases certain neurotransmitters, which is why there are psychoactive effects of using certain types of cannabis. The CB1 receptors also deal with various processes in the liver, and they can impact things such as pleasure, appetite, and tolerance for pain. As was touched on, CB2 receptors interact with the immune system.
However, while the CB1 and CB2 receptors are activated by the use of cannabis with THC contents, CBD is different. CBD activates receptors such as the serotonin and adenosine receptors. Because of the receptors activated by CBD, using CBD hemp oil can change things like pain perception and inflammation. CBD also activates the adenosine receptors, which helps with anxiety because these receptors release dopamine. In some cases when people take higher concentrations of CBD it may activate the 5-HTIA receptor, which is a serotonin receptor, and this is why people feel CBD has an anti-depressant effect. Also important to understand when looking at how CBD works is the fact that when someone takes it, it blocks the psychoactive effects of THC, so people can take advantage of what some say are the benefits of CBD without the mind-altering effects of THC.
With whole plant CBD oils, there are several methods that may be used including soaking the plant in a solvent like alcohol and then using the liquid, evaporating the solvent, and taking what’s left of the CBD oil. There’s also a process of extraction that relies on C02, which is a more complex procedure. With this, there are various pressure and temperature controls that have to be monitored as the CO2 is pushed through the plant. The cannabinoid solution needed for the CBD oil then reacts and separates from the rest of the plant. As people have started increasingly relying on CBD oil as an everyday supplement, many manufacturers are adding flavors so that it’s more palatable.
THC is just one of the compounds that are derived from the marijuana plant, and more specifically it’s found in the resin secreted by the plant. Cannabinoids, on the other hand, are just another compound found in these plants, both marijuana and hemp. THC can affect your body in many ways because when you use it, your brain is then triggered to release the chemical dopamine. This is why you may experience a euphoric high, and this is not unlike what happens with other drugs. THC also changes how information is processed in your brain, particularly in the hippocampus. This can create changes in thinking, and there’s also the potential for someone to experience delusions or hallucinations. When someone takes THC, it will usually start to affect them in anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, and these effects may last for up to two hours.
Some of the general side effects of THC can include:
- Elation or euphoria
- Short-term memory problems
- Pain relief
- Impaired motor skills that can contribute to accidents
- In some cases taking substances containing THC can lead to a relapse in symptoms associated with schizophrenia
- When THC is chronically used by younger people, it can lead to a decrease in IQ as well as continuing memory and cognition problems
- THC can also have potentially dangerous interactions with other medicines or substances
Another risk that’s gaining more attention in recent years is the fact that edibles have become more popular and that may increase the risk of overdosing. People are eating larger quantities of these edibles and thereby ingesting more THC as well. With edibles, there is the potential to have more THC that’s more potent, leading to drug effects that last longer and are more powerful. Despite the potential risk, there is some evidence that THC and marijuana may be helpful for cancer patients and other medicinal purposes. In some cases, researchers are working on extracting THC from marijuana for FDA-approved drugs to help with symptoms such as nausea and loss of appetite.
There are differences in the amount of THC in cannabis as well. The concentration of THC depends on factors including whether or not it’s exposed to air and the cultivation of the marijuana plant. Hemp is an example of a type of cannabis with a low THC concentration. There are some strains of cannabis with as little as 0.3 percent THC, and then in other types, the THC may account for up to 20 percent of the weight. The average concentration of THC found in marijuana ranges from 1 to 5 percent, and in hashish, it’s 5 to 15 percent. With hashish oil, which is different from CBD oil, it’s on average 20 percent.
When someone takes THC, and it binds to the CB1 receptors, it stimulates them, and that activation leads to the effects of the drug, such as the euphoric high or the sense of relaxation. In a lot of ways, THC replicates the action of a certain neurotransmitter, which is anandamide, and this increases the appetite of the user and leads them to eat more than they would normally because of the pleasure and reward reactions it creates.
On the other hand, the difference between CBD vs. THC is in the fact that CBD doesn’t fit with the CB1 receptors. It’s an antagonist of these receptors, so it doesn’t suppress or activate them. Instead, CBD actually would suppress the elements of THC that would activate the CB1 receptors. Because of the difference in receptor activation, some have dubbed THC the bad cannabinoid and CBD the good one, and there are differences in state laws regarding access to the two substances, but some researchers believe CBD and THC work better together than separately when it comes to using these cannabis derived substances medicinally. The variances seen when looking at CBD vs. THC boil down to very small anatomical differences between the two. Their chemical makeup is actually the same but just arranged slightly differently which is why THC has psychoactive effects and CBD doesn’t.
According to the NIH, there are more than 80 active cannabinoid chemicals in the marijuana plant, and CBD is only one of those. However, the NIH confirms that when someone takes CBD, it doesn’t create euphoria or intoxication. This is because CBD doesn’t interact with the CB1 or CB2 receptors in the brain and body. The NIH goes on to say that while there is still the need for in-depth clinical studies regarding the effects of CBD and CBD benefits for specific conditions, preclinical research has shown there may be some positive effects of this substance. The effects of CBD and potential CBD benefits are detailed below.
- Anti-Seizure: One of the first ways the concept of CBD benefits came to light in a large-scale way was because of the anti-seizure effects of the substance. There have been quite a few research studies over the past 20 years showing that CBD has the potential to reduce seizure activity, and there is some evidence showing CBD can be used to help treat children who are resistant to epilepsy medicines. Research studies focusing on the antiseizure effects of CBD have been somewhat limited and small thus far, but they do show some benefits.
- Anti-inflammatory Effects: Some research has also shown CBD may have neuroprotective properties, meaning CBD benefits could include helping with neurodegenerative diseases. These diseases could include Alzheimer’s, stroke, Parkinson’s, and neurodegeneration caused by alcohol abuse. There is something called nabiximols which contains equal proportions of CBD and THC that’s approved in much of Europe to help treat certain symptoms of MS as well. In the small studies looking at the role of CBD in helping deal with symptoms of diseases like Parkinson’s, its use has been shown to improve quality of life.
- Analgesic Effects: Other studies of the effects of CBD and CBD benefits have looked at the substance regarding its potential analgesic effects. It could be helpful to use CBD as a way to treat neuropathic pain and pain from rheumatoid arthritis.
- Anti-Psychotic and Anti-Anxiety: When people use marijuana, it increases their chances of chronic psychosis, at least in high doses. There is some belief that the use of CBD could reduce these THC effects. There have also been some clinical trials looking at situations such as patients having Parkinson’s with psychosis who took CBD and got good results from it. One of the biggest reasons people use CBD is also to help with anxiety. There have been research studies that have looked at anxiety and stress in animals and small human tests, and the use of CBD has seemed to reduce anxiety.
Another way the effects of CBD/cannabidiol can be beneficial includes in helping with substance use disorders. There are early findings that show they could help when people are addicted to drugs such as morphine and heroin. While there are potential CBD benefits being looked at, it’s important that people do understand scientific research backing up these effects of CBD is still limited. In terms of looking at the safety of the effects of CBD, according to the NIH while there is limited research, thus far there hasn’t been much evidence of significant adverse effects stemming from its use. At present, research on the effects of CBD is focused on the treatment of substance use disorders, looking at whether it could be helpful to help treat neuropathic pain and looking at the use of CBD as a way to help with seizure disorders.
Proponents of using high CBD strains for the treatment of anxiety symptoms say it can help with panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD and mild to moderate depression. So why does CBD work on anxiety, and do high CBD strains help anxiety or could they make it worse?
First and foremost, it’s important to realize that while high CBD strains are good for anxiety cannabis strains high in THC can actually exacerbate the problem of anxiety. While high CBD strains don’t create a high like high THC strains do, they do have anxiolytic properties without paranoia or mental cloudiness. There are many different CBD-high strains available for people who are considering the use of CBD as a way to treat anxiety. For example, there are some products that have 11 percent or more CBD, and it can be a great way to take the edge off anxiety or to boost moods when you have depression.
So to sum up, if you wonder whether high CBD strains help anxiety or make it worse, they do tend to make it better as long as the strain is high only in CBD and not simultaneously high in THC. Strains of cannabis high in THC can amplify symptoms of anxiety in some people.
So what about CBD and cancer? According to the NIH National Cancer Center, there are substances such as dronabinol and nabilone that are approved by the FDA for the treatment of side effects related to cancer, and this highlights the fact that there may be therapeutic benefits with cannabinoids. In general, the NIH National Cancer Center says that medicinal cannabis may help people who live with cancer by providing pain relief, better quality of sleep, and appetite stimulation, and there are more doctors that are seeking out the use of cannabis and cannabinoid products to help cancer patients.
Along with helping treat some symptoms of cancer, the NIH National Cancer Center also points out that studies done in animals have shown that the use of cannabinoids may help protect against tumor development, so they are believed to have some antitumor effects. The role of CBD and cancer, and answering whether or not CBD can help with cancer, whether in terms of the treatment of the symptoms or helping slow or impede the growth of tumors, is still being researched, but it’s not something the NIH has ruled out, as there has been promise in studies thus far.