CBD Oil Benefits - The Health & Science of Cannabidiol
A Closer Look at CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the responsible alter ego of the fun-loving and psychotropic cousin compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Both are derived from the multidimensional hemp plant, cannabis sativa, and both are called cannabinoids, but that’s really where the similarities between CBD and THC end.
Without breaking out the chemistry set, cannabinoids like THC and CBD are important to humans (and many other mammals as well as reptiles, birds, and fish) because they attach to naturally occuring receptors in the brain, enhancing key parts of our minds and/or bodies.
At the time of this article’s publication, there are only two known cannabinoid receptors in the human brain, CB1 and CB2, but there is growing evidence of many more.
CB1 receptors are located primarily in the brain and help regulate memory, appetite, pain sensation, homeostasis, neuroprotection, and memory. CB2 receptors are located mainly in the immune system and are responsible for delivering therapeutic effects like anti-inflammation, reducing multiple sclerosis pain, and seizure cessation for childhood epilepsy.
NOTE: Due to the Cannabis sativa plant being listed as a schedule 1 narcotic sine 1971, it had been federally illegal to grow hemp until the US Farm Bill of 2018, effectively legalizing industrial hemp nationwide. However, prohibition effectively resulted in limiting all cannabinoid research. The existence of cannabinoid receptors in the brain wasn’t known until the 1980s.
There are 113 identified cannabinoids in the Cannabis sativa plant that each affect physiology and/or immunology independently, yet symbiotically. So, while the heady CB1-friendly THC attaches to both types of receptors in the brain, CB2 receptors only regulate immune system function and are only affected by CBD, not THC. So pure cannabidiol is therapeutic, never psychotropic, making it legal in all 50 states.
For legal reasons, products containing CBD have traditionally used hemp strains categorized as “industrial hemp” which have virtually no THC (less than 1 percent THC [0.3%]). Meeting these guidelines means CBD can legally be used in a variety of products, even in states where cannabis is still illegal.
There are CBD creams, balms and ointments applied topically which reduce swelling, alleviate pain and sooth nerves. It’s in lubricating ointments and bubbly bath bombs to keep skin moisturized. CBD is available in every edible form, from junk food to the sweet and savory sauces of haute cuisine. There are even infused coffee beans that stimulate more senses than caffeine alone, without the “wake and bake.”
For obvious reasons, CBD first made headway during cannabis prohibition because of its medical strengths; reducing pain, combatting seizures and enhancing the immune system.
Once extracted, CBD can be concentrated as an oil or crystallized as a solid. From there it can be applied to tinctures for sublingual application, concentrated into oils for vaporizing, delivered as an aerosol inhalant, as well as crystallized and/or powdered for use in food.
Even though CBD is different from THC or any other cannabinoid (including those made naturally in the human body), it has the benefit of existing in the same plant as 112 of its cousins.
Both THC and CBD come from the same plant, but despite their differences have properties that enhance each other. For example, CBD may actually inhibit potential negative effects of THC (like calming nausea and anxiety), while THC enhances CBD’s effects like reducing stress for better anti-inflammatory results.
Since CBD is associated with health, non-GMO, pesticide-free, industrial hemp that is consistently tested for contamination, ensures safe consumption. But time and relaxed rules have also created new circumstances, resulting in new approaches.
Consider the first cannabis strain designed for maximum CBD production: Crossbred by the Stanley brothers of Colorado, one of the state’s largest growers and dispensary owners, the stuff wasn’t very popular initially; the brothers couldn’t even give it away. But when it was used to create concentrated oil to help a child named Charlotte who suffered from extreme epileptic seizures, Charlotte’s Web became the first strain made for medical purposes.
High-CBD strain plants can have up to 40 percent dry weight Cannabidiol when extracted industrially. The essence is pulled from the flowers, leaves and stalks of the hemp plant. This is unlike hemp oil, which is derived from the seeds.
There are multiple methods to extract CBD from plant material. The extraction process is a serious consideration whether ingesting, inhaling or consuming CBD products because of potential byproducts.
Popular industrial extraction methods include supercritical CO2, and ethanol or other solvents. You can even use olive oil or coconut oil as the medium to extract CBD. But all extraction methods serve the same purpose- to separate cannabinoids from plant matter.
Once its been pulled from the plant, cannabidiol can enrich nearly anything. Delivered by powder, inhalent and oil means this immune-system bolstering cannabinoid has virtually endless possibilities. From the lipid level of our skin to the food we eat and the air we breath, CBD is benefiting mankind as it has for millenia, finally more focused than ever.
From there, the sky’s the limit—without flying high to get there.