CBD is a three-letter abbreviation that is taking the health and wellness world by storm. If we haven’t heard of it yet from friends or family members, the media or maybe even our healthcare providers have talked about it.

The abbreviation is short for cannabidiol, just one of over 113 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD, along with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another cannabinoid, are the two main constituents found in marijuana and hemp plants that are being examined for their health benefits.

There are a number of interesting facts about CBD.

  1. Cannabis isn’t always marijuana, but marijuana is always cannabis.

Cannabis is one of the many flowering genuses found in the cannabaceaefamily. This genus consists of three main species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis ruderalisand Cannabis indica; they all have their own specific characteristics and effects on the human body. Hemp and marijuana, on the other hand, are commonly referred to as a species or strain of cannabis but are actually neither. Hemp and marijuana are actually more of a broad classification of the cannabis genus, which is based on their THC concentrations. “Hemp” is classified as a cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% THC, whereas marijuana is classified as cannabis plant having more than 0.3% of THC. This classification plays a huge role in our legal system and is important to determining which can be used where.

  1. Hemp-derived CBD is legal nationwide.

When it comes to CBD, we need to look at where it is derived from. When it originates from industrialized hemp, the THCcontent is significantly lower than that of marijuana-derived CBD products. To be considered industrialized hemp, the product must contain less than 0.3% THC, according to the 2018 Farm Bill Act. All 50 states have legalized hemp CBD but marijuana CBD is still considered illegal in many state due to its higher THC concentrations. State and local laws may vary on the legalization of marijuana CBD, so it is important to check these laws prior to purchasing these products.

  1. The human body creates its own cannabinoids.

When it comes to talking about CBD, we cannot forget to mention the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The ECS is an innate signaling system that works within the body to maintain homeostasis of various functions. It helps regulate sleep, mood, memory, appetite, hormonal regulation and cellular repair through endogenous cannabinoids binding to their respective receptor sites throughout the body.

Two naturally occurring endocannabinoidsare anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG), which are similar in function and attachment site to THC and CBD, respectively. Anandamide and THC bind to the CB1 receptor sites found primarily within the central nervous system, creating a sensation of ease and bliss. Unlike THC, anandamide does not create an intoxicating effect, or “high,” due to the rapid breakdown rate that specific enzymes have on it.

2-AG binds to the CB2 receptor site found primarily in the peripheral nervous system, gastrointestinal tract and in specific immune cells. Cannabidiol does not bind to this receptor site directly, but it does stimulate the production and activation of 2-AG. 2-AGhelps with modulating pain, decreasing inflammation and improving immune function. However, unlike 2-AG, CBD does play a role in the brain. CBD stops the specific enzymes’ ability to break down anandamide, creating a long-lasting calming presence within the brain.

  1. CBD has an entourage.

CBD, THC and terpenes—the chemicals found in plants that give them their scent and color—work beautifully together to create what is known as the entourage effect. This synergism enhances the medicinal benefits of the supplement, making it even more beneficial for those who are using it.

  1. CBD is being extensively researched for its health benefits.

All over the world, researchers are delving deeper into the effects of cannabidiol on the human body. So far, they have discovered that CBD possesses many beneficial medical properties leading to even more specific research in the healthcare world.

Here are some of the medicinal actions that CBD possesses:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Analgesic
  • Anti-depressant and anxiolytic
  • Antipsychotic
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Antiemetic
  • Anti-cancer/tumor

This discovery of CBD’s medical properties triggered further research to take place, but now as it pertains to various conditions. Here are some conditions that have been extensively researched with CBD:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Acute and chronic kidney disease
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Chronic pain conditions and syndromes
  • Acne
  • Asthma
  1. CBD regulates the circadian rhythm.

The circadian rhythm is the body’s biological feature that relates time and life functions in a 24-hour period, commonly referred to as “our internal clock.” It is what lets us know when we should be sleeping and when we should be eating. CBD is just one of the many cannabinoids found to affect this cycle, along with other effects such as alleviating stress and anxiety and decreasing inflammation and pain, all of which can ruin a good night’s sleep.

  1. CBD and serotonin work well together.

Outside of the endocannabinoid system, CBD also interacts and binds to serotonin receptors, which are located in the central nervous system and digestive tract. Serotonin is simply known as the “happy neurotransmitter,” but it also affects many different aspects of our lives, not just mood. Serotonin and CBD play a large role in assisting with addiction, anxiety, appetite, sleep, pain and even nausea because of their direct binding to the 5HT1A site, along with enhancing anandamide production, which then provides another molecule to bind and enhance its overall mechanism of action.

  1. More is not always better.

Everyone is unique, so it is important to remember that dosing is not a one-size-fits-all. Everyone’s absorption rates, metabolism and excretion rate are going to vary, making it challenging to determine a set dosage for CBD use. Because of this, it is recommended to start low and slowly increase the dosage until reaching the most beneficial dose for each individual.

  1. Quality is extremely important.

Through a process called phytoremediation, Cannabis is one of the few plants that makes soil cleaner then when it is initially planted. This process takes place in only a few plants, including willows, sunflowers and those in the brassica family. This is why it is incredibly important to use only organic CBD to ensure no other environmental pollutants, pesticides and chemicals are being ingested.

Along with looking for a product that is organic, we should also only buy from companies that have independent, third-party testing performed on all of their products. This means an unaffiliated independent laboratory has tested a company’s product and reported back to them on their results. Due to the lack of FDA regulation on dietary supplementation, this ensures that we are getting what we paid for and nothing more (such pesticides, heavy metals or higher THC concentrations) or less (lower amounts of CBD then what is on the label).

Due to the increase in interest in the cannabis plant as it pertains to health and wellness, so much information is emerging weekly and even more products are made available to the public daily. Doing our due diligence is incredibly important to ensure we are not only being our own health advocate but also ensuring anything we put into our body is actually what we want in our body.

For more information on current cannabidiol and its research, visit PUBMED.govfor a variety of peer-reviewed articles or talk to a healthcare professional to find out if CBD is a good fit.

Kathryn R. Ronzo MS, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist and the assistant director of operations at Elm City Wellness. She offers public speaking engagements on wellness-related topics monthly on Monday nights at 6:30 p.m. at Elm City Wellness in New Haven, CT. Connect at 203-691-7653 and ElmCityWellness.com.

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