Medical benefits of CBD

The human body produces various endocannabinoids, developed from fatty acids that interact with cannabinoid receptors (CB), sited on the external layer of several cell types. Together, CB receptors and endocannabinoids make up the endocannabinoid system. Some cannabinoids from cannabis plants (known as phytocannabinoids) and many synthetic cannabinoids that are synthetized in laboratories, produce endocannabinoid-like effects.

The Endocannabinoid System

CBD is one of more than 150 cannabinoids coming from the cannabis plant which contains a broad range of chemical profiles and responds to selective breeding. In cannabis plants, there is a variety of compounds known as cannabinoids, which generate different reactions to the body. For example, THC is the main cannabinoid that produces psychoactive effects, while CBD can somehow inhibit this adverse effect of THC. Nevertheless, they all come from the same plant.

The THC levels is the main difference between cannabis and hemp, however each one is a variation of the same species. For example, specific cannabis strains have been selected to produce a higher percentage of THC, mainly for recreational purposes. In contrast, industrial hemp has been preferred for the manufacture of medical cannabis products, thanks to its low THC concentration, no more than 0.3%, but high levels of CBD.

Manufacturers will also extract the CBD from industrial hemp, which ensures low levels of THC, according to the current legislation. Cannabis extracts can even be fully purified, isolating just the CBD, with absolutely no traces of THC, not even 0.3%. These products are called isolated CBD.

Cannabinoid Receptors

The cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the entire body and at least two have been discovered. CB1 is mainly in the central nervous system in the brain and along the spinal cord, playing an important role in memory and motor control. CB2 is in the peripheral nervous system which is mostly found in cells in the immune system, in the bone marrow cells, and nerves in the digestive system.

There are different factors which affect the activation of CB receptors, such as the type of cell, the dosage, the body’s state and the specific cannabinoid involved. The different effects include euphoria, anxiety, dry mouth, muscle relaxation, hunger and pain reduction. Different forms of manipulation of the endocannabinoid system are also investigated for therapeutic purposes, such as blocking CB receptors (known as antagonism) and modulating the concentration of endocannabinoids through the inhibition of their degradation.

According to studies, it has been expressed that CBD affects a wide range of sites in the brain. For example, it affects serotonin receptors, a CB1 receptor, which is affected by anxiety medications and anti-depressants and acts as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI), helping decrease anxiety.

Other receptors activated by CBD are the vanilloid receptors. Vanilloid receptor type 1 (TRPV1) is associated with pain and inflammation processes and studies have shown a positive correlation with ailments producing chronic pain. The effects of CBD on this receptor would provide an analgesic response, relieving pain. Moreover, CBD also affects the type 2 receptor, involved in the cancer cells growth, so that it could help to reduce or even eradicate malignant tumour cells.

So far, cannabinoids have proven to palliate the symptoms of several pathologies and ailments. This can be shown in the results from many controlled clinical trials. As such, treatment with cannabinoids are not treatments to be taken on their own but otherwise used as additional treatments on top of the current medical treatments already taken. Normally, this is only to be done once current treatments have shown a negative response.

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