Most everyone is familiar with the effects of THC effects—that’s the cannabis compound that makes you hear colors (among other things). Science calls that “psychoactive”. We just call it good fun. But what about CBD effects? Is CBD equally as psychoactive? This article will answer that question and discuss the effects that CBD has to offer. But first, it’s important to delve into the multi-syllabic world of chemistry and chemical compounds in order to get to know what makes marijuana work.
What Is Cannabis Made Of?
Cannabis is made up of chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Perhaps the best-known cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). But those aren’t the only two. Other lesser-known cannabinoids include cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabicitran (CBT). The nomenclature gets even more convoluted when those broad categories are further subdivided into such compounds as cannabinerolic acid A, cannabichromevarinic acid A, and cannabinol methyl ether.
More broadly, cannabinoids fall into three categories:
- Phytocannabinoids (found in the cannabis plant)
- Endocannabinoids (found naturally in the body)
- Synthetic cannabinoids (manufactured artificially)
Scientists have isolated 113 different phytocannabinoids (the natural kind) from the cannabis plant. Bet you can’t name them all! All joking aside, to truly understand CBD effects, it’s essential that we know what cannabinoids do.
What Do Cannabinoids Do?
Essentially, cannabinoids disrupt communication between certain neurons in the brain. These neurons (or receptors) are called CB1 and CB2. The varying cannabinoids act on the CB1 and CB2 receptors to disrupt communication in different ways. Some cannabinoids, like THC, interact with the CB receptors to produce hallucinations and other psychoactive effects.
To a lesser degree, cannabinoids like CBD, interact with other cannabinoids and the body to produce effects that might not be immediately noticeable. For example, CBD doesn’t interact with either of the CB receptors in the brain. What it does do is counteract the psychoactive effects of the cannabis plant so you don’t get too high and never come back. CBD also, as we’ll discuss shortly, interacts with other receptors in the brain to produce some unique physical effects that make it useful for medicinal purposes. Let’s look closer at how CBD works.
How Does CBD Work?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is one of the major components of the cannabis plant. The fact that it’s non-psychoactive means it doesn’t distort reality like some other cannabinoids (THC, we’re looking at you). But that doesn’t mean that CBD doesn’t interact with the brain at all. It does, and in some rather unique ways. Science is still investigating the effects of CBD and many of the lesser-known cannabinoids, but what is has discovered is truly fascinating.
CBD And Adenosine Receptors
One of the major CBD effects has to do with the way in which it interacts with the adenosine receptors in the brain. The adenosine receptors are largely associated with anxiety. At a very basic level, if the receptors aren’t “firing on all cylinders”, an anxious, paranoid feeling can set in. But when CBD is present, the adenosine receptors are active and firing correctly. This lessens the anxiety.
CBD And Serotonin Receptors
Another significant CBD effect involves the serotonin receptors. According to one study, at high concentrations, CBD activates a specific class of serotonin receptor. When these serotonin receptors are active, they produce an antidepressant effect. These serotonin receptors are also involved in a host of other biological and neurological process as we’ll see below.
CBD And Vanilloid Receptors
A third significant CBD effect revolves around the vanilloid receptors. When it interacts with the vanilloid receptors, CBD stimulates them into activity. These receptors are known to regulate pain perception and inflammation. As such, when they are active, pain and inflammation are not felt as acutely as when they are dormant.
Now that we’ve seen how CBD interacts with neurons in the brain, let’s focus in on CBD effects.
What Are CBD Effects?
CBD has a wide range of medical benefits. Chief amongst those benefits are:
- Reduces nausea and vomiting (antiemetic)
- Fights tumor and cancer cells (antitumoral)
- Suppresses seizure activity (anticonvulsant)
- Combats anxiety and depression (anxiolytic)
- Mediates psychotic disorders (antipsychotic)
- Tempers neurodegenerative disorders (antioxidant)
- Mitigates inflammatory disorders (anti-inflammatory)
In addition, CBD counteracts many of the intoxicating effects of THC like drowsiness, paranoia, and memory loss. In essence, CBD keeps THC from running amok in your system.
Disorders That Can Be Treated With CBD Effects
Because CBD has medicinal properties such as anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, and antiemetic, it can be used to treat a wide range of disorders. Four major disorders that can be treated with CBD are schizophrenia and other psychoses, epileptic disorders, anxiety, and depression.
Other disorder that may respond well to CBD treatment include cancer, osteoporosis, lupus, diabetes, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Parkinson’s disease, and chronic and neuropathic pain. Science has yet to probe deeply into the use of marijuana (CBD specifically) for the treatment of these disorders because of the plant’s illegality. But as laws change, no doubt more and more studies will show what early reports conclude: CBD is a valuable medical compound.
Are There Any Side Effects Of CBD?
Though the scientific community hasn’t yet stated categorically that CBD is 100% safe, many studies have shown just that. CBD has been shown to have no effect on food intake, heart rate, body temperature, or blood pressure. It has been shown to affect the salivary glands resulting in dry mouth.
In addition CBD inhibits liver enzymes that are responsible for metabolizing most of the drugs humans take. If you are on any medications, be sure to ask your doctor about possible interactions before taking CBD or a high-CBD product.
Whether or not dry mouth and the ability to metabolize medication could be considered side effects depends on the person who experiences them. Dry mouth may be a small price to pay for a reduction in pain or psychosis. And if CBD does better at fighting your nausea than your medication, it might be worth stopping the medication all together. Please discuss the possibilities with your doctor before discontinuing any medication.
Should You Neglect CBD For High THC?
With the legality of medical and recreational marijuana spreading across the country, many cannabis consumers are focusing on the psychoactive effects of THC. Modified marijuana strains are pushing 30% THC while some concentrates are slowly creeping towards the coveted triple-digit percentage (100%). But is this surge for more and more somehow misguided? Quite possibly it is when you consider the beneficial CBD effects that get left behind as THC is increased.
In the near future, we may have products that cater specifically to all our cannabis needs: high-THC strains and products for the recreational user who just wants to fly, and high-CBD strains and products for the medicinal user who doesn’t want to suffer anymore.
Whatever product or strain you choose, be it high THC, high CBD, or good old whole-plant marijuana, it’s important to get all the facts first. Do a bit of research, talk to experienced consumers, talk to the professionals at your local dispensary, perhaps talk to a physician, and then try small doses for yourself. That’s the only way you’re going to know what works for you. It all depends on what you need to get from the experience.