WHY Cannabidiol (CBD)?
Cannabis is one of the world’s oldest domesticated crops. Though its unique compounds have been used in medicine for thousands of years, its pharmacology was largely unexplored by Western science. That changed when the discovery of the human body’s widespread endocannabinoid system (ECS) in 1992 put cannabis’ health benefits in the limelight. Both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are cannabinoids, meaning they are compounds uniquely found in the plant genus Cannabis. However, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it does not produce a “high” like THC when consumed.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is one of the most vast and vital receptor systems for maintaining good health. It is composed of enzymes, receptors, and endogenous cannabinoids (also called endocannabinoids) found in the organs, glands, brain, connective tissue, and immune cells. Extensive research of the ECS since its discovery has revealed that it plays a crucial role in regulating many physiological processes including pain sensation, appetite, memory, and mood.
For example, cannabinoids can minimize damage and the sensation of pain at the site of an injury by mitigating the release of activators and sensitizers. This action prevents the nerves in the damaged tissue from firing excessively, thereby calming immune cells in the area, preventing inflammation, and promoting regeneration. Despite performing many tasks in several different types of tissue, the primary purpose of this system is to maintain homeostasis or internal balance in the body.
One of the components of the ECS are endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to receptors found in the central nervous system, immune system, brain, organs, glands, and connective tissues. There are three general types of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids that our own bodies produce, plant-produced phytocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids which are engineered in laboratory settings. Cannabinoid levels in the body are nutrient-dependent, so they can drop as a result of malnutrition.
HOW DOES IT ALL COME TOGETHER?
Cannabinoid receptors, believed to one of the most numerous receptors in the body, are embedded in cell membranes and respond to unique signals from cannabinoids. There are two main types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2.
CB1 is most abundant in the brain, but it is also more sparsely present in the kidney, lungs, bones, liver, and in male and female reproductive organs. CB1 is more receptive to THC than CB2. CB2 is found in the immune system and also has a significant presence in the spleen, lungs, liver, muscle, and bone. Converse to CB1’s affinity to THC, CB1 is more receptive to CBD.
CB1 and CB2 receptors play a crucial role in regulating hormone and neuro-hormone activity. Their fundamental function is either to excite or inhibit, which determines how other hormones and systems are regulated in the body. The only plants known to contain enough cannabinoids to treat the endocannabinoid system are found in the hemp species of plants in the genus Cannabis.
Government studies have proven the safety of CBD. To quote from the U.S. Department of Human Services’ Patent No. 6,630,507, “No signs of toxicity or serious side effects have been observed following chronic administration of cannabidiol to healthy volunteers (Cunha et al., Pharmacology 21:175-185, 1980), even in large, acute doses of 700 mg/day (Consroe et al., Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 40:701-708, 1991).”
This government patent states that CBD:
- is anti-convulsive (seizure-preventing)
- promotes powerful antioxidant activity in the treatment of oxidative illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, and cancer
- can lower intraocular pressure in the treatment of glaucoma
- can stimulate blood flow in the cardiovascular system
- can stimulate oxygen flow in the respiratory system
- supports the nutritional health of aging bodies when derived from the hemp plant
- has an anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effect
- has neuroprotective properties that prevent damage from radical free agents in cells in the brain and nervous system
The primary goal of the ECS is to maintain a stable level of internal balance in the body necessary for survival, especially in the face of fluctuations in the external environment. Since the average modern diet is far from optimal, CBD can play an important role in helping to maintain our bodies’ health.
Because physiological systems rely on it for regulating functions, the ECS is imperative for keeping the body in balance. As crucial as this system is to our bodies’ daily functions, science still has much to learn about it.
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