In the past, THC got all the attention. But moving into the limelight, particularly post-legalization, is a lesser-known cannabinoid that goes by the name of Cannabidiol – or CBD. While historically THC has been the main cannabinoid of focus, in the last few years researchers and consumers alike have been exploring the many potential effects of another cannabinoid that until recently, had gone mostly ignored.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of over 120 phytocannabinoids – chemical compounds occurring naturally in plants – that have been identified by the scientific community. More specifically, it’s a phytocannabinoid that is naturally found in cannabis. These cannabinoids interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, which is made up of receptors that bind to them. It’s these chemical interactions that create the variety of effects experienced in your body when consuming cannabis.
It’s interesting to note that the endocannabinoid system in our bodies is designed specifically to bond and interact with phytocannabinoids. It makes sense; after all, “endocannabinoids are known to play a role in numerous physiological processes including appetite, memory, and pain.”1
How will consuming CBD affect me?
CBD binds slightly differently to your endocannabinoid receptors compared to THC. For that reason, the most obvious difference between the two cannabinoids will be how you feel after consuming. While THC is psychoactive, CBD is non-intoxicating.2 That’s because CBD binds primarily with the receptor CB2, which tend to occur most abundantly in our immune systems. (This is compared to THC, which binds primarily to CB1 receptors – abundant in the brain; hence, the cerebral effects of THC).
This is not to say, however, that CBD has no effect on us. Since CBD receptors exist throughout our bodies, we are still highly reactive to this cannabinoid. Consumers report a range of benefits – from pain reduction to helping control the symptoms of certain epilepsies3 and such neurological diseases as Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s.4 CBD has also been reported to “have well-documented biological effects of potential therapeutic interest, such as antianxiety, anticonvulsive, antinausea, anti-inflammatory, and antitumor properties.”5
Does CBD counter the effects of THC?
Beyond the potential medical applications of CBD, it is also very effective in shaping your experience should you choose to consume products with both cannabinoids. (Please note that even products which are “high in THC” will contain some amount of CBD; most high-THC products however contain extremely low amounts). Studies have found that CBD can “act as an antagonist at cannabinoid CB1 receptors”; in other words, it reduces the amount of THC receptors available. 6
You might be asking yourself why you would want to reduce your high, given that you’ve just consumed THC for exactly that! Well, the answer is two-fold. First off: sometimes you just overdo it. It’s never fun when you “green out” (consume too much cannabis), and while it certainly isn’t life-threatening, it can lead to an unpleasant experience. In one study, “CBD appeared to antagonize…[the effects of] THC”.7 Thus, it’s a good idea to have some CBD on hand (whether in dried flower, oil, or another format) in the event that you green out.
The other reason is that CBD can change the way you experience your high. Potent THC products can produce paranoia and anxiety in certain consumers, particularly if they’ve taken too much or if they’re new to cannabis. That’s why some products on the market today boast a 1:1 ratio, meaning equal parts THC and CBD.
What kinds of products contain CBD?
Like THC products, those that contain CBD exist in a number of formats. CBD products can be smoked or vaporized as dried flower using strains that are high in the cannabinoid. In addition to dried flower, many CBD products can be found in the form of cannabis oil. Not only that, but over the past few years we’ve seen a huge boost in the application of CBD in skincare products - although these are not yet legal in Canada.
Basically, CBD comes in a huge range of formats. For more on which method of consumption is right for you, read our article on consumption methods.
Remember, consumption methods and dosage recommendations are highly individual. Please consult this Health Canada fact sheet for reference on dosing. Always “start low and go slow”.
Is CBD the future of cannabis?
CBD, it would appear, is quite an incredible compound with many potential applications. It can be used by medical and recreational consumers alike, depending on one’s individual needs and preferences. In fact, CBD researchers have even begun studying its application in animals, in the treatment of ailments such as epilepsy in dogs.8 Is there anything this amazing cannabinoid can’t do?
Interested in trying high-CBD strains? Check out Durga Mata 2 and Daytime CBD
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