CBD, or cannabidiol, is quickly changing the debate surrounding the use of marijuana as a medicine.
Most people have heard of a chemical called THC, which is the ingredient in marijuana that gets users high. But recently, attention has shifted to another marijuana compound called CBD. And for good reason.
Because while doctors can’t seem to look past certain side effects of THC, CBD doesn’t seem to present that problem. On the other hand, evidence of CBD’s vast medical potential is mounting.
Here are five facts that you need to know about this unique compound:
1. CBD is a key ingredient in cannabis
CBD is one of over sixty compounds found in cannabis that belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids. Of these compounds, CBD and THC are usually present in the highest concentrations, and are therefore the most recognized and studied.
CBD and THC levels tend to vary between different strains and varieties of cannabis. For example, by using selective breeding techniques, cannabis breeders have managed to create varieties with high levels of CBD and next to zero levels of THC.
2. CBD is non-psychoactive
Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a high. While this makes CBD a poor choice for recreational users, it gives the chemical a significant advantage as a medicine, since health professionals prefer treatments with minimal side effects.
The reason that CBD is non-psychoactive is due to its lack of affinity for CB1 receptors. CB1 receptors are found in high concentrations in the brain, and are the pathways responsible for the psychoactive effects of THC.
3. CBD has a wide range of medical benefits
Despite a different pathway of action, CBD seems to possess many of the same benefits of THC. According to a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, studies have found CBD to possess the following medical properties:
Combats nausea and vomiting
Combats seizure activity
Combats psychosis disorders
Combats anxiety and depression disorders
Combats inflammatory disorders
Combats neurodegenerative disorders
Combats tumor and cancer cells
4. CBD reduces the negative effects of THC
CBD seems to offer natural protection against the marijuana high. Numerous studies suggest CBD acts to counter the intoxicating effects of THC, including memory impairment and paranoia.
Both CBD and THC have been found to present no risk of lethal overdose. However, to reduce potential side effects, medical users may be better off using cannabis strains with higher levels of CBD.
5. CBD is still illegal
Even though CBD shows much promise as a medicine, it remains illegal in many parts of the world. CBD is classified as a Schedule I drug in the U.S. and a Schedule II drug in Canada.
On the other hand, the US FDA recently approved a pharmaceutical version of CBD, marketed as Epidiolex, for clinical trials in pediatric epilepsy. The trials began in early 2014.
A patent awarded to the U.S. Health and Human Services in 2003 (US6630507) also covers the use of CBD as a treatment for a variety of neurodegenerative and inflammatory disorders