Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many components found in the cannabis plant, and is the second most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana after THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). The common misconception about cannabis is that it’s only good for packing bongs, getting high, and listening to Bob Marley with your hippy mates.
But the cannabinoids contained in cannabis have extremely therapeutic actions as well.
THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis responsible for giving you an attack of the munchies or uncontrollable laughter. It does this activating the CB1 and CB2 receptors that make up the “endocannabinoid system”. These receptors exist in the brain, central nervous system, and peripheral nervous system.
Depending on which receptors are activated, THC can produce an array of different effects, which can range from reduced pain, to paranoia, to euphoria. THC has a higher affiliation for the CB1 receptors, which are primarily found in the brain, and provide more influence on pain sensation and feelings of intoxication.
CB2 receptors on the other hand, are more associated with the immune system and inflammation. They are also found in large numbers in the gastrointestinal system, so have influence on the microbiome, and offer a potential treatment strategy for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
CBD oil works differently to THC, in that it has very little binding capacity for CB1 or CB2 cannabinoid receptors.
Instead, CBD oil increases the endogenous fatty acid neurotransmitter called Anandamide, which then activates the endocannabinoid system. The magic of this is that it actually blocks the psychoactive effects of THC on the CB1 receptors. So there is no risk of intoxication using CBD oil. CBD oil also stimulates the release of 2-AG (2-Arachidonoylglycerol), which is another endocannabinoid that triggers the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
So in simple terms, THC directly stimulates the CB1 receptors,
while CBD triggers substances that already exist in our body, to activate CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CBD oil also binds to the TRPV-1 receptor, which plays a part in pain perception and mediation, and also inflammation and body temperature. This is why it has such great significance for treating pain, and in particular neuropathic pain.
CBD oil also activates the 5-HT1A (hydroxytryptamine) serotonin receptor, so can be used to treat depression, anxiety, addiction, sleep disturbances, nausea (serotonin modulates the vomit reflex in the gut), and also provides further pain reduction. Serotonin modulates pain perception, which is why those with fibromyalgia are commonly prescribed anti depressants. CBD oil is a promising approach to consider.
Another function of CBD oil is that it activates PPARs (peroxisome proliferator activated receptors), which inhibit cell proliferation and can reduce tumor growth. Yep, anti-cancer as well! PPAR activation also breaks down amyloid-beta plaque, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
There are 2 questions I immediately get from patients when talking about CBD oil.
The obvious first one is “Is it legal?”
Under the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and Food Standards Code of Australia/New Zealand (FSANZ), it is currently illegal to consume or ingest hemp oil products. It is currently allowed for topical use, and is commonly used in skin care and beauty products. It can also be bought in a liposomal form, which is basically CBD oil encapsulated in a phospholipid molecule, which is the same fat that our cells are made from. This enhances the delivery into cells. This is exactly like liposomal glutathione or liposomal curcumin, which i often prescribe for oral use.
The second question is,
“Will it show up in a drug test?”
Fair call… that wouldn’t look good, would it! CBD oil is not detectable in drug tests, because testing strategies are measuring the THC component, and not CBD.
What can you use it for?
The use of CBD oil for health issues is in its infancy, but preliminary research is very encouraging. The Realm of Caring website is an excellent database of various research into the use of Cannabis oil. Below is a list of common conditions from this site that CBD oil may be effective for;
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Autoimmune conditions
- Gastrointestinal disease
- Interstitial Cystitis (IC) / Painful bladder Syndrome
- Heart disease
- Histamine Conditions
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Obsessive Compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Parkinson’s disease
It’s important not to get caught up in the mindset that cannibis is only for stoners. The potential benefits of CBD oil completely surpasses this narrow view.
It’s an amazing field, that I’m excited to be involved in.