If there’s anything we all can agree on, it’s that there’s way more to learn about CBD than can fit on one page. CBD is one of the most predominant chemical compounds that grow inside the resin glands of the cannabis plant. Keep in mind that there are over 80 other compounds in those trichomes! If you consider yourself an avid fan, user, advocate, or expert on CBD, just know that there is still much to learn about the wonder molecule. For now though, let’s take a closer look at how CBD works.
Locks and Keys
CBD works as an “agonist,” binding to our cellular walls where the cannabinoid receptors live. If you picture these receptors as locks, then agonists are like the keys. Think of our body like the Pont des Arts “love lock” bridge of Paris. Cannabis has the power to interact with all of the different kinds of locks there. Some of the other receptors include Vanilloid receptors, for pain modulation; Adenosine receptors, which aid the sleep-wake cycle; and Serotonin receptors, which help with mood and stress management.
Most of what CBD affects are the cell receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS has many jobs – neuroprotection, stress recovery, immune balance and homeostatic regulation. Additionally, the ECS is one of the most interesting neurotransmitter systems in nature. It consists of heavily-concentrated receptors along the central nervous system, while others are found around major organs – from our skin to our digestive tract. But CBD’s influence doesn’t end there. The homeostasis that CBD creates can ultimately affect things like pain perception, sleep, immune function, mood, memory, motor control, reproduction, and neurological disorders. Therefore, CBD is a polypharmacological. This refers to how it influences different endo-biological pathways at once. This characteristic of CBD makes it complex, exciting and also very challenging to study.
Some scientists are frustrated by the barriers they must leap to conduct necessary studies into marijuana’s potential therapeutic benefits and risks; one of them being CBD’s legal status. Many strains of “medical marijuana” are found to have a significant variety of the ratios of CBD to THC. In the eyes of the law, it is the amount of ∆9-THC that chemically determines whether the plant is considered hemp, or marijuana. Cannabidiol found in both hemp and marijuana is the same. However, the legal definition of each type is not. Thankfully cannabis laws all over the world are gradually easing up. With this in mind, hopefully new studies will emerge in the coming years. There is still a lot of light to be shed on how CBD works and its true potential as medicine.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Remember that a bud advertised as “high-CBD” doesn’t always mean it’s THC-free. Charlotte’s Web may contain less than one percent Tetrahydrocannabinol, but that doesn’t mean that other CBD-dominant strains—Harlequin, CBD Critical Cure, Cannatonic, Sour Tsunami, and ACDC—don’t contain trace amounts. Always ask your budtender or producer for testing information about the particular strain.