What Is CBD and How Does It Work?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring chemical found in the hemp plant that is processed in humans and animals by the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is responsible for a multitude of functions including pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress, circadian rhythm, metabolism, immune function, and reproduction. It is composed of many receptors throughout the entire body.

CBD works with the ECS indirectly by preventing naturally occurring endocannabinoids from being broken down, and allowing the body to use them more effectively. This can help the body naturally lower the heightened fight or flight response, promoting a feeling of safety and well being in the brain. CBD also activates TRVP1 receptors directly which are involved in regulating pain, body temperature, and inflammation.

Unlike THC which binds predominately with the CB1 receptors found in the brain, CBD is a CB1 antagonist which helps block the psychoactive effects of THC. However, CBD derived specifically from hemp is non-psychoactive.

Because of the rising popularity of CBD, research in this area has taken off and studies are being performed. Studies in both animals and humans have shown promising results in treating joint discomfort due to inflammation. Its ability to stop the body's inflammatory response is bolstered even more when combined with a high quality carrier oil such as MCT oil, which is another great natural anti-inflammatory agent. Studies are also being conducted on the tumor and cancer fighting properties of CBD. Unfortunately, there will not be definite answers for years to come, but experiments in mice have shown CBD to reduce the spread of more aggressive malignant cells.

Because of CBD's ability to naturally guide the body back into homeostasis, there is interesting research into CBD’s effectiveness as a holistic therapy for mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. It certainly stands to reason that CBD could be a safer alternative to standard drugs such as benzodiazapines that can lead to substance abuse.

Currently the only FDA approved drug containing CBD is Epidiolex. It is used for treatment of grand mal seizures in children and young adults and has been proven to provide a 32% reduction in seizures. Sativex under the Bayer brand is sold in the UK as an oral THC/CBD spray for the treatment of MS-related muscle spasticity. 

While all of this research is promising, CBD is not a wonder drug. It can help with a great deal of common problems, but keep in mind that it is not a medication. It is a natural, holistic approach that we recommend using as a starting point or in addition to modern treatments and medications. CBD has minor potential side effects such as drowsiness, light headedness, and dry mouth making it an attractive choice for those looking for an additional aid throughout their day. We do recommend always discussing CBD with your doctor or veterinarian first, especially if you are taking a drug that contains a grapefruit warning.