Cannabidiol, commonly abbreviated at CBD, is one of at least 85 active cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD, along with two other major cannabinoids known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (CBN), play a major role in the human body's endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is a part of the human body that interacts with cannabinoids, helps the body maintain homeostasis, and regulates things like appetite, pain, memory, and other important functions. One of the main parts of the ECS are the cannabinoid receptors which monitor for conditions outside of the cell and transmit information to the inside of the cell. Think of cannabinoids as keys and the receptors as locks. When you take cannabis, you are taking keys to unlock the many locks in your body.
CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors are the ECS’s two main cannabinoid receptors and are found all throughout the body. CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain and nervous system and are the ones that interact with THC to get you high. CB2 receptors are usually found in the peripheral organs and cells that are part of the immune system.
Another major role of the ECS is to produce endocannabinoids which are naturally occurring cannabinoids that interact with the ECS's receptors. CBD doesn't interact directly with these receptors, but instead triggers the body to produce endocannabinoids that activates those receptors more than usual. CBD is also considered to be a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning that it doesn't produce psychoactive effects (a.k.a. get you high) because it doesn't have an affinity for the CB1 receptors.
On the other hand, THC does stimulate the CB1 receptors in the brain and is the cannabinoid responsible for getting you high. Naturally occurring endocannabinoids don't interact with the receptors in the same way, so they don't make you high like THC does. Additionally, THC stays longer in the system than endocannabinoids do since it cannot be broken down by the ECS’s enzymes.
CBD also regulates how the THC and endocannabinoids bind with the receptors. In fact, strains with a high amount of CBD tend be to rather ineffective at getting their users high, making them great for people who want to use marijuana for medicinal purposes instead of recreational purposes.
CBD has been found to have several other positive effects as well. Since the ECS plays a role in regulating many functions such as pain, mood, sleep, and immunity, people have been using medicinal oils extracted from high-CBD cannabis strains as antidepressants, antioxidants, analgesics, and much more. While more research needs to be done on CBD, it is known to affect the vanilloid receptors for pain modulation, the adenosine receptors that regulate the body's sleep-wake cycle, and the serotonin receptors which help manage mood and stress.
1 https://www.solcbd.com/pages/how-cbd- works
2 https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/what- is-the- endocannabinoid-system
3 http://herb.co/2016/07/26/everything-you- need-to- know-about- cbd/
So far, CBD is used to treat a wide variety of ailments including cancer, obsessive compulsive disorder, diabetes, epileptic disorders, lupus, anxiety, schizophrenia, and much more. As cannabis grows in popularity as a recreational drug, more and more people will also recognize its medicinal uses and use it as a safe remedy for many common concerns.