Most people have heard of a chemical called THC, which is the ingredient in marijuana that gets users high. Recently, though, much attention is being placed on another compound in marijuana called CBD — and for good reason.
Because while most doctors and legislators can’t seem to get past the hallucinogenic side effects of THC, CBD doesn’t have that problem. Moreover, evidence of CBD’s medical benefits continues to grow, as I wrote in my last post.
1. CBD is a key component in the cannabis plant
CBD is one of over 60 compounds found in cannabis called cannabinoids. Of these compounds, CBD and THC are appear to be n the highest concentrations, and so are the most recognized and studied to date.
CBD and THC levels tend to vary among different plants. Marijuana grown for recreational purposes often contains more THC than CBD. Industrial hemp, another plant, has almost THC and very high concentrations of CDB. And so if you smoked an entire baleful of hemp, you wouldn’t get high. Hemp has only recently been reintroduced onto US store shelves and is being sold in a variety of forms, such as oils and seeds with great nutritional properties.
And because of the new commercial appeal for hemp, selective breeding techniques are being used by cannabis breeders to create varieties with high levels of CBD and almost no THC.
2. CBD is non-hallucinogenic
Unlike THC, CBD does not get you high. With this key distinction, CBD has a significant appeal as a medicine, since health professionals prefer treatments with minimal side effects.
Just as background, CBD is non-psychoactive because it doesn’t affect the same neural pathways in the brain as THC. These CB1 receptors are bring on the hallucinogenic effects of THC. A 2011 review published in Current Drug Safety concludes that CBD “does not interfere with several psychomotor and psychological functions.” The authors add that several studies suggest that CBD is “well tolerated and safe” even at high doses.
3. CBD has huge appeal for its medical benefits
Although CBD and THC affect differently the neural pathways of the brain, they are being shown to have similar medical benefits. In a review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, researchers found CBD to have these medical benefits:
While most of this evidence comes from non-human studies, more and more studies on CBD have been done with human patients.
4. CBD actually dilutes the hallucinogenic effects of THC
Strangely, CBD appears to be a sort of natural protection from the high people get from marijuana high. Studies are now suggesting that CBD somehow reduces the hallucinogenic effect of THC, as well as memory impairment and paranoia.
CBD also seems to reduce the sleepiness effect of THC. In fact, some strains of cannabis are known to increase alertness!
Both CBD and THC are being shown to have no risk of lethal overdose. But to reduce the risk of side effects, it may be better to use cannabis with higher levels of CBD and no THC.