5 Must-Know Facts About Cannabidiol (CBD)

(Photo:Coleen Danger/Flickr)

CBD, or cannabidiol, is quickly changing the debate surrounding the use of Cannabis as a medicine.

Most people have heard of a chemical called THC, which is the ingredient in cannabis that gets users high. But recently, attention has shifted to another cannabis compound called CBD. And for good reason.

Because while doctors can’t seem to look past certain side effects of THC, CBD doesn’t seem to present that problem. On the other hand, evidence of CBD’s vast medical potential is mounting.

Here are five facts that you need to know about this unique compound:

1. CBD is a key ingredient in cannabis

CBD is one of over 60 compounds found in cannabis that belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids. Of these compounds, CBD and THC are usually present in the highest concentrations, and are therefore the most recognized and studied.

CBD and THC levels tend to vary between different strains and varieties of cannabis. For example, by using selective breeding techniques, cannabis breeders have managed to create varieties with high levels of CBD and next to zero levels of THC.

2. CBD is non-psychoactive

Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a high. While this makes CBD a poor choice for recreational users, it gives the chemical a significant advantage as a medicine, since health professionals prefer treatments with minimal side effects.

The reason why CBD is non-psychoactive is due to its lack of affinity for CB1 receptors. CB1 receptors are found in high concentrations in the brain, and are the pathways responsible for the psychoactive effects of THC.

3. CBD has a wide range of medical benefits

Despite a different pathway of action, CBD seems to possess many of the same benefits of THC. According to a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, studies have found CBD to possess the following medical properties:

Medical Properties of CBDEffects
Antiemetic Combats nausea and vomiting
Anticonvulsant Combats seizure activity
Antipsychotic Combats psychosis disorders
Anti-inflammatory Combats inflammatory disorders
Anti-oxidant Combats neurodegenerative disorders
Anti-tumoral/Anti-cancer Combats tumor and cancer cells
Anxiolytic/Anti-depressant Combats anxiety and depression disorders

Unfortunately, most of this evidence comes from animal studies, as very few clinical trials have been conducted using the chemical.

4. CBD reduces the negative effects of THC

CBD seems to offer natural protection against the cannabis high. Numerous studies suggest CBD acts to counter the intoxicating effects of THC, including memory impairment and paranoia.

Both CBD and THC have been found to present no risk of lethal overdose. However, to reduce potential side effects, medical users may be better off using cannabis strains with higher levels of CBD.

5. CBD Is Legal!

That's right! If you're reading this right now, you can have a CBD-infused product sent to your home safely and legally. CBD is consumed in a variety of forms including oil, tinctures, capsules or lotion.

There you have it. If you suffer from anxiety, stress, pain or want to take preventative steps against cancer (ie. if you're a human being), you may want to give CBD a try.