It doesn’t get you high, but it’s causing quite a buzz among medical scientists and patients. The past year has seen a surge
of interest in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabis compound with significant therapeutic properties.
Numerous commercial start-ups and internet retailers have jumped on the CBD bandwagon, touting CBD derived from industrial hemp as the next big thing, a miracle oil that can shrink tumors, quell seizures, and ease chronic pain—without making people feel “stoned.”
But along with a growing awareness of cannabidiol as a potential health aid there has been a proliferation of misconceptions about CBD.
CBD or cannabidiol, is quickly changing the debate surrounding the use of marijuana as a medicine. Most people have heard of a chemical called THC, which is the ingredient in marijuana that gets users high.
But recently, attention has shifted to another compound in marijuana called CBD — and for good reason.
Because while doctors can’t seem to look past certain side effects of THC, CBD doesn’t appear to present that problem. On the other hand, evidence of CBD’s medical benefits continues to grow.
Here are five facts that you should 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 among different plants. Marijuana grown for recreational purposes often contains more THC than CBD.
However, by using selective breeding techniques, cannabis breeders have managed to create varieties with high levels of CBD and next to zero levels of THC. These strains are rare but have become more popular in recent years.
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.
CBD is non-psychoactive because it does not act on the same pathways as THC. These pathways, called CB1 receptors, are highly concentrated in the brain and are responsible for the mind-altering 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 a wide range of medical benefits
4. CBD reduces the negative effects of THC
CBD seems to offer natural protection against the marijuana high. Numerous studies suggest that CBD acts to reduce the intoxicating effects of THC, such as memory impairment and paranoia.
CBD also appears to counteract the sleep-inducing effects of THC, which may explain why some strains of cannabis are known to increase alertness.
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 with higher levels of CBD.
5. CBD IS LEGAL
If you’re living in the United States, all the CBD oil from hemp plants are considered 100% legal and they are considered a dietary supplement by the FDA. That means it’s legal to ship and consume throughout all 50 states within the US as long as the oil contains less than 0.3 percent THC.
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