What is CBD?

What is CBD?

CBD, CBG, THC… It seems we can’t escape acronyms this day and age, but when it comes down to it, do we really know what any of them mean? 

The three mentioned above refer to the Cannabis plant, or Hemp, and its derivatives, otherwise known as phytocannabinoids (be forewarned: there’ll be a lot of similar scientific vocabulary to follow; with corresponding ‘translation’ – fear not).  In total, there are around 113 such derivatives (or more, according to some researchers), but what does that mean for the layman?  Exactly what is the difference between these specific three derivatives and what effect do they have on the human body?

The current hottest topic in the health and wellness sector – as it has been for a little while now; that friend of a friend might have mentioned it, more than once – is Cannabis Oil, or CBD oil, in various forms.  However, many people continue to question just how effective and safe a therapeutic remedy it is, given particularly its source and despite its being touted as a near-panacea for myriad issues.  Indeed, the main reasons it is taken and lauded as it is, is as a holistic anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety treatment, and for pain-relief. 

However, wait; step away from that CBD-fortified coffee to take the edge off your afternoon stress levels.  This is more than a boosted Hemp product we’re talking about, far removed from seeds and milk and plant-based green-living protein: this is science operating on an endocannabinoidal level – an essentially biological level – and, firstly, we need to untangle the jargon. 

We each have within us an Endocannabinoid System, also referred to as our Endogenous Cannabinoid System (or, simply, ECS).  This contains neurotransmitters located within both our vertebrate central nervous system (and brain) and peripheral nervous system.  For a banal summation: the ECS is very important.  And it is on this important system that cannabis derivatives work.

To return to the acronyms listed at the start, CBD stands for Cannabidiol; this is what is legal and widely available.  CBG stands for Cannabigerol and is the up-and-coming, potentially even more efficacious alternative to CBD, but further studies are needed.  Conversely, THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol, sometimes referred to as dronabinol; this is what causes the psychotic effects that get people high, and arrested (i.e. don’t smoke weed, kids).

The ideal state of our ECS, its ‘tone’ as scientists refer to it, is one of balance (or homeostasis).  Cannabidiol directly promotes such a balance.  Some medical professionals, including Ethan Russo, M.D, make note that this could be due to a large majority of neurotransmitters in the brain being cannabinoid receptors – a fact that can no longer be ignored and hidden behind a veil of fear over the psychoactive infamy of THC.

If we look at specifically endocannabinoid deficiency illnesses, those that are most often cited include migraines, IBS, and fibromyalgia.  These are also classed as hyper-algesic syndromes, where the tissue itself looks fine, but something adverse is happening at the biochemical level.  The similarity between these also lends itself to the theory that one individual who suffers from one will at a later point suffer from another.  Where CBD can be of use in management of these illnesses is in its role as stimulator of serotonin, and by extension anti-inflammatory aid and welcome pain-relief.