Cannabidiol (CBD), a phytocannabinoid discovered in 1940, is among the 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis plants. It constitutes up to 40% of the plant’s extract, alongside tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Despite being extensively researched, clinical studies on CBD’s effectiveness for anxiety, cognition, movement disorders, and pain reveal insufficient high-quality evidence. Nonetheless, CBD is widely promoted as a herbal dietary supplement with claims of therapeutic benefits.
From 19th-Century Efforts to Modern Plant Breeding
Efforts to isolate cannabis’s active ingredients date back to the 19th century. CBD was specifically studied in 1940 using Minnesota wild hemp and Egyptian Cannabis indica resin. The chemical formula was proposed from wild hemp, with its structure and stereochemistry determined in 1963.
Since then, cannabis plant breeding has evolved to meet commercial and therapeutic demands. In the U.S., some growers reduced CBD-to-THC ratios to cater to consumers seeking more mind-altering varietals.
Hemp, defined in the 2018 Farm Bill as cannabis with no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight, expanded to include hemp-sourced extracts, cannabinoids, and derivatives.
Administration and Forms
CBD offers various administration methods, including inhalation of cannabis smoke or vapor, oral consumption, and aerosol spray application into the cheek.
It is available in different forms, such as CBD oil, CBD-dominant hemp extract oil, capsules, dried cannabis, or prescription liquid solutions.
Unlike THC, CBD lacks psychoactivity and can even modulate THC’s psychoactive effects when both are present. Interestingly, heating CBD to 250–300 °C may result in partial conversion into THC.
Dynamics and Kinetics of Cannabidiol
Cannabidiol exhibits low affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors, acting as an antagonist despite this low affinity. CBD interaction with medications and receptors also take place, including those found in serotonin receptors and opioid receptors. The pharmacological effects may involve PPARγ agonism, inhibition of voltage-gated channels, and intracellular calcium release.
CBD’s oral bioavailability is approximately 6% in humans, with inhalation offering a higher range of 11 to 45%. Metabolized by various enzymes, CBD forms metabolites such as 7-hydroxycannabidiol. The wide dosing margin contributes to its perceived safety.
Addressing a common concern—will CBD induce a high? The resounding answer is no. CBD’s non-psychoactive nature distinguishes it from THC, offering users relief without altering their mental state. While individual responses may vary, approximately 5% of users report altered sensations.
Hence, ensuring a safe experience involves obtaining third-party-tested CBD, crucial for verifying potency and purity in an industry currently lacking FDA regulation.
Healthcare professionals caution against overestimating cannabidiol contraindications therapeutic scope, advocating for evidence-based medicine rather than relying solely on anecdotal accounts.
Additionally, CBD’s potential in pain management is widely acknowledged, with researchers exploring its efficacy in musculoskeletal and neurological pain. CBD’s interaction with THC makes things a bit complicated, and in some cases, it is suggested that a combination of both cannabinoids may be optimal.
Therefore, to navigate this therapeutic field effectively, it’s crucial to understand each person’s unique needs and responses in a detailed and thoughtful way.
CBD & Mental Well-being
Among CBD’s many benefits, anxiety relief stands out. Advocates assert that CBD and heart medications prompts the body to “calm down,” fostering relaxation and mitigating the “fight-or-flight” response.
While promising, it’s imperative to recognize CBD as a complementary approach rather than a panacea. Mental health professionals emphasize the importance of holistic well-being, combining CBD and medication interaction, if chosen, with exercise, nutrition, and professional mental health care.
CBD and Pets
As pet owners explore CBD’s potential benefits for their furry companions, the challenge mirrors that faced by human consumers—limited research.
While CBD for pets is generally considered safe and effective especially for conditions like canine osteoarthritis and epilepsy, discernment is paramount. The lack of a clear distinction between reputable and subpar products necessitates cautious consideration.
Consulting with veterinarians prescribing CBD and seeking products from trusted sources enhances the safety of integrating CBD into pet care routines.
Society and Culture
Food and Beverage Products
CBD-infused food and beverages entered the U.S. market in 2017, with hemp seed ingredients deemed generally recognized as safe (GRAS). However, CBD itself remains illegal for sale as a food, dietary supplement, or animal feed under federal law.
Misleading claims by some companies led to FDA warnings, and in 2019, New York City announced plans to fine establishments selling CBD-infused items.
CBD gained popularity among athletes, with its removal from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned substances list. While some sports leagues embrace CBD sponsorships, its intended benefits in sports remain unclear. Professional athletes endorse CBD for pain relief, prompting collaborations between cannabis manufacturers and sports nutrition companies.
Current Legal Status
As of 2023, CBD extracted from marijuana remains a Schedule I Controlled Substance, unrecommended for prescription drug or dietary supplement use. Hemp-derived CBD with 0.3% THC or lower is legal for certain purposes, but federal restrictions prohibit its use in food, dietary supplements, or animal feed.
Despite widespread misconceptions, legal sales of hemp, including CBD, do not automatically translate to its legal use as a supplement or medicine.