WELLNESS PROPERTIES OF CBD
In this section, we will take a look at the greater scientific picture of how humans (and other mammals) work and how CBD is thought to interact with them.
First this important note: all hemp products should be used only as directed on the label. Consult with a physician before use if you have a serious medical condition, use prescription medications, or are pregnant or nursing. Doctor’s advice should be sought before you take any supplemental dietary product. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the FDA. Hemp products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
WHAT EXACTLY IS CBD?
CBD is short for Cannabidiol. It is one of many different molecules known as cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant.
CBD is not an acronym. Cannabidiol is shortened to CBD simply because it’s customary for cannabinoids to have a three-letter designation. Other examples are THC for delta9 Tetrahydrocannabinol, CBG for Cannabigerol, CBN for Cannabinol, and so on.
THC is arguably the most famous member of the cannabinoids family and the one so maligned throughout history. It’s the one found in marijuana that is psychoactive and causes a high. We’ll take a quick look at some other common cannabinoids later.
WHAT ARE CANNABINOIDS?
Cannabinoids are active compounds produced by all cannabis plants. They account for most of the benefits of cannabis.
Cannabinoids found in plants are technically called phytocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids mimic compounds which are called endocannabinoids. These are produced naturally by all mammals.
- Phytocannabinoids — Cannabinoids produced by plants.
- Endocannabinoids — Cannabinoids produced by humans or other mammals.
Other cannabinoids found in PCR hemp include cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabigerol (CBG). Cannabichromene (CBC) is the third most common cannabinoid found in cannabis. Like CBD, cannabichromene is non-psychoactive. Cannabigerol (CBG) is produced early on in the hemp’s growth cycle. Both CBC and CBG are believed to have properties similar to those of CBD.
WHAT DO ENDOCANNABINOIDS DO?
Endocannabinoids, which are produced naturally in our bodies, are known as signaling molecules. They are also called neurotransmitters. There are other neurotransmitters produced by the body, with hormones being among the more commonly known ones.
There is a vast array of neurotransmitters produced by the nervous system in response to various states of health and environmental factors. They interact with receptors found on the surface of cells throughout our bodies. Basically, their job is to instruct cells to adjust their activities, which includes changing how cells react to other neurotransmitters.
In order to illustrate how neurotransmitters work, let’s use an analogy.
Your brain doesn’t connect with every cell in your body, just like a CEO can’t directly interact with every employee in a large company in order for a business to be successful. Yet, the CEO has to ensure that individual employees are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. In order to manage these employees, the CEO will implement certain protocols (or systems) that dictate the way the employees are supposed to act or operate. This might include hiring middle managers, creating standard operating procedures, codes of conduct, or other management practices. These systems, if designed well, inform employees how to perform their assigned tasks, work efficiently, and solve problems so everything operates smoothly.
Some of these systems are developed to be flexible in order to sense changes in the environment. So if productivity is slipping in one area, the CEO can send out a team to look into the reason for the slowdown and inevitably make some adjustments, thereby changing the behavior of the workers to become more productive again.
Like the CEO and employees, your body’s nervous system connects to a wide variety of sensors to keep track of what's going on in every system in your body. The signals from these sensors are decoded by the brain and the nervous system. If a system goes out of balance, the nervous system produces neurotransmitters which travel through the bloodstream and interact with receptors on cells, instructing them to adjust their behavior and create balance. In humans, this is called homeostasis.
THE HUMAN ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM (ECS)
Now that we understand how neurotransmitters work to adjust our cellular activity, let’s take a look at the role of cannabinoids in particular and their role in supporting homeostasis, or balance within the body.
The human endocannabinoid system (ECS) has two components. First, there are the endocannabinoid receptors found on the surface of cells throughout the body. Second are the endocannabinoids themselves that interact with those receptors.
One well known endocannabinoid is called anandamide. Anandamide is responsible for the production and uptake of serotonin. Serotonin, as many exercise enthusiasts know, is the neurotransmitter responsible for a “runner’s high.” It’s also often referred to as the “bliss molecule,” because levels of serotonin in the body are directly associated with a person’s mood. In a 2014 animal study, CBD was not noted to boost serotonin, but it was noted to affect the brain’s chemical receptors’ responses to serotonin that’s already in a person’s system.
There several other endocannabinoids that regulate a wide array of bodily functions, including appetite, sleep patterns, moods, metabolism, immune response, the lifespan of cells, and much more. The endocannabinoid system is very extensive.
COMMON CANNABINOIDS FOUND IN CANNABIS:
- Cannabidiol (CBD): This is the second most common non-psychotropic cannabinoid produced by the cannabis plant.
- Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): This is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives users a feeling of euphoria.
- Cannabichromene (CBC): This third most common cannabinoid, also non-psychoactive, is thought to support mood and improve joint and muscle function.
- Cannabinol (CBN): This is believed to support joint and muscle function and aid a good night’s rest.
- Cannabigerol (CBG): This is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that supports mood and improves joint and muscle function.
- Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCv): This is less psychoactive than THC.
- Cannabidivarin (CBDv): This is similar to CBD in its effects.
- Delta8 THC: This is similar to delta9-THC; it is less psychoactive and may support a relaxed mood.
- THCa and CBDa: These compounds are found in raw cannabis; they are non-psychotropic.
What Are terpenes?
Terpenes are volatile hydrocarbon compounds produced by the cannabis plant. Most other plants also produce terpenes, but cannabis is currently the most terpene-dense plant known.
Terpenes evaporate at room temperature and our noses are highly sensitive to them. You are definitely familiar with terpenes.
Despite their volatile hydrocarbon designation, terpenes are recognized as safe for human consumption by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) and are used in a variety of foods and cosmetic products. In nature, some terpenes repel pests while others attract pollinators and seed spreaders.
Terpene molecules are all very similar, but each has its own scent and flavor. Various combinations of terpenes are responsible for the distinct aromas of the many different cannabis strains.
Terpenes have been shown to have powerful effects on our bodies. In fact, terpenes have been used by humans for over a thousand years for aromatherapy purposes. For example, the scent of citrus is produced primarily by a combination of the terpenes limonene and pinene—both possible mood elevators.
Other common terpenes include linalool, myrcene, caryophyllene, terpinolene, citronellol, and camphene. Traditional uses for these terpenes include muscle and joint functions and overall general wellness functions.
In cannabis, terpenes are produced in the highest concentrations in the plant’s female flowers. Like cannabinoids, terpenes also act on cannabinoid receptors and are known to boost the effects of cannabinoids.
What are flavonoids?
When it comes to cannabis bioactive compounds, cannabinoids and terpenes tend to dominate the literature. However, while they may get less attention, flavonoids are suspected to make a significant contribution to the overall wellness benefits of cannabis.
Flavonoids are a group of polyphenolic compounds that create secondary metabolites in many plants. It was once thought that the primary function of flavonoids was to provide color pigmentation to plants, notably in flowers, for the purpose of attracting pollinators. Many plants, including those with edible fruits and vegetables that contain non-green pigmentation, owe their colors in part to flavonoids. They may also protect plants from harmful UV rays.
If that’s not enough, flavonoids are known to be pharmacologically active compounds, which means that preliminary research indicates they have medicinal benefits. For example, quercetin is a flavonoid found in cannabis (and other fruits and vegetables). It has been shown to have anti-microbial, anticancer, and antioxidant properties.
While not fully understood by science, flavonoids may also have a synergistic effect in cannabis, which takes us to the next topic.
The entourage effect
Although not as potent as cannabinoids, both terpenes and flavonoids are very valuable components of cannabis. They are all believed to work together in cannabis to produce a range of effects which is thought to be greater than the sum of its individual components. This is known as the entourage effect.
More research is needed to determine the exact role that terpenes and flavonoids play in the overall wellness effects of CBD oil, but it seems clear that they definitely work in concert with cannabinoids to produce a richer effect than CBD alone.
As mentioned in CBD 101, some CBD oil products on the market are actually oils infused with just isolated CBD. These products do not take advantage of the added benefits of terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids and do not produce the entourage effect. We at Soul Blossom do not recommend them.