What is CBD?
Cannabidiol or CBD is a non-intoxicating component of the cannabis plant with enormous therapeutic potential. Although CBD doesn’t make people feel high like THC does, it’s causing quite a buzz among scientists, health professionals, and medical marijuana patients who are using CBD-rich products to treat a wide range of conditions – chronic pain, cancer, Crohn’s, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, PTSD, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, antibiotic-resistant infections, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, and more. Academic research centers in the United States and elsewhere are currently studying the effects of CBD on these and other ailments. Scientists refer to CBD as a “promiscuous” compound because it confers therapeutic benefits in many different ways while tapping into how we function physiologically and biologically on a deep level. Extensive preclinical research and some clinical studies have shown that CBD has strong anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, anti-depressant, anti-psychotic, anti-tumoral, and neuroprotective qualities. Cannabidiol can change gene expression and remove beta amyloid plaque, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s, from brain cells.
What’s the best way to take CBD?
The most appropriate delivery system for CBD-rich cannabis is one that provides an optimal dose for a desired duration with few unwanted side effects. The time of onset and duration of effect vary depending on the method of administration. CBD-rich cannabis oil products can be taken sublingually, orally (as edibles, lozenges, beverages, tinctures, and gel caps), or applied topically. Concentrated cannabis oil extracts can also be heated and inhaled with a vape pen. Inhalation is good for treating acute symptoms that require immediate attention; the effects can be felt within a minute or two and typically last for a couple of hours. The effects of orally administered CBD-rich cannabis oil can last for four hours or more, but the onset of effects is much slower (30-90 minutes) than inhalation.
What is the optimal dosage of CBD?
An effective dosage can range from as little as a few milligrams of CBD-enriched cannabis oil to a gram or more. Begin with a small dose of high CBD/low THC oil, especially if you have little or no experience with cannabis. Take a few small doses over the course of the day rather than one big dose. Use the same dose and ratio for several days. Observe the effects and if necessary adjust the ratio or amount. Don’t overdo it. Cannabis compounds have biphasic properties, which mean that low and high doses of the same substance can produce opposite effects. Small doses of cannabis tend to stimulate; large doses sedate. Too much THC, while not lethal, can amplify anxiety and mood disorders. CBD has no known adverse side effects, but an excessive amount of CBD could be less effective therapeutically than a moderate dose. “Less is more” is often the case with respect to cannabis therapy.
What should one look for when choosing a CBD-rich product?
Look for products with clear labels showing the quantity and ratio of CBD and THC per dose, a manufacturing date, and a batch number (for quality control). Select products with quality ingredients: No corn syrup, transfats, GMOs, artificial additives, thinning agents or preservatives. CBD-rich products should be lab tested for consistency and verified as being free of mold, bacteria, pesticides, solvent residues, and other contaminants. Best to avoid products extracted with toxic solvents like BHO, propane, hexane or other hydrocarbons. Opt for products that utilize safer extraction methods such as supercritical CO2 or food-grade ethanol.
Does CBD have any adverse side effects? What about drug interactions?
CBD is a very safe substance, but patients taking other medications should check with their doctor about drug interactions, which are more likely when consuming high doses of single-molecule CBD products. At sufficient dosages, CBD will temporarily deactivate cytochrome P450 enzymes, thereby altering how we metabolize a wide range of compounds, including THC. Cytochrome P450 enzymes metabolize more than 60 percent of Big Pharma meds. CBD is a more potent inhibitor of cytochrome P450 than the grapefruit compound Bergapten, so ask your doctor if grapefruit interacts with your medication. If grapefruit does, then CBD probably does, too. Patients on a CBD-rich treatment regimen should monitor changes in blood levels of prescription medications and, if need be, adjust dosage.
CBD and the Adenosine Receptor
CBD’s anti-anxiety properties may be attributable to its activation of the adenosine receptor. Adenosine receptors play a significant role in cardiovascular function, regulating myocardial oxygen consumption and coronary blood flow. The adenosine receptor also has broad anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body.
Adenosine receptors also play a significant role in the brain reducing the release of other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and glutamate.
CBD and the GPR55 receptor
Interestingly enough, whereas CBD activates the TRPV-1 vanilloid receptor, the A2A adenosine receptor, and the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, some studies indicate that CBD functions as an antagonist that blocks, or deactivates, another G protein-coupled receptor known as GPR55.
GPR55 is known as an “orphan receptor” because scientists are still not quite sure if it belongs to a larger family of receptors.
GPR55 is found to be widely expressed in the brain, especially in the cerebellum. It is involved in modulating blood pressure and bone density, among other physiological processes.
GPR55 encourages osteoclast cell function, which facilitates bone reabsorption. Overactive GPR55 receptor signaling has been associated with osteoporosis. Thus CBD’s blocking ability of GPR55 can directly counteract processes leading to certain crippling bone diseases.
GPR55, when activated, has been found to promote cancer cell proliferation, according to 2010 study by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai. This receptor is expressed in various types of cancer.
CBD is a GPR55 antagonist, as University of Aberdeen scientist Ruth Ross disclosed at the 2010 conference of the International Cannabinoid Research Society in Lund, Sweden.
By blocking GPR55 signaling, CBD may act to decrease both bone reabsorption and cancer cell proliferation.
CBD also offers numerous anti-cancer effects by activating PPARs [peroxisome proliferator activated receptors] which are found on the surface of the cell’s nucleus. Activation of the receptor known as PPAR-gamma has an anti-proliferative effect as well as an ability to induce tumor regression in human lung cancer cell lines.
PPAR-gamma activation degrades amyloid-beta plaque, a key molecule linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. This is another reasons why cannabidiol CBD, a PPAR-gamma agonist, may be beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients.
PPAR receptors also regulate genes found to be involved in energy homeostasis, lipid uptake, insulin sensitivity, and other metabolic functions. Diabetics, accordingly, may benefit from a CBD-rich treatment regimen.
In Summary, the research into CBD and it’s numerous benefits to the human body are being understood more and more every day. Newly discovered cannabinoids and their relationship to the body’s receptors may hold even more medical breakthroughs in the future.