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 seem to present that problem. On the other hand, evidence of CBD’s medical benefits continues to grow.
Here are some important facts that you should know about this unique medical marijuana compound:
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.
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.
Although CBD and THC act on different pathways of the body, they seem to have many of the same medical benefits. According to a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, studies have found CBD to possess the following medical properties:
|Medical Properties of CBD||Effects|
|Antiemetic||Reduces nausea and vomiting|
|Anticonvulsant||Suppresses seizure activity|
|Antipsychotic||Combats psychosis disorders|
|Anti-inflammatory||Combats inflammatory disorders|
|Anti-oxidant||Combats neurodegenerative disorders|
|Anti-tumoral/Anti-cancer||Combats tumor and cancer cells|
|Anxiolytic/Anti-depressant||Combats anxiety and depression disorders|
Cannabidiol — CBD— is a cannabis compound that has significant medical benefits, but does not make people feel “stoned” and can actually counteract the psychoactivity of THC. The fact that CBD-rich cannabis doesn’t get one high makes it an appealing treatment option for patients seeking anti-inflammatory, anti-pain, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, and/or anti-spasm effects without troubling lethargy or dysphoria. Scientific and clinical studies underscore CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders.
CBD has demonstrated neuroprotective and neurogenic effects, and its anti-cancer properties are currently being investigated at several academic research centers in the United States and elsewhere. MDherb provides educational resources for physicians, patients, and the general public. On MDherb, you’ll find cutting-edge information on developments in cannabinoid science and therapeutics, as well as practical information from doctors and patients who are exploring the use of CBD-rich cannabis.
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.
The optimal dosage levels of CBD are uncertain due to a lack of human studies. Chronic high doses of up to 1500 mg per day are well tolerated and produce no noticeable physiological effects. However, there is evidence to suggest that the medical benefits of CBD disappear when dosages become excessive. For inhaled medical use, most users prefer varieties with THC:CBD ratios between 2:1 and 1:2. Extremely low-THC varieties are useful for making CBD extracts and tinctures. Unlike THC, CBD does not show up positive on standard drug tests for marijuana.