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Many of those using cannabidiol (CBD) products swear by them, but there are still a lot of people who either haven’t heard of them, or know of them but not what they can do. However, with the relaxation of legislation surrounding hemp-based products, and an increasing amount of research confirming the health benefits of CBD, we are set to hear a lot more about how it can be used as a supplement and a medicine.

Here are five simple facts that will help to improve your understanding of CBD.

CBD is from cannabis and hemp, but won’t make you high

CBD is a plant component found in cannabis and hemp. Scientists have known about the cannabinoid for many decades, but until recently were unsure about its properties. As cannabis is banned at federal level in the United States, most of the focus on the herb in recent times hasn’t been on its therapeutic qualities, but its popularity as a psychoactive recreational substance. But CBD studies have become much more valuable since the endocannabinoid system (ECS) was unearthed in the 1990s, as now we have a better idea of the compound’s nuanced effects.

So, why is CBD non-psychoactive when it comes from cannabis? In fact, hardly any of the chemicals in cannabis are psychotropic, it just so happens that the intoxicating tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is normally found in greater concentrations than any other compound. Moreover, with cannabis growers knowing that THC is responsible for the ‘high’, they have spent years selectively breeding the plant in order to boost the THC content in a strain as much as possible. Over the past 50 years or so, the THC level in cannabis has risen from 3 or 4 percent to anywhere between 15 and 20 percent.

THC delivers psychoactive effects to the body as a partial agonist of the CB1 receptor – these are located in the brain, which is a part of the central nervous system, and regulates mood, appetite and more. CBD is a CB1 receptor antagonist, and therefore doesn’t make the necessary ECS link to trigger a ‘high’. And it’s for that reason why wholesale CBD products have so much appeal, among the cannabis community and beyond.

CBD regulates the endocannabinoid system

As mentioned, CBD research has improved in the ECS era, because we can see the subtle ways in which it works. Amusingly, in the 1940s, scientists from Illinois thought that CBD was toxic! The reality is much different, and CBD is actually a regulator of the ECS – this means that it can make a difference to both our mental and physical health.

It’s somewhat remarkable that medical researchers have been able to develop effective pharmaceutical drugs, without having knowledge of the huge ECS. This endogenous cannabis system is made up of two known cannabinoid receptors and a handful of endocannabinoids, the most relevant of which are anandamide (AEA) and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). CB1 receptors are mostly in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are mostly in the peripheral nervous system. Cannabinoid receptors are located in the brain and spinal cord, as well as the gastrointestinal tract, the endocrine gland and on white blood cells.

CBD doesn’t activate either the CB1 or CB2 receptor, nor a potential third cannabinoid receptor currently called the GPR-55 receptor. However, the blocking effect that CBD has on these receptors can be therapeutic – for instance, with the CB1 receptor, the antagonistic role of CBD means it produces an antipsychotic effect. CBD is also an AEA reuptake inhibitor. With AEA being an agonist of the CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD can trigger them via AEA-mediated activation. It’s this mechanism which explains CBD’s analgesic, antidepressant and anti-inflammatory traits.

Hemp-based CBD is legal across the US

The cannabis reform that is going on all over the United States at state level is unrelated to the emergence of hemp-based CBD products onto the market. Hemp is really just an unusual kind of cannabis sativa, but because of its low THC content, the plant is not grouped with regular cannabis, and the restrictions are looser.

The US federal government permits hemp products containing CBD, providing the amount of THC found in the final product is under 0.3 percent. The CBD industry is unregulated, so the leading CBD wholesale manufacturers send their products off to third-party laboratories for testing, so that customers can be sure they are buying an authentic product.

CBD products can be purchased online, and shipped to all 50 states, without the need for a medical cannabis card.

Clare Louise

The author Clare Louise