National CBD Day 2019
Back to the roots
National CBD Day was initiated in 2018 after being submitted by the supplier CBDMD. Knowledge of CBD has exploded in recent years and the fallout has landed the product in nearly every grocery store, convenience store, gas station and even online outlets. With all of the buzz many of us are asking... what is CBD, really? Does it live up to the bold claims? What does it do and how do I make sure I’m getting safe products? Let’s explore some of these questions and see if we can clear the vapor.
The discovery and spread of CBD
Many of us enjoy the endless pondering that some cannabis products elicit. It may be the case that during one of these daydreams you have generated the same curiosity that lead to the discovery of CBD. Raphael Mechoulam, Israli organic chemist and professor of Medicinal Chemistry, was the first to accurately describe the composition and structure of CBD in the 1960s. Mechoulam and his team were actually the first ones to isolate and describe THC as well. It all happened because Raphael acknowledged we had isolated morphine from opium. Before that, cocaine from erythroxylum coca. He was extremely curious about the essence of cannabis. This type of curiosity has changed the course of our world. Despite the legal disputes and cultural normalization that is taking place, it’s becoming more and more clear CBD will be playing a major role in the future of medicine, allowing us to interact with a system of the body not previously utilized in western medicine.
What is it and what does it do?
CBD (cannabidiol) is a phytocannabinoid produced in the resin gland, or trichome, of cannabis and hemp. However, this is not exclusive to these types of plants. For example, flax seeds contain CBD! This phytocannabinoid can be ingested by humans which, allowing it to interact with our endocannabinoid system (ECS); similar to a messenger or hormone that causes a change in the body. The ECS is responsible for using these messengers to maintain a state of health and equilibrium called homeostasis. Based on an individual's composition adding a specific amount of CBD to their ECS may help it function properly, and in some cases, lead to potential relief or possible treatment of a disease.
How does CBD work?
Due to the restrictions on research, it’s not 100% clear how CBD works in the human body, but there have been some interesting results from using CBD for ailments as well as observations of the mechanisms in the body. There is definite proof that CBD interacts with the human endocannabinoid system, but whether it works directly or indirectly in a modulatory fashion remains unclear. CBD has been found to have multiple actions, which may depend upon the body it enters.
It appears that the human body uses CBD to fit its current needs. It seems to have intelligent action that allows it to be directed wherever it is needed the most. This may be why scientists have observed a variety of different actions of CBD. Despite the unclear mechanism of action, CBD seems to have a wide range of successful applications. “That CBD can behave as a CB2 receptor inverse agonist may account, at least in part, for its well-documented anti-inflammatory properties” (The diverse CB1.., online). An agonist is a chemical that binds to a receptor and activates the receptor to produce a biological response, and an inverse agonist is something that binds like an agonist, but produces the opposite effect. This is an example of how CBD reduces inflammation as well as one the observed mechanisms that varies from a traditional agonism or binding.
CBD resembles a living medication that intelligently goes where it is needed most. “CBD behaves as a negative allosteric modulator of Δ9-THC- and 2-AG” (molecular targets, online). This is a fancy way of saying CBD will change the way that THC and our endocannabinoid 2-AG binds to the CB1 receptors, ultimately changing the relief and effect. What’s interesting is that CBD inhibits CB1 activation at our central nervous system which reduces psychoactivity, but doesn’t prevent it at other sites which continues allowance for relief. A product containing both THC and CBD, may provide reduced effects of psychoactivity due to the presence of CBD, but will not reduce the intensity of relief provided by THC. As scientists are getting down to the facts, there is one thing many can agree on; CBD has verifiable positive effects, and a wide range of applications.
To add to the mystery, CBD has been shown to activate 5HT1a receptors in mice (Psychopharmacology, online). This is a receptor that is not part of the ECS. Typically the 5HT receptors with SSRIs are used to target and regulate serotonin, as well as treat mental ailments such as depression and anxiety. This opens up a world of potential for future treatment targets of CBD. With the recently added conditions, Tourette’s and Anxiety Disorders, it would be hard to ignore the 5HT receptor’s connection. Realizing that CBD has very direct and indirect mechanisms, it makes sense that some types of ailments are resolved with the first dose of CBD, whereas others might need a build up in the system to allow an ongoing regulation.
While this is all exciting news that there will be new hope for many people who haven’t had an answer there is another layer of difficulty. The labels! Full Spectrum, isolate, hemp oil, cbd oil, cannabis derived, hemp derived. These are all terms that make the seasoned shopper wary that the snake oil salesman has made his way into the industry. When selecting your CBD you have to pay attention to the labeling.
Full Spectrum - This means all of the therapeutic biomolecules were coextracted with the CBD. The terpenes and flavonoids present in the plant synergize with cannabinoids to create the ensemble effect, where all the parts work together better than their sum. Be sure to find the CBD content in milligrams to ensure you are getting your money’s worth.
Isolate - This is the isolated crystallized or powdered form of CBD. The labeling for this is usually less tricky because isolate is not supposed to contain anything other than CBD. Isolate can be vaporized or added to any fatty substance (coconut oil, oil based lotion). CBD isolate should be 99%+ CBD.
Hemp oil/CBD oil - These terms may be used interchangeably. We recommend that no matter what the advertised label claims, it is wise to confirm the content of CBD in mg. Hemp oil simply means the resins were extracted from a hemp plant, whereas CBD oil just means it is an oil that contains CBD. If your product was purchased over the counter it is likely hemp oil based anyway. If the CBD product is purchased at a dispensary it can still be a CBD oil but it was extracted from a marijuana plant.
“Cannabis” derived/hemp derived - this just denotes if the oil was originally extracted from hemp or marijuana. CBD is the same molecule in both cases however the regulations it was produced under and the coextracted cannabinoids and terpenes will depend on the original plant. In most cases marijuana derived products will have a more broad range of therapeutic molecules.
For example a full spectrum hemp extract may only be 25% CBD by concentration. Ex. 1000mg hemp oil with 250mg CBD. While there is a lot of hemp oil, only 1/4th of it is pure CBD. Use the volume of CBD in mg to compare pricing accurately. (mg CBD per dollar) instead of (mg hemp extract per dollar)
Verifying the potency and cleanliness of CBD
There are a few checkpoints that you should put every CBD product through before considering it as a medicinal option. It’s become industry standard to include test results online or accompanied with the CBD product. A responsible supplier will supply potency results, heavy metal results, residual solvents, and bacterial contaminant testing. Heavy metal is important because cannabis and hemp are both phytoremediators, meaning they will clean the soil by pulling up toxins and heavy metals into their tissue. We want to be certain none of these additional materials are present in a substance we ingest as medicine. Residual solvent testing looks for any traces of the hydrocarbon gas or ethanol used to extract the resin from the plant material. Bacterial contaminant testing ensures there is no growth or foreign organic matter in the extracted oil. Lastly, potency testing is “the proof in the pudding”. Potency testing reveals the CBD concentration in the oil, and the actual volume of CBD in milligrams. We have established that this is our best tool to compare prices.
However, the PA medical marijuana industry takes all of these concerns out of the equation. All plants are grown in facilities that have passed inspection for the state requirements. There are also two mandatory tests for every extract product on the shelf. The plant is tested after harvest and must pass all tests before it can be extracted. After extraction products must pass all tests a second time to guarantee any harmful entities were not concentrated in the final product.
From an idea to a change in world medicine, CBD is beating a path into the story of human’s on earth. Seemingly in a class of its own; “ CBD is an unusually interesting molecule. As presented above, its actions are channeled through several biochemical mechanisms and yet it causes essentially no undesirable side effects and its toxicity is negligible” (cannabidiol for… online) it innovates the way we approach medicine. There are some hurdles to jump as a consumer, but as the information age rolls out we’re discovering that is the case with every product. Proper research can lead to a smart purchase as well as successful use of CBD, and we are always here to help if you want someone to take the guesswork out of it.
Morales, Paula et al. “Molecular Targets of the Phytocannabinoids: A Complex Picture.” Progress in the chemistry of organic natural products vol. 103 (2017): 103-131. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-45541-9_4
Pertwee, R G. “The diverse CB1 and CB2 receptor pharmacology of three plant cannabinoids: delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and delta9-tetrahydrocannabivarin.” British journal of pharmacology vol. 153,2 (2008): 199-215. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0707442
Campos, A.C. & Guimarães, F.S. Psychopharmacology (2008) 199: 223. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-008-1168-x
Fernández-Ruiz, Javier et al. “Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid?.” British journal of clinical pharmacology vol. 75,2 (2013): 323-33. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04341.x
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