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What is CBD?

by Dr. Hassam Ali MD - May 1st, 2020

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol or CBD is an ingredient of many natural products in the consumer industry and is the current focus of attention in a new era of cannabis research. CBD is one of the most known cannabinoids, which are particular compounds produced by the unique cannabis family. Unlike THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, CBD is not psychoactive, which essentially means it doesn't have an effect on the cognitive functionality of our brain activity and doesn't cause the "high" mostly associated with consumption of marijuana. 

All kinds of plants found in the cannabis family can be used to produce cannabinoids; this also includes hemp. While CBD and THC are the most known cannabinoids, there are many other types, and only recently have a lot of research has started on them. Human brains have specific receptors designed to interact with cannabinoids molecules. These are known as CB1 and CB2. These receptors are responsible for the effect of cannabinoid molecules on our system—this resulting in the psychoactive and immune-related responses due to cannabis consumption.

During recent years, there have been continuous advances in methods of processing and consumption of cannabis. Concentrated products like oil and sap extracts have allowed for efficient ingestion methods, such as vapes, to become more widespread. New technologies have brought more persistent, recognizable dosages to enthusiasts and patients alike while enabling safe methods of consumption for the potential customer. More accurate and detailed research on the effects of cannabis and usage is underway, as the legality surrounding its use continues to be challenged. According to anecdotal evidence, CBD can be used for the treatment of any kind of discomfort and illness. Everything from body aches and anxiety to Cancer and epilepsy is being managed by some form of the CBD molecule either in research or the field. Although the primarily prohibited status of cannabis usage has prevented a lot of long-term, academic studies, investigations on most cannabinoids in isolation, are being done recently. To understand what CBD is, we need to know more about its usage and functionality. This article is aimed to make you understand what CBD is. 

Studies on CBD usage.

According to researchers, there is a great deal of interest in the benefits of CBS consumption, especially those related to therapy. Although the lack of research on the therapeutic benefits limits from having enough data points to support most claims, this also means that there could be some health risks associated with CBD consumption, and they need to be recognized too. Hopefully, as the legal argument changes, with new states lifting the bans on the usage of cannabis, more research will be done to unravel all health benefits associated with CBD usage. Things will get more evident with time.

Cannabis is enjoying some research renaissance as legalization efforts are underway. There is a detailed perspective on this popular and fascinating plant from a medical perspective. Currently, there are about 150 clinical trials in progress that are testing CBD as a treatment option for a wide variety of health disorders. This includes autism, alcohol abuse, dermatological conditions, and mental health disorders. Some researchers are also being conducted to see the benefits of CBD for Alzheimer's and schizophrenia. Recent researches indicate that CBD may reduce anxiety and thoughts related to depression. There is also some evidence that CBD has antipsychotic effects in people with disorders related to hallucinations.

A recent clinical trial also showed that CBD was effective in the usage of seizure disorder, and it effectively reduces fits in patients of certain epileptic diseases. Even recently, the FDA approved a drug made from CBD called epidiolex for treating patients of Dravet syndrome, a subtype of the epileptic disorder. In addition to seizures, there are other uses of CBD for inflammatory disorders. Researches are showing that CBD can be used to reduce inflammation in joints, especially larger joints of wrists and knees.

The future is not far away when someone might ask, What does CBD stand for, and you can answer with a medication to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The scientific process to find out the answer to What does CBD stand for is going to take time. Pursuit has only just begun to inquire into the discrete benefits of various cannabinoids in addition to CBD. Many researchers believe that the benefits carry by CBD are potentially enormous.

How CBD works

CBD is a non-intoxicating component, extracted from cannabis, has generated a large amount of interest among researchers and physicians in recent times--but how it exerts its therapeutic benefits on a molecular level is still being studied. CBD is a pleiotropic compound. It produces many effects through multiple pathways on a molecular level.

The scientific studies have identified more than sixty-five targets where CBD acts on the human body. CBD has an affinity for the two cannabinoid receptors, namely, CB1 and CB2. It also works on a variety of ion channels and non-cannabinoid receptors. CBD also acts through various pathways independent of any receptors.

One example of CBD acting this way would be by delaying or reducing the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters (for example, adenosine and Anandamide).one other example would be CBD increasing or decreasing the binding ability of certain G-protein coupled receptors.

What does CBD stand for can be better understood by finding how CBD brings about specific effects on the body. Some of the ways CBD acts on our body are:

Action via serotonin receptors:

CBD, when given in higher concentrations, can activate specific receptors in our body called serotonin receptors (5-HT1A, hydroxytryptamine receptors). This is direct action. Serotonin receptor is a G-coupled protein receptor that is implicated in a lot of biological and neurological mechanisms, including depression, anxiety, addiction, satiety, pain perception, sleep nausea, and vomiting. 5-HT1A is one of the many serotonin receptors found in our body which are activated by the neurotransmitter serotonin. These are found in both the central and peripheral nervous systems.

Serotonin receptors activate various intracellular processes of chemical messages to elicit either an excitatory or inhibitory response, which depends on the chemical context of the word. A raw form of CBD called CBDA found in the cannabis plant has a strong affinity for these serotonin receptors. Some of the clinical trials indicate a positive use of CBDA as anti-nausea and antiemetic medication.

CBD action via Vanilloid receptors:

TRPV is the scientific abbreviation for transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V. TRPV1 is one of several dozen receptors that mediate the effects of a variety of medicinal herbs. TRPV1 is also known as vanilloid receptor by many researchers, and this is named after the flavorful vanilla bean. Vanilla has a compound name eugenol, which is an essential oil with antiseptic and analgesic properties. It also used to unclog blood vessels. The vanilla bean has been used as an urban cure for headaches too. CBD directly acts with various ion channels to infer a therapeutic effect. CBD can also bind to these TRPV1 receptors, which also hold the functionality of ion channels. TRPV1 is a known receptor that can mediate pain perception, inflammation, and temperature of the body.

CBD binds to these vanilloid receptors, which influence pain perception and reduce pain and swelling in many diseases. In addition to CBD, some other compounds that activate these vanilloid receptors are Capsaicin, the compound in hot chili pepper, and Anandamide, another endogenous cannabinoid like THC and CBD.

The action of CBD via orphan receptors:

CBD also functions by acting on specific other G protein-coupled receptors known as GPR55 or orphan receptors. It works by antagonizing their action by either deactivation or blocking them entirely. Scientists dubbed GPR55 as an orphan receptor because they could not figure out which family of receptors it truly belonged to. The orphan receptor is mostly expressed in the brain, especially in the cerebellum. It is involved in regulating the blood pressure and regulating the density of our bones, among other physiological processes. It also promotes the function of our bone-resorbing cells called osteoclasts. Which facilitates bone reabsorption. If the orphan receptor is excessively activated, it can lead to weakness of bones and essentially osteoporosis.

Activation of GPR55 also increases the proliferation of certain types of cancer cells as This receptor is expressed in various types of Cancer. CBD is an antagonist of these receptors. By blocking the action of these orphan receptors, CBD can be used in a variety of medical disorders like osteoporosis, Cancer, and hypertension. More research is underway to utilize the benefits of CBD in this regard.

PPARs receptor:

CBD also has an anti-cancer effect by activating specific receptors known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors or PPARs. These receptors are present on the surface of a cell's nucleus. Activation of these receptors has an anti-proliferative effect on cancer cells, which reduces their spread. They also can induce tumor regression in human lung cancer cells. They are also involved in Alzheimer's disease, and their activation degrades amyloid-beta plaque, which is the crucial molecule related to the development of Alzheimer's disease. This is one of the reasons why CBD, a PPAR-gamma agonist, cab be a useful remedy for Alzheimer's patients.

These receptors also regulate those genes which are involved in the homeostasis of energy, uptake of lipids, insulin sensitivity, and various other metabolic functions. Research also shows that people with diabetes can function from CBD usage.

CBD works as a reuptake inhibitor:

CBD, although being an exogenous plant compound, can get inside a human cell to bind to a nuclear receptor. it has to pass through the cell membrane by hitching a ride with a fatty acid-binding protein also known as FABP which then chaperones various lipid molecules into the interior of the cell. These transport molecules also escort THC and the endocannabinoids known as anandamide across the membrane to several targets within the cell. THC and CBD both regulate receptors on the surface of the nucleus, which modulate the gene expression as well as the mitochondrial activity of the cell.

CBD, it turns out, has a high affinity for all three kinds of fatty acid-binding proteins, and CBD competes with other endocannabinoids found in our body, which also use the same fatty acids, for the transport molecules. Once these cannabinoids are inside the cell, they are broken down by fatty acid amide hydrolase or FAAH. It is a metabolic enzyme. CBD can interfere with this process by reducing the body's endocannabinoids access to FABP transport molecules and delaying their passage inside the cell.

CBD functions as an inhibitor of reuptake and breakdown of certain endocannabinoids, thereby raising their levels in the brain's synapses. Increasing endocannabinoid tone via reuptake inhibition may be a key reason as to why CBD causes neuroprotective effects against symptoms like seizures, as well as many other health benefits.

CBD as a modulator of receptors

What does CBD stand for has become a versatile question due to its many associated functions. CBD also functions as a receptor modulator; therefore, it can promote or inhibit how a receptor transmits a signal by modifying the shape of the receptor. One example of CBD acting as an allosteric modulator would be its interaction with GABA receptors. It can increase the receptor's binding affinity for its central endogenous agonist, gamma-Aminobutyric acid short for GABA. GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in our central nervous system. The sedating effects of many drugs, including valium and benzodiazepines, are mediated by GABA receptor transmission. CBD reduces the symptoms of anxiety by modifying the shape of the GABA receptors in a way that increases the natural calming effect of its substrate.

Dr. Hassam Ali MD
Dr. Hassam Ali holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery.His meticulous passion for detail
carries from his practice into his writing, where he prides himself in his professional integrity.

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