Before deepening on the study of this cannabinoid of the cannabis, we must explain that is quite difficult to question its essence without establish a relationship, to a greater or lesser extent, with the THC, other of the most relevant cannabinoids of cannabis. Therefore, even though this article is about the studies made on CBD, often the THC will be mentioned.
What is cannabidiol CBD?
CBD is one of the several cannabinoids components of cannabis. It is in every cannabis strain, but depending on each variety, the amount will vary. Some have more than others. This fact is very important when it comes to establish the balance in the effect we will feel after smoking the grass. Among the several components of cannabis , the most known and studied are the cannabinoids named THC (Delta – 9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). Although both have proved therapeutic values, the THC has been more related with the playful and spiritual use of cannabis, while the CBD has been used as medicine. This way of taking advantages of both cannabinoids wasn’t based on scientific studies, because is well known that cannabis plant was already used by human beings more than 5000 years ago and at that time there weren’t laboratories to make scientific studies. Because of this it is still more interesting see how the observation, as the empiric method of study, reconfirm what many years later science proved irrefutably.
As we have said already, the interaction between both cannabinoids determines the type of effect we will feel . We could say that THC is the “throttle” of the trip while CBD is the brake, the moderator, Because of this, we can find a variety that, although it has a medium amount of THC, can produce a very high effect because its amount of CBD is very low. This happens because the “brake” is weak; the level of CBD is too low. And vice versa. We can find a plant with a really high level of THC that doesn’t produce a powerful effect because its amount of CBD is very high too. Therefore, the CBD compensates the THC. Definitely, the effect is a question of balance between THC and CBD. So far we have explained the psychoactive relation between both cannabinoids. Both these components have medical properties too. We are going to deepen in the CBD matter.
So far, CBD is the cannabinoid with the highest number of medical properties. And it hasn’t negative effects in the human organism. Our body tolerates it very well and it benefits of its several curative and palliatives properties.
Therapeutic properties of CBD
anti – inflammatory
anti nausea and anti antipyretic
reducer of desire of heroin, cocaine and alcohol
So many properties did not go unnoticed between doctors and scientists. We are going to enumerate some of the pathologies on which CBD can be used, either to cure them or to alleviate pain and symptoms.
Diseases on which CBD is used
neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer, Parkinson and multiple sclerosis
chronicle inflammatory diseases like chronicle polyarthritis, disease of Chron and inflammatory bowel disease.
Eventually, and depending on the law, it can be used as food supplement
Potential negative side effects of CBD
These adverse effects are felt by users sometimes; not always. Anyway, they are very moderate and disappear after leaving the use of CBD.
Human endocannabinoid system
The endocannabinoid system is the system of the human organism responsible of the communication between body and brain. It has a great impact in certain functions of the feelings, the mood and movement.
Before going ahead, is important to make a distinction between endocannabinoids and exocannabinoids.
The exocannabinoids are those that the body receives from the outside. For example, when we smoke cannabis. The endocannabinoids are produced by our own organism.
There are several endocannabinoid receptors in the human body. Depending on the part of the body where they are located, they will exercise a different action in the organism. Some receptors are located in the brain, others in the glands and others are in the immune cells. In any case, their mission is the maintenance of the equilibrium of the functioning of the body. This is known as homeostasis.
The body has two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. The most important are those ones found in the brain and the immune system. When we use cannabis, the cannabinoids we give our body can join to the endogenous receptors and change the functioning of our organism.
Functioning of endocannabinoid system
The neurons of the brain get communicated among themselves by sending signals, using some chemical substances known as neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are released by a nerve cell. The mechanism of communication among neurons is known as synapse. The neurotransmitters join a specific receptor, located in a nearby neuron. The endocannabinoid system favors the communication among the cells.
The cannabinoids are the chemical products that activate the receptors. They limit the quantity of neurotransmitter that is released in the organism and, therefore, affect the transmission and reception of the nervous impulse.
The importance of cannabinoids in our organism
What products produce a bigger effect in our endocannabinoid system? The cannabinoids known as THC and CBD. Although, as we have said, our organism produce cannabinoids. The most studied endocannabinoids are anandamida y su 2 – araquidonoilglicerol (2 – AG).
The exogenous cannabinoids come from cannabis and the best known are THC and CBD. It has been proved they both have important therapeutic functions.
When we use cannabis and, therefore, introduce in our body phytocannabinoids (CBD and THC among others), they work with our own endocannabinoids. Therefore, the activity that our endocannabinoids produce, isn’t modified by the use of THC and CBD, both exogenous.
The impact and importance of the cannabinoids in our organism is enormous. As we have explained already, apart from those that our body produces, the endocannabinoids, THC and CBD, can have a very positive effect in our health. Unfortunately, the illegalization of cannabis, has contributed to the delay of its study by scientists and doctors. If it weren’t by the intuition of eminences like Doctor Raphael Mechoulam, Miguel Guzmán or Cristina Sánchez, among others, we would be even further to discover the enormous potential of cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. Among all these scientists, it highlights Dr. Mechoulam, known as “the father of cannabis”, due to his study to isolate the cannabinoid THC. Moreover, his studies on cannabinoids are exempt of prejudice, because he never has tried cannabis. His studies are based in scientific rigor.
We insist in this circumstance because there are too many “visionaries” in the cannabis sector who want to make us believe that marijuana is the panacea of all evils, pretending its use is absolutely innocuous. This fallacy is based in the ignorance. Cannabis has many therapeutic properties; but it has adverse effects too.
Raphael Mechoulam is considered a world eminence in the study of medical chemistry of cannabis. He was the first scientists who isolated and determined the structure and global synthesis of the molecule Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis. He was too a pioneer in the study of the cannabinoid system of the mammals body.
Other of his projects lead to the isolation of the endocannabinoid known as anandamida. According to him, CBD can:
Inhibit the beginning of diabetes type 1 in mice
It has antipsychotic properties to treat the schizophrenia.
Discovered findings that pointed to potential benefits to treat incurable epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, neurodegenerative disorders and nausea.
The evidence points to the beneficial effect of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mechoulam critiziced the legal system of USA which classifies cannabis like forbidden substance, alleging that it would be necessary a more flexible treatment in order to get more patients getting benefits from the CBD. He says CBD isn’t toxic or addictive. He thinks CBD could be very useful to treat diabetes type 1 without adverse effects.
But he also thinks that it is necessary invest more money in studies about the potential benefits of cannabis and regrets that pharmaceutical multinationals are not willing to invest.
Other of the international eminences in the study of cannabis is the professor of biochemistry and biology in the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain), Dr Manuel Guzmán.
His speciality, after 20 years of investigation, is the treatment of cancer and neurodegenerative disorders with cannabis.
In fact, his conclusions about the therapeutic properties of cannabis are the same than those of Mechoulam and other professors. We are going to remember some of these disorders and pathologies.
It is an efficient analgesic (CBD)
Inhibition of vomiting and nausea (chemotherapy)
Helpful to control motor aspects (multiple sclerosis, involuntary movements, spasms)
It increases the appetite (AIDS and cancer)
CBD is specially efficient to fight epilepsy
Anyway, Dr Guzmán ensures that “cannabis cannot be considered a magic potion”. It has therapeutic properties but adverse effects too. Like in every serious study, it has been made a list about the balance between the positive and negative effects. The unwanted effects are related with the psychoactivity of THC. However, the adversity is well tolerated by the patients. But it is well known that cannabis has very little toxicity. There are not cases of overdose. And it has never reported a single case of death. Anyway, the psychoactivity of cannabis can be moderated and even suppressed by using plants with high levels of CBD.
Cannabis is not a neurotoxic plant. It is not negative for the neurons. This cannot be said of many legal substances like alcohol or tobacco. It is advisable to remember the wwords said by professor Guzmán in this sense:
“We live in a world conditioned by historic events: mafia wars and economic interests where neurotoxic drugs like alcohol and tobacco are legal. It is a pity that a plant with so many therapeutic properties and effects be criminalized.”
Of course, he is completely right. You have to be very obtuse minded to prohibit cannabis in countries where alcohol and tobacco is legal.
We cannot close this list of eminences without mentioning the professor Cristina Sánchez: researcher and professor of biochemistry of the University Complutense of Madrid (Spain). Her studies have been based on the use of cannabis as therapy against cancer.
After more than 15 years investigating the antitumor effects of cannabinoids, his job has been widely diffused from the exposition of the theory of the suicide of tumor cells; phenomenon known as apoptosis. We are going now to extract some parts of one of his interviews.
Question – What is the best ratio THC/CBD to treat cancer?
Answer – There is no evidence that cannabis cures cancer. But the investigations made in laboratory seem to back up this idea.
Although there has been much talk about some strains with a 1/1 ratio of CBD and THC, it is true that each patient and each type of cancer is different. In cases of glabiostoma a higher ratio of THC is better. In cases of breast cancer is better a higher amount of CBD.
Q . Does the existence of cannabinoid receptors imply that the cell can be destroyed by its exposure to cannabinoids?
CS – Not always. But it happens in some cases. For example, when it comes to breast cancer, the tumor cells have many receptors CB1 and CB2. While in the other cells there is no evidence of CB2 receptor. The existence of this receptor in the malignant cells seems to be the cause of their suicide. However, there are other cases, like the neuroblastomas (tumors in the nerve cells) that have only CB1 receptors that die with the presence of cannabinoids. But the neurons, that have CB1 receptors, don’t get killed by the effect of cannabinoids. In other words, the existence of receptors doesn’t guarantee the cannabinoids will kill the cell,
With this interview we finish this article about CBD. Anyway, we think there are many studies left to do about this subject. For this reason is important to update the actual law about cannabis. Having two of the most important eminences of the world in Spain, it is a reason to continue studying and to be proud of it.