Short answer: CBD is a naturally occurring, non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant that has been reported by many consumers to have a number of positive effects.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a naturally occurring, non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. It has been found to have a number of therapeutic effects and possible applications relating to health and wellness.
CBD is part of a family of compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are any substance that interacts with the endocannabinoid system regardless of origin or structure. The endocannabinoid system is a communication system with the brain and body that regulates many of the body’s key processes.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system, similar to the nervous system, that keeps many key processes in the body running smoothly and effectively. It relates to how your body controls mood, cognition, temperature, sleep, nerve function, pain and more. Essentially, the endocannabinoid system works to maintain homeostasis or balance in the body. For example, when the body experiences a certain amount of pain, the endo cannabinoid system might kick in to alleviate some of that pain and restore homeostasis.
How the Endocannabinoid System Works
The endocannabinoid system involves three main parts:
- Cannabinoids. The main function of endocannabinoids is to restore balance or maintain homeostasis within the body so the body only releases them when it needs them.
- Receptors. Once the body releases endocannabinoids, they bind to cannabinoid receptors to let the ECS know it has work to do. CB1 receptors are mostly located in your central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system.
- Enzymes. The body releases enzymes to break down the endocannabinoids after they complete their function.
A popular analogy for the way the ECS works is a lock and key. Cannabinoids work like keys to unlock the cannabinoid receptors and trigger a reaction that effects the brain and body.
Endocannabinoids vs. Phytocannabinoids
Both endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids play a key role in maintaining the body’s homeostasis by binding to cannabinoid receptors. The key difference between the two is where they’re produced. The body produces endocannabinoids “on demand” when it needs to restore homeostasis. Whereas phytocannabinoids, like CBD and THC, are produced by plants as a natural defense mechanism.
Phytocannabinoids can be found in many plants besides cannabis including, cacao, black pepper, and kava to name a few. They also seem to produce more overt therapeutic effects than endocannabinoids because they remain in the body longer as they are not broken down once homeostasis is restored
Is CBD the same as marijuana?
In short, no. CBD can be part of marijuana but it is not the same as marijuana. As we mentioned above, CBD is a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are compounds produced by certain plant species, with one of those species being cannabis. Marijuana is a common term for cannabis. That being said, majority of readily available CBD products, including those produced by BFF hemp, are formulated using industrial hemp.
What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?
Both hemp and marijuana are members of the Cannabaceae family, meaning they’re both cannabis. Legally, the difference between hemp and marijuana lies in their THC content. The 2014 Farm Bill, which legalized the production of hemp for research, legally defined hemp as cannabis that contains .3% THC or less by dry weight. So based on that legislation, marijuana is any form of cannabis that contains more than .3% THC by dry weight. Hemp is legal nationwide, while marijuana is not. This is why the majority of readily available CBD products are formulated using industrial hemp.
Additionally, hemp is grown for a number of purposes beyond its therapeutic qualities. For example, hemp can be used to create textiles, building materials, and bio fuel among many other uses. Marijuana on the other hand is typically only used for its medicinal or recreational affects.
What is the difference between CBD and THC?
CBD and THC are very similar molecules. However, they have vastly different effects. Both bind to cannabinoid receptors in the body and brain but CBD does not produce the “high” effect that is commonly associated with THC. CBD and THC also differ in terms of legality. Federally, THC is illegal but some states have legalized the cultivation and sale of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp (cannabis with less than .3% THC by dry weight) from the controlled substances list, making hemp legal to cultivate and effectively legalized hemp derived CBD. That being said, the final cbd product, whether it be a cbd gummy or tincture, must have less that .3% THC to remain legal.
How Does CBD Work?
Research surrounding cannabinoids and how exactly they interact with our bodies is really just beginning. We still have a lot more to learn, like how exactly CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors. Researchers have found that THC binds to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but CBD doesn’t function in the same way. Some scientists believe CBD actually blocks the breakdown of endocannabinoids, and as a result increases their benefits. Others believe it binds to unoccupied CB1 and CB2 receptors. Another theory is that there is another receptor that scientists have yet to discover.
Regardless of the specific way CBD works with our ECS, researchers and consumers alike have reported numerous positive effects related to this relationship.