Cannabidiol (CBD) may have some health benefits, and it may also pose risks. Products containing the compound are now legal in many American states where marijuana is not.
This article will explain what CBD is, its purported health benefits, how to use it, potential risks, and issues surrounding its legality in the United States.
What is CBD oil?
CBD is one of many compounds, known as cannabinoids, in the cannabis plant. Researchers have been looking at the potential therapeutic uses of CBD.
Oils that contain concentrations of CBD are known as CBD oils. The concentrations and the uses of these oils vary.
Is CBD marijuana?
Until recently, the best-known compound in cannabis was delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the most active ingredient in marijuana.
Marijuana contains both THC and CBD, and these compounds have different effects.
THC creates a mind-altering “high” when it is broken down by heat and introduced into the body. This results from smoking marijuana or using it in cooking, for example.
Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. This means that it does not change the state of mind of the person who uses it.
However, CBD does appear to produce significant changes in the body, and some research suggests that it has medical benefits.
The least processed form of the cannabis plant, known as hemp, contains most of the CBD used medicinally. Though hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, Cannabis sativa, the two are very different.
Over the years, marijuana farmers have selectively bred their plants to contain high levels of THC and other compounds that interested them, often because the compounds produced a smell or had another effect on the plant’s flowers.
However, hemp farmers have rarely modified the plant. These hemp plants are used to create CBD oil.
How CBD works
All cannabinoids, including CBD, produce effects in the body by attaching to certain receptors.
The human body produces certain cannabinoids on its own. It also has two receptors for cannabinoids, called the CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are located throughout the body, but many are in the brain.
The CB1 receptors in the brain deal with coordination and movement, pain, emotions, and mood, thinking, appetite, and memories, among other factors. THC attaches to these receptors.
CB2 receptors are more common in the immune system. They affect inflammation and pain.
Researchers once believed that CBD attached to these CB2 receptors, but it now appears that CBD does not attach directly to either receptor. Instead, it seems to direct the body to use more of its own cannabinoids.
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