Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid that grows naturally in cannabis plants. There are over 100 cannabinoids identified in hemp and cannabis plants. While delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is more well known, cannabidiol (CBD) has recently exploded in popularity. Users have reported numerous health benefits, and research on the compound has only just begun. Here’s a look into the special properties that make the CBD molecule unique and why it’s so important.
Chemical and Physical Properties of the Cannabidiol (CBD) Molecule
The chemical formula for cannabidiol is C₂₁H₃₀O₂. That means it has 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms, all held together by chemical bonds. Its molecular weight, or molar mass, is 314.4617. At room temperature, it is an odorless, colorless crystalline solid. The CBD molecule is insoluble in water. That means that it won’t dissolve in water. However, it can dissolve in alcohol or oil-based solvents. That’s why you’ll often find CBD in oil form. The CBD molecule “plays nicely” with oil. In water, however, it will not be evenly distributed and will separate over time, often sinking to the bottom completely.
Often, you’ll find pure CBD in the form of a powder, also known as CBD isolate. This means that all the other cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils from the cannabis plant have been stripped away, leaving only pure CBD behind. This powder can then be used to make tinctures or added to creams for topical use.
How Does the CBD Molecule Work in the Body?
Unlike its cousin, THC, CBD does not cause any psychoactive activity. In other words, it doesn’t make you feel “high.” Instead, it may provide many of the analgesic and anti-inflammatory benefits of marijuana without the feeling of impairment. Upon administration, cannabidiol (CBD) begins interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system works all over the body, controlling things like sleep, mood, and appetite. The endocannabinoids system’s main purpose is to maintain balance in the body, promoting the ideal conditions for the cells in the body to work optimally.
The endocannabinoid system is made up of CB1 and CB2 receptors, and these receptors are activated by specific molecules that your body naturally produces. Namely, a chemical called AEA stimulates the CB1 receptors, while 2-AG stimulates both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The CB1 receptor controls several functions in the body, such as sleeping, appetite, mood, and pain perception. The CB2 receptor controls inflammation and the body’s immune response.
While THC binds to the CB1 receptors, CBD doesn’t directly bind to the cannabinoid receptors and works a little differently in the body than THC. Instead of binding to the receptors, CBD signals other endocannabinoids to activate these receptors. For instance, CBD triggers the endocannabinoid system to produce more 2-AG. This chemical then stimulates both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, enhancing their balancing effects on the body. CBD may also increase the impact of these chemicals on the body by allowing these chemicals more time to stay in your body so their effects can last longer.
Additionally, although CBD does not interact directly with either CB1 or CB2, it does directly stimulate the vanilloid receptor. The vanilloid receptor (also known as the TRPV-1 receptor) is responsible for regulating pain, body temperature, and inflammation. CBD also appears to directly stimulate the serotonin, or 5-HT1A, receptor within the brain. This receptor is responsible for a variety of responses in the body, including anxiety, depression, appetite, nausea, and vomiting.
Benefits of the CBD Molecule
The CBD molecule may provide a variety of potential benefits; however, scientists are just beginning to research the various possible health benefits of CBD. Potential benefits include:
- Improved sleep. Research has found that CBD may be beneficial in helping you fall asleep and stay asleep longer.
- Balanced mood. CBD has also been studied as a potential as treatment for multiple anxiety and mood disorders. Some studies have found a link between CBD and balanced mood and reduced symptoms of anxiety.
- Decreased pain. According to a study published in Current Neuropharmacology, CBD may help to reduce pain.
- Reduced inflammation. Multiple studies have also found that CBD may hold anti-inflammatory properties. This is believed to be a result of its interaction with the CB2 receptor.
- Lowered blood pressure. Other studies, such as this study in England, have found that CBD may be effective in lowering blood pressure.
- Diminished acne. CBD may also be effective at reducing acne and improving other skin conditions when applied topically.
Current evidence shows a lot of promise when it comes to CBD. More research, including clinical trials, needs to be completed on this tiny, but complex molecule to determine its potential for treating the above conditions and beyond. If you’re looking to give hemp a try, check out our proprietary Hemp Extract that’s tasteless, odorless, and dissolves in any food.