The resin glands of cannabis plants contain special molecules that have been found to provide medicinal value, including overall health and wellness. These chemicals, called cannabinoids and terpenes, are manufactured in the nearly microscopic trichomes during the final flowering stage of growth of this herb.
An individual strain of cannabis may offer up to 200 different terpenes and 113 variants of cannabinoids. These medicinal molecules have been found to deliver broad reaching efficacy for a range of patient communities, including efficacy for those suffering from diseases involving systemic inflammation, chronic pain, and a variety of psychological conditions, including depression, anxiety, and some types of psychosis.
The family of cannabinoids offered by cannabis plants (including derivative products, such as extractions, edibles, and concentrates) is divided into two major categories: Major and minor. The two most well known major cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Other major cannabinoids include cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabidivarin (CBDV).
Popular lore describes THC as the psychoactive cousin of non-euphoric CBD, a simple mental model of relativistic efficacies—but one that objectively defies the true definition of psychoactive and the healthful effects of this molecule.
CBD is a distinctive chemical component of the cannabis herb. It delivers a benign psychotropic effect in comparison to THC (most notably of which are calming and relief from anxiety), a significant topic for patients and consumers. While many cannot tolerate the sometimes mind-altering effects of THC, CBD offers none of the disadvantages of its stigma-laden and storied cousin de cannabis. School teachers, pilots, bus drivers, and children all can consume CBD with confidence, void of the risk of entering a state of being “stoned” or “high.”
CBD is one of the few molecules—especially for those manufactured outside the human body by plants—that readily crosses the blood brain barrier. It’s half-life in humans is relatively long at 18–33 hours (following IV administration) and 2–5 days after chronic oral dosing (~700 mg/day). When consumed orally, large doses of CBD are necessary to compensate for its relatively low bioavailability.
A study entitled “Therapeutic Cannabis and Endocannabinoid Signaling System Modulator Use in Otolaryngology Patients” and published in the journal Investigative Otolaryngology in April 2018 revealed that the CBD molecule, when consumed by humans, offers “analgesic, anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, antipsychotic, and sedative effects.”
In addition, the study revealed that CBD offers some patient populations “anxiolytic and antipsychotic effects” that may decrease potential adverse effects of THC, including paranoia, panic attacks, and generalized anxiety–especially in new users.
An August 2000 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America entitled “The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis” found that CBD, through its combined immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory actions, has “a potent anti-arthritic effect.” This means that CBD is effective in treating the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, a disease that afflicts more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States alone.