Cannabinoids & CBD
More than 60 cannabinoids not found in any other plant to date have been identified in cannabis. The most common ones are cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabidiol (CBD), Δ9-THC and cannabinol (CBN). The cannabinoid distribution varies between different cannabis strains and usually only three or four cannabinoids in concentrations above 0.1% can be found in a single plant.
Δ9-THC is also responsible for the pharmacological effects of cannabis, including its psychoactive properties, although other contents of the cannabis plant also contribute to this effect. In particular, CBD, a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid common in some cannabis strains, has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic and antipsychotic properties.
“Phytocannabinoids” refer to the natural plant extracts and “endocannabinoids” refer to the plant’s natural endogenous active ingredients, i.e. the endogenous ligands of the cannabinoid receptors.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is usually the main cannabinoid in fiber and commercial hemp and the second most widely used cannabinoid for medicinal purposes from the hemp plant. In fiber hemp, cannabidiol is found at a concentration range of about 0.5 to 2.0% in the upper third part of the plant and in the flowers.
CBD causes no psychoactive effects and is legal throughout the world. It is occasionally argued that the medical significance of CBD is even greater than that from THC. Its lack of psychotropic effect poses a huge advantage, because it can be safely consumed without becoming intoxicating and preventing people from working. It is also known for its numerous health benefits, many of which are still certainly waiting to be discovered.
Thus, CBD has analgesic, antidepressant and anxiolytic properties. It is now also being tested for its neuroprotective abilities. In neuroprotection, the structures of the brain and central nervous system are protected from damage (including further damages if degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s are already present). It is a fundamentally significant medical area whose importance is growing more and more.
CBD has antibacterial properties that fight against harmful bacteria such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus – an increasingly occurring resistant type of Staphylococcus due to the widespread use of antibiotics since the 1960s). In addition, CBD has anti-epileptic, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory and anticonvulsant effect, and acts as an antioxidant and relieves nausea.
Most of the CBD spectra of activity have so far only been detected in animal tests. There are now, however, reports from patients who have had positive effects from CBD in epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, ankylosing spondylitis, multiple sclerosis and many more contexts. Cannabidiol also inhibits the effects of THC.
The endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, as well as synthesizing and degradative enzymes. It constitutes a highly complex and extremely important physiological system that influences a number of metabolic processes.
The primary functions of ECS appear to be maintaining the body’s homeostasis and teaching the body to recover from stress. They are also effective in the endocannabinoids in different regulatory systems and, for example, reduce blood pressure, body temperature, pain and fear perception, regulate muscle tension and stimulus conduction in the brain and stimulate appetite and reward-behavior.
With the discovery of the two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, the molecular basis for the effectiveness of Δ9-THC was explained and the existence of an endogenous cannabinoid system was postulated for the first time. CB1 receptors are present in many areas of the central nervous system (CNS) in high densities and are among the most common G-protein-coupled receptors in the brain. They are also found in various peripheral organs (spleen, stomach, spinal cord, lungs, etc.) to a lesser extent.
CB2 receptors are predominantly expressed by cells in the immune system and are traceable at low-density levels in the brain (microglia, the brain stem) and in the keratinocytes of the skin. Like the CB1 receptors, they also belong to the G-protein-coupled receptors. When they are activated a signaling cascade is set into motion (inhibition of adenylate cyclase, intracellular calcium release, inhibition of the potassium efflux), which eventually leads to a modulation of neuronal excitability.