CBD has become wildly popular, can be found in everything from hand sanitizer, coffee, and dog biscuits, and is the focus of a new area of cannabis research. But many people  still find it confusing and really don’t understand what it is.  CBD, or  Cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring compound found in the resinous flower of cannabis, a plant with a rich history as a medicine going back thousands of years. It was discovered in 1940 and is one of 113 identified phytocannabinoids in cannabis plants  Today the therapeutic properties of CBD are being tested and confirmed by scientists and doctors around the world. 

CBD is closely related to another important medicinally active phytocannabinoid: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that causes the high that cannabis is famous for. These are the two components of cannabis that have been most studied by scientists.

Both CBD and THC have significant therapeutic attributes. But unlike THC, CBD does not make a person feel “stoned” or intoxicated. That’s because CBD and THC act in different ways on different receptors in the brain and body. CBD can actually lessen or neutralize the psychoactive effects of THC, depending on how much of each compound is consumed. 

According to anecdotal evidence, CBD is good for treating discomfort and illness of all kinds. Sufferers of everything from anxiety, arthritis and aches to epilepsy and cancer are praising the healing properties of CBD. But the largely prohibited status of cannabis has prevented many long-term, academically rigorous studies on most cannabinoids in isolation, leaving these anecdotal claims mostly uninvestigated until recently.  “There is a great deal of interest in the possible therapeutic effects of CBD, but there is very little [scientific] evidence of efficacy,” said Dr. J Hampton Atkinson, co-director of the Center for Medical Cannabis Research (CMCR) at the University of California, San Diego. CBD may have health benefits, but the lack of research in this area means there just aren’t enough data points to support most of the anecdotal claims. However, now that cannabis is enjoying a research renaissance resulting from legalization efforts, medical science is gaining a much more detailed perspective on this popular and fascinating plant.  According to ClinicalTrials.gov, a federal database of accredited clinical trials worldwide, there are about 150 trials in progress that are testing CBD as a treatment for a wide variety of health conditions.

In the next blog post, we will discuss in more detail some of the health benefits of CBD and the corresponding studies.