About Cannabidiol

Cannabidiol (CBD) is

    • the most valuable ingredient in industrial or fiber hemp (Cannabis sativa).
    • a cannabinoid that is not intoxicating and is not expected to lead to adverse effects even in case of long-term internal or external use.
    • a natural product, that may also be produced synthetically, exerting a plethora of health-promoting effects.

Cannabidiol may be used as a valuable additive in cosmetics or as a dietary supplement. In the next few years the medical use of this drug will open up new therapeutic options in many indications.

Did you know that . . .

. . . cannabidiol is just one of 104 cannabinoids which have been isolated and/or characterized from different varieties of hemp so far?

Each hemp plant contains many different cannabinoids and hundreds of other plant compounds. Eight different substances alone are so similar to each other that they are assigned to the “cannabidiol type”.
While cannabidiol was first isolated from hemp by an American research team in 1940, many of the other cannabinoids were only discovered in this millennium.
Total of 545 different substances have been detected in hemp until today1)ElSohly, M., Gul, W.: Constituents of Cannabis sativa. In: Pertwee R.G.(ed.): Handbook of Cannabis. Oxford University Press, 2014 . Isolating and purifying this plant substance to high degrees of purity is accordingly intricate.

. . . the effect of herbal cannabinoids such as cannabidiol on the human body is ascribed to the fact that our body produces its own so-called endocannabinoids?

These endocannabinoids regulate a large number of processes in our body, both in our central nervous system and in our organs such as the skin or the gastrointestinal tract. The key role of the endocannabinoid system is maintaining or restoring the homeostasis, a healthy balance of several bodily functions. Herbal cannabinoids such as cannabidiol may support the positive effect of these endocannabinoids in a useful way.

. . . substances with similar effects on the human cannabinoid receptors have been shown in some other plant species?

For example, beta-caryophyllene influences one of the cannabinoid receptors on cell membranes, called CB2 receptor. This substance is contained in many spices, such as basil, rosemary, cinnamon, oregano, caraway and pepper. The CB2 receptor is among others particularly common in the human gastrointestinal tract. Cannabidiol has an effect on the CB2 receptor as well.
Even cocoa powder and dark chocolate contain – albeit only traces – substances which have an effect on our cannabinoid receptors.

Terpene and phenol parts in cannabidiol indicated by colors. Grafik: Cacycle, Lizenz: CC BY-SA 3.0

. . . herbal cannabinoids such as cannabidiol are composed of a terpene and phenol from a chemical point of view?

This explains their excellent liposolubility and their good antioxidant properties, as both terpenes and phenols are lipophilic and polyunsaturated.

. . . hemp and thus – of course unknowingly – also its substance cannabidiol have already been used for five thousand years?

The most ancient evidence dates back to the time around 2,700 BC and hails from China.

. . . cannabinoids such as cannabidiol are not evenly distributed in all parts of the hemp plant?

Cannabidiol is mainly concentrated in the inflorescences and small upper leaves of the female plants. The cannabinoids may account for well over 20 % of the dry matter of these inflorescences, depending on the hemp variety.
Background: Originally, hemp is one of the so-called “dioecious” plants, i.e. there are male and female plants. In the meantime, even monoecious fiber hemp varieties have been grown.

. . . possible medical and therapeutic effects of cannabidiol are currently being researched intensely?

There are first indications, mainly from laboratory tests, that cannabidiol could counteract various chronic inflammatory diseases of the skin or the gastrointestinal tract, various autoimmune diseases, conclusive disorders such as some rare and severe forms of epilepsy, certain cancers as well as psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. It will be exciting to see which of these indications can be confirmed in human clinical trials.
One thing is clear already: Cannabidiol is a highly-tolerated natural plant substance with multiple beneficial effects on the human body, both for internal and external use.

Image: Cacycle, Lizenz: CC BY-SA 3.0

References   [ + ]

1. ElSohly, M., Gul, W.: Constituents of Cannabis sativa. In: Pertwee R.G.(ed.): Handbook of Cannabis. Oxford University Press, 2014