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WHAT IS CBD?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the main cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant.10 CBD has become especially popular because of its medical benefits without causing a ‘high’.10,11 Initially, most of the research focused on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the other major cannabinoid known for its psychoactive effects.10 It was only later that CBD started gaining interest and popularity because of its range of medical uses and its different mode of action compared to THC.10

CANNABIS SATIVA HAS OVER 120+ CANNABINOIDS5

TWO COMMONLY KNOWN ONES ARE:

CBD5
Non-psychoactive

CBD is non-psychoactive and is one of the most studied cannabinoids due to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety and anti-tumour properties, among others5

THC5
Psychoactive (Gets you high)

THC binds to cannabinoids receptors and elicits a psychoactive effect, but also has beneficial properties such as appetite stimulation, analgesia and anti-emetic effects5

HOW DOES CBD INTERACT WITH THE ECS?

CBD interacts with the ECS through its cannabinoid receptors.17 While THC works mostly through the CB1 receptor leading to its well-known psychoactive effects, CBD targets CB2 receptors, which are located on organs of the immune system.17,20 These receptors serve an important role in pain, inflammation and immune function.20 CBD’s action at these receptors is thought to account for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.20 CBD also acts on anandamide, the body’s own cannabinoid.20 Anandamide is derived from the Sanskrit word for bliss and is involved in the modulation of pain.20 CBD prevents deactivation of anandamide and increases its signalling, allowing it to have more effect on the ECS.5,20

CBD AND THC TARGETS IN THE ECS

Adapted from Morales P, et al; 20178

CB1 RECEPTORS

Action
THC targets mainly CB1 receptors20

Effect
Responsible for the well-known psychoactive effects of THC20

CB2 RECEPTORS

Action
CBD targets CB2 receptors20

Effect
Accounts for the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of CBD20

ANANDAMIDE

Action
CBD prevents deactivation and increases anandamide signalling20

Effect
Anandamide has more effect on the human endocannabinoid system5

THC: Tetrahydrocannabinol; ECS: endocannabinoid system

DOES CBD INTERACT WITH TARGETS OUTSIDE THE ECS?

Yes, CBD also acts on multiple targets outside the ECS which contribute to its beneficial pharmacological effects.5 For instance, CBD’s action at the serotonin receptor is thought to be responsible for its anti-anxiety effect.20

CBD TARGETS OUTSIDE THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM5

Adapted from Morales P, et al; 20178

GABA: gamma aminobutyric acid

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