Cannabidiol: A brief introduction, potential uses and benefits

What is cannabidiol (CBD)?

Although cannabidiol (also referred to as CBD) is rapidly emerging on the dietary supplement market as the CBD industry is exponentially expanding, many people don’t know what it is.

CBD is one of the naturally-occurring active compounds (called cannabinoids) found in cannabis and hemp. So far, over 80 different cannabinoids have been identified in the cannabis plant. Unlike the other major active constituent of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is not psychoactive, but has been demonstrated to have medicinal properties and therapeutic benefits and applications for many medical conditions.

CBD was discovered in 1940 by the research team of Dr. Roger Adams, a professor at the University of Illinois, while its molecular structure was revealed in 1963. CBD can be extracted from the stalks or stems of cannabis or hemp plants, as it is the second most abundant component of these plants, and makes up about 40% of the plant extracts.

What are the benefits of cannabidiol?

Recently, CBD has attracted a lot of attention, as scientific researchers are working uncovering its mechanisms of action and its potential health benefits. CBD is currently being examined in several clinical trials, and is at different stages of testing for various medical indications.

In contrast to THC (the main psychoactive component of marijuana), CBD does not cause the same mind-altering “high”, and can be taken by mouth, as an aerosol spray into the cheek, or by inhalation as cannabis smoke or vapour. According to scientific studies, CBD has significant analgesic (pain-relieving) and anti-inflammatory properties. In Canada, CBD can be prescribed to treat pain associated with multiple sclerosis. In addition, in the last two years, numerous clinical trials have demonstrated that CBD can serve as effective treatment for several types of childhood epilepsy. In addition, CBD has been demonstrated to have anti-anxiety properties (including social anxiety), as well as potential therapeutic benefits in treating addiction, and is now being investigated as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Interestingly, it has also been shown that CBD can help to reduce the adverse side effects of THC, such as intoxication and sedation.

What are the risks of cannabidiol?

Since the field of CBD research is relatively new, any potential long-term side effects of its use are still under investigation. However, CBD seems to be safe to use and well-tolerated by most individuals, and no major side effects have been identified so far. Some of the side effects reported for CBD include fatigue, changes in appetite, and drowsiness.