Cannabidiol, commonly known as its abbreviation CBD, is among the over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds that interact with our bodies in a variety of medicinal ways. There are endogenous cannabinoids — which are produced organically in our own bodies through our endocannibinoid system — and exogenous cannabinoids — those which we are able to take in externally through cannabis therapy. CBD is one of the most plentifully found cannabinoids, a close second to or sometimes even surpassing its psychoactive counterpart Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Cannabis cultivators have long prioritized high THC levels in their plants, however, more attention is being given to more balanced strains and high-CBD strains.
Strains considered “high-CBD” test anywhere between 4 and upward of 20 percent CBD. These strains are sought for their medicinal benefits—anecdotally, CBD has been shown to be anti-emetic (reducing nausea), anti-psychotic, anti-convulsant, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and lacks the psychoactivity or “high” elicited by THC. Through the limited research compiled so far regarding CBD, there is no lethal dose of the cannabinoid, which has made it especially desirable to parents seeking medicine for their children with hard-to-treat ailments and who also want to avoid severe side-effects.
There have been studies illuminating the cannabinoid’s ability to manage chronic and neuropathic pain. One, published in the journal Neurology, found cannabis treatment delivered through an oromucosal spray containing 2.7 mg of THC and 2.5 mg of CBD resulted in pain relief and improved sleep; the cannabis medicine performed superior to the placebo that was also administered.
Furthermore, CBD specifically has been used historically to aid in managing the debilitating effects of epilepsy — it was often found to be anecdotally successful. While the exact mechanisms of how this occurs requires more research, the pharmaceutical Epidolex, which is derived from CBD has been approved for clinical trials by the FDA. A 12-week preliminary study of Epidolex completed by the American Academy of Neurology involved 213 people ranging in age from toddlers to adults, who suffered from extreme and aggressive types of epilepsy. Researchers tracked the number of seizures each individual experienced during the study: at its conclusion, seizures decreased by 54 percent for 137 people. 23 people experienced a 53 percent drop in seizures. 11 people experienced a 55 percent reduction in seizures. 12 people ended the study early due to minor side effects including drowsiness, diarrhea and loss of appetite. While the study lacked a placebo used on a control group, which is required to be considered a true scientific study, the results were encouraging for people who wish to engage in CBD therapy
The 2013 CNN special Weed, hosted by Sanjay Gupta, focused in on the story of 7-year-old Charlotte Figi, who experienced hundreds of seizures per day. After introducing Charlotte to cannabis therapy, her seizures have been reduced to a few per month. A high-CBD strain was named Charlotte’s Web in her honor. This article published by the Huffington Post documents families flocking to Colorado — many had heard Charlotte’s success story — to explore the possibilities of cannabis therapy for their own children. It should be noted, however, that Charlotte’s Web is not the only high-CBD strain, and is no longer the only option for people seeking CBD.
When CBD works in conjunction with other cannabinoids, the medicine can become even more effective. This is because of the Entourage Effect — the interactive synergy of cannabinoids and terpenoids found in the crystalline trichomes coating the cannabis bud. This is why medicines that single out one cannabinoid (often CBD or THC) aren’t as effective as utilizing the whole plant. It is becoming more important than ever to recognize the chemical complexity of the cannabis plant, especially when treating a broad range of symptoms.
There are a number of high CBD strains currently on the market; we encourage asking dispensaries for their test results. Among the highest testing CBD strains are ACDC, Harlequin and Critical Mass. One notable aspect of the strain ACDC is its remarkable THC to CBD ratio, which often tests in at 1:20 or higher — resulting in a cannabis strain that elicits little to no psychoactive effects but may remedy a number of other ailments. High Mountain Health grows a proprietary ACDC strain, which has commonly been tested at 20 percent or more CBD.
— Words by Taylor Haynes