What is CBD? Why is it Important? Hyhr Staff November 18, 2022

What is CBD? Why is it Important?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a powerful compound that’s found in the leaves and flowers of cannabis sativa. This plant – which includes both hemp and marijuana – has a rich history as a medicine going as far back as the pre-neolithic period (about 14,000 years!) More recently, it has stormed the cultural stage, re-taking its rightful place in the pharmacopeia of herbal remedies. But more than that, CBD has spawned a new industry surrounding health and wellness, and is even making inroads to athletics and sports medicine. 

CBD is one of more than a hundred “phytocannabinoids,” which are unique to cannabis and endow the plant with its robust healing properties. You may have heard of it’s close cousin THC, but CBD has just as many therapeutic properties that are being researched by scientists and doctors around the world. The big difference? CBD is not psychoactive, meaning that it won’t give you the sensation of feeling high. When taken orally, or applied topically, CBD can have many effects on the body. Most notably, CBD is known to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Image of cannabis sativa (hemp) from which CBD is derived.
CBD is one of the primary cannabinoids found in cannabis.

CBD Benefits

Our bodies produce endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors that bind with receptors within our nervous systems. When we take CBD (a phytocannabinoid) we are supplementing the natural endocannabinoids in our body, which then help to regulate several physiological processes in our bodies. This process occurs within our endocannabinoid system (more on this later).  

Image of tincture bottles, dropper, and vape with small blackboard with the word CBD written on it.
CBD is great for pain relief, stress reduction, reducing inflammation, and can aid in healthier sleep. Plus, it’s non-intoxicating and won’t make you feel ‘high’

There’s a lot of research being done on the health and wellness benefits of CBD, but several studies have shown that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, has anti-oxidative properties, can work as an antiemetic, and may be neuroprotective.

Here are some of the known benefits of CBD:

  • Pain relief
  • Aids in healthy sleep
  • Reduces stress
  • Non-intoxicating & non-habit forming
  • Inflammation reduction

But how does CBD Work? The short (but complex) answer: the endocannabinoid system.

Research into the benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids has revealed the existence of a biochemical communication system that plays a crucial role in regulating our physiology, mood, and everyday experience. This is called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Its discovery has redefined and revolutionized our understanding of human physiology. The ECS is an essential biological system present in all people. It’s primary purpose? To regulate a wide variety of physiological processes such as our perception of pain, regulation of mood, memory, appetite, stress, immune function, and even homeostasis. Homeostasis is our bodies’ continuous efforts to keep all of our systems in balance—you can think of the ECS as the body’s universal regulator (kind of like an air traffic controller). If some of our internal systems are dialed-up too high or turned-down too low, it is the job of the ECS to bring everything back into perfect balance. How it works is through two primary receptors, known as CB-1 and CB-2.

Image of a person looking at their tablet with an application showing the parts of the human anatomy.
CBD works synergistically with the ECS to help reduce inflammation and sensations of pain.

CB1 receptors are mostly found in the central nervous system whereas CB2 receptors are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system. Endocannabinoids (and phytocannabinoids like THC, CBD, etc.) can bind to or stimulate either receptor. The results depend on where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid it can bind to.

Through decades of research, we know that cannabis sativa (including hemp and marijuana) exerts its effects by mimicking our natural endocannabinoids to activate our ECS. Chemical compounds expressed by the cannabis plant, including CBD, are able to directly or indirectly interact and activate our ECS. At first, researchers thought cannabinoid receptors were only located in our brain and nerve cells, but as it turns out they are located all throughout our bodies. Because of this, the ECS is involved in an astonishingly wide variety of physiological processes. Thus when we use CBD, it interacts with the primary receptors (CB1 & CB2) in the ECS to promote homeostasis, reduce sensations of pain, and decrease inflammation.

image of an athlete holding the lower part of her back after she has applied some cbd topicals.
CBD is a viable alternative to help with pain management instead of traditional pain relievers like ibuprofen or tylenol!

Is CBD worth trying for pain management?

Absolutely! Each one of us can experience the positive health and wellness benefits that CBD can give us. With so many different products and brands in the market it can be tough to navigate which products are best for you. We are here to educate and provide expert knowledge and recommendations about the best CBD products available. If you are an athlete and thinking about trying CBD for pain management, check out our article about CBD & Pain Management for Athletes. We hope that this guide helped you learn a little more about the amazing benefits of CBD! Interested in learning more? Visit our other articles about CBD to gain more in-depth knowledge. 

Resources & Citations

  • https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700
  • https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-need-know-and-what-were-working-find-out-about-products-containing-cannabis-or-cannabis
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/16/style/self-care/cbd-oil-benefits.html#:~:text=CBD%20is%20advertised%20as%20providing,or%20the%20midnight%20pizza%20munchies).
  • https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cbd-oil-benefits
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317221
  • https://www.verywellhealth.com/cbd-oil-benefits-uses-side-effects-4174562
  • https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/medical-advances/science-and-research/what-research-says-about-cbd-oil
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7092763/
  • https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(19)30007-2/fulltext
  • https://www.forbes.com/health/body/cbd-oil-benefits/
  • https://jcannabisresearch.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s42238-021-00061-5

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