What is CBD?
Origins of CBD
The short answer is: hemp plants.
As a cannabinoid, Cannabidiol (CBD) is naturally found in cannabis plants. These form a small plant family known as Cannabaceae, which for simplicity can be split into two categories: hemp/industrial hemp and the category commonly known as marijuana or medical cannabis, and a multitude of other names.
The key difference between the two categories is the chemical composition of the plants, namely the THC content. While hemp has regulated maximum THC levels of ~0.3% and relatively high CBD levels, other cannabis plants have been bred with a focus on THC concentration for medical and recreational purposes, often leading to decreased concentration of CBD.
The naturally low THC content of hemp allows for legal cultivation in most countries while providing an ideal chemical composition for the extraction of CBD.
How is CBD made?
Products containing CBD are made using a wide variety of techniques. Generally, a few basic steps are included:
Harvesting: CBD production itself generally starts with the harvest of hemp plant material at the period of maximum CBD concentration.
Heating: After a harvest, the raw plant material is usually heated to change the chemical composition of the ingredient from its acidic form CBDa into CBD, a process called decarboxylation.
Extraction: CBD is then extracted from the raw plant material normally using either supercritical CO2 extraction (Example on the left) or ethanol extraction. The result is a highly concentrated CBD oil or paste, known as a full plant extract.
Further Processing: The full plant extract can then be added to other ingredients to create CBD products such as oils or topicals with controlled dosages, or treated further to become a pure CBD isolate. Isolates are 99% concentrated CBD crystalline which can be used as an ingredient for CBD products. Since any trace amount of THC is illegal in Europe all products on thedrug.store are based on isolate.
One example of how the ECS can bring the body back to a state of “Zen” is in the context of inflammation. Inflammation is a natural protective reaction mediated by the immune system in response to infection or physical damage. The purpose of inflammation is to kill pathogens (germs) and protect damaged tissue during regeneration. Inflammation within a particular area is produced by the accumulation of inflammatory mediators, one of them being histamines, which many may know due to their use in tackling allergic reactions. Among other functions, these inflammatory mediators increase blood flow, as well as increasing the permeability of blood vessels. Combined, this allows for a more efficient delivery of immune cells into the area of inflammation to initiate the healing process.
Inflammation is thus, a very important component in the body’s natural immune system.
Inflammation however, is not always a helpful response. In instances for example, when inflammatory mediators persist even though the healing process has already started, or mistakenly target our own cells, the resultant immune response can be extremely harmful - and painful. Chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease are examples of our immune system getting activated inappropriately. In the context inflammation, the ECS has been shown to limit overactivation of the immune system’s inflammatory signals. Endocannabinoids are in fact, released by immune cells themselves upon activation and appear to regulate the immune response by acting anti-inflammatory. Scientists have thus argued that ECS stimulation by phytocannabinoids may be beneficial for a range of inflammatory diseases. Preliminary data thus far strongly supports the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids for relief of pain-related behaviours and inflammation without evident side-effects.
What can CBD do?
Even though Cannabidiol (CBD) has been used for the treatment of a range of illnesses and ailments throughout the course of history, it is, to this date, not an approved medicinal substance. As such, no medical claims can be made, which is why scepticism regarding the benefits of CBD has remained. However, the recent expansion of clinical and scientific research into CBD has fuelled a paradigm shift: for the first time, evidence for the various benefits of CBD are becoming apparent (1). Pharmacologically, the broad ranging action of CBD can be ascribed to its complex signalling mechanism as it can both activate and silence classical cannabinoid receptors as well as modulate other signalling pathways. Benefits of this complex signalling include analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, antipsychotic and anticonvulsant qualities, which will be discussed in a bit more detail below (2).