What is CBD?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is the second most abundant active compound found in cannabis behind tetradhydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC.  The biggest difference between THC and CBD is that CBD is not psychoactive and THC is. To put more simply, CBD does not get you high and THC does.  

While THC is much more popular due to its psychoactive effects (which actually provide their own benefits), CBD can provide a wide variety of different benefits which is why we are seeing a substantial increase in the use of CBD today.

What are the Benefits of CBD?

CBD can provide an anti-anxiety, antipsychotic, antidepressive, neuroprotective, and even an anti-inflammatory effect on the body (1).  Let’s break each down a little further.

CBD for Anxiety

The use of CBD for anti-anxiety is amongst the most popular uses of this compound.  An interesting study in 2011 found that CBD administered before public speaking reduced social phobia and even demonstrated decreased activity in regions of the brain that are associated with anxiety and fear (2).

CBD for Depression

While CBD for depression has not been studied as in depth, research in animals has found that when exposed to inescapable stress, which is a predisposition for depression, animals on CBD demonstrated reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and depressive behavior (3).  Much more research required in this area but so far it looks promising.

CBD for Brain Health

Early research on the use of CBD for brain health has demonstrated that CBD may be able to lower inflammation in the brain (4).  More on that next.

Besides lowering inflammation, research has also found that CBD can promote brain health by improving the survival of healthy brain cells and inducing autophagy in unhealthy brain cells after both short and long-term supplementation (5).  

While we still need more research in these areas as well, in animal studies, these mechanisms of action by CBD have demonstrated improvements for both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (5,6).

In addition, research in animals has found that CBD can improve cognitive function, motor activity, and even restore proteins needed for brain cell growth and survival (7).  

CBD for Inflammation

The study that was mentioned above for CBD and brain health demonstrated that CBD can act as an antioxidant allowing it to reduce inflammation in the brain.  This is especially beneficial since one of the primary contributors to our most common chronic diseases is inflammation.

CBD for Counteracting THC

Interestingly, CBD can counteract the effect of THC.  In fact, if THC and CBD are consumed in a 1:1 dose, most people will not experience the psychoactive effects of THC.  This is good since THC can provide its own benefits but not everyone wants to get high.

Since CBD can counteract THC, if you are consuming THC and get too high, consuming CBD can help reduce your high to a level that better suits you.  

How does CBD work?

This is section is pretty heavy on the science.  I think learning the science is important but I am a little bias.  If this doesn’t interest you, skip to the next section!

Our bodies possess a unique biological system known as the endocannabinoid system or ECS.  The ECS plays an important role in the central nervous system and is comprised of 3 components; signaling molecules known as endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes responsible for the synthesis and degradation of endocannabinoids (8).

That is a lot of science so let’s simplify it a bit.  There are receptors in your body that can be activated by cannabinoids like THC and CBD.  While THC inserts its action by interacting directly with cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), it seems that CBD’s mechanism of action is slightly different.

For instance, it has been shown that CBD prevents the breakdown of anandamide, which is a brain chemical that is associated with joy (1).  Research has also found that CBD can prevent the breakdown of enzymes that make dopamine allowing more dopamine to be made (5) which can regulate many functions such as behavior, cognition, memory, and even motivation (9).

Even more interesting is that CBD can interact with opioid receptors which may allow it to serve as a therapeutic agent for drug addiction (10).  CBD can also interact with serotonin receptors (1), which may explain the anti-anxiety and anti-depressive effects of CBD.

The truth is that we do not fully understand the exact mechanism(s) in which CBD interacts with our body, but what we do know is that it works!

How do I use CBD?

CBD can be used in many different ways including oils, topical ointments, vape pens, and even food.  Here is a breakdown of my favorite 3.

CBD Oil

The most common use of CBD is pure concentrated oil in a tincture or spray bottle.  A tincture is a dropper and a spray bottle is similar to a breath freshener. CBD in this form is typically mixed with either hemp oil or MCT oil.  To use CBD in this way, you drop or spray the oil under your tongue and let it sit for 30-60 seconds where it can be absorbed into your bloodstream.  This is also known as sublingual administration.

CBD Ointment

CBD can also be applied via topical ointment.  Under these conditions, CBD is mixed into a cream or gel and is applied directly to the skin.  Early research in animals has shown that topical CBD ointments can have anti-inflammatory effects but more research is needed to determine if the same is true for humans.  Anecdotal and personal evidence says that it works.

CBD in Food

CBD is also put in food, just like THC often is (a.k.a. edibles).  Food sources of CBD include gummies, brownies, cookies, butter, beverages and more.  Obviously, many of these sources are not keto-friendly so take that into consideration when looking at CBD food sources.  

Ketologist Recommendations

I have been using CBD for about 3 years now and the brand that I like the best is Jambo Superfoods.  This company has done a great job of bringing high-quality CBD to the market in a variety of different products including:

Conclusion

CBD is one of the best supplements you can take if you are dealing with high amounts of stress, depression, anxiety, or you just need to relax a bit.  You may be wondering what the optimal dose of CBD is and the truth is that we don’t know because it is so different for everyone. I speculate that there are a lot of factors that come into play such as if you use THC, how often you use CBD and any other genetic differences between individuals.  The best thing you can do is self-experiment and find a dose that works best for you. I recommend starting with a low dose and increasing your dose slowly. This will allow you to find the minimum effective dose which is what you want!

Resources:

  1. Campos, A. C., Fogaça, M. V., Scarante, F. F., Joca, S. R., Sales, A. J., Gomes, F. V., ... & Guimarães, F. S. (2017). Plastic and neuroprotective mechanisms involved in the therapeutic effects of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders. Frontiers in pharmacology, 8, 269.

  2. Zuardi AW, Shirakawa I, Finkelfarb E, Karniol IG. Action of cannabidiol on the anxiety and other effects produced by Δ9-THC in normal subjects. Psychopharmacology. 1982; 76(3):245–50.

  3. Resstel, L. B. M., Tavares, R. F., Lisboa, S. F. S., Joca, S. R. L., Corrêa, F. M. A., and Guimarães, F. S. (2009). 5-HT1A receptors are involved in the cannabidiol-induced attenuation of behavioural and cardiovascular responses to acute restraint stress in rats. Brit. J. Pharmacol. 156, 181–188.

  4. Hampson, A. J., Grimaldi, M., Axelrod, J., and Wink, D. (1998). Cannabidiol and 19-tetrahydrocannabinol are neuroprotective antioxidants. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 95, 8268–8273.

  5. Esposito, G., Scuderi, C., Savani, L., Steardo, D. Jr., De Filippis, P., Cottone, T., et al. (2007). Cannabidiol in vivo blunts beta-amyloid induced neuroinflammation by suppressing IL-1beta and iNOS expression. Br. J. Pharmacol. 151, 1272–1279.

  6. Garcia-Arencibia, M., Gonzalez, S., de Lago, E., Ramos, J. A., Mechoulam, R., and Fernandez-Ruiz, J. (2007). Evaluation of the neuroprotective effect of cannabinoids in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease: importance of antioxidant and cannabinoid receptor-independent properties. Brain Res. 1134, 162–170.

  7. Magen, I., Avraham, Y., Ackerman, Z., Vorobiev, L., Mechoulam, R., and Berry, E. M. (2010). Cannabidiol ameliorates cognitive and motor impairments in bile-duct ligated mice via 5-HT1A receptor activation. Br. J. Pharmacol. 159, 950–957

  8. Lu, H. C., & Mackie, K. (2016). An introduction to the endogenous cannabinoid system. Biological psychiatry, 79(7), 516-525.

  9. Abdulrahman, H., Fletcher, P. C., Bullmore, E., & Morcom, A. M. (2017). Dopamine and memory dedifferentiation in aging. Neuroimage, 153, 211-220.

  10. Hurd, Y. L. (2017). Cannabidiol: swinging the marijuana pendulum from ‘weed’to medication to treat the opioid epidemic. Trends in neurosciences, 40(3), 124-127.

Christopher Irvin