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When CBD was identified in the 1940s, scientists assumed it had little or no effect on the body. The main focus back then was researching THC and its pharmacology. Fast forward to the 1990s and a research team led by Professor Raphael Mechoulam, commonly acknowledged as the grandfather of cannabis research, discovered what has come to be known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and this changed everything.
The ECS is a vast communication network of cannabis-like chemicals, called endocannabinoids, and receptor sites found across all cells in our bodies. It is known as a homeostatic regulator, meaning that its main action is to bring balance to our bodies and minds.
Think of it as being like a dimmer switch, turning up or turning down activity to ensure equilibrium is reached, which after all is the perfect environment for optimum health. THC was seen to activate this system, because it is an almost perfect fit for the receptors in our brain and central nervous system, as well as partially activating those in our immune system and gut.
But when it comes to cannabinoids, one cannot assume they all act in the same way and this is certainly true of CBD. This is because CBD doesn’t activate either of the known types of endocannabinoid receptors. However, scientists believe that CBD does influence the endocannabinoid system, but in an indirect way. They have observed that CBD blocks an enzyme that breaks down anandamide, a key endocannabinoid otherwise known as the bliss molecule. This means that taking CBD may allow more anandamide to be present in our bodies for longer, which is thought to potentially support and strengthen the endocannabinoid system.
We now know that CBD activates many non-endocannabinoid receptors, which may explain why CBD has such a diverse array of effects. So far, scientists have identified that CBD:
Perhaps the ultimate in full spectrum CBD are oils that also contain the cannabinoid CBDa. What is CBDa, you might ask?
Well, CBDa is the acidic precursor of CBD, meaning that if you examined freshly picked hemp plants, you’d find very little CBD and almost all CBDa. CBDa transforms into CBD through continued heat, a process that can also remove some key minor cannabinoids and terpenes.
Right now, far less is known about how CBDa works in the body, but it is thought to help quell feelings of nausea, reduce seizures and is also antibiotic.
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