What chemical compound has the ability to ameliorate gastrointestinal disorders, symptoms of multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, insomnia, fibromyalgia, acne, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, nicotine addiction, anxiety, nausea, and even the proliferation of breast cancer cells? It’s not a pharmaceutical drug. It’s cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound inherent in the cannabis plant.
The chemical compounds responsible for the way marijuana effects users are known as cannabinoids. The cannabis plant contains about 85 cannabinoids, the two most widely discussed being CBD and THC.
Cannabinoids are incredibly important because of their effect on the human body. Endocannabinoid receptors are located throughout our bodies, and when these receptors are stimulated (whether by external cannabinoids or the ones already present within us), they work to maintain homeostasis. These receptors comprise what is known as the endocannabinoid system.
THC is the most well-known cannabinoid because of its psychotropic properties—it gets you high, and that’s because of the way that it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. Although high THC levels are often huge draws for pot consumers, too much THC can have negative effects including paranoia, anxiety, and panic attacks. Additionally, there is a huge market purely interested in the therapeutic aspects of cannabis, not the psychoactive ones.
Therapeutic consumers tend to look for strains that have low concentrations of THC but high concentrations of CBD
While THC is a very cool cannabinoid, CBD is sort of miraculous. It has an array of therapeutic benefits ranging from cancer prevention and treatment to pain relief. It basically treats every disease ever, and that’s only sort of hyperbole. Let me show you what I mean.
CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory and regulator of gastric motility, which makes it a potential therapy for IBS, Crohn’s disease, and colitis.
CBD is a powerful antioxidant, which makes it a preventative of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS. Its antioxidant properties also make it an age-reduction skin therapy.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory quality has been found to alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Because of its antioxidant properties, it may also prevent multiple sclerosis and/or prevent the disease from escalating.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties are also responsible for its effective treatment of chronic pain in patients with conditions ranging from fibromyalgia to arthritis
CBD’s antipsychotic properties make it a viable alternative to pharmaceuticals for schizophrenic patients. Generally, CBD is a great alternative for pharmaceuticals used to treat a host of diseases. This is a big deal since pharmaceuticals are responsible for the epidemic of prescription drug abuse ripping through our country and the vast amount of side effects either debilitating or killing pharmaceutical patients.
CBD has been found to not only effectively treat insomnia, but to create stable sleep patterns and, consequently, long term relief from sleeplessness.
CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system helps to reduce nausea, particularly in chemo patients.
Speaking of cancer, studies show that CBD actively destroys cancer cells. This potentially makes it a non-toxic, painless alternative to chemotherapy.
You see? It was only sort of hyperbole.
Despite the extensive research indicating otherwise, the DEA has classified CBD as a Schedule 1 drug, or a substance with no medical value and a high potential for abuse. This is at once laughable, and very, very tragic.
CBD Isolate Extraction
CBD isolate is what it sounds like: the extraction of CBD from the cannabis plant so that the subsequent product is “pure” CBD. Companies that do this use some kind of extraction process, likely CO2. They remove unwanted plant material from the extraction.
To active that CBD, the extraction will be decarboxylated, or heated so that the acidic form of the cannabinoid (CBDa) will convert to the non-acidic form (CBD). The final product is quite beautiful.
CBD isolate will look like snowy, white crystals.
At this point, the substance can be consumed directly; since it has already been decarbed, it does not need to be smoked, vaped, or dabbed. It can be added to a drink, infused in cooking, or even applied topically.
Why Isolate the CBD?
CBD is responsible for a large bulk of the therapeutic qualities of the plant, and it has no psychotropic effects. Marijuana users who are solely interested in the medicinal value of cannabis may find CBD isolate to be an extremely appealing form of the product. If you’re looking for a CBD rich product, it intuitively makes sense to consume a product that is only CBD, right?
I Mean, Why not?
So all of those incredible effects of CBD that I mentioned earlier? Well, they come with a bit of a caveat known as the entourage effect. The cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant work together to produce the effect the consumer experiences; this interaction of cannabinoids is known as the entourage effect.
THC and CBD work together. CBD organically blocks the potency of THC, which makes the high experienced by the consumer manageable and pleasant. THC works with CBD to amplify its medicinal qualities. Additionally, THC has medicinal qualities of its own that are completely forgone by CBD isolate. Cannabis has more to offer than just cannabinoids; terpenes, the chemical compounds that create the plant’s scent, are also present in cannabis.
Terpenes don’t exclusively give cannabis strains their unique smells; they contain therapeutic qualities as well.
For example, linalool has been used as an antidepressant, sleep-aid, and an anti-convulsant. Another terpene, caryophyllene, is a known antioxidant, antidepressant, and anti-inflammatory. There are many more terpenes, but you can’t catch ‘em all if you go with isolate because they’ve been removed.
Removing all other molecules from the cannabis plant potentially removes—or at least seriously alters—the therapeutic effects that naturally occur when those compounds are working synergistically. In fact, studies show that when used in combination with THC, it takes less CBD to produce the desired medicinal outcome than when CBD isolate is used instead.
The Bottom Line
CBD is an incredible compound worthy of the medical field’s (and the government’s, for that matter) respect. While it may be beneficially isolated from the rest of the compounds cannabis has to offer, it may not be as beneficial as it would be working in tandem with them.