I heard about cannabidiol, or CBD, for the first time in 2017 from an Army Green Beret who launched a veterans-owned business selling hemp products...and I first wondered: what is CBD? To test the effect of CBD firsthand, I bought two of his THC-free tints, and I was quite surprised by how it eased a lot of the knee aches I had (too much running…but that’s a different story…).
Since I have been a research scientist for almost 20 years, I was intrigued by the results, and I searched whether there was any real science behind how CBD works. My to-go place for these questions isPubMed(that’s like Google for scientists) because there is no bias, data are presented objectively and all results are peer-reviewed prior to publication. In this post, the first of a series, I want to offer a few answers to the most common questions: what is CBD? What does science say about CBD? What kind of health problem can you address with CBD?
A BRIEF AND COOL HISTORY OF CBD
Cannabis is a very old plant with a history shooting back 12,000 years when it was used for its fibers and grains, with its first documented medicinal use in 2,700 B.C. by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung (A Potted History (Nature volume 525, pagesS10–S11 (2015))). Fast forward to ~800 A.C. and the Saxons began using hemp as a medicine “for the pain of the innards” and for taking care of wounds, indicating how it was making its way through Europe, but it wasn’t until the 1500s-1600s that hemp became a crop in North America.
In 1899 the molecule cannabinol was isolated by a British scientist, but by that time chemistry began creating more “modern” painkillers, and hemp derivates were put on the back burner for a while. The first modern commercial drug made with equal parts of THC and CBD came out in 2005 and was approved for people with multiple sclerosis. Since then, multiple drugs containing THC and CBD have been approved for their use in patients with HIV, cancer, or various neurological conditions. Nowadays, CBD can be found in numerous supplements over the counter, and their usage is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While there are a lot of options out there, the rest of this article will help you navigate through what to look for and why.
WHAT IS CBD? WHAT IS THC?
CBD is the nickname for cannabidiol, which is a molecule extracted from hemp and does nothave the psychoactive effects of THC, aka, Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, aka what’s in marijuana that gets you high. While CBD can be extracted from two different plants, marijuana, and hemp, the content of THC in the former is much higher than in the latter. Because of that,federal laws consider CBD derived from marijuana a Schedule 1 substance and is illegal, while selling and using hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% of THC is legal (although there areState-level regulationsto respect).
SHOWDOWN: CBD VS. THC
In order to fully answer the question "What is CBD?", we also must must answer the question: how does CBD work? CBD and THC bind to cannabinoid receptors (like little plugins sockets in your brain that tell what to do to the inside of a cell), they have similar bioavailability, their chemical structure is very similar, and THC has a longer plasma half-life than CBD (1-3 days vs. 18-32 hours, aka how long does it take to halve their concentration in your blood/plasma) (Mechanisms of Action and Pharmacokinetics of Cannabis, Perm J. 2021; 25: 19.200). This basically means that THC will stay in your body longer than CBD does. But besides that, the two molecules are actually very similar, yet, they have almost antagonizing effects (J Psychopharmacol. 2013 Jan;27(1):19-27.,J Psychopharmacol. 2019 Jul;33(7):822-830.).
But….How is that possible? One of the potential explanations resides in the preferential binding of THC to the CB1 (and CB2) receptor, and the low intrinsic ability of CBD to bind to it. Take it like a key-lock mechanism, where THC is a specific key and CB1 is its lock. You may be able to slide another key in (e.g. CBD), but chances are that it won’t turn, aka, CBD won’t make you feel high. In fact, while THC seems to have a single potent mechanism by which it influences the endocannabinoid system, CBD acts through an array of other receptors (Mayo Clinics Proceedings, 94, Issue 9, P1840-1851, Sept 2019) and its inability to activate well the CB1 receptor (e.g. like TCH does), most likely is the reason why CBD does not produce psychoactive effects.
Lastly, in the pain settings, CBD seems to actually augment the anti-pain effect of THC, thus suggesting that there may be an important contextual element to consider when referring to the how CBD and THC work.
IS CBD SAFE?
Now that you know what CBD is and how it works, you have to consider that knowledge is power. And in case of pet owners, an educated pet owner is an awesome pet owner. Knowing a few nerdy details about what is CBD will make you fill much more confident about the choices you make for your pet.
One of the other important elements to consider in making an educated (and safe) choice for your dog, is purity. Take it like peanut butter, some have a ton of ingredients, some have only one: peanuts…and guess which one is best for you. At GiandWin we offer US-made CBD products, lab-tested and certified for being THC-free (and free of other bad stuff, you can see all certificates) exactly because we want to ensure that you and your dog can get the safest products available on the market.
The most common questions that we get are "What is CBD?", "Will CBD make me high?", "Is CBD safe?" etc...and I hope that this article helped clarifying some of your CBD-related questions.
In labs worldwide, CBD has been studied as a way to help manage anxiety in humans and pets alike. In the case of pets, studies have shown that when administered correctly (via tincture), CBD can reduce anxious behaviors in pets significantly within a short amount of time.
Yet, another large group of pets that can benefit from CBD is composed of older dogs and cats, which can suffer hip and joint pain that limits their mobility. Anecdotal and scientific reports show the efficacy of CBD in helping dogs with chronic conditions, and being able to help your fur baby feel more comfortable, less in pain and more mobile are opportunities that, as a pet parent, I would grab as quickly as I can!!
At GiandWin we are committed to the most natural and safe ingredients for our CBD cookies, CBD treats, and CBD oil. Now that you know what CBD is, make sure to help your pet feel better!
Seb has been a research scientist for the past two decades and is the founder and owner of My Blissful Pet. Seb grew up with cats and dogs and married his passion for science and animals with My Blissful Pet by wanting to help dogs and cats live healthier lives.