CBD is one of over 60 compounds found in cannabis that belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids. Of these compounds, CBD and THC are usually present in the highest concentrations, and are therefore the most recognized and studied. CBD and THC levels tend to vary among different plants. Marijuana grown for recreational purposes often contains more THC than CBD. However, by using selective breeding techniques, cannabis breeders have managed to create varieties with high levels of CBD and next to zero levels of THC. These strains are rare but have become more popular in recent years.
CBD is non-psychoactive
Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a high. While this makes CBD a poor choice for recreational users, it gives the chemical a significant advantage as a medicine, since health professionals prefer treatments with minimal side effects. CBD is non-psychoactive because it does not act on the same pathways as THC. These pathways, called CB1 receptors, are highly concentrated in the brain and are responsible for the mind-altering effects of THC. A 2011 review published in Current Drug Safety concludes that CBD “does not interfere with several psychomotor and psychological functions.” The authors add that several studies suggest that CBD is “well tolerated and safe” even at high doses.
CBD has a wide range of medical benefits
Unfortunately, most medical CBD evidence comes from animals, since very few studies on CBD have been carried out in human patients. But a pharmaceutical version of CBD was recently developed by a drug company based in the UK. The company, GW Pharmaceuticals, is now funding clinical trials on CBD as a treatment for schizophrenia and certain types of epilepsy. Likewise, a team of researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center, led by Dr. Sean McAllister, has stated that they hope to begin trials on CBD as a breast cancer therapy.