When we think of cannabis, we typically think of the variety of the Cannabis sativa plant that is often called “marijuana,” contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and is commonly used recreationally.
But, the Cannabis sativa plant contains not just THC but about 100 chemicals (“phytocannabinoids”).
One of the chemicals present in Cannabis sativa is cannabidiol, which is commonly known by its acronym CBD. After THC, cannabidiol is probably cannabinoid present in the highest concentration in the Cannabis sativa plant. But, different varieties of the plant vary in the relative percentages of THC and CBD present in them.
One variety of Cannabis sativa, called “hemp”, contains very little THC but it does contain CBD. It is used for industrial purposes and for making products that contain CBD.
CBD in different forms like hemp extract is widely available in stores and online. Here is some photo I took with my phone at a store in a shopping mall in my area.
But, CBD can only be prescribed legally by medical practitioners under medical marijuana laws and similar exceptions that have been enacted in several states in the US.
Other than that, using or prescribing CBD is not legal in the US (as of February 2018).
Many persons are using CBD on their own to try to treat their health conditions including mental health problems. So, mental health clinicians need to know about CBD.
What are the effects of CBD?
CBD has effects on a wide variety of receptors, but two are of particular interest.
1. Its antianxiety effects are believed to be related to its effects at the serotonin-1A receptors (Soares and Campos, 2017).
2. It has low affinity for cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors but affects endocannabinoid signaling indirectly (Soares and Campos, 2017).
It is important to note that, unlike THC, CBD does not produce a “high” and does not tend to produce psychotic-like symptoms. So, you may read that it is “not psychotomimetic.”
CBD is believed to have a wide variety of physiological effects — analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiemetic, antianxiety, antipsychotic, and anticonvulsant (Russo, 2017). Also, it is cytotoxic to malignant cells (Russo, 2017).
What is the evidence for the use of CBD for mental disorders? This will be discussed on a separate page (see Related Pages below).
Mead A. The legal status of cannabis (marijuana) and cannabidiol (CBD) under U.S. law. Epilepsy Behav. 2017 May;70(Pt B):288-291. Review. PubMed PMID: 28169144.
Rong C, Lee Y, Carmona NE, Cha DS, Ragguett RM, Rosenblat JD, Mansur RB, Ho RC, McIntyre RS. Cannabidiol in medical marijuana: Research vistas and potential opportunities. Pharmacol Res. 2017 Jul;121:213-218. Review. PubMed PMID: 28501518.
Russo EB. Cannabidiol Claims and Misconceptions. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2017 Mar;38(3):198-201. Erratum in: Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2017 May;38(5):499. PubMed PMID: 28089139.
Soares VP, Campos AC. Evidences for the Anti-panic Actions of Cannabidiol. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2017;15(2):291-299. Review. PubMed PMID: 27157263; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5412699.
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