First, if you’ve never used CBD or marijuana before, you might not know that cannabis has well over 120 substances known as phytocannabinoids. THC and CBD comprise only two of those, but are the most prominently researched and widely known.
Believe it or not, our bodies have receptors specifically meant for phytocannabinoids: the endocannabinoid system. It’s expressed in the central and peripheral nervous system, and affects appetite, mood, pain, memory, coordination, and much more.
It’s a fairly recent discovery that humans have this system. In the late 1980s, scientists discovered the system in rats; in 1995, they were able to confirm that it existed in humans as well.
That “newness” is one component of the growing CBD trend, even though cannabis and its compounds have been researched in alternative medicine for centuries. There’s a great deal of research still emerging now that we know this system exists, which makes CBD for medical use an exciting field.
While some claims are, in fact, too good to be true, others show remarkable promise: several studies have provided indisputable proof that CBD reduces seizures (in fact, the only FDA-approved CBD product so far is for expressly that purpose), and others confirm anti-inflammatory effects in animals that may very well translate to humans.
Other claims, like that it can outright cure depression, should be regarded with skepticism. While CBD might provide some users with symptom relief, more research is needed to support its use in mental health settings.
This is one reason the discovery of the endocannabinoid system was invaluable: once science knows how the system uses these compounds, it can better predict what ailments CBD can and cannot treat.
Additionally, understanding the endocannabinoid system in a general sense can shed some light on why THC is present in many CBD products: it’s theorized that these compounds work better together than alone.