Explaining Cannabidiol or CBD

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta left the wrong impression on many Americans when discussing marijuana, which is why the media needs to stop saying medical marijuana when they mean cannabidiol or CBD.  Marijuana is very different from cannabidiol, the marijuana derivative which Dr. Gupta advocates for treating some types of epilepsy in children.

The marijuana plant has more than 400 compounds, and at least 60 different cannabinoids which bind to receptors in our body. Cannabidiol is one of those 60 cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is a different cannabinoid, the main psychoactive component and the one responsible for the “high” of marijuana.

The medical marijuana advocates have intentionally confused the public about medical marijuana research at this time. Cannabidiol has been isolated by a company in Great Britain and is being fast-tracked for approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Parents who have a child with seizures can be part of the trials at this very moment.

When it comes to seizures, it’s the cannabidiol or CBD that helps. However, that’s been bred out of most marijuana, which is why the general public is being duped, and so are many well-meaning people who are turning to “medical” marijuana for help with chronic ailments.

GW Pharmaceuticals, a company in Great Britain and maker of Sativex, has spent years doing research. Although initial trials ran into some hitches, they may have found the means to take all psychoactive elements out of the plant. GW has provided the CBD to a research project at New York University. Results of trial studies show that the CBD can help with seizures related to Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gaustat Syndrome.   Findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting next week.

Today’s marijuana is high in THC. Typically, “medical” marijuana is high in THC because it stimulates the appetite of patients who are dying of AIDs or cancer. It is not a cure or medicine, but a management strategy for a condition.

It’s unconscionable that the marijuana industry holds out hope to desperate parents for the sole reason to pave a way for recreational marijuana legalization. In the meantime, they have messed with the plant’s innate balance, to create the higher THC “skunk” cannabis –which is most of the pot smoked today.

THC increase

Breeding the plant for higher THC, less CBD

During the Woodstock era, the CBD balanced the THC in marijuana, which is why not quite as many people became psychotic from marijuana as they do today. Furthermore, the underground and illegal status prevented people from using as much pot, or as often.

Marijuana plants have undergone a huge genetic modification over the last 20 years to get a higher content of THC, the cannabinoid responsible for brain alteration which produces the high. THC can be as high as 30%, compared to an average around 1-3% in the 1970s. American cannabis plants have been interbred with the plants native to of central Asia, where it is believed that the high THC content protected the plants from the sun. The potent substance used by producers comes from inside the flower of this plant, rather than from the leaves. The growers have been able to modify production so that only the flowering, female cannabis plants grow. By genetically altering this plant these underground chemists are now poisoning young brains.

THC interacts with the same systems as anandamide, an endogenous (natural occurring) neurotransmitter. It binds to the same cannabinoid receptor that binds to anandamide, a joy enhancing neurotransmitter. Repeated use of cannabis hijacks the role of anandamide when THC repeatedly replaces the brain’s own natural neurotransmitter. THC doesn’t resemble anandamide at all, and its chemical structure is totally different. That difference is one reason why its effect may be so damaging to young brains. It is also a reason why heavy cannabis users who quit experience depression and anxiety and severe psychological withdrawal symptoms.

CBD is thought to moderate some of the adverse psychological effects of cannabis. Another way of putting it is that the CBD is the plants own anti-psychotic property to balance out the THC.
According to literature, CBD can convert to THC, so pharmacists must find a way to keep it stable.* The two agents that can convert CBD to THC are heat, which is why smoking is a problem, and acid. Exposing CBD to stomach acid could be a problem, so a nasal spray is probably the best choice.  It is best to use pharmacy-grade  CBD
to guarantee quality and purity.

Some parents have said it’s necessary to include THC to get additional help for seizure medication.   Why risk getting any THC into a child’s developing brain? At this time, CBD is not known to have any negative psychiatric impact.

So please let’s take the discussion of cannabidiol out of the marijuana realm!!!!  Although Dr. Gupta explained the difference between CBD and THC, it is not the message that came through the social media and in the press.

*This is not a scholarly publication, but we do consult experts in pharmacology and ask them to verify information. Some the sources for our information which you can study further are:   Roger Adams, Hans Wolff, C.K. Cain and J.H. Clark, Structure of Cannabidiol. V. Position of the Alicyclic Double Bonds  (Contribution from Noyes Chemical Laboratory, University of Illinois), Mikes and Waser: Marihuana Components: Effects of Smoking , Forensic Toxicol (2007) 25:16-21 and Kazuhito Watanabe et al: Conversion of cannabidiol to tetrahydrocannabinol and related cannabinoids in artificial gastric juice, and the their pharmacological effects.    For more information, please consult GW Pharmaceuticals or Dr. Orrin Devinsky of New York University Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center.