There’s been much heated debate ever since the masses found out just how beneficial marijuana can be. Contrary to being a health hazard as it was thought to be, cannabis and its derivatives are a blessing in disguise. Its wonders are seen most pointedly not in stoners and addicts but in people suffering from health complications like arthritis, insomnia, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, autism, and more.
Although many already knew that marijuana and derivatives help alleviate chronic pain, more recent studies shed light on its more miraculous effects. One such revelation is that marijuana helps with the pain sustained through chemotherapy, nausea, and vomiting—thus making dealing with cancer far easier.
The Stigma Surrounding Cannabis
However revolutionary and beneficial for the collective cause of human beings this might be, it hasn’t yet inspired the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to view it in a good light. Since the swathes of population would rather blindly follow the lawmakers than the product itself, it’s not difficult to see the backlash against the plant. More important than understanding the stigma is understanding how exactly the plant works. Understanding its chemical mechanics is a one-way ticket to eliminate the social stigma surrounding it. So read on as we explain its chemistry and help weed out this illogical platitude from the minds of people.
Understanding CBD and THC
If we were to talk strictly chemistry, then the cannabidiol is a compound isolated from a plant of the genus Cannabis sativa. Its molecular formula resembles that of glucose—C21H30O2. However for the layman it’s enough to know that there’s an element in the hemp plant called the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is what’s responsible for the psychoactive effects. It’s this THC which induces euphoria in people—in short, this is the gig that makes you high.
There’s also the CBD (cannabidiol) which makes up for 40% of all that’s extracted from any hemp plant. It’s an active cannabinoid and is the main focus of research in scientific circles. It’s considered safe and legal, and is used for medical applications.
Hence where a stoner would be interested in THC, medical marijuana practitioners, researchers, and legislators should largely concern themselves with the CBD.
Separating the THC and the CBD
We’ll take a short break from the chemistry here and indulge in a little botany—field botany. Funny as it might sound, separating the THC from the CDB isn’t something that takes place in a high-end lab with futuristic equipment and sensitive radioactivity. All you need to affect is the pollination out where the plants are growing.
Pollination 101: spores from the male plants pollinate the female plants. If the female plants are estranged from the males they can’t get pollinated and produce THC in massive quantities. However, in the event that pollination does occur the female plant produces THC amounting to 1% or less.
THC and the Brain
What if you were smoking the plants that were not pollinated? Well, inside the human brain lies the cerebral cortex, which contains a site known as the CB1 receptor. It is this site that the THC fits itself into, almost like an activator binding itself to an enzyme. And then, they produce the infamous high. The more CB1 receptors that are filled the higher you get.
CBD and the Brain
So do you just sit there on the couch and get high? Not if you smoke the plant that was pollinated. This plant already has a reduced amount of THC, and quite a lot of CBD in comparison. The CBD has low affinity for two sites in the cerebral cortex of the human brain: the CB1 and the CB2 receptors. But there’s more, better news.
With the CBD inside you, the CB1 receptors increase in density. Thus no matter how much THC there might be inside your body, the CB1 receptors will be a relatively far bigger number. THC, then, will occupy only a few receptors and not produce significant effects. CBD, in short, inhibits activation in the CB1 and CB2 receptors, and also by extension inhibits the things that bind to them (such as THC).
And there it is: the trick to benefiting from all the goodness of cannabis without having to lose your marbles in the mix!
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