CBD is short for Cannabidiol, a compound that is predominantly found in certain varieties of the plant Cannabis Sativa L. Chemically, CBD falls into the category of terpeno-phenolic compounds, which are abundantly produced in hair-like structures, called glandular trichomes, that are found on the surfaces of flowers and leaves of cannabis plants.
So far, scientists have identified more than two hundred such compounds, which are in the literature referred to as phytocannabinoids. Among these, CBD has been the most researched over the past few decades. Glandular trichomes can be thought of as bio-factories where the cannabis plant synthesizes phytocannabinoids through a series of biochemical reactions catalysed by different enzymes.
Most of the cannabinoids are biosynthesized in their acidic form, with cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) the first to be formed. CBGA is subsequently converted to other acidic phytocannabinoids depending on the types of enzymes present in the variety of the cannabis plant. Several varieties contain the enzyme cannabidiolic acid synthase (CBDA synthase) which converts CBGA to CBDA (cannabidiolic acid), which is an acidic form of CBD.
In other words, the so-called high-CBD strains produce CBDA that is converted to CBD by a process called decarboxylation, during which the loss of carbon dioxide from the CBDA causes its transformation to CBD. The decarboxylation of acidic cannabinoids commences with the drying of the cannabis plants or takes place during the thermal treatment of the cannabis extracts.
At the end of 1980s researchers in the USA found that the brains of certain mammals have receptor sites for the phytocannabinoid compounds. This spurred further research, which at the beginning of the 1990s resulted in the discovery of the first endocannabinoid anandamide by researchers at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Further research led to the discovery of other endocannabinoids, which in turn resulted in the discovery of a new signalling system that takes place at the molecular level in humans and other vertebrates.
This system, which was found to be involved in the regulation of many biological functions, was named the endocannabinoid system. Since then it has been established that the endocannabinoid system performs many functions in the body, enabling homeostasis. CBD and other phytocannabinoids have been found to interact with the endocannabinoid system, which is an endogenous system of neurotransmitters and receptors found in the central and peripheral nervous systems of vertebrates.
The endocannabinoid system appears to be involved in several processes, such as memory, appetite, stress, sleep and the immune system. Low levels of endocannabinoids can lead to disfunction of the endocannabinoid system and consequently to several disorders, resulting in certain conditions.
CBD and phytocannabinoids are believed to supplement the endocannabinoids and thus mitigate the disorders, mostly those connected with anxiety, sleep deprivation and pain. Furthermore, studies have shown that CBD exhibits considerable anti-inflammatory properties, and so can strongly benefit the skin.
It has been shown to alleviate dermatologic conditions connected to acne, psoriasis, eczema and to reduce dryness, redness and irritation of the skin.