Along with its better-known counterpart, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that produces the marijuana high), CBD is one of more than 400 compounds found in the oils of cannabis plant species, which include marijuana and hemp. Unlike THC, CBD will not make you high. That said, this doesn’t mean CBD is not at all psychoactive, as many assert, says Jahan Marcu, Ph.D., director of experimental pharmacology and behavior at the International Research Center on Cannabis and Mental Health in New York City: “CBD does change cognition. It affects mood, which is why people take it for anxiety. And some find that it makes them more alert.”
CBD interacts with receptors to support the body’s endocannabinoid system, one of the most important regulatory systems in the human body. This major system impacts important functions such as mood, sleep, appetite, hormone regulation, and immune response. By interacting with cannabinoid receptors, CBD augments the body’s own endocannabinoids to stimulate and supports the endocannabinoid system as it promotes homeostasis.
The ECS is responsible for regulating many systems in the body, such as the limbic, metabolic, nociceptive, and immunologic functions. Endocannabinoids are natural chemical regulators in the body that interact with cannabinoid receptors and help maintain homeostasis. They seem to do this by detecting and regulating pain, mood, hunger, memory, and more.
Prescription medicine (Schedule 4) for therapeutic use containing 2 per cent (2.0%) or less of other cannabinoids commonly found in cannabis (such as ∆9-THC). A schedule 4 drug under the SUSMP is Prescription Only Medicine, or Prescription Animal Remedy – Substances, the use or supply of which should be by or on the order of persons permitted by State or Territory legislation to prescribe and should be available from a pharmacist on prescription.[74]
Up until recently, it was the psychoactive component of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which received most of the attention for its medicinal benefits, as well as its ability to produce psycho- tropic effects. Now, with medical marijuana gaining ground across the country, researchers are discovering the amazing properties of additional cannabinoids. But what makes CBD so special?
Even if a topical contains active THC, it still won’t induce that intense “high” you’d get from smoking or ingesting cannabis. With most topicals, cannabinoids can’t breach the bloodstream; they only penetrate to the system of CB2 receptors. Transdermal patches, however, do deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream and could have psychoactive effects with a high enough THC content.

In fact, numerous studies have looked at the relationship between CBD and pain, and the results are promising. Researchers have looked at various kinds of pain – from joint pain to cancer pain. One finding is that CBD increases levels of glutamate and serotonin – both neurotransmitters that play a role in pain regulation. And CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties help by tackling the root cause of much chronic pain.
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There’s a growing body of scientific evidence to support the use of topical CBD products to ease pain, inflammation, and the symptoms of arthritis. One study using rats found that topical CBD has “therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviours and inflammation without evident side-effects.” More scientific research on humans is needed to confirm all of CBD’s benefits, but the initial research into topical use in humans is also promising.
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