With media coverage on stories such as 6-year old Charlotte Figi, who beat epilepsy using a CBD-rich cultivar, awareness about the potent medicinal qualities of CBD-rich cannabis cultivars is spreading. To understand the significance of a CBD-rich cultivar, knowing about how CBD works in cannabis cultivars and the human body definitely comes in handy.
CBD is one of the principle cannabinoids within cannabis, and when consumed stimulates the endocannabinoid system: a biological system found in humans as well as all living mammals that’s in charge of a variety of different functions. It’s filled with a ton of cannabinoid receptors, but the two most common are CB1 receptors (found in the brain and immune system) and CB2 receptors (spread throughout our nervous system). Unlike CBD, THC is a cannabinoid agonist and works at CB1 receptors to produce psychoactive effects, exactly what causes a high in the body. Interestingly, CBD possesses the capacity to keep our bodies in perfect balance (known by the more science-y term homeostasis) at a cellular level by activating CB2 receptors, which in turn can help our bodies address a number of ailments. Ultimately, this allows CBD to work its magic.
When observing the cannabinoid content of a cannabis cultivar, it’s common to find THC levels ranging between 12-25%, with anything 20% and higher being considered extremely potent. However, the same can’t be said for CBD. To qualify as “CBD-rich”, a cultivar must contain more than 4% CBD — anything more is considered a high-CBD cultivar. Certainly 1% CBD is much better than zilch, nada. Fortunately for you, cannabis cultivars containing nearly 20% CBD have emerged in the last decade, several of them being crossed with old-time favorites, leading to an even wider selection.
While it’s true that CBD influences the way THC interacts with our bodies (which may have given some breeders good reason to cast it aside), this is not necessarily a bad thing. CBD weakens THC’s bond with the CB1 receptor, which ultimately counteracts some of THC’s unwanted side effects that can come with high doses. However, perhaps one of the greatest aspects about cannabinoids in cannabis is that they’re more effective when used together than in isolation. New studies have shown that the ratio of THC to CBD in a cannabis cultivar seems to play a vital role in the determination of specific therapeutic benefits for each person; the two work to create synergistic activity known as the “entourage effect.”
We recommend going for a CBD-rich cultivar with a 1:1 or 1:2 CBD:THC ratio; however, there are many cultivars available, and it’s up to you to find them. As science delves deeper into the therapeutic properties of cannabis, numerous cultivars rich in CBD will continue to grace smoke circles all across the world.
Image Credit: Leafly