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What is CBD?

1.December 2020 | Manuela

Chemical formula of CBD against green background

THC. CBD. CBG. CBN. CBV - So many abbreviations. So many products: CBD oil, CBD Fresh Spray, CBD flowers, CBD emulsions, and so on. What am I actually buying? What is CBD? Why are the three letters on so many people's lips? Grünkraft starts an attempt to explain.

On the trail of CBD

It's best to start at the beginning: With the cannabis plant. The cannabis plant probably originated in Central Asia, but since its global spread was very early, its origin can no longer be conclusively determined. The early globalization of the plant is probably due on the one hand to its robust nature, and on the other hand to its versatile use.

  • In an almost 3000-year-old grave in China, for example, cannabis was found as a burial gift.

  • The oldest European finds are over 5000 years old and were made in the Thuringia area.

  • The ancient Greeks and Egyptians dressed themselves in hemp cloths.

  • Texts on the medicinal use of cannabis can be found as early as medieval Europe.

The hemp leaf as a symbol has iconic status and quite a bit of cultural property has been dedicated to the queen of useful plants. Basically, there are two genera of this plant: sativa and indica. There are countless varieties of both genera. We stay with cannabis sativa, also known as useful hemp and less as an intoxicant. The cannabis plant is a monoecious plant, or simply put, a plant that can bear female flowers as well as male flowers. For our localization of CBD, let's stick with the female specimens.

CBD Ingredients

So, a plant called Cannabis sativa L. is the grab bag that also contains CBD. Let's take a closer look at its package insert. In an average cannabis plant there are over 500 active substances, which can basically be classified into three types:

  1. Flavanoid

    Flavanoids give the plant its colors, filter light and attract pollinators. In nature, there are thousands of different flavanoids, about twenty of which are also found in a cannabis plant.
  2. Terpenes

    "Terpene" is the scientific name for natural essential oils. Over 20,000 different terpenes have already been described and about 200 are also found in the hemp plant. They give the individual varieties your taste, but also have exciting properties for the medicine.
  3. Phytocannabinoids

    Let's move on to the match-decisive, phytocannabinoids, of which CBD is one. Cannabinoids are, in somewhat rudimentary terms, a collection of carbon molecules that sit on the tips of microscopic, hair-like ends of female cannabis flowers. Probably the best known cannabinoid is THC. In second place comes our CBD, then there's CBG, CBN, CBV and many more. As of today, over 140 such phytocannabinoids have been identified and the number is growing.

CBD is a (phyto)cannabinoid

Cannabidiol, CBD for short, is a cannabinoid. It would have been possible to make a clearer distinction in the naming, but we don't have to. We are, after all, vigilant students. THC, probably the best known cannabinoid, is mainly known for its psychoactive character, which CBD does not share, on the contrary, even rather inhibits. It is strongly believed that each phytocannabinoid has different properties and interacts differently with the human body.

Why actually the addition of "phyto"? "Phyto" means plant-based, so it implies that there are other cannabinoids as well. In the human organism, they are called endocannabinoids. It was not until the 1990s that the body's endocannabinoid system was discovered. As previous research has shown, phytocannabinoids seem to not only support our endogenous endocannabinoids, but also replace them if necessary.

Cannabinoids have been shown to have a variety of properties: anti-inflammatory, analgesic, sedative, nerve-protective, etc. Since research in this area is still in its infancy, not all cannabinoids can yet be assigned to their respective characteristics. Furthermore, it is becoming more and more apparent that the interaction of the various active ingredients is a decisive factor.

CBD Effect: A Team Sport

Now we have found the key players and they are waiting for their turn. Teamwork makes the dream work. CBD is an exceedingly promising substance in the treatment of many ailments. But the cannabis plant offers so much more. Flavonoids are not only responsible for the lush green color, but also have proven antioxidant effects. Terpenes bring not only spice, but also a big backpack of beneficial properties. We find all these components in the cannabis plant and so it is not surprising that the healing power of the plant has been known for thousands of years.

Unfortunately, in the last century, due to criminalization, a gap in knowledge was caused, which it is necessary to catch up soon. Previous studies have shown that the unique interaction of our key players is a decisive factor in the management of various health complaints. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, cannabis contains a variety of active ingredients and can thus have a positive impact on the body in multiple ways. We will take a closer look at this so-called "entourage effect" in a future blog.

A look into the future: create your own CBD oil

Let's take a little fantasy walk. Imagine a world where all the terpenes, flavanoids, and cannabinoids are researched and localized. You go to our website and create your specific combination from our menu. A bottle of CBD oil from the Bernese Alps has a relaxing effect, a drop of lime terpene tastes fruity and has an antioxidant effect, refined with a dash of flavanoid quercetin, known thanks to green tea and voilà: Your personal green power blend. Sounds futuristic, but it is anything but utopian and in its basic features already a reality.

The multitude of cannabis varieties allows for various combinations of the individual active ingredients and experienced botanists can already prepare very specific mixtures. It is now up to research, the CBD industry, politics and many others to take the next step. Grünkraft is committed to driving these developments to create the best possible products for you. Help by making CBD a topic of discussion, sharing your experiences and keeping the social interest in this natural remedy alive. It's teamwork.

Sources and further links

PhD Blesching, Uwe. The Cannabis Health Index. 2015. Berkley. North Atlantic Books.

Dr. Goldstein, Bonni. Cannabis is Medicine. 2020. London. Headline Publishing Group.

Dr. med. Grotenhermen, Franjo. Die Heilkraft von CBD und Cannabis. 2020. Hamburg. Rowohlt Verlag GmbH.

Herer, Jack. Die Wiederentdeckung der Nutzpflanze Hanf. 2020. Solothurn. Nachtschatten Verlag AG.

Mag. pharm. Hofmann, Susanne. Mag. pharm. Ehrmann, Alexander. CBD: Die wiederentdeckte Naturmedizin. 2020. Murnau am Staffelsee: Mankau Verlag.

Leinow, Leonard. Birnbaum, Juliana. Heilen mit CBD: Das wissenschaftlich fundierte Handbuch zur medizinischen Anwendung von Cannabidiol. 2019. München. riva Verlag.

Harvard Health Publishing - Cannabidiol (CBD): what we know and what we don't

Post Script - CBD Oil 101: Doctor Explains for ABSOLUTE beginners

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