There are 113 specific compounds within Cannabis classified as cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient that evokes a high feeling, is another cannabinoid. There are other substances such as Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabichromene (CBC), Cannabinol (CBN), etc. Each strain of Cannabis and each plant itself has different ratios of these cannabinoids. Most CBD within the United States comes from the Hemp plant.
To be legally called Hemp, the THC content must be below 0.3% . However, even though Hemp lacks THC, it’s still rich in other cannabinoids, such as CBD. The CBD you consume comes from the Hemp and not the Marijuana, which makes it legal. How CBD and THC produced their effects on our bodies was a mystery until the 1990s when researchers first identified what they called the “ endocannabinoid system .” This system gets its name from the prefix “endo,” which means “within” and cannabinoid because the chemicals that bound to are cannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system was first described as two receptors named CB-1 and CB-2. Our definition of the endocannabinoid system has increased with more research, so there are now as many as 70 receptors and enzymes that cannabinoids interact with to exert biological responses. Each receptor has a different function within our bodies and binds with different cannabinoids.
For this article, we will concentrate on the interactions with CB1 and CB2 to highlight how one molecular can have so many reported effects. For example, CB-1 receptors bind very well with THC but do not link well with CBD. This lack of binding is why THC has the “high” effect that it does, but CBD does not. CBD affects the CB-2 receptors, which are throughout our entire bodies. They are in our skin, immune cells, heart, blood vessels, and other organs. CB-2 receptors appear to have multiple purposes, including signaling pain and invoking an immune response. How our body processes CBD depends mostly on how someone uses it . People either ingest, inhale, or apply CBD topically. Most people elect to take an oral supplement (like CBD oil drops) or use it topically (as in a CBD cream). For people who ingest CBD orally, their digestive systems first process the compound. It goes into the stomach and then eventually ends up in the liver. The liver breaks down some of the CBD molecules and passes the rest on to the bloodstream. Some people don’t eat CBD but instead, place a few drops under their tongue. In this case, the membranes in our mouths may transfer this compound to the bloodstream directly, bypassing the liver. If you’re looking to get as much CBD out of the oil as you can, putting it under your tongue is the best way to do that. Much like smoking, when you inhale the compound, it is absorbed through the lungs (the alveoli, to be precise). The CBD molecules wind up on the alveoli and get sent directly to the bloodstream. However, it is important to remember that vaping has been associated with several injuries and some deaths. With each of these ingestion methods, the CBD chemical reaches the bloodstream. Your liver sorts through all compounds in the blood and works to remove foreign material such as CBD by metabolizing the compound or making chemical modifications to target the molecule for disposal. The metabolites or chemical modifications of CBD will send these molecules to targeted destinations for removal. From there, your body removes these metabolites via feces and urine. CBD is mostly excreted through feces, with some eliminated through your urine. For topical applications, the method of staying in the system is different.
Most of the CBD that you apply to a sore knee or a swollen leg never enters the bloodstream. It affects the receptors specifically expressed in the skin, such as localized CB- CB-2 receptors and which provides localized improvements in skin health.
The question of how long CBD remains in our systems depends partly on how we take it. For oral ingestion, there’s evidence that when taken are moderate doses, CBD remains in our systems for 1-2 days .