• Mayuri Vaish

CBD: The better alternative to marijuana

CBD (Cannabidiol) essentially comes from the same plant at mdoern-day 'marijuana' (THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol); However, it is neuroprotective, non-addictive, and has shown to reduce THC addiction in humans.


Structurally, CBD differs only slightly to THC, with an -O group in THC as opposed to an -OH group in CBD.

CBD combats inflammation and arrhythmia, and is non-addictive

At the molecular level, CBD targets the adonesine A1 and A2 receptors[1][2], which regulate oxygen consumption and blood flow in the heart[3]. It has also shown to impact glycine receptors[4], thus reducing neuroinflammation. It has shown to modify opioid receptors (responsible for psychoactive properties)[5]. It impacts serotonin receptors (involved in feelings of pleasure)[6], and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors[7]. Furthermore, CBD is classified as non-addictive[8], and is recently even being used to help treat addiction[9].

These protective and properties of CBD differ greatly from THC, making it a much more suitable candidate for replacement. At the cellular level, THC resembles Anandamide, a naturally-occurring endocannabinoid in the brain. Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitter chemicals that bind to cannabinoid receptors of post-synaptic neurons in the brain, producing feelings of pleasure[10][11][12] THC is consistently found to be addictive[13] as it raises tolerance (I’m assuming it is most likely because THC use decreases the number of endocannabinoid receptors in the brain, thus it is needed to maintain even moderate levels of ‘high’, but could not find specific research regarding its mechanisms).

CBD is anxiolytic (reduces anxiety) with minmal side-effects

CBD is useful to counter seizures, pain, panic[14]or anxiety[15]. This is due to CBD's interactions with CBD1 and serotonin receptors, that lead it to regulate fear and anxiety (similar to THC). Moreover, CBD produces minimal side effects. Effects reported include sleepiness, a dry mouth, hunger, or red eyes, in approximately 1 in 3 CBD users[16]; However, these are only minor and less damaging in the long-term as opposed to THC, which could hinder overall health by resulting in nausea, coughing and gastro-intestinal problems, known as the Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome[17]. These problems could significantly impact one’s ability to learn promptly.

By contrast, THC is anxiolytic but also impairs movement, thinking, memory (which is largely produced by an excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate), and other bodily functions, and thus additionally impacts one’s ability to learn immediately after consumption, essentially leading it to be a less suitable recreational or therapeutic candidate as opposed to CBD.

CBD is largely non-psychoactive

Recent research has suggested the CBD reduces activity of brain regions involved in psychosis[18].[19]. Essentially, CBD interacts with endocannabinoid TRV1 and CBD1 receptors located primarily in the amygdala (region known to regulate emotions), and hippocampus (known to store memories and modulate spatial awareness).[20]Moreover, neuroimaging studies have shown CBD to reduce cerebral blood flow in the left medial temporal regions , hypothalamus (regulates hormone release and homeostasis), hippocampus and left posterior cingulate gyrus (involved in processing emotion and behavior regulation).[21]

THC, by contrast, affect the Ventral Striatum and Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA)[22][23], where it is shown to increase dopamine transmission by reducing the release of GABA (an inhibitory neurotransm[24]itter), thus producing greater feelings of pleasure and reward - leading to highly addictive behaviors that could impact one’s ability to stay focused. It also impaires the hippocampus[25][26][27], which plays an important role in preserving memory. Hippocampal neurons have been found to contain reduced synapses, to be of smaller sizes, and decreased dendritic length. Hippocampal protein expression was more notable in adolescents[28], and THC-exposed monkeys showed impaired spatial working[29]. This loss in memory and spatial recognition obstructs one’s ability to learn and recall information, thus reducing his or her learning outcomes.

CBD can potentially counter cancerous effects

CBD has shown to induce programmed cell death in cancer cells[30][31], which are actually very good neuroprotective effects. It has shown to restore neural hippocampal function in rats[32] partially restore neurotransmitter dysfunction[33]. However, evidence on this is limited (there has been research showing no significant effects of CBD[34]), a lot of the data is anecdotal, and we need more research to truly outline its protective properties. Nevertheless, the evidence on the benefits of CBD is truly intriguing.

Conversely, THC has shown to have lead to phenotypes resembling autism and schizophrenia[35][36][37], and to have accelerated neural death[38].


The research is clear: CBD is a much better alternative to producing the anti-anxiety effects of THC, except without the side and negative effects. CBD and THC are both obtained from the cannabis plant, both phytocannabinoids(i.e, aromatic carbons), and both induce depressant-like properties; However, there are numerous cannabinoid plants from which new substances can be uncovered.


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