Episode 124

Marijuana has been a hot topic since states like Colorado and Washington have legalized the plant.  In the discussion surrounding marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant’s principal psychoactive cannabinoid, has gotten most of the limelight.  But there’s another cannabinoid that deserves attention:  Cannabidiol, also known as CBD.

Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat: Supplemental CBD is derived from industrial hemp, which is perfectly legal throughout the U.S. (unlike marijuana).  It’s a close chemical analog to endocannabinoids, naturally occurring compounds within the human body, and it interacts with some of the same neuronal receptor-sites that the human body’s own endocannabinoids would interact with.

CBD vs. THC

There are more than 100 different cannabinoids in the marijuana plant; THC and CBD are just two of the major ones.  THC rather famously enhances creativity, but can also make you paranoid and give you the munchies.  CBD operates on different receptors than THC, and as you can imagine, it has dramatically different effects.

In fact, CBD decreases the psychoactive effects of THC without reducing THC’s ability to interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors.  That can mean less paranoia and fewer munchies, without reducing the creativity boost many people experience from THC.

What’s the big deal about CBD?

It would probably be easier to list what CBD doesn’t do.  Ready for a (non-exhaustive) list of CBD’s capabilities?  Take a deep breath…

CBD is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and neuroprotective.  It functions as a sleep aid, reduces intestinal motility (think Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and blocks tumor growth.  It also reduces the incidence of seizures in individuals with disorders like epilepsy, promotes bone re-growth in broken bones, and minimizes muscle cramps. And according to our interview guest, it even makes lucid dreams more likely.

Important Note on Cannabidiol:
We got a note from Kyle Boyar about Cannabidiol.  He wrote:  “I noticed in your last episode your guest had mentioned he was unaware of any potential problems that could arise from the use of CBD. There actually is an issue of great concern with the use of cannabidiol and that is due to its interaction with the cytochrome p450 enzyme (CYP2D6). See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21821735.  The worry here is especially towards epileptic patients (but really any patient) that are on numerous drugs to control their seizures. This enzyme degrades about 25% of clinically used medications and an altered drug metabolism can actually result in the worsening of seizures. I’ve also attached a list of some of the medications involved here.

Just say yes…

In episode 124, Jesse speaks with athlete and author Ben Greenfield about why CBD might be the star utility player missing from your medicine cabinet.  Ben talks us through…

  • Dosing for focus and relaxation vs. dosing for sleep
  • Passing drug tests while taking CBD
  • Methods of taking CBD (including…suppositories?)
  • Contraindications and tolerance
  • Bonus: Why you might want to avoid rubbing CBD oil on your body in an airplane

Listen in as Jesse chats with Ben, then check out Ben’s exhaustive post on taking CBD and his own hybrid-nanoengineered CBD oil extract supplements.

Episode Highlights

0:24Cannabidiol (or CBD for short)
1:56This Week in Neuroscience: First paralysed person to be ‘reanimated’ offers neuroscience insights
4:17The audience interaction section
6:34Intro to Ben Greenfield and CBD
8:35Other plants in the endocannabinoid family
10:00The effects of CBD (can be found at ProjectCBD.org)
13:27How CBD works inside our bodies and in conjunction with THC
15:19“Weed shop” options expanding to include CBD
16:11Pros and cons of different delivery methods
19:26Vaping and its cerebral effects
20:26CBD and absorbability
22:12Optimal dosages for CBD and other supplements
24:00Exercise and supplementation
24:49Half-life of CBD
26:09CBD and marijuana drug screening
27:36CBD’s legal status in Canada
29:21Are there any contraindications?
31:36Cycling CBD and other supplements
33:28Types of CBD extraction
35:45Greenfield Fitness Systems
36:45Ruthless Listener-Retention Gimmick: Bicycle Day!

PS: Before you hop on the CBD bandwagon and get too relaxed, don’t forget to sign up for Brain Breakfast — weekly cognitive enhancement straight to your inbox.


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Written by Hannah Sabih
Hannah believes there's nothing 8 hours of sleep and some kale can't cure (yes, she's from California). She's an avid runner, reader, and traveler, who brings you the latest and greatest in neuroscience via our social media channels.