Brain Health,
Smart Drugs,

#124: Cannabidiol: THC’s Legal Sibling

April 15, 2016

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.


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  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.

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.

Show Notes
  • 00:00:24

    Cannabidiol (or CBD for short)

  • 00:01:56

    This Week in Neuroscience: First paralysed person to be ‘reanimated’ offers neuroscience insights

  • 00:04:17

    The audience interaction section

  • 00:06:34

    Intro to Ben Greenfield and CBD

  • 00:08:35

    Other plants in the endocannabinoid family

  • 00:10:00

    The effects of CBD (can be found at

  • 00:13:27

    How CBD works inside our bodies and in conjunction with THC

  • 00:15:19

    “Weed shop” options expanding to include CBD

  • 00:16:11

    Pros and cons of different delivery methods

  • 00:19:26

    Vaping and its cerebral effects

  • 00:20:26

    CBD and absorbability

  • 00:22:12

    Optimal dosages for CBD and other supplements

  • 00:24:00

    Exercise and supplementation

  • 00:24:49

    Half-life of CBD

  • 00:26:09

    CBD and marijuana drug screening

  • 00:27:36

    CBD’s legal status in Canada

  • 00:29:21

    Are there any contraindications?

  • 00:31:36

    Cycling CBD and other supplements

  • 00:33:28

    Types of CBD extraction

  • 00:35:45

    Greenfield Fitness Systems

  • 00:36:45

    Ruthless Listener-Retention Gimmick: Bicycle Day!


  1. James says:

    Yes this is awesome. As Hemp CBD becomes more accepted, as more companies start to ship it to all 50 states (such as, the more IMPACT we will see on people’s health!!! This is an amazing plant. And CBD is a very exciting new frontier. I have personally seen hundreds of success stories from Hemp Derived CBD and Marijuana CBD also.

    1. Bionativa says:

      Now the situation is changing. CBD is becoming more and more popular in Europe and many people got health improvement after taking cbd oil.

  2. Ben says:

    This is only peripherally related, but it’s looking like CBD isn’t THC’s legal sibling after all. The FDA is sending out letters to US-based CBD manufacturers insisting that they refrain from selling CBD. Ironically, the reason cited is that CBD and related cannabinoids have entered the pharmaceutical drug development pipeline and are therefore considered investigational drugs rather than nutraceuticals. So CBD’s potential therapeutic benefit is what’s going to make it an outlawed substance.

    1. Jesse Lawler says:

      Given the long and frustrating history of marijuana-related laws, I guess this shouldn’t be surprising. Still rotten to hear. Have you seen one of these letters? Is insist like “we strongly recommend…” or “selling is actually now illegal”?

    2. Jesse Lawler says:

      Follow-up on this: According to at least one legal opinion I’ve seen (i.e., an opinion from a law firm after researching the laws in question), it still sounds as if CBD derived from industrial hemp is above-board within the USA. For now, anyway.

    3. George Atwell says:

      Ben, that’s not true. Might want to fact check your information. The author who wrote that article you are referring to had to make a public apology. Hemp-Derived CBD products made from stalk and stem are legal in all 50 states. The FDA’s only involvement thus far has been to cite CBD companies who make claims about their products medical effects and/or mislabeling their product’s contents.

  3. Jay says:

    I’m pretty sure “effectatious” isn’t a word. I think he combined affectation with effective in an attempt to sound smart. Totally backfired.

    1. Jesse Lawler says:

      I haven’t re-listened to the episode in a while but I’m guessing he said efficacious, which is a word. 😉

  4. Joe says:

    Great episode. Nice to have some CBD/hemp/THC confusion I had cleared up!

  5. Nick Paulson says:

    Can we hear about CBG’s and Arecoline in upcoming podcasts?

  6. Aaron says:

    Pardon my naivete here but if you’re smoking something, does the smoke not inherently carry carcinogenic properties?

    Also, let’s say you don’t smoke it. Does THC have exclusively beneficial properties or are there some harmful effects from short or long-term use?

  7. fantastic info, I have used CBD Oil for almost a month now and I can feel the difference in better sleep and no hangover after crazy night outs. Would love to hear more about the other smaller cannabinoids. thanks

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