CBD & Hemp Oil 101 – Basic Overview

CBD & hemp oil are 2 great products that people are now turning to for all sorts of reasons.

This article is a basic overview of the products that we put together to help people understand it better.

Is CBD Actually Legal In New Zealand? New Zealand Flag

CBD is legal in New Zealand for medicinal use only. It is listed as a class B1 controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 and a prescription medicine under the Medicines Act 1981.

In September 2017, a number of CBD regulations were removed making it easier for GPs and other doctors to prescribe it without needing special approval. The specific changes are noted below:

  • exempt CBD products with up to 2% of other cannabinoids usually found in cannabis from the requirement for Ministerial approval to prescribe;
  • exempt pharmacies, medical practitioners, and wholesalers from the requirement to have an import license for CBD products with up to 2% other cannabinoids;
  • exempt CBD products with up to 2% other cannabinoids from the controlled drug records and stock keeping requirements;
  • extend the allowable period of supply for CBD products with up to 2% other cannabinoids from one month to three;
  • exempt CBD products with up to 2% other cannabinoids from the requirement to be prescribed on a triplicate form; and
  • exempt specific controlled drugs that require refrigeration from the requirement to be stored in a safe in a pharmacy.

In October 2017, the left-wing Green Party announced that a nationwide referendum on the legality of cannabis for both medical and personal use would be held by 2020.

How CBD Works (The Science)

Person with gloves holding CBD in a glass tube

CBD works through cannabinoid receptors found in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) as well as with non-cannabinoid receptors or ion channels in a lock and key system. CBD and other cannabinoids act as the key and receptors are the locks.

The ECS is found in the central nervous system (CNS), peripheral nervous system (PNS) and immune pathways and is comprised of two major receptors Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2).It regulates many of the body’s physiological systems from wake/sleep cycles, pain response, immune response, cardiovascular function, bone development, digestion, metabolism, learning, pain response, and regulation of stress among others.

Regardless of the function performed by the the ECS, the goal is always the same. To achieve homeostasis or a state of balance that is critical for optimal health.

What CBD Does Inside The Body

The human body

Inside the body, CBD mimics the actions of endocannabinoids. These are natural cannabinoids produced by the body. To do this, CBD interacts indirectly with CB1 and CB2 receptors by preventing the breakdown and reuptake of other cannabinoids and endocannabinoids, allowing them to accumulate and continue providing relief.

2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) and arachidonoyl ethanolamide (anandamide) are the best-studied endogenous cannabinoids. Anandamide is is an antidepressant. It’s also called the “bliss molecule,” after ananda which means joy, bliss, or happiness in Sanskrit. Scientists believe that enhanced levels of happiness are a direct result of having more anandamide in your system.

CBD blocks the cellular uptake of anandamide which under normal circumstances is degraded by the catabolic enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), by targeting fatty-acid binding proteins. This allows it to keep interacting with cannabinoid receptors and subsequently alter ones mood. 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) has very similar properties to anandamide.

How CBD Works Biochemically

How CBD Works Biochemically

Following are some of the ways CBD works biochemically.

  • Serotonin Receptors – CBD directly activates the 5-HT1A (hydroxytryptamine) serotonin receptor. This is a monoamine neurotransmitter that it is primarily found in the central nervous system (CNS) as well as in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and platelets. It helps regulate anxiety, addiction, appetite, sleep, pain perception, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Vanilloid Receptors – When CBD binds with vanilloid receptors also known as the transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TrpV1) or capsaicin receptors, it helps to regulate body temperature, inflammation and pain tolerance.
  • Orphan receptors – GPR55 – CBD indirectly activates this receptor which helps control bone density and blood pressure enabling CBD to play a role in the treatment of osteoporosis and high blood pressure. 
  • Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) – This is an enzyme that breaks down endocannabinoids such as anandamide. CBD inhibits its function enabling endocannabinoid levels to increase in the body.
  • PPAR-gamma Receptors – CBD activates PPARs [peroxisome proliferator activated receptorsPPAR-gamma receptors which are located on the cell’s nuclei. When activated they play a role in degrading beta-amyloid plaque, lipid uptake, insulin sensitivity, energy homeostasis, dopamine release, and other metabolic functions. This action may make CBD beneficial in the treatment of diabetes, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s.
  • Adenosine receptors – CBD activates these receptors that regulate the release of two neurotransmitter – dopamine and glutamate,. This gives it anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects that influence cognition, motor control, motivation, reward mechanisms, memory, learning, and cognition.

The Sun CBD product line shown at http://www.suncbd.co.nz/ has less than 0.02% THC and many people love it for this reason.

How It Works In The Brain

CB1 receptor sites in the brain

In the brain, CBD interacts indirectly with CB1 receptors unlike THC which does so directly causing psychoactive effects. CB1 receptors are found in the cerebellum, basal ganglia, hippocampus and dorsal primary afferent spinal cord regions. These are the regions of the brain that influence memory processing, pain regulation and motor control.