What is cannabidiol (CBD)?

CBD is one of the main cannabinoids present in the Cannabis
sativa plant and can often be confused with the other main
cannabinoid in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Despite their similarities, these two cannabinoids have
very different effects. THC is primarily responsible for the
euphoric effects of cannabis, whereas CBD has been
associated with  anticonvulsant and neuroprotective effects.1

Surprisingly, whilst CBD and THC are structurally very similar, they seem to work via entirely different mechanisms in the body.

cannabidiol (CBD)
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

THC acts at cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1R and CB2R), with the activity at CB1R mainly being linked to the euphoric and behavioural effects.1 On the other hand, whilst the mechanism of CBD has not yet been fully elucidated, research to date suggests a multi-modal mechanism that modulates neuronal excitability through G protein-coupled receptor 55 (GPR55), transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1)  channels and the equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (ENT1).2




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1. Rosenberg EC, et al. Neurotherapeutics. 2015; 12: 747–768.


2. Epidyolex Summary of Product Characteristics (Date accessed: April 2021).