As CBD grows in popularity, so do questions about its proper use and benefits; this guide explains it all down to help you navigate the confusion
Everyday more and more people change their perception about Cannabis and related products. This is definitely a good thing as marijuana is not simply a recreational drug. Numerous studies have already concluded that the Cannabis plant can provide natural relief for various medical conditions like epilepsy, PTSD, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, etc. And CBD is where the remedy comes from.
Our complete guide to CBD is just as insightful for active users as it is for beginners. Whether you are an active smoker or have never tried weed before, there is a lot to learn about CBD that can completely change your idea about the plant.
CBD, also known as Cannabidiol is one of the major compounds, that makes up the Cannabis plant (along with THC.). Before proceeding, it is important to understand that unlike THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is completely non-psychoactive. CBD can be taken in form of capsules, edibles, vaping and tinctures.
Even though many were and still are skeptical about natural compound like CBD actually treating serious conditions, the facts don’t lie – CBD works. Let’s understand how.
Cannabis, in general, has anti-anxiolytic and anti-inflammatory properties – as, does standalone CBD. CBD cannabinoids interact with receptors in our body to provide natural remedy against stress, anxiety and pain. Cannabidiol is best known for its ability to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures, especially in children.
In order to fully understand the real benefits of CBD, how it works and how it differs from THC, there are several areas to cover in order to distinguish the facts from myths. Here is what we will cover in this article:
1. CBD – The basics
2. CBD vs. THC
3. Where is CBD found?
4. How Does CBD Work?
5. Health Benefits of CBD
6. CBD Consumption Options
7. How Much CBD Should You Take?
8. How Long Does CBD Take to Work?
9. How to Find High-Quality CBD Oil
10. Does CBD Show Up in Drug Screening Tests?
CBD – The Basics
The cannabis plant consists of more than 400 different compounds, of which more than 60 are cannabinoids. These compounds interact with endocannabinoid system (ECS) of the human body producing several effects.
The endocannabinoid system is part of the nervous system that, alongside other systems, regulates body functions like mood, pain, memory and appetite.
The human body also produces cannabinoids on its own, but in a different form. It is not exactly a foreign substance for your body.
The immune system tries to keep the body healthy and safe, but sometimes it’s overprotective characteristics can cause side effects like allergy, inflammation or negative mental response like anxiety. Cannabinoids can not only minimize these side effects, but also help to regulate the immune system.
On the contrary to THC, CBD has no psychoactive effect on the brain. Therefore, it does not cause symptoms like anxiety, paranoia or memory impairment as THC does. This is what pushed the legalization process in Canada, U.S. and many other countries.
With researchers finding more and more use to CBD, its health benefits simply can’t be ignored any more. Naturally, its popularity is growing rapidly throughout the world.
CBD vs. THC
The cannabis plant consists of two main compounds – CBD and THC. While it has been known for a long time that THC provides the “high” effect to its users, the therapeutic qualities of CBD have become evident in recent years. While both compounds have some important health benefits, they differ a lot from each other.
What sets them apart are their psychological effects on the brain. CBD does not have any effect on how your brain operates. THC does due to the cannabinoid binding to CB1 (cannabinoid 1) and CB2 (cannabinoid 2) receptors, therefore causing the “high” state. CBD has no direct contact with CB1 and CB2 receptors.
THC affects various feelings like hunger, sleepiness, relaxation and other psychological senses. CBD can block the enzymes that metabolize cannabinoids and boost their levels in the body.
Another factor that sets CBD and THC apart is legality. THC is still perceived to be mostly illegal. Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and recreational use is legal in some states including Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and Alaska.
To put it simply, THC level in CBD product should be lower than 0.3% to be categorized as hemp and count as legal under federal law for manufacturing, distribution and sale.
Where is CBD found?
CBD is present in hemp and Cannabis seeds, stalks and flowers and can be extracted in various ways. CBD oil extraction is focused on creating highly concentrated cannabinoids. These can be achieved through several methods including solvent extraction, dry ice extraction, olive oil extraction, CO2 extraction.
Once extracted, the compound can be processed into different products including oil, capsules and liquids. CBD products can be found at health and wellness stores, medical marijuana dispensaries or most commonly online.
The difference between hemp and marijuana plant derived CBD is the amount of THC in them. The level of THC in hemp is much lower than that in marijuana. CBD derived from marijuana is illegal in the U.S., while hemp CBD is not.
To better understand the phenomenon, you need to realize the difference between hemp and marijuana. Both of them belong to the cannabis sativa L plant species. Hemp plants, usually very tall and thin, are used to produce various commercial products that are completely legal and available on store shelves.
Marijuana plants are much shorter and wider and are mostly grown for recreational purposes or for cannabinoid extraction. Both plants contain cannabinoids, but marijuana is bred to contain a greater amount of THC in it, while THC concentration in hemp is minimized – if not absent at all.
CBD oil that is obtained from hemp is suitable for anyone including pregnant/nursing women, children and pets.
How does CBD work?
While the research on CBD oil and its effects is far from complete for now, there is no doubt about its overall positive effect on health and wellness. CBD does not only engage with cannabinoid receptors, but also vanilloid, adenosine and serotonin receptors.
Vanilloid receptors are associated with pain perception and body temperature, whilst, adenosine and serotonin are linked more closely with anxiety and inflammation.
Health benefits of CBD
As we have mentioned above, CBD oil has lots of health benefits and these facts are backed up by scientific studies. Let’s have a look at some of them:
Anxiety: Anxiety is very common nowadays and should be taken seriously. It is usually treated with pharmaceutical medication, most of which come with negative side effects, like sleepiness and addiction. CBD oil can calm the patients by acting on the brain receptors for serotonin. CBD is used in patients with social anxiety disorder, PTSD and panic disorder.
Pain: CBD oil is a natural pain reliever. It slows down the transmission of neurons along pain pathways. It is also recommended for people with arthritis as the oil can inhibit inflammation in joints.
Cancer: Several researches have been conducted that show that CBD has characteristics that can slow and even stop the growth of cancerous tumors. In 2015 research, the medical records of more than 84,000 male patients were analyzed in California. The study showed that those who used cannabis, but not tobacco, had a rate of bladder cancer that was 45 percent below the norm.
Nausea: One of the oldest uses of CBD was to treat nausea and vomiting. This is another reason why CBD is being implemented in patients with cancer. Nausea is hugely associated with chemotherapy.
Seizures: CBD is well known for its effect on seizure severity and frequency. In fact, it is one of the most well-known benefits of the compound. Therefore, CBD is suitable for children with epilepsy and other neurological disorders.
There is even a famous strain called “Charlotte’s Web”, named after Charlotte Figi, a girl who suffered hundreds of seizures every week due to a rare condition called Dravet Syndrome. Unfortunately, no medicine or treatment had any effect on her condition.
All changed when her father saw a video of a young boy effectively treated with cannabis for the same medical condition. As soon as Charlotte was given CBD strain her seizures didn’t just decrease, but almost completely disappeared.
“Charlotte’s Web” has been specifically developed to treat epilepsy in children. The oil is very high in CBD and extremely low in THC.
Diabetes: CBD oil can have a significant effect on glucose and insulin resistance. Research has also shown that diabetes occurrence can be significantly lowered by CBD. Also, cannabis users tend to have a lower body mass index and smaller waist.
2011 report published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, based on a survey of more than 52,000 participants, concluded that rates of obesity are about one-third lower among cannabis users. (Yann LeStrat and Bernard Le Foll, “Obesity and Cannabis Use: Results From 2 Representative National Surveys,” American Journal of Epidemiology 174, no. 8 (2011): 929–933. doi:10.1093/aje/kwr200.)
Cardiovascular health: Among other benefits, CBD can lower high blood pressure – a vital risk factor in strokes and heart attacks. CBD derived medicine is extremely useful among people with allergies to traditional medication.
Acne: A common skin problem among American population has a lot of causes like genetics, bad diet, bacteria and excessive sebum. Due to its anti-inflammatory features, CBD oil can be successfully used to treat acne.
CBD consumption options
As mentioned above, CBD products come in different forms. CBD oil can be either swallowed, usually with the help of an oral applicator, or placed under the tongue. The second option is said to have more benefits as mucous membranes can absorb other active compounds as well. It also has a faster effect.
It is no surprise that traditional ways of consumption still remain popular. CBD can be consumed through vaping with special CBD vaporizers. This is super easy option for those who consume CBD often and in small doses. It is also one of the fastest methods of consumption the compound is diffused into the bloodstream as soon as it enters the lungs.
There are also other options like CBD infused chewing gums and beverages.
Another popular form of CBD products is topical ointment. This way you can apply it directly to your skin to affect superficial cells without coming in contract with the bloodstream.
How much CBD should you take?
Just like with anything else, dosage is important when taking CBD. To help you choose the right dose, here is a “best practices” chart by http://how-much-cbd-should-i-take.com/. Find your weight on the horizontal chart, then the severity of the condition you have on the vertical chart. Once you have tried the recommended dose, you can adjust it up or down by monitoring how you feel.
How long does CBD take to work?
With severe health issues like seizures, it is important for the drug to act fast. The time that CBD oil takes to work depends on several factors. One of them is consumption method as discussed above, then comes the patient’s body (genetics, age, metabolism, etc) and the medical issue.
Unfortunately, we are only in control of the first factor, which is the consumption method. As we have already mentioned, vaping is one of the fastest ways to get CBD into your system. It can take as little as a few seconds to feel the effect on your body or mind. With other methods, like oral consumption, it can take as long as an hour to take effect.
How to find high-quality CBD oil
With CBD oil becoming more and more popular, the demand is increasing rapidly – and naturally, so are the manufacturers. However, not all of the products are as good as others. So, when it comes to the health issues, it is crucial to know your products and choose only the best ones.
The richer the plant and the better the extraction technique and equipment, the healthier the product. However, you can’t see these details when looking at a product. So, here are some factors that can help you identify quality CBD oil.
Less than 0.3% THC: When choosing your CBD oil, look for the one that has the lowest THC level. If the THC level in the product is more than 0.3%, not only can it have a psychoactive effect on your brain, but you might get in trouble as it might not be legal for sale.
Third-Party Lab Reports: If the manufacturer is confident in its product then they will have nothing to hide. The more transparent they are about their products, the more trustworthy they could be.
The lab reports can provide a lot of valuable information, like the exact amount of CBD and/or THC in the oil, the types of terpenes and respective concentrations in the oil, presence of toxins and pesticides in the oil, and the date that the batch was tested (look for the ones with the most recent date).
Clean Extraction Method: extraction method can make or break a product when it comes to CBD oil. As discussed above, there are several ways that CBD oil can be extracted from the hemp plant.
Nowadays, CO2 extraction is the cleanest and purest way to extract CBD oil. Due to the fact that there are no chemicals involved in this method, it makes the final product safe for consumption. This extraction process is also environmentally-friendly compared to other ones that use petroleum solvents among other chemicals.
Whole-Plant Extract: While the positive effects of CBD itself are not really debated much anymore, there are also other components in the cannabis plant that are going to waste.
When in contact with these components (including cannabinoids like CBD, THC, CBC and CBG as well as terpenes and flavonoids), CBD oil becomes much more potent and effective. This is called the “entourage effect”. Such CBD oil products are known as “full-plant” extract or “whole-plant” extract and are more effective than CBD isolates.
Does CBD show up in drug screening tests?
This is a common question among those who are required to take drug tests on a regular basis, whether it is work policy or anything else. Drug screening tests are focused on the presence of THC in blood and not CBD. However, the fact that you are using CBD oil can’t guarantee that the tests won’t come back positive for THC. As we have discussed, some CBD oil products can contain low levels of THC, especially the low-quality products.
Even with this fact, it is highly improbable for your tests to come back positive for THC. You would have to consume an unrealistically large amount of CBD oil for this to happen. Think somewhere between 1,000 to 2,000 mg of CBD product in one day. But anyways, this is just another reason why you would want to look for CBD oils that have low levels of THC.
Every new piece of research on the therapeutic effect of CBD proves to be groundbreaking. The vast amount of CBD oil benefits simply shouldn’t and can’t be ignored any longer.
You may also enjoy reading A Return to Health: Balancing Chronic Illness with CBD, by Melissa Gibson