CBD – it would be astonishing if you hadn’t heard about it and the myriad of benefits it purportedly offers. It might help us sleep better, it might help us handle anxiety better, it might even reduce inflammation and pain. But do you actually know the CBD basics? What is CBD? Where does it come from? Are there different kinds, and what CBD product is best for you?
There are some fundamental questions that any responsible consumer should have answered before delving into the wide world of CBD. We’ve compiled the ultimate list of basics to make sure you can be fully informed before beginning your CBD explorations.
What is CBD oil?
CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a compound found in the Cannabis plant. It can be used in several different ways including vaping, tinctures, capsules, and edibles. CBD is a cannabinoid in the same family as tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD interact with the human body via the endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short. The ECS is responsible for regulating bodily functions like sleep, inflammation, and anxiety. Our bodies produce their own cannabinoids, but they can also be introduced into our systems through external substances that also contain them – in this case, CBD. Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids derived from plants whereas endocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced naturally in the human body.
Cannabinoids, then, can be used to supplement the ECS to varying degrees. Unlike THC, CBD is completely non-psychoactive. Because of this, we are able to gain the potential health benefits of the cannabis plant without experiencing the ‘high’ associated with THC.
How does CBD Oil work?
As we touched on above, the reason CBD affects the human body is because of our endocannabinoid systems. The ECS is a specialized system that helps maintain balance throughout the body and brain and regulates things like sleep, appetite, and pain. It does this by producing endocannabinoids, or neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors.
CBD, like THC, is a phytocannabinoid – a cannabinoid found in plants. By taking CBD, these cannabinoids enter our systems where they impact endocannabinoid receptor activity. CBD is thought to help our ECS work more effectively and to help the ECS function better on its own.
Is CBD the same as Marijuana?
CBD and THC have some similarities, but the effects each has on our systems is very different:
CBD vs THC: Similarities
- Both come from the Cannabis Sativa plant
- Both are phytocannabinoids and so both can interact with our ECS if ingested
- Both have the exact same chemical structure
- The interaction of CBD or THC and the ECS affects the release of neurotransmitters in your brain
CBD vs THC: Differences
- CBD and THC don’t have the same psychoactive effects. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound whereas THC is a psychoactive compound
- THC binds with cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain. It produces a high or sense of euphoria
- CBD binds very weakly to CB1 receptors and in fact it is thought that it may not even bind at all
- Although both come from the Cannabis plant family, THC comes from the marijuana plant (a cannabis plant that contains 0.3% THC or more) and CBD from the hemp plant (a cannabis plant that contains 0.3% THC or less)
Both compounds interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, but they have very different effects. Where THC will create the high sensation it’s so well known for, CBD certainly will not.
How does CBD make you feel?
CBD’s effects are much more subtle than THC. Because CBD doesn’t bind to CB1 receptors the same way that THC does, the sense of euphoria associated with this is absent. But also, CBD is rather repurposed by your body and your ECS, where it helps it to function more optimally than it otherwise would.
CBD can be thought of mto go to work where your body needs it to, and that’s why many people will experience different effects when they take it. Some people may experience pain relief, where others might feel a bit more relaxed. In all honesty, CBD is more about what you’re no longer feeling – pain may become less, anxiety may disappear.
Is CBD legal?
Yes, CBD is legal throughout North America, in the UK, and many places within the EU. THC laws are also evolving at a much more accelerated pace than previously, so it’s always recommended to thoroughly research individually for travel purposes.
Will CBD work for me?
There are several different ways to think about this question, and as such there are several different factors to consider about whether CBD will work for you. These could include any of the following:
- Your own physiology
- What kind of CBD you are using
- How you ingest the CBD (also known as bioavailability)
- The source of your CBD
- The strength of your CBD
- How long you’ve waited for benefits
There could be all kinds of reasons behind whether your CBD works for you or not. Much of this can be thought of in terms of internal or external factors.
Physiology, bioavailability, and how long you’ve waited for benefits are the internal things that could affect CBD’s potency. For one, your unique physiology may mean that CBD isn’t right for you, and it can take several weeks for the effects to present themselves. And, CBD can have different effects depending on how you take it. If you inhale CBD or put a few drops under your tongue, it will immediately enter the bloodstream and go to work very quickly. If you instead swallow a capsule or apply a topical cream, the effects will be more subtle but might last longer.
Then there are external factors, such as what kind of CBD you are using, whether the CBD comes from a reputable source, and the strength you use. All of these can affect whether CBD is right for you, and are the factors that require conscious consumerism and brand trust.
What are the different kinds of CBD Oil?
There are three main kinds of CBD oil, which all concern the amount of CBD and other compounds found within the product:
- Full Spectrum – Full spectrum means that an oil contains all the cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant in nature, rather than just CBD. This includes trace amounts of THC as well as the other many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. This kind of CBD is associated with the ‘entourage effect’ – the idea that all of these cannabinoids work better together and are more effective if left intact.
- Broad Spectrum – Broad spectrum oil, then, contains many of these cannabinoids but not all of them (such as 0% THC products).
- CBD Isolate – Products that are isolate derived will only contain the isolated CBD molecule and none of the other cannabinoids from the plant. It is thought that CBD on its own is not as effective as broad or full spectrum.
Although the benefits may be more apparent with full or broad spectrum CBD, it is important to consider if they are the best choice for you. THC may be apparent on a drug test, say, if you are using a full spectrum oil. This is why CBD isolate may be an attractive option.
What CBD Product is best for you?
To know what kind of CBD product will suit you best, you need to know how each product will interact with your ECS. Different methods of using or consuming CBD products will have different outcomes due to how they are absorbed by the body, just as we discussed with bioavailability above. These outcomes subsequently play a large role in determining what benefits the type of product can have for your unique needs:
CBD oil is made from a concentrated liquid extract produced by the cannabis plant. After CBD has been extracted from the plant, it is then mixed with a carrier oil, which helps the CBD absorb into the system.
CBD Oil and Bioavailability
CBD oil enters our bodies usually via the membrane on the bottom part of our tongue. If you put a few drops of CBD oil in your mouth, it will head straight to your bloodstream without having to pass through the digestive system or liver first.
This rapid absorption means that CBD oils take effect almost immediately after administration. However, this rapid absorption rate means that the effects, although punctuated by entering into the system more quickly, don’t last as long.
Who is CBD Oil for?
Because of CBD oil’s quick absorption, it’s ideal for anyone looking for an immediate effect. This could range from someone suffering from chronic pain who needs fast relief. It could also prove to be a good option for tackling everyday anxieties or to relax before bed.
CBD capsules are used like other traditional capsules — they’re swallowed. They’re hassle-free and easy to dose. Since each capsule has the perfect amount, they reduce any worry that you may have of dosing too much — or too little.
CBD Capsules and Bioavailability
Where CBD oil bypasses the digestive system, CBD capsules need to pass through it. First the CBD enters the stomach and then travels to the liver. The CBD is then metabolized by the liver which reduces the concentration of CBD compounds. This reduced concentration is then passed along to the bloodstream.
Taking a capsule will not show immediate effects like taking CBD oil does, and the overall benefits may be less acute but longer lasting. Taking a capsule is a slow and steady method of using CBD, and is easily incorporated into a wellness routine with other supplements.
Who are CBD Capsules for?
Because capsules offer users a smooth effect, they can be great to take in the morning to last all day long, or before bed if you’re keen to get a good night’s sleep but are afraid that your CBD oil will run out of steam before the night is through. Capsules are an excellent choice for the everyday user looking to supplement their overall wellness.
If you’ve ever had stiff, strained, or tender muscles, then you’ll understand how uncomfortable it can be. CBD topicals are rubbed into the skin and have shown promise helping to combat localized muscle pain like that caused from arthritis.
CBD Topicals and Bioavailability
When CBD is put directly onto the skin, it doesn’t actually enter the bloodstream – but this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. CBD receptors exist close to the surface of the skin as well as throughout the body. When applied topically, CBD interacts only with cannabinoid receptors close to where on the skin it was applied. Although human skin is tough to penetrate, CBD can indeed overcome this barrier through our pores if applied liberally – just like any muscle balm.
Who are CBD Topicals for?
CBD topicals are an excellent alternative to oils and capsules when looking for targeted CBD application. Because CBD does not enter the bloodstream via topicals, this method of using CBD will have a targeted effect rather than an all-over effect. It will go to work exactly where it needs to.
CBD vapes are much like other liquid vapes – liquid is heated to the point of vaporization and then inhaled. So while getting the benefits of vaping users are also able to get their dose of CBD.
CBD Vapes and Bioavailability
Just like sublingual applications, vaping CBD bypasses the digestive system and enters directly into the bloodstream through the lungs. This again means that it takes effect immediately but may not last as long as taking a capsule.
Who are CBD Vapes for?
Vaping CBD could be a good option for those who are trying to quit smoking as well as incorporate CBD into their daily lives. Of course, vaping will be more appealing to those who already vape or smoke.
CBD: Strength and Dosage
There isn’t a specific way to dose CBD according to any universal regulations or standards. Dosage and strength depends on the consumer – their body type, their tolerance, and the type of product that’s being used. Just as we see above with bioavailability, CBD can be absorbed in different ways, all of which affect how it works. And, all of this aside, dosing might become even more complicated if you have a pre-existing medical condition or if you’re on certain kinds of medication.
The best advice when trying to dose is to always start small and work your way up. Get a feel for your tolerance level, and make sure to read the instructions on the product. It is always advisable to talk with your GP before beginning to take any new supplement, and CBD is no different.
Are CBD Products safe to take?
If you have a good quality CBD product and have done your research about the best way for you to take CBD, and how much, there should be no worry whatsoever about its safety. Because of how CBD functions within our bodies, it is non-psychoactive and non-addictive.
However, not all CBD products are made equal. Some contain contaminants like mould, heavy metals, or pesticides. Indeed, some CBD companies have been known to add pesticides or synthetic cannabinoids to increase the weight or the strength of the product. But how do you know which are safe and which aren’t? Here are some things you can do to make sure your products are safe:
- Ask for third party lab test results – Every reputable CBD company should provide lab test results about what their CBD contains. These should be easy to find on the company’s website – if not, don’t trust the product.
- Use products that employ CO2 extraction methods – this method is safer, more environmentally friendly, and purer than other methods.
- Only buy from companies you trust – if you are confident that the company selling your CBD is trustworthy, they probably have many ways to prove it – good customer service, traceability and documented lab reports, etc.