What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, is a cannabinoid and the primary active component of hemp. There has been a lot of buzz around this cannabinoid lately for its powerful therapeutic properties sans intoxicating effects. CBD oils, edibles and extractions are now available for sale online and even in your local health food stores. It’s a great option for people who are looking to supplement and recover naturally but how exactly does it work in the body?
CBD works in our bodies by directly affecting the Endocannabinoid System, more commonly known as the ECS. The ECS acts like a control tower in our bodies, telling molecules where to go and what to do so our bodies stay balanced. The body produces cannabinoids as well, these are called endocannabinoids. The ECS helps regulate functions such as sleep, immune-system responses, and pain.
Unlike other cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not produce a euphoric "high" or intoxicating effect. This is because CBD doesn’t affect the same receptors as THC. THC produces a "high" feeling by affecting the brain's endocannabinoid receptors, activating the brain's reward system by producing dopamine and other mood-boosting chemicals.
CBD is an entirely different compound than THC and produces a multitude of effects. Because CBD doesn’t bind with cannabinoid receptors in the brain, it can’t change one’s state of mind. Instead, it binds to the FAAH enzyme, influencing the body to use its own endocannabinoids more effectively. When the body has more endocannabinoids to work with, it can more easily regulate the functions of the ECS like pain, sleep, appetite and immune-system responses.
Where does CBD come from?
Industrial hemp and recreational cannabis are both derived from the Cannabis Sativa L., plant. While both can contain CBD, the concentration is naturally much higher in the hemp plant. Industrial hemp contains less than .3% THC which is why it doesn’t produce the intoxicating effects of its sister plant. There are currently 13 states in the U.S. that have legalized industrial hemp manufacturing so that we no longer have to import it from countries like China, so we can source quality CBD products right in our own backyard.
CBD currently comes in many forms, from water soluble tinctures to capsules of phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil. It’s important to be educated on what delivery method you’re purchasing because not all CBD is created equally. Terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids create what is known as the “entourage effect” - meaning CBD is more effective with the sum of all of it’s part rather than on its own. Studies have shown that single molecule isolate (cbd isolate) required a much bigger dose and had a very narrow effective dose window vs. whole plant extract which showed a proportional response- which is more ideal for practical use. It is now generally accepted that products containing full-spectrum or phytocannabinoid-rich CBD oil are more effective in treating various medical conditions than products containing CBD isolate.
Where can I buy CBD?
Many CBD businesses are popping up online and why not now that the government is (mostly) on board with hemp sales. Studies have also shown that nearly half of people who start using CBD stop taking traditional (western) medicine. This complex and beneficial component of hemp is gaining popularity and acceptance, fast. With so many online companies to choose from, it’s important to find a brand and company that speaks to you. Look out for brands that use phrasing like “organically grown hemp” since it’s still in a federal gray area, this is an easy way to spot companies that are using organic practices since industrial hemp manufacturers cannot receive a USDA Organic Seal (yet). Full spectrum, phytocannabinoid-rich, PCR oil and full-flower are also other terms to look out for, so you know you’re getting the maximum therapeutic benefit.
It’s important to do your research and stay educated on the developments of this trending supplement. New research is coming out all the time on the benefits of this amazing plant. Someday it will become a staple in everyone’s household.