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What Is Cannabidiol (CBD)?

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JoshuaHolt JoshuaHolt
Added 19 October 2020

What Is CBD (Cannabidiol)?

We have known about CBD for a long time but only recently are its uses and benefits being studied in depth. The research of cannabidiol has become a widely discussed topic, with huge developments happening across the medical and health industries. CBD is now accessible in many parts of the world as people realise the positive effect it can have on their well-being. 

You might have heard about CBD but still do not know anything about it. We want to discuss cannabidiol so you can consider whether it might be for you or not. This guide helps you understand what CBD is, its safety and the ways it can be consumed, as well as how it might be beneficial to your lifestyle.

What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound found naturally in cannabis plants. It derives mainly from the cannabis Sativa hemp variety, which produces high amount of CBD in comparison to the more well known cannabinoid, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). They are similar and work together but have completely different effects.

CBD is one of many cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. There are in fact, over one hundred different cannabinoids present in the resinous trichomes that cover a cannabis plant's flowers. CBD and THC have the highest concentrations, and are known to have a big impact on the human body.

THC vs CBD

Due to legal restrictions and a lack of study, we still have a lot to learn about how other cannabinoids play a role in the effect of cannabis. Progress is being made but we still have a long way to go.

CBD and THC are interconnected, and one cannabinoid affects the other. Although CBD products are usually THC-free, there is evidence that suggests that THC alters the way the body responds to CBD, and vice versa. This is called the 'Entourage Effect', and is applicable to any type of cannabinoid, including terpenes.

Does CBD get you high?

CBD Can Be Inhaled

The short answer is, no. CBD does not get you high in the same way as THC does. However, it could still be considered psychoactive because it alters the way our brain works. It is just not intoxicating like THC is, which is mainly why we feel THC in the way we do. A CBD user will not experience a 'high' but may notice overall changes in mood or well-being. THC is more commonly linked to feelings of euphoria, relaxation, paranoia or anxiety.

CBD inhibits or modifies the effect of THC once it is inside the body. This can be beneficial in the sense that it can block some of the negative effects associated with THC, but still allow the cannabinoids to work their magic. It has been suggested that the medical benefits of cannabis are most effective when both CBD and THC are present, however CBD on its own has shown great potential. 

CBD Genetics

The extensive cross breeding of hemp and cannabis varieties means we now have access to high CBD content genetics. Many of the products found on the market are made using CBD extracted from the industrial hemp plant because legally it contains almost no THC. In most countries, THC in industrial hemp should not exceed 0.2%.

Industrial CBD Farm

Nowadays, a high CBD feminized seed can yield up to 20% CBD, whereas in industrial hemp the content is much lower; around 5% or less. Hemp has a low cannabinoid content and crops are usually a mix of male and female plants. Industrial hemp is also commonly harvested before reaching full maturity to better benefit from its fibre, as well as to stay within the legal limits.

CBD has become widely discussed for its medicinal benefits, so the demand is increasing. Industrial hemp is a great source of fibre, grain and oil, however, many growers are turning to CBD rich cannabis strains for their bud. The flower is where trichomes are most concentrated, so if we want a high CBD product, bud production should be a priority. CBD varieties have been bred to minimise THC, although reliable genetics are not always the easiest to find.

Cannabinoids can vary a lot in cannabis plants. The ratio of THC to CBD stated by the breeder gives an indication of its genetic makeup, although this information is not always accurate. Remember, the quality and potency of your buds is also determined by external factors such as the environment.

 CBD Rich Cannabis Bud

Some strains will contain low levels of THC and high CBD, others have a 50/50 balance. It is important to check the seed's history and specs thoroughly if one is trying to achieve specific results with certain cannabinoids. 

In order to produce a high CBD hemp plant, seeds need to be feminized. Male hemp plants in a crop can reduce yields and resin production because plants start to produce seeds. CBD can still be produced this way, but cannabinoid content will be much lower. Feminized hemp strains are grown in the same way as cannabis, and can be left to fully mature before harvesting.

CBD Crack (Fast Buds) by Gi773s from GrowDiaries

The Body and CBD

Before we get into the details, let's briefly discuss how CBD interacts with the body. The human body contains a network of receptors which forms part of the endocannabinoid system. Studies have shown that the endocannabinoid system is responsible for keeping a balanced health by regulating various body functions such as the immune system, memory, appetite and sleep. This is called homeostasis.

As well as endocannabinoids and enzymes, the endocannabinoid system is composed of 2 types of protein; the CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are known to regulate cell functions, indicating which type of cannabinoid is present so the body 'knows' how to react.

CB1 and CB2 Receptors

Concentrations of CB1 proteins can be found in many parts of the body, including the brain, liver, bones and muscles. CB1 receptors are partly responsible for how we memorise information or process emotions. 

CB2 receptors are not so abundant but still play a role in the functioning of the endocannabinoid system. Small amounts of CB2 receptors form part of our immune system, helping to reduce inflammation and fight against bacteria. Both CB1 and CB2 receptors are constantly working to keep our bodies in a state of homeostasis.

ProteinFound In?Regulates
CB1The nervous system and brain, cell wallsMemory, Emotions, Mood
CB2Immune system, the bloodstream, parts of the brainInflammation, Pain, Bacteria

The Effects of CBD

Now we have an understanding of what CBD is, we can focus on the effects. We know that CBD does not get you high, but how can it help to relieve symptoms of some very serious human conditions? There have been a number of studies that show cannabinoids can have a positive effect for conditions such as anxiety, mood, appetite, psychosis, trauma, addictions, and many others.

CBD Can Be Extracted Into Oil

It should be noted that cannabis is still being heavily researched, meaning the information presented here needs to be studied further if you are considering taking CBD. We have some evidence that CBD can indeed help certain individuals with their condition or lifestyle, but make sure you do your own research.

There have been many reports of how CBD has the potential to treat or relieve certain conditions, including:

  • Muscle Inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic Pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Skin Conditions
  • Addictions
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Mood

CBD Can Help Maintain Homeostasis

Note: Always contact your medical practitioner for any health problems you may have. This information is for research purposes only and should not be taken as direct medical advice. It is important that you do not substitute your normal medication for CBD without consulting your doctor first.

How to consume CBD

CBD products can be used in many different ways. Usually, they are either taken orally, applied to the skin, or inhaled.

How you choose to consume CBD depends on what you are trying to treat, as well as the severity of the condition. The cannabinoid concentration and method of consumption changes how CBD affects the body. Taking it sublingually under the tongue in oil form, for example, will last much longer than if cannabis CBD is smoked or vaped.

There Are Many Ways To Consume CBD

Oil

CBD oil has a reputation for being very positive in the medical and therapeutic fields. As a concentrated extract, it is normally stored in a small dropper bottle which makes it easy to dose, as well as being discreet. The oil base also makes it easier for the CBD to be absorbed by the body.

For the best effect, cannabis oils are normally taken under the tongue. Swallowing the oil directly can be slightly wasteful because a percentage may not be properly absorbed before it is digested. The uptake of CBD happens more effectively when there is a fatty substance for it to bind to. Consuming the oil sublingually allows the mucus glands in the mouth to aid the absorption process.

Smoking

Burning cannabis is probably the world's preferred method of consuming cannabinoids, however it may not be the most resourceful way. It's not the biggest issue in the world, but bongs, pipes, and joints all end up losing some of their goodness as smoke escapes.

On the positive side, combustion of the bud makes CBD readily available to the body and it can be absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs. This means the effects are almost instant, giving the user a quick hit that is easy to dose.

CBD Buds also contain other beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes that can help to enhance the experience by providing flavours and aromas that are potentially lost or diminished through extraction.

Related story
Cannabis Terpenes

Vaping

Vaporising has become extremely popular over the recent years for its 'healthy' approach to inhaling substances. CBD oils and extracts can be vaporised using a special heating device, which turns liquid into vapor that can be taken in through the lungs.

Vaporising doesn't produce anywhere near as many harmful substances like smoking does, making it a much cleaner way of taking CBD. There are many different kinds of vaporisers on the market, so if you are going to buy one, choose a high quality model that is designed for the CBD product you are going to put in it.

Edibles 

Cannabis Edibles Can Be Made With CBD Extracts

CBD edibles are a great way to get a lasting effect out of an extract. Consuming CBD orally like this means cannabinoids are released slowly and stay in the body for longer. This can be particularly useful if one does not want to/cannot dose multiple times per day.

Not only that, edibles can massively improve the final taste of the product, which can be a little off putting for some users. The flavour of CBD isn't exactly bad but it can be a bit strange if you are not used to it. Obviously this also depends on the strain and how concentrated the extract is.

Cosmetics

Applying CBD topically through cosmetic products such as creams and soaps is another effective method of using cannabis. CBD users have plenty of choice when it comes to cannabis cosmetics, so choosing the right product depends on the condition. Applying CBD lotions directly to the affected area or source can help to relieve pain, loosen joints, or reduce bacteria.

CBD has been shown to have natural anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-oxidant properties, meaning it can also help problems on the surface of the skin. Skin irritations like acne, scratches, or bites have reacted positively to topical CBD treatments. It may even help to keep skin looking young.

CBD Can Be Used In Cosmetics

Is CBD safe?

CBD is perfectly safe to consume if taken at the right dose. There is little evidence to suggest that CBD is harmful, however, extremely high doses could still produce psychoactive reactions. It is important that CBD is grown under the right conditions so that quality is assured and one can be certain of its cannabinoid content.

Getting an accurate breakdown of the cannabinoid content of your weed is quite difficult unless the final product is tested in a lab. This is why most CBD growers lean towards seeds that have reputable history with thorough analysis.

CBD is already available in a wide array of consumables, and finally we are seeing it being used more often in pharmaceutical products. Synthetic versions of CBD are now being produced in laboratories which comply with the regulations. Growing hemp or cannabis for CBD can be a risk because if it does not meet the requirements, the final product will not be 'valid' for commercial use.

The safety of CBD is also relative to where you live. Before purchasing or growing CBD, it is recommended you check your local laws and regulations to see if it is permitted. If it is permitted, knowing the legal limits is a must. As we previously mentioned, most CBD products contain very low amounts of THC and in order for them to be approved, they cannot exceed 0.2% THC content (in most countries where CBD is legal).

Outdoor CBD Cannabis Plant

Conclusion

After reading this article, you should have more or less of an idea if CBD could work for you. If you are worried about the side effects of consuming cannabis, make sure you understand what the cannabinoid ratio and content is before taking anything. You can always consult your doctor for a professional opinion.

Have you experienced the benefits of CBD? Has it improved your lifestyle? Or have you had a bad experience with CBD? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!

External References

Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Hard Evidence at Last? Journal of epilepsy research. - Perucca E. (2017)

Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente Journal. - Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019)

This article was updated October 2020.






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