You may have heard the phrase ‘CBD’ spreading like wildfire today. Indeed, CBD-infused projects are all the craze, and the market for CBD is ever-expanding. But what exactly is CBD, and what does it do? This article gives a surface-level overview of the fundamentals of CBD. Without further ado:
What is CBD?
CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol, a chemical component found in the Cannabis plant. It is a naturally-occurring substance.
Will I get high from CBD?
No. CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical found in cannabis plants. For the most part, CBD will not leave you euphoric or sedated. In rare cases, however, some people react differently to CBD. Additionally, improperly extracted CBD may have enough THC to get a person high, which is why we recommend checking the labels on CBD that you purchase.
Is it legal?
In short, mostly. CBD, by itself, is a legal substance to consume. In 2018, President Trump signed the Farm Bill, legalizing the production of hemp (and, therefore, CBD) on a federal level. This bill effectively removed hemp from the oversight of the Drug Enforcement Administration. However, state governments have their own rules and regulations for marijuana and CBD. As of January 2020, CBD remains illegal in Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota.
Be aware that impure CBD may have federally illegal amounts of THC. To qualify as “pure,” CBD must have less than 0.3% THC content (the federally legal limit). If you are located in a state that has not yet fully legalized marijuana, be sure to check the label of any CBD products that you purchase to ensure that you can legally consume them in your state.
What are the benefits of CBD?
It is worth noting that CBD is by no means a cure-all for anything. Clinical studies have tested that CBD can treat certain illnesses and symptoms, but human trials have been limited. The only FDA-approved drug that is CBD-based is Epidiolex, which is used to treat epilepsy. However, CBD is commonly promoted as an over-the-counter treatment for several maladies.
While not medically proven, many people attest that CBD has helped to alleviate joint and muscle pain and some even report as helping with cancer. CBD binds to endocannabinoid receptors and reduces activity, curbing inflammation. Again, all of these uses are anecdotal. Scientific evidence to support such claims does not yet exist.
Both musculoskeletal and nerve pain can be treated with CBD, which binds to pain receptors as a reuptake inhibitor. Essentially, this has a numbing effect: CBD prevents the breakdown of chemicals in the brain that transmit the signal of ‘pain,’ causing your brain to tell your body that you are in less pain than you actually are.
CBD is also known to treat symptoms of anxiety and depression, as its effects are generally calming. By binding to serotonin receptors and activating them, CBD can reduce the effects of anxiety and promote overall wellness. CBD also enables you to think more clearly when stress hormones are released, allowing you to make more rational decisions in otherwise fight-or-flight situations.
Remember: CBD is not a cure-all, nor is it sufficient. It is recommended that CBD be used as a supplement to proper sleep, nutrition, and exercise. If your symptoms are severe, we recommend that you contact a medical professional.
Is it the same as marijuana? What about hemp?
The Cannabis sativa plant is divided into two main species: hemp and marijuana. Hemp has high CBD content and very low THC content, where marijuana has a much higher THC to CBD ratio. Hemp oil is drawn from hemp plant seeds and contains no cannabinoids (CBD or THC).
How do I take CBD?
There are four primary varieties of CBD: edibles, vapes, oil tinctures, and topical creams.
Edibles are any food or drink that is infused with CBD. Products range from baked goods to candies to teas and sports drinks. Because edibles are processed through the digestive system, their effects take up to an hour to kick-in. Once they do, they remain in effect for up to six hours, depending on your metabolic rate.
Vapes, short for vaporizers, on the other hand, take only ten minutes to reach peak saturation in your bloodstream. CBD vape liquid is inhaled via a vaporizer into the lungs and absorbed through capillaries into the bloodstream. This inhalation bypasses the digestive tract, but the effects generally wear off in approximately two hours. Few studies have been conducted to study the long-term effects of inhaling CBD.
The final ingestible method of consuming CBD is via oil tinctures. These are vials of CBD oil that typically have a dropper, which enables you to drop the oil under your tongue. This method is called ‘sublingual administration,’ in which the CBD oil absorbs through a mucus membrane under your tongue into your sublingual gland and the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system. After holding the CBD oil under your tongue for about a minute, the remaining CBD oil can be swished around in your mouth, where it absorbs into capillaries in the gums and cheeks. This method is called ‘Buccal administration.’ After swishing, the remaining oil is swallowed. The effects of sublingual administration activate faster but last shorter than the effects of edibles.
If you prefer not to ingest anything, a topical CBD cream, lotion, or ointment may fir your needs. Where the effects of ingested or inhaled CBD are dispersed throughout the entire body via the bloodstream, topical CBD is effective at treating localized pain or stiffness. It can be rubbed on joints, ligaments, and muscles.
Shopping for CBD
CBD is now available in many brick-and-mortar retail locations, as well as online. Look for specialty grocery stores, wellness and vitamin shops, convenience stores, and dispensaries for your CBD products.
When shopping for CBD, be sure to check the product label. Legitimate CBD products will have labels, as any food would have a nutrition label. CBD labels typically have a batch number that you can use to look up specific manufacturing information about your product, as well as any third-party laboratory testing information about that batch and brand. Labels will also show you whether the CBD is full-spectrum or isolate, as well as what other ingredients are in the product.
If this information is not available on the CBD products you are investigating, we recommend that you not purchase those products; instead, purchase products whose manufacturing and ingredient information is readily available. Typically, products found in brick-and-mortar locations have already gone through a screening process.
Because CBD is processed in the body, its effect depends on a person’s individual biological, metabolic, and digestive health. Dosage also depends on the method in which you consume CBD—through ingestion, inhalation, sublingually, or topically. The term ‘bioavailability’ refers to the percentage of the whole ingredient that is available to your body once it enters the bloodstream. For example, when you eat 10 mg of CBD in a cookie, some of the CBD content is broken down by gastric acids, and the liver neutralizes another portion of the CBD. Once the CBD finally enters your bloodstream, only 13-19% of the original CBD can take its effect on your body. Thus, edible CBD has a bioavailability of 13-19%. By comparison, inhaling CBD yields 10-60% bioavailability, while taking CBD sublingually yields 20-30% bioavailability. Applying CBD topically yields about 5% bioavailability.
However, there are ways to increase these numbers. For example, CBD is fat-soluble; thus, combining it with a high-fat snack, such as peanut butter, avocado, or hemp-seed oil, can help distribute more CBD to your body.
If you are unsure what dosage to take, start with a lower dose, and increase as needed to attain the desired effect. Studies have shown that even at extremely high doses, up to 1600 mg per day over a sustained period, CBD is safe. However, high doses may yield to unpleasantness such as diarrhea, dry mouth, fatigue, sleepiness, and a reduced appetite. CBD may also interfere with blood thinners and other medications. If you are new to CBD, you may want to consult a medical professional to see what dosage may be right for you.
Traveling with CBD
As of 2018, when the Farm Bill was passed, it is legal to travel state-to-state with CBD. Just be cautious about TSA-approved quantities of liquid if you are flying with CBD oil tinctures or vape liquid.
If you have done your due diligence with shopping, your CBD will be pure (0.3% THC or less). In this instance, you are unlikely to test positive for THC on a drug test. However, if you undergo more sensitive testing—for example, as professional athletes do—then trace amounts of THC may appear on your lab results.
CBD for Pets
Although there are several CBD products marketed for cats and dogs, limited research exists to rank products in terms of efficacy in curbing pet pain and anxiety. The FDA has cleared all CBD-infused pet products available in stores as safe for animal consumption, but results vary.