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What Is CBD? – The What, Why, and How Of Cannabidiol

CBD Isolate / CBD Oils / CBD Products / September 3, 2020

With Cannabis, Hemp, CBD and THC products enjoying growing popularity all over the world, you may be asking yourself—what is CBD?

The family of chemicals present in Cannabis have been utilized to treat health problems and expand consciousness for millennia. Written about in ancient texts and celebrated in popular culture, these chemicals and the culture surrounding them remain as popular as ever.

Keep reading to learn all about CBD, a popular alternative to THC that purportedly treats an array of ailments with none of the heady psychoactive effects of cannabis.

What is CBD?

CBD is shorthand for cannabidiol, a chemical present in plants belonging to the family known commonly as cannabis.

CBD is one of 120 identified phytocannabinoids present in cannabis plants.

CBD was discovered in 1940 during an extensive study of Minnesota wild hemp and Egyptian cannabis indica resin.

CBD accounts for 40% of cannabis extract, making it the second most prevalent of the plant’s active ingredients. It was only during those experiments the 1940’s that a method of isolating the substance was proposed.

Commercially, CBD is derived from the hemp plant. However, CBD is present in all plants found in the cannabis family. Hemp is a cannabis plant with minute levels of the psychoactive chemicals that classify cannabis as a scheduled drug. Because hemp has low levels of these chemicals but retains high levels of CBD, hemp is generally relied upon as the primary source from which CBD is derived.

CBD works its magic inside the brain, though the exact mechanism of operation is still being investigated. Suffice to say, CBD restricts the breakdown of chemicals in the brain relating to pain, mood, and cognitive function. The effect of CBD also appears to have a negating effect on the psychoactive effects of its cousin, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, aka THC.

On the topic of medical uses, CBD should not be confused with medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is rich in THC and other psychoactive substances that treat severe side effects and mitigate pain, such as those accompanying chemotherapy for cancer patients. CBD, for the most part, can be thought of as completely independent of medical marijuana. In most cases, there is no need to receive a doctor’s recommendation before acquiring CBD in any of its many forms.

Despite dodging legal issues associated with psychoactive substances, CBD is not without its opponents. For instance, the United States Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning that CBD use can result in liver damage and lead to gastrointestinal issues. Additionally, the government agency warns that CBD can have adverse effects when interacting with prescription medications and degrade alertness and mood in users.

The UK’s FSA has warned against using CBD is an individual is pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking prescription medication for a medical condition. The body also issued a cap on dosage for adults taking CBD, recommending users limit their CBD use to 70mg per day.

The legality of CBD manufacture, use, and possession will vary from one region to another. You should ensure you are compliant with CBD laws in your location. CBD is not scheduled under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances or any other United Nations drug treaty. The UN recommended in 2017 that CBD remain an uncontrolled substance globally.

Why is CBD used?

It’s no secret that medical conditions and injuries have been treated with holistic means since humans have been getting sick and injured. Modern medicine has made great strides in the treatment of disease and pain. However, many people gravitate towards more natural solutions for pain management and relief of symptoms of illness.

CBD has earned its place among those holistic remedies that treat a variety of conditions. Many users profess CBD use achieves positive results and reliable success in treating pain and symptoms. Among the most common uses for CBD are:

Pain Management – CBD has been found to exhibit pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties in animal studies. However, those same results have not been validated in human-based studies. Chances are you’ve come across a family friend or acquaintance that has affirmed noticeable pain relief, at least anecdotally.

Epilepsy – CBD has found its most convincing evidence for efficacy in treating childhood epileptic disorders. Where anti-seizure medications are ineffective, such as with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), CBD has been shown to reduce the severity and number of seizures significantly. In some cases, CBD has stopped seizures in patients entirely. In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions, Epidiolex, which contains CBD.

Anxiety – Many individuals have used CBD to stem the effects of various anxiety disorders. One study conducted by the Permanente Journal found that among study participants, 79 per cent reported a reduction in anxiety with a dosage of 25 mg of CBD. Because the experience and source of anxiety vary from one individual to another and potential adverse interactions with prescription anxiety medication, it’s best to consult with a physician before taking CBD to treat anxiety.

Insomnia – Today, sleep disorders are in no short supply. Whether a result of work stress, screen time, or as a result of pain and anxiety, CBD has been one option for many experiencing issues with sleep. In the same study mentioned above, study participants reporting sleep issues were given the same dosage as those reporting anxiety symptoms. The results were 66 per cent of participants reporting improved sleep quality.

Neurodegenerative Disorders – With evidence of CBD interacting with pain receptors and chemicals in the brain, researchers remain hopeful CBD will have similar effects in treating neurodegenerative disorders. Among the most likely candidates for treatment are:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke

The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD may further help belay the effects of these disorders. However, more research is necessary before the efficacy of using CBD to treat neurodegenerative disorders is proven.

How is CBD Used?

CBD is utilized in several ways. With the drug’s proliferation, so too have come many new and novel methods of using the substance. We’ll cover the most common ways to include CBD into your approach to wellness as well as one or two you may not have considered.

Inhalation – The most popular culture representation associated with cannabis is inhalation. CBD can be inhaled in several ways. You may be familiar with cigarettes, concentrates, and vaping devices. These are the most common methods of inhaling CBD products.

Inhalation brings a heated or ignited CBD product into the lungs through breathing. The smoke or vapor passes through the lungs and is exhaled. In that process, the active chemical compounds enter the bloodstream, avoiding what is called first-pass metabolism.

In this form of CBD use, the effects are felt the fastest. However, the effects are also the most short-lived using this method.

Depending on your method of inhalation, you can utilize as much as 60% of CBD present in the substance through your bloodstream.

In recent years, poor-quality vaporizing hardware and CBD distillate cartridges have come under intense scrutiny. Garage-based and unregulated manufacturing environments have been responsible for injury to CBD users utilizing their devices. Look for devices that use ceramic heating elements. These will deliver a cleaner experience. Avoid questionable CBD cartridges by avoiding those that contain propylene glycol. Vapor degradation of this substance creates formaldehyde and may also cause lung inflammation.

Orally Ingested– If lung health is a concern or you suffer from preexisting conditions that cannot incorporate inhaling CBD into a wellness routine, oral consumption is an alternative worth considering.

Options that fall under this category include CBD baked or cooked into edible forms, oils, tonics, capsules, and powders.

Unlike inhalation, this method of CBD use includes first-pass metabolism. In this case, the CBD passes through the digestive tract, where it is then absorbed into the bloodstream in passing through the body.

This method of use also takes more time to take effect. Anywhere from 1-6 hours, typically. Fortunately, this method also lasts the longest in terms of effects. You’ll want to consider this method of use as your primary choice if long-term supplementation is your goal.

One major consideration when orally using CBD is potential interaction with prescription medications. Orally ingested CBD is more likely than inhaled CBD to have an adverse interaction. Consult your physician before beginning a CBD wellness routine if you currently take any prescription medications.

Oral Administered Sublingually or “Buccally” – While eating CBD-infused food or taking CBD-filled capsules is what most will think of when you say CBD can be taken orally, there is another method of ingestion through the mouth. This is called sublingually or “buccally”. Sublingual ingestions are most typically done with oils and tinctures. A dosage is delivered via vial or dropper and placed beneath the tongue or between the cheek and gums. The liquid remains there, being absorbed directly into the bloodstream via capillaries and blood vessels lining the mouth. This means you can take CBD orally and bypass first-pass metabolism.

One unique characteristic of this method is that it increases CBD absorption if the user has eaten recently. This is because mastication, chewing, brings more blood flow through those capillaries and blood vessels. The result is a more expedient and effective absorption of CBD.

Topical Application – topically applied CBD is administered externally on the body in the form of creams, oils, and lotions. This method uses the skin as a means of absorption. This is a good method to consider when muscle aches and pains are the driving factors for use. The CBD can be rubbed or massaged directly into the affected area, impacting the cells and nerves in the area. In this case, CBD does not generally enter the bloodstream, unless specifically designed to do so.

You may want to consider topical applications of CBD to coincide with another delivery method for long-term wellness routines.

Vaginally & Anally inserted – When CBD is administered using either of these methods, CBD takes the form of suppositories, creams, and personal lubricants. In this case, CBD enters through the mucous membranes that line the vagina and anus. The method of operation is like topical applications but also shares similarities in the speed of effect found in sublingual applications. The result is a fast-acting method of delivery.

Keep in mind that results are highly varied due to the environmental factors found in the human body across conditions, gender, and age.

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