Cannabidiol, more commonly referred to as CBD, is one of the many phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, second only to THC as far as amount contained in a given hemp plant. Discovered in 1940, the chemical compound is renowned for the positive effects it has been linked to, from reducing pain for cancer patients, to potentially helping with PTSD, insomnia, nausea, and even reducing symptoms of schizophrenia anecdotally.
Because there have been fairly strict regulations on how the hemp plant can be used and researched, much of the information surrounding how effective CBD is on the body is anecdotal or self-reported. However, more concrete peer-reviewed studies have been coming to light over the last several years.
How is CBD different from THC and other cannabinoids found in cannabis?
The cannabis plant has over 100 phytocannabinoids; the latest count within the hemp plant was 113. The two most studied compounds are THC and CBD, but they differ substantially in their chemical make-up as well as how they affect the brain and body.
While THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most studied psychoactive phytocannabinoid, CBD does not have any psychoactive effects, and will not feel intoxicating. While you would not want to work or drive under the influence of THC, lower doses of CBD are fine in regards to driving and performing normal work.
There is a stigma about THC only being for entertainment, but there’s substantial evidence that even though it is a psychoactive phytocannabinoid it has some uses in reducing pain, muscle spasms, and tension, helping with sleep, and reducing nausea – especially when caused by chemotherapy.
CBD does not carry the same stigma, likely because it is not psychoactive. The largest drawback of pure CBD is that it makes some individuals drowsy at high enough dosages. Because there are few disadvantages, the market has been flooded with CBD oil as a miracle cure for many ailments. While it might not be a miracle, it certainly packs a punch in regards to improving pain and affecting other health problems.
How does CBD affect the brain?
CBD affects the brain differently than it’s cousin, THC. While THC directly interacts with the brain’s cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, CBD indirectly signals to these receptors. This is one reason that CBD is known to not be intoxicating. THC may bind to CB1, but CBD simply nudges at it indirectly.
Your body produces naturally occurring endocannabinoids at any given moment. Many cannabinoids interact with each endocannabinoid differently, and CBD is no different, interacting with endocannabinoids to help reduce inflammation. Dopamine, a major player in regulating your mood, is also jostled by consuming CBD. When you ingest CBD, you can expect to see a reduction in anxiety as it interacts with your brain’s receptors, and may also see an improvement in your mood.
Full Spectrum CBD vs CBD isolate: What’s the difference?
The most concentrated pure form of CBD oil is CBD isolate. When CBD oil is presented as an isolate, there are no other cannabinoids present. If you are looking for pure CBD, look for CBD isolate.
On the other hand, full-spectrum CBD oil and products may contain trace amounts of other cannabinoids, including THC and some of the other 113 cannabinoids present in the hemp plant. Even full-spectrum CBD products will have less than .3% THC, but if you are looking for pure CBD to avoid any trace levels of THC, the optimal choice is to opt for CBD isolate.
How is CBD processed?
There are several ways that CBD can be isolated and extracted for use from the hemp plant.
Ideally, CBD should be extracted using the CO2 method since it removes all other trace chemicals. This method of extraction uses pressurized carbon dioxide to separate the cannabinoids from a hemp plant. In doing so, it dissolves the waxes, terpenes, and non-usable cannabinoids. What you are left with is a CBD oil that can be used in a variety of ways, from tinctures, oil for vaporizers, and even body lotions or rubs to help with muscle aches and joint pain. Because of the extensive process, CBD isolate is more expensive than full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD.
Full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD can be extracted through several methods, ranging from alcohol extraction, which relies on ethyl alcohol as a solvent, and via carrier oil extraction. Depending on what you need your CBD for, you may feel comfortable ingesting or utilizing CBD oil that has been extracted via alcohol extraction or carrier oil extraction.
What effects does CBD have on the body?
The effects that CBD has on the body range from pain reduction, decrease in inflammation, help with nausea, and even mental health improvements such as decreasing anxiety, depression, nightmares, and symptoms of PTSD. There is evidence that heavy opioid users can experience greater pain reduction with CBD, and there is marked improvement in heroin withdrawal when users consume low doses of CBD.
What dosage of CBD should I consume?
Because each body and brain react differently to CBD, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact amount of CBD you may need to have a positive effect.
A study by the Mayo Clinic published in August 2019 put together recommendations of the average adequate dosage of CBD in milligrams for various illnesses or problems. However, the doses range dramatically. For example, if you experience schizophrenia, you may have some relief by using a dose of CBD ranging from 40 mg to 1,280 mg daily. Because of this, it’s advisable to go ahead and take a low dose that may help, and slowly increase you CBD dosage over time.
Purchasing high-quality CBD
If you’re unsure of which CBD product to purchase, contact the manufacturer to request test results from the batch of your CBD oil. All tests should be processed by a third-party lab, and by ISO certified
Opt to purchase directly from the manufacturer online, or a reputable source such as cannabis shop if marijuana is legal in your state. (Federally, the use of marijuana is illegal, but some states have decriminalized it.)
Look for the milligrams of cannabinoid content in your CBD product, and when beginning a CBD regimen, begin with a very low dose to see how your body reacts.
A note to new CBD users
If you are feeling cautious about consuming CBD, you may want to start with a low dose and aim for an easy way to consume it, such as via CBD muscle rubs, fast-melting lozenges, or taking capsules instead of tinctures. CBD is not psychoactive and is a naturally occurring cannabinoid in the hemp plant. With appropriate extraction methods, you can feel confident that you are consuming a high-quality CBD isolate or broad-spectrum product.