What can and can’t CBD do?
If you ask ten people what they think CBD does to or for your body, you’ll likely get ten different answers. There are a lot of misconceptions about what CBD is, where it comes from, what it does in the body, and how to take it. In this article, we’ll attempt to clear things up.
What is CBD, and what is it made from?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical compound that can be derived from two types of cannabis plants: hemp and marijuana. CBD derived from the marijuana plant is only legal where marijuana is legal. However, the 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp from the U.S. government’s list of controlled substances, paving the way for the legal sale of hemp-derived CBD with less than .3% THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the same ingredient in marijuana that gets you high but at such a low amount that the risk of getting high is extremely low) in the majority of states in the U.S. This is why CBD sourced from the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant is the most popular and most widely available, even though CBD from both plants are the same on a molecular level.
Industrial hemp is another variant of the Cannabis family and a close cousin of marijuana with similar chemical makeup but a significantly higher quantity of CBD. CBD is densely present in the hemp plant’s leaves, stalk, and buds. The base material is harvested, dried, and processed using different extraction methods. Crude CBD contains all types of natural substances, including waxes, THC, vegetable fats, oils, and other phytonutrients which are removed by the process of crystallization and chromatography.
I see gummies and tinctures featuring hemp oil – is that the same as CBD oil?
CBD and hemp oil are not the same. While hemp oil is derived from the same hemp plant, hemp oil comes from hemp seeds only and does not contain cannabinoids. CBD comes from the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant.
What has caused the sudden popularity of CBD?
The short answer: a growing amount of research linking CBD to positive effects on wellness. Thousands of studies suggest that CBD has antioxidant and neuroprotective properties among other benefits. Much of the positive research stems from the fact that CBD interacts with the human endocannabinoid systems.
Let’s take a quick look at what the ECS is–
The Endocannabinoid System
ECS, or the endocannabinoid system, plays a critical role in the human body. It is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body, and its receptors are spread across the brain endocrine system and the immune system. It is known to be the master regulator of the body with two common receptors known as CB1 and CB2. The human body produces endogenous cannabinoids that interact with these receptors to carry out the most important physiological functions, including growth development, metabolism, memory, reproduction, learning, cognition, etc. Interestingly, these endogenous cannabinoids are not programmed to stay for a long time in the body, which explains how and why cannabinoid therapy could be a safer alternative to opioids and NSAIDs. CBD indirectly interacts with the CB2 receptors, which bind to anandamide, one of the endocannabinoids produced by the lipid membranes of our cells. However, CBD is safe as it does not directly bind to the receptors but boosts the uptake of anandamide so the ECS can perform its function optimally.
If CBD can be made from the same plant that marijuana is derived from, will I get high?
Even though full-spectrum (more on that later) CBD contains trace amounts of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the main element also found in marijuana that is responsible for altering the state of mind and producing psychoactive effects, federally legal CBD does not contain enough THC to make you high. The subtle difference in the chemical makeup of THC and CBD makes them quite different from each other. Interestingly CBD can reduce the psychoactive effect produced by THC – not only this, but it can also lessen the appetite-inducing and sedative effect of THC.
CBD is available in three different types of extracts:
Full-spectrum CBD: It is the whole plant extract of cannabis Sativa or industrial hemp containing all essential phytocannabinoids and phytonutrients, including THC, CBD, CBG, CBC, CBN, terpenes, flavonoids, and healthy fatty acids.
Broad-spectrum CBD: Broad-spectrum CBD is very similar to full-spectrum CBD containing all essential phytochemicals but stripped of all THC content.
CBD Isolate: CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, containing more than 99% of CBD only. It is the most potent form of CBD extract, which is quite helpful for improving the overall functions of the ECS.
What about addiction? Can I become addicted to CBD?
Short answer: No. As mentioned earlier, CBD does not directly bind to the CB1 (those responsible for addictions) or CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. It boosts the uptake of anandamide by blocking the degradation enzyme FAAH or fatty acid amide hydrolase. FAAH is programmed to degrade anandamide as soon as it has performed its function. With CBD’s intervention, anandamide is retained in the body to be used again. The indirect interaction of CBD with the receptors makes it non-addictive and safer than other cannabinoids of Cannabis.
Okay, so if I can’t get high or addicted, what can CBD do?
CBD has been touted for a wide range of health benefits, but the most substantial scientific evidence proves that it could be pretty helpful for childhood epilepsy syndromes. In fact, the FDA has now approved a medicine for the treatment of children suffering from Lennox-gastrault syndrome and Dravet syndrome: Epidiolex – the first FDA-approved cannabis-derived medicine.
Can CBD really help with sleep?
While there is no clear scientific evidence to prove that CBD directly affects our sleep-wake cycle, preliminary studies show that ECS has a role in maintaining a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Other health issues like pain, anxiety, depression, and inflammation significantly affect our sleep patterns. As CBD can positively interfere with the pathways of these physiological responses, it can have a positive effect on the sleep-wake cycle. The relaxing effect of CBD also improves the chances of restful deep sleep. The research indicates that CBD can in fact help achieve more restful sleep with fewer interruptions to sleep.
CBD has the ability to interact with the serotonin receptors of our brain. Serotonin is one of the most critical neurotransmitters whose primary function is to improve our feelings of wellbeing and stabilize our mood. It forms a strong connection between the brain cells and nervous system cells and regulates other mechanisms such as eating, sleeping, and digestion. Its ample amount in the blood can help deal with anxiousness and blues. CBD doesn’t make you produce more serotonin but it can help your body make better use of the serotonin it already has.
But I’ve taken CBD before and didn’t notice anything – what gives?
CBD, especially in the low doses generally offered in gummies, is not likely to produce profound effects on initial consumption.
Even though CBD is quite helpful for improving the body’s overall function, it’s not known for providing big, noticeable effects. If you have taken CBD a few times and it doesn’t seem to make a difference, be patient and let the new compound circulate in your body. Your daily dose may take a few weeks to show its effect. Moreover, if you’ve eaten a CBD gummy before, you likely received between 10mg and 25mg of CBD. That may be enough to notice an effect for some people, but for most, a higher dose will be necessary. Since CBD is not associated with any severe side effects, you can increase the amount over time and check yourself closely to monitor how it is affecting you.
CBD dosing is a personal experience, and there is no universal dose that works for everybody. The effect of a CBD dose depends on the source of the CBD product (from hemp or marijuana, with trace amounts of THC or not, grown in the USA or overseas, etc.), potency, and individual CBD tolerance. CBD dosage is expressed in milligrams, and it is usually directly related to the body weight and condition you are suffering from. Generally, 50 mg of CBD dose split in 2 or 3 servings is considered enough for sleep and anxiety issues. You may need higher doses such as 500 mg for pain. However, CBD dosage is still an active research area, and we need more high-quality solid studies to determine appropriate dosing, efficacy, and safety guidelines.
What else impacts the effects I’ll notice?
There are some other factors that influence the performance of the CBD dose we take. Here are a few of them:
Different types and levels of pain
The short answer: There is some research that indicates CBD may be able to help reduce pain, especially when applied topically, but the fact is, we need additional research and there is not currently high-quality research supporting the use of CBD alone for the treatment of pain.
CBD and other off-the-shelf pain relievers work quite differently. They interact with different receptors and offer relief from different types of pain. Undoubtedly, opioids and NSAIDs are more potent and effective in blocking the pain signals, but they come with numerous serious side effects. Opioids are known to affect the G-protein coupled receptors class, whereas CBD interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the ECS and adregenic receptors. Since these compounds hit different receptors, they produce different results.
If you do try CBD for pain relief, know that it will likely take a high dosage or topical application and consistent consumption over time. And even then, CBD might indirectly help with pain management as we’ll learn below in relation to inflammation.
Inflammation and neuropathic pain
CBD has been shown to be particularly helpful for neuropathic pain and inflammation. CB2 receptors of the ECS are concentrated in the immune system cells like macrophages and neutrophils. Even though inflammation is a positive response of the body, too much inflammation could be damaging. The indirect interaction of CBD with CB2 receptors can be helpful for reducing inflammatory responses of the body, such as rash and swelling.
Method of delivery
CBD dosing can also be affected by the method of delivery. CBD can be consumed through different products such as gummies, tinctures, vapes, capsules, topicals, sprays, etc. Tinctures and vapes are the quickest delivery methods as they take the dose directly into the bloodstream. However, its effect fades off as quickly as it is formed. CBD edibles like gummies and capsules may take three to four hours to show the result, but their impact is long-lasting. Oral doses have to pass through the digestive system and metabolic pathway before reaching the bloodstream, so they take longer to be effective.
Consistency and amount of time consuming
If you are taking CBD to improve your overall well-being, you may only notice changes when you stop taking your daily dose. Moreover, remember that our body is a complex entity with everything interconnected to each other. If your ECS deviates from normal operating levels it may require some time to bring it back up. You will have to be very consistent with the cannabinoid therapy and carry on with your daily dose until your body has effusively embraced it.
To understand the concept, let’s take the example of iron and vitamin B12 supplements. If you are anemic of B12 deficiency and take your supplement regularly, even then, you will wait for weeks or months to get back on the standard operating levels.
Other ingredients in the product
Some gummies and oral products available in the market also include herbs that impact how you feel. Top shelf gummies that contain high-quality CBD may also have high-quality herbs to enhance and complement the effects of the CBD. If you notice an immediate impact after ingesting a gummy, for example, it’s possible that the effect you noticed initially actually came from another ingredient.
Other factors to consider
● Your body composition
● Foods consumed
● Stress levels
Things to keep in mind when evaluating whether CBD actually had an effect on you or not:
● What are you trying to achieve?
● How much did you take?
● What was your delivery method?
● How consistently have you been taking it?
● Timing – When do you take it in relation to when you expect results?
Should you give CBD a try?
If you decide to try CBD, make sure to choose a high-quality CBD product made with USA-grown hemp. The hemp plant can easily be contaminated with heavy metals, chemical pesticides, etc. – so it’s important to make sure to check the ingredients list and choose a provider that presents recent third-party lab reports and certificates of analysis (COAs). To be sure, COAs can vary – look to see that the lab has tested for heavy metals, pesticides and that the product actually contains the amount and type of CBD intended before purchase.
We’re working on a “How to read and interpret certificates of analysis” blog post. Check back soon to check it out.
And remember that you aren’t likely to notice immediate effects so purchase enough to consume enough mg of CBD for your desired effect and to build your ECS over time.