You’ve seen CBD on store shelves, and maybe you choose recreational strains with higher levels of it. But what is CBD exactly, and why do so many people love tinctures, oils, and capsules made from this extract?
What Is CBD?
There are hundreds of compounds in the cannabis plant, and one of them is CBD. It’s short for cannabidiol, and it’s the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis called cannabinoids. Unlike the most prevalent active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, CBD is not psychoactive; this means it won’t get you high. However, CBD could work in the body in ways that promote health and wellness.
Why Do People Use CBD?
CBD has long been touted as a product with many wellness benefits. There’s only one CBD medication currently approved; this is called Epidiolex, and doctors use it to treat certain kinds of epilepsy. However, many users turn to CBD supplements for a wide range of reputed therapeutic benefits, including:
- Relaxation and stress reduction: CBD is commonly found as oils and edibles that say they will impart feelings of relaxation and calm. It calms down the nervous system so that the body is not always in its “fight or flight” mode.
- Treating chronic pain: While more human research is needed, much evidence points to CBD being an effective treatment option for some kinds of chronic pain. One European study applied CBD on the skin (using an animal model) and found it could help lower arthritis-related inflammation. Another study showed how CBD could inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain, which are both hard to treat.
- Insomnia: Studies show that CBD might help with sleep disorders like insomnia. Many people take it to help them fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Cancer-related symptoms: Cancer treatment comes with many harsh side effects. CBD may help reduce some of the symptoms related to cancer treatment, including nausea, vomiting and pain.
- Acne treatment: It’s true – CBD might even be an effective acne fighter! Acne is often caused by the overproduction of sebum, an oily secretion that otherwise moisturizes the skin. CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory properties and reported ability to reduce sebum production may help people treat and eliminate acne.
As you can see, the purported benefits have a lot of people turning to CBD. But how does it work on the body?
How Does CBD Work On The Body?
There’s a very scientific reason behind CBD’s therapeutic benefits (and THC’s psychoactive ones). It starts with nerves, as everyone has a series of cannabinoid receptors across the nervous system. Collectively, we refer to these receptors as the endocannabinoid system (ECS); it acts as a signalling system to control the functions of the central nervous system, including mood and appetite. The ECS is necessary for keeping the nervous system in homeostasis, a stable state where all the functions work in harmony.
To support homeostasis, the body produces neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids that bind to these receptors. It’s a word that sounds similar to another term we used up top: cannabinoid. It’s because the body produces compounds similar to THC and CBD to work with the ECS and regulate the nervous system (because they are produced internally, they get the prefix endo attached). The cannabinoids you get from cannabis (known as phytocannabinoids) have a different impact on the body.
You may know how THC affects these receptors – it creates the high and other effects, including the munchies. CBD works more subtly; while it won’t get you high, it may have wellness effects. Studies have shown that CBD may work by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, interacting with the neurotransmitters in ways that reduce inflammation.
Are There Any Side Effects To Using CBD Products?
There are few side effects of CBD use, but it’s important to know what they are. They can include fatigue, irritability, and nausea; it can also increase the level in your blood of the blood thinner coumadin. It can raise levels of certain other medications in your blood, much like citrus fruits like grapefruit. If you’re taking medications, always consult with your doctor before taking CBD products.
Where Do We Get The CBD On The Market?
While CBD comes from the plant Cannabis sativa – the one responsible for your favourite strains – it comes from one of its subspecies: hemp. You probably know hemp as a material used for rope, fabric, and other non-smokables, but it also makes most of the CBD products you’ll find on store shelves.
Both recreational cannabis and hemp plants contain CBD, but there’s a much higher percentage in hemp, which also has low THC levels (less than 0.3%) compared to recreational cannabis. For companies making CBD products, it makes a lot of sense to use hemp!
You might also see products like hemp oil or hemp hearts; these are health and wellness products derived from the seeds of the hemp plant. You won’t find any cannabinoids – THC or CBD – in them. However, hemp oil is packed with healthy fats and is frequently included in beauty products because it has many moisturizing benefits!