What is CBD? A Primer for Beginners

CBD: What is it?

CBD is all the rage these days. If you haven’t heard about it yet, you’re not paying attention. You can’t go anywhere without reading or hearing some advertisement touting its miraculous health benefits. CBD products are now showing up in everything from beverages, gummies, and pet products, to shampoos, lotions and beard oils. Popular retail stores like Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS have even started selling CBD products in their stores. According to a recent report done by the BrightField Group, CBD is growing so rapidly that it has the potential to be a $22 billion industry by 2022.

Is CBD a miracle cure for everything that ails us? Will its adoption put all the pharmaceutical companies out of business? Of course not, but CBD does have its therapeutic effects, with little to no side effects, for treating a variety of conditions.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a natural, non-intoxicating compound, and just one of over a hundred phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It is closely related to another phytocannabinoid also found in cannabis, Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. THC is the compound that causes the “high” that cannabis is known for. However, unlike THC, CBD has little to no psychoactive effects. This means that by taking CBD, you will not feel “stoned” or experience the same psychoactive effects that a person would get using THC.

Read Related Post: Myths About CBD

How does it work?

The human body has a vital biological system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which it uses to help maintain homeostasis, or balance within the body. As part of the ECS, our bodies naturally synthesize their own cannabinoids, or endocannabinoids. Further, our bodies contain cannabinoid receptors which are involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.

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These receptors can be activated by the endocannabinoids naturally produced by the human body, as well as by phytocannabinoids (like those found in hemp or cannabis). Generally these receptors are grouped in two main categories: CB1 and CB2.

CB1 receptors are mainly found in the brain and are responsible for dealing with things like pain, movement coordination, cognitive abilities (thinking, memory), appetite and emotions. CB2 receptors are found in the immune system and have an effect on pain and inflammation.

Once CBD enters the body, it triggers these receptors and stimulates the body to create more of its own cannabinoids, thus helping to body to maintain it’s overall well being and producing the beneficial effects experienced by those who use it .

What are the health benefits?

CBD has been shown to have a multitude of benefits in many areas of both physical and mental health. Some of the many potential health and wellness benefits of CBD include:

  • Reducing pain and inflammation
  • Reducing the severity of muscle spasms
  • Improving sleep
  • Reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Enhancing mood and memory
  • Reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Alleviating nausea and vomiting
  • PMS and menstrual cramps

One condition which has garnered significant sudy and attention is epilepsy. After reviewing the effectiveness of CBD oil for treating epilepsy, the FDA approved the use of CBD (Epidiolex) as a therapy for two rare conditions characterized by epileptic seizures, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, in 2018.

Although, there is great potential for CBD as a game-changing way to approach a broad range of conditions, additional research is needed. As a result of the rise in popularity for CBD, we can most likely expect more studies and human, clinical trials in the near future to help fully understand and appreciate its overall effects and benefits.

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How do I take CBD?

There are four common ways to take CBD: orally, sublingually, topically and by inhaling it. Which method you choose depends on personal preference and how quickly you need the CBD to take effect. CBD is absorbed in the body differently with each method, so it’s important to carefully weigh which method will provide you with the most benefit.

Common methods of taking CBD
  • Orally – Ingesting CBD orally is the easiest way to take it. This method typically involves taking the CBD in the form of a pill, capsule or through CBD infused beverages and foods. However, because it requires passing through the digestive system first before being absorbed into the bloodstream, this method can take a few hours before feeling the desired effect.
  • Sublingually – Similar to the oral method, CBD taken sublingually or as a tincture is an oral method of quicker absorbtion in the body by using a dropper and placing a small dosage of the CBD directly under the tongue and holding it there for 1-2 minutes so that it can be absorbed. Typically after taking CBD sublingually effects should be felt within an hour.
  • Topically – Lotions or creams infused with CBD can be applied to targeted areas on the skin to treat sore muscles, arthritis pain, skin conditions, etc. Taken topically, the CBD can take up to an hour to feel the effect but last several hours.
  • Inhaling – Inhaled CBD is usually done by using a vape device or pen. Using this method, the CBD is absorbed through the lungs quickly, having an almost immediate effect. While this is the quickest method to get CBD into the bloodstream, it also stays in the body for the shortest period of time. This means that you will have to take additional doses for continued effect.

RELATED: Different Ways To Consume CBD and Understanding the Benefits and Basics of Vaping CBD.

How much should I take?

The topic of how much CBD one should take lives in a bit of a grey area. The FDA does not currently provide dosage guidelines and what works for one person won’t necessarily be the same for another. That is, the appropriate CBD dosage varies depending on the person’s body weight and the specific benefit that he or she is hoping to achieve. Doses are measured in milligrams and can range from 2.5 to hundreds per day. Talk with your physician first before beginning any CBD regimen and begin at a low dosage and gradually increase it until you reach your optimal result.

RELATED: How to Find the Right CBD Dosage For Your Needs

Are there any side effects?

For the most part, the side effects of using CBD are minimal. According to the World Health Organization, or WHO, “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.

There are some common side effects which can include dry mouth, diarrhea, and reduced appetite. CBD can also cause increased drowsiness and fatigue when taken in large doses. CBD may also interact with other medications you are using. Therefore, it’s important to consult with your physician if you plan to use a CBD product.

Is it legal?

Currently, the answer is … it depends. Depending on from where the CBD is derived and your state’s legalized marijuana laws.

CBD can be derived from hemp or marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis. Hemp is simply the common and legal term for cannabis that contains less than .3% THC, and marijuana is the common and legal term for cannabis that contains .3% and more THC.

Hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 states.

CBD derived from marijuana is still federally illegal and only legal if your state has legalized marijuana laws.

Most of the CBD products available to the general public are derived from hemp. With hemp CBD products, you have access to the health benefits of cannabis, without the risk of intoxication from high levels of THC.

Do I need a prescription?

Although you should always consult your personal physician before taking any new product to treat a health issue, the answer is No. A prescription for CBD is not needed as long as the CBD is sourced from hemp.

How and where do I buy CBD?

As discussed earlier, CBD products are quickly becoming available in many well known chain drug stores and pharmacies. Local CBD shops are becoming more frequent and buying CBD online is as popular as ever. There are numerous companies selling a wide range of CBD products via the web and it’s easy to become confused with all the options available.

What are some things you should do before deciding to buy a CBD product?

First, it’s important to do your own research and decide what type of CBD product may work best for you. CBD is not a miracle, cure all treatment for every medical condition. We recommend talking with your physician first, as a starting point, to make sure CBD is a viable option for you.

Secondly, it’s important to buy from reputable companies that have established brands and have their products tested by an independent third party lab . Doing so will ensure sure you are getting leigitmate, quality CBD. Check the ingredient labels of any CBD you are thinking about purchasing to make sure it contains cannabidiol. Some companies advertise their product as CBD but it actually contains hemp seed oil which is not the same. Not all CBD is created equal. With little to no oversight or guidelines in place in regards to manufacturing and marketing of products, you must be careful when making a buying decision in order to avoid poor quality CBD.

RELATED: Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil. What is the difference?

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