What is CBD? Everything You Should Know (Complete Guide)
What is CBD?
CBD is the short form of cannabidiol. It is a chemical compound known for a variety of health benefits. Cannabidiols are naturally found abundantly in a plant genus called cannabis. Two of the commonly known plant species under the cannabis genus are Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. CBD can be derived from either the hemp plant which belongs only to Cannabis Sativa species or from the marijuana plant which may belong to either of the two mentioned species.
Although pure CBD, whether derived from the hemp plant or marijuana plant, has the same properties, the source of extraction does make a difference when there are other compounds accompanying CBD in the final extract. Let us have a look at how hemp-derived CBD can be different from marijuana-derived CBD.
Difference between Hemp-Derived CBD and Marijuana Derived CBD
As mentioned above, the properties of pure CBD, devoid of other chemical compounds, are not affected by the source of extraction. Whether derived from the flowers of marijuana or hemp plant, it has the same properties. However, there is a catch,
Most CBD products, like CBD oils and tinctures, are rarely CBD alone. These are mostly full-spectrum products which means they do contain other chemical compounds found in the source besides CBD.
Now here, the compound that makes most of the difference is THC. The marijuana plant is high in the concentration of THC as compared to the hemp plant. THC is a psychoactive compound. This means it can create a high when consumed above certain levels. It is because of this psychoactive property of THC that the cultivation of marijuana is prohibited in many states of the USA. THC falls under the category of Controlled Substances according to the Farm Bill of 2018. Marijuana contains as much as 30% of THC per dry weight. Hence, extraction and sale of CBD products from marijuana flowers are prohibited in many states though, some states do allow its cultivation for medicinal purposes.
On the other hand, hemp flowers contain very low to zero content of THC. In most cases, the THC in hemp-derived CBD is not above the allowed limit of 0.3%. This makes hemp a preferable source of extraction for CBD because CBD by itself is a non-psychoactive compound. Hence, the cultivation of hemp and extraction of CBD from it is legally allowed by federal law.
How CBD Works?
The health benefits associated with CBD cannot be understood fully until we understand;
- What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?
- How CBD acts on our endocannabinoid system i.e. ECS.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
- We have a system of neurotransmitters and receptors in our body that helps us maintain a stable internal state regardless of how the outer world is changing. It helps us maintain stable body mechanisms without being too much affected by changes in the environment. This system is called the endocannabinoid system, ECS.
- Although these receptors are distributed in our entire body, their highest concentration exists in our central and peripheral nervous system along with our immune system. Our ECS helps these systems collaborate with each other. This in turn controls such important body functions as sleep, mood, body temperature, a feeling of pain and pleasure, memory, hunger, and fertility to name just a few. Whenever the internal balance gets disrupted, the ECS system releases endocannabinoids, nature’s agents to restore the balance.
How CBD Acts on Our ECS System?
- There are instances when the ECS system becomes so overwhelmed with the internal changes that it fails to restore the balance. Here, CBD can help.
- The CBD does not act directly on the endocannabinoid system as the psychoactive agents do.
- Rather it just helps the ECS system to start producing the natural cannabinoids. Besides, it stops the breakdown of cannabinoids inside the body and keeps them alive for longer. Hence, it actually helps our body work better on its own by rejuvenating our ECS system.
Also Read : Common Misconceptions about CBD
Health Benefits of CBD
Before we explore the benefits associated with the use of CBD, it is important to know that it is being sold as a dietary supplement i.e. an over-the-counter supplement, and hence does not completely get backed by FDA. However, recent years have seen a huge increase in its use and there is immense research being carried out around the globe for the health benefits it offers. But there is still a lot more to be discovered before CBD can be officially acknowledged by regulatory authorities as a miracle drug.
Some of the benefits associated with CBD after a thorough, but ongoing, research on this compound are enlisted here;
It Helps Treat Epilepsy
The single medical condition for which the FDA has so far approved the use of CBD based medication is epilepsy. After thorough research, it was found that CBD is very helpful in treating specifically the two rare forms of epilepsy;
- Epilepsy resulting from the Dravet Syndrome, and
- That resulting from Lennox-Gastrault
People suffering from seizures due to these two rare forms of epilepsy were given CBD medications.it was found to significantly reduce the incidence of epilepsy. After the promising results of the research, FDA approved and regulates the use of CBD based medicines for these two types of epilepsy. The CBD based medicine used for these two conditions is Edidiolex.
Although, more research is still needed to understand the exact mechanism through which CBD helps against them. The initial researches suggest that it does so by affecting a receptor called the transient receptor.
Moreover, adding CBD to commonly used antiepileptic drugs also helps against the treatment of epilepsy in infants, young children, and teenagers.
It Relieves Chronic Pain and Inflammation
Recent years have seen a significant and sudden increase in the use of CBD for relieving pain and inflammation. The consumers have reported a considerable decrease in chronic pain and inflammation with regular use of CBD based alternative medicine. However, more research is needed to fully approve its use as an effective drug against pain. Two of the initial, small scale researches conducted on small groups of people show very positive results;
- The usefulness of CBD against chronic pain was investigated in a study involving random patients suffering from non-cancer neuropathic pain of legs. In the study, some participants were given 250 mg CBD dissolved in 3oz oil while others were given a placebo. After a month, those who received CBD based oil reported that the pain and feeling of itchiness and cold have been considerably reduced. Those who received the placebo didn’t report any change. There weren’t any side effects reported by any of the two groups. However, this research involved only 29 participants and there is a need for carrying out broader and deeper researches in this regard.
- In the second research, a spray containing a mixture of CD and THC with a 1:1 ratio was used. It was sprayed in the back of the mouth of those suffering from non-cancer chronic pain. The results were positive. in another research, the same spray was found to relieve the inflammation as well. However, these are based on 15 weeks of follow-up time. There needs to be more research in order to learn about the long term effects of CBD on pain.
It Helps Against Anxiety
A study suggests that CBD medication used before an event of high anxiety can help bring down the anxiety level in humans. The participants of a public speaking event reported feeling less anxious once they received a CBD based medicine before the event. According to the studies, it is believed that CBD helps reduce anxiety by affecting serotonin receptors.
It Helps Against Inflammation of Skin
Cannabinoids are known to improve overall skin health according to some studies. These are found to be effective against cancer, aging, itching, and inflammation. Cannabinoids help improve the functioning of ECS receptors found in the skin and help them fight against inflammation, cancer, and aging.
Some of the studies conducted on cells show proof of CBD acting on sebaceous glands and helping reduce acne. Some of the skin conditions that might be improved by using CBD include psoriasis, skin cancer, inflammation, acne, dermatitis, and aging.
It Helps Against Neurological Disorders
CBD is being used in some parts of the world as a prevention and treatment against some neurological problems. CBD along with THC is used as a drug to treat spasticity in some patients. Although the way it works is still not completely known. Studies are being conducted on animals that show positive impacts of CBD against some neurological disorders. Studies need to be conducted for confirming similar impacts on humans. The parts of the world where hemp or marijuana cultivation is legal are capable of conducting the research. The illegal status of these plants in certain countries hampers thorough research. According to some researches conducted in various parts of the globe, CBD can help against the following neurological disorders;
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Huntington’s disease
How to Take CBD?
There are literally innumerable ways in which CBD can be taken today. Depending upon the purpose of its use, a huge variety of CBD products can be easily obtained as over the counter supplements. CBD is literally found as every single type of product and has found its way in our households not just as a medication but as a whole way of life. Enlisted here are just a few ways among many in which it can be used;
- Pharmaceutical products e.g. CBD capsules
- CBD cosmetics like creams, lotions, balms, etc
- CBD vape juices
- CBD wraps
- CBD edible oil
- CBD bath salts and soaps
- CBD inhalers
Side Effects of CBD Based Products
Although, any serious or long term side effects of CBD products have not been reported so far, still, the lack of thorough research implies that you consult your doctor before using such products. It may adversely affect some people and be completely harmless to others. Moreover, the medications someone might be taking already needs to be taken into consideration before using any alternative medicine.
Some people might feel fatigued, lethargic, and drowsy after the continuous use of CBD medication. Moreover, CBD sprays may cause dryness in the mouth. Some people may not tolerate it very well and it may cause diarrhea.