CBD is a shortened form of cannabidiol. It is a compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant species, which includes both industrial hemp and marijuana. Although the word ‘cannabis’ deters a few people, it is now widely understood that CBD is worlds away from marijuana.
As the popularity of CBD continues to grow and mentions of it begin to increase, the public is becoming increasingly thirsty for information about CBD. So, if you’re positively clueless about CBD and are looking to find out more, then you’ve come to the right place!
Today, we will be giving you the run-down on all things CBD, including what it is, what it does, and how to take it.
Wait, What Even is CBD?
Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid from the cannabis plant – that’s a lot of ‘canna.’ During the evolution of the cannabis plant, it developed over a hundred compounds unique to its species, which scientists dubbed ‘cannabinoids.’ Some of these have obvious purposes, but many cannabinoids are understudied because they are only ever found in small quantities.
Perhaps the most well-known cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This cannabinoid is psychoactive, meaning it can cause a high. In fact, THC is what causes users of marijuana to get high; after all, marijuana is just one type of cannabis plant. THC probably evolved as a means of deterring predators, because the dizzying intoxication caused by eating the plant would cause the offending animal to stop.
Other cannabinoids serve different functions, but the truth is that we know sadly little about these compounds.
CBD and THC are fairly similar. They have the same molecular formula – C21H30O2 for the science nerds among you – but they react very differently with the human body. For one, CBD is completely non-intoxicating, which means it doesn’t cause a high at all. Nevertheless, CBD could still be able to produce some positive effects on the body.
Where Does CBD Come from?
Above, we said that CBD comes from cannabis; and then we said that marijuana is not the only type of cannabis. So where does CBD come from?
Although it is also found in marijuana, CBD is found in higher quantities in the hemp plant. Industrial hemp enjoys a much more lenient legal status thanks to extremely low quantities of THC. By definition, hemp must contain 0.3% THC by dry weight.
As you probably know, marijuana is illegal in Great Britain. Although restricted, hemp can be grown and is grown quite widely. As a result, all CBD products sold here come from the hemp plant. Namely, the cannabinoid is found in the flowers and leaves, where it is produced. It starts its life out as an acid called CBDa (Cannabidiolic acid), and turns into CBD when heat is applied at a later stage in the manufacturing process.
Producers of CBD products must first grow the hemp, and then dry it out. The flowers then undergo an extraction process; the most common is supercritical CO2 extraction, but some companies use solvent extraction. Once the cannabinoids have been separated from the plant matter and collected, the extract can be added to a number of different products for the enjoyment of consumers.
Is CBD Actually Legal?
Since marijuana is illegal, it goes without saying that products made from it are also illegal. This is due to the risk of a high THC content, which could be used recreationally as a drug.
However, since hemp contains low levels of THC, it can be used to make legal hemp products. In the UK, a CBD product is legal if:
- It comes from an EU-certified strain of hemp
- It contains less than 0.2% THC
- No medicinal claims are made about the product and it is marketed as a food supplement
Luckily, CBD laws are consistent throughout the UK. Whether you are in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, the CBD laws are the same. This is much more than we can say for our American cousins! In America, laws vary by state and can be very complicated, so we will count our lucky stars.
In short, you can rest assured that CBD products in the UK are completely legal as long as they match the above statements.
Why is CBD Used?
CBD became famous after a few cases emerged about young children using CBD for epilepsy. Admittedly, these cases are often misreported and the patient is not using only CBD as a form of treatment. Usually, it is whole-plant medical marijuana – including THC.
Nevertheless, CBD’s newfound fame resulted in people turning to it for health purposes. The World Health Organisation declared in 2017 that CBD is safe and non-toxic. The organisation admitted that the compound might have some health benefits, although it was mentioned that further research is required.
Although nobody can conclusively say that CBD has specific benefits for treating ailments, research is currently positive. Most tests are done on animals, but as trials move to the human stages, we might see CBD popping up more and more in pharmaceuticals. After all, CBD has made large strides in the medical industry, and a synthetic version of the cannabinoid even features in a licensed drug called Sativex.
As for the general public, CBD food supplements are popular because they are rumoured to support general health. Taking a small dose of CBD is said to instil a general sense of wellbeing, reduce stress and anxiety, assist in coping with back pain, help you sleep, and more. In fact, women are even using it for help with PMS.
At the moment, we will have to wait for more conclusive scientific evidence on these matters. But what we can tell you for definite is how CBD works and how it could possibly cause these effects.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD triggers its effects by working with something called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is a biological system which runs throughout the whole body; it can be found in the brain, spinal cord, central nervous system, immune system and the internal organs.
The ECS is a network of receptors which are respondent to cannabinoids. Originally, it was designed to interact with endocannabinoids, which the human body is constantly producing. Endocannabinoids have a similar structure to the cannabinoids found in plants, called phytocannabinoids. This means that plant cannabinoids, such as CBD, can also interact with the endocannabinoid system by working with these receptors.
Scientists have identified two primary cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. Each plays a different role, with the CB1 receptors being located predominantly in the central nervous system and brain, and the CB2 receptors found elsewhere. Endocannabinoids bind with these receptors in order to pass messages throughout the body. When something changes, the ECS is informed, and neurons are then fired which tell the body to adapt.
In this way, the ECS maintains homeostasis – it keeps the body in balance. The ECS is intricately linked to a number of crucial functions, including temperature, mood, sleep, appetite, pain, stress, and more. It is vital to our survival.
At this point, you might be wondering how exactly CBD works. When you consume CBD, it works in a unique way to encourage the production of more endocannabinoids. With more of these messenger molecules in the body, we are able to adapt and change more quickly, and the ECS can keep up with absolutely everything that’s going on. By supporting a healthy ECS, CBD can help to regulate all the functions we talked about above.
Surely, you are now starting to see how CBD might be able to produce the effects that people say it does.
How Do You Take CBD?
If you lead a healthy lifestyle and are looking for a little something extra to keep you in shape, then CBD could be the answer.
No matter who you are, there is a CBD product that will suit you. CBD oils, sometimes called tinctures, are a good place to start. To use them, simply drop a small amount of CBD oil under the tongue, and wait for 1-2 minutes before swallowing. The CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the ECS via the blood vessels in the mouth. This method is effective and pretty fast-acting.
Other options include cooking with CBD, or even buying pre-made edibles such as gummies. Capsules are a tasteless option that provide complete ease of use. Some people prefer to vape CBD, and others prefer to use CBD topicals and muscle rubs as part of their work out routine.
Trust us when we say that CBD is in everything. You will be able to find something that suits you without a doubt. Wait – did someone say CBD beer?!
Final Thoughts on the CBD Compound
CBD is a bit of a mystery. There is an astounding lack of research on the compound to date, but this is sure to change with cannabidiol’s growing popularity. We already know that it is safe and that it has some sort of positive effect on the human body, but the extent of its beneficial applications is yet to be discovered.
Hopefully, more research will come to light in the future which allows for more effective uses of CBD. For now, the public is free to use CBD safely and legally as long as it comes from hemp. There are plenty of brands out there to try, and even more products to enjoy.