CBD, or cannabidiol, is taking the world by storm. Whether it’s hemp derived or cannabis derived, companies are producing CBD products in droves. This leaves the consumer base with a variety of options, and with curious customers eager to learn more about why CBD is so popular.
What is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid, which is a compound that transmits signals between nerves. Cannabinoids are an essential part of the endocannabinoid system, the largest neurotransmission system in our bodies. Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced in our bodies, but CBD along with THC and 60+ other cannabinoids are ectocannabinoids produced outside of our body in the cannabis plant.
Where does CBD come from?
Cannabis may be the name of the plant, but there are several varieties, all of which produce CBD and THC in varying amounts. Hemp is a variety of cannabis that has very low levels of THC (less than 0.3 percent) and lower levels of CBD compared to the normal cannabis plant.
Why use the hemp plant rather than the cannabis plant?
It’s all about what is legal and illegal. Sourcing CBD from hemp is not the most efficient way to obtain it, as hemp has a much lower concentration of CBD than the cannabis plant. The lower concentration levels of CBD in hemp means that sourcing CBD from hemp requires significantly more extractive processes than CBD sourced from cannabis.
“CBD is safe and effective, but there are a multitude of businesses and companies—some reputable and some not-so reputable—distributing CBD.”
In December 2018, Congress passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the Farm Bill that legalized hemp cultivation, but not cannabis cultivation by removing hemp-derived products from Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act. This makes sourcing CBD from hemp legal, but not from cannabis. The amount of CBD found in hemp is high enough to make sourcing CBD from hemp cost-effective, but the amount of THC in hemp is so low that it is impractical to use hemp to source THC.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that despite the new status of hemp, CBD is still considered a drug ingredient and remains federally illegal to add to food or health products. However, from the widespread availability of hemp derived CBD, the ruminations of the FDA are universally being ignored.
What kind of medical conditions can CBD be used to treat?
Without FDA approval it is illegal to make any medical claims about the use of CBD, but there is a significant amount of research and a veritable mountain range of anecdotal evidence for the ability of CBD to have a positive effect on a wide range of medical problems such as pain, anxiety, depression, PTSD, insomnia, nausea and to eradicate alcohol, opioid, tobacco and other addictions. Significantly reducing inflammation, CBD’s neuroprotective properties mitigate the dangers from concussions and brain injuries. By reducing anxiety and stress, CBD also provides important cardiac and circulatory benefits by lowering blood pressure.
How does THC and CBD differ in medical efficacy?
CBD and THC both provide symptomatic relief for many of the same medical conditions listed above. One of the major differences is that THC has profound psychoactive effects whereas CBD has little if any. However, CBD and THC work together to provide even greater benefits then they do individually as a result of the “entourage effect.” This outcome happens when whole-plant cannabis is used where CBD and THC work synergistically with each other and the other 60+ cannabinoids to produce beneficial effects that are literally greater than the sum of its parts.
Can CBD be used in place of other medications?
The medications that your doctor prescribes have been scientifically shown to effectively treat your condition. CBD will not interfere with other medications, so there is no reason not to use it as a supplement to your doctor prescribed medications. Using CBD in place of your prescribed medications could be hazardous to your health and extreme caution must be exercised in reducing or eliminating their use.
What is the best way to take CBD?
Unlike cannabis, which most people consume by smoking the plant material, the most popular way to ingest CBD is in oil form. CBD oils generally have high concentrations of CBD and can be ingested in a multitude of ways. Commonly they are mixed into foods or beverages. From gummies to gourmet preparations, prepackaged edibles using CBD oils are very popular.
Tinctures made with CBD oil that has been diluted in a vegetable oil are another very well-liked way to consume CBD. A few drops administered sublingually (under the tongue) are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. For those more inclined to want to take their CBD like a standard medicine, capsules containing CBD oil can be taken like a pill. Vape pens loaded with CBD oil are stylish and discreet. Growing rapidly in popularity, many consider them the best way to consume CBD. CBD can also be consumed by smoking cannabis flower that has at high percentage of CBD, but doing so could result in consumption of relatively high amounts of THC as well. Finally, CBD oil can be mixed into balms and lotions and applied topically.
Ultimately, there is no best way to consume CBD. The bottom line is to get CBD into your system. Whatever works for you is what is best.
What is the proper dosage for CBD?
There is no official recommended dosage of CBD. Although such considerations as age, weight, diet, metabolism and sex should be considered, it is best to start low and work your way up to a dose of 25-50 milligrams per day, which should be effective for most conditions.
Starting out by consuming five milligrams per day would be considered safe with individual dosages not exceeding one or two milligrams. The product label tells you how many milligrams of CBD are in a single drop of oil or tincture, in a specific portion of an edible or a single puff if using a vape pen. A tincture will have fewer milligrams per milliliter than concentrated CBD oil. It can get a bit complex in the beginning so buying from a dispensary with knowledgeable sales staff is the best way to start.
How safe is CBD?
CBD is safe and effective, but there are a multitude of businesses and companies—some reputable and some not-so reputable—distributing CBD. In states that legalized medical and/or recreational cannabis, manufacturers are licensed and regulated. Like any other commercial product sold to the public, their products must be tested by independent laboratories for potency and purity.
The only way to be sure you are getting a quality product with known and measured amount of CBD and no other impurities, is to buy a product that has been tested. The bottom line is to read the label and only buy your CBD products from reliable and licensed distributors.
Does CBD show up on drug tests?
It is unlikely that CBD will show up on a drug test, because almost all drug screens test for the metabolites of THC and not CBD. Even if the manufacturer of the product has failed to remove every last trace of THC, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration sets the cutoff level of THC at 50ng/mL. That’s not very much, but should protect a person who is using CBD from failing a drug test just because there was a minuscule amount of THC present in the product they consumed.