What Is CBD? Cannabidiol 101
Its Effects and Benefits, Explained
Cannabidiol, most commonly called CBD, is a compound found in both cannabis and hemp plants. More specifically, it's called a cannabinoid. Other common cannabinoids include THC, CBG, and CBN. THC, which is the abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol, and cannabidiol are the two most common and best-understood cannabinoids. Though they exist side-by-side, these compounds interact with the human body in unique ways.
Cannabidiol Is Sourced from Hemp
What is CBD? Though known as a cannabinoid, i.e. a cannabis compound, legal CBD oil, and other products are derived from hemp. Though hemp and cannabis are biologically related and may appear similar at first glance, hemp does not produce the same psychoactive effects as cannabis.
Beyond modern-day CBD benefits, hemp has been used for thousands of years as raw material, food source, and more.
What Is CBD’s Legal Status?
Under European Union law, hemp farming and processing of crops with lower than 0.2 percent THC are legal in all states.This follows a World Health Organization report that states that there are no health risks to taking CBD. However, the E.U. does not require states to allow the sale of CBD. As a result, the availability of cannabidiol varies across Europe.
CBD Benefits Are Wide-Ranging
For most people, the benefit of taking CBD is its ability to maintain a sense of balance within the systems of the human body.
Keep in mind that the EU has classified cannabidiol as a "novel food." This means that it wasn't frequently used prior to 1997 and, as a result, research surrounding it is in its preliminary stages.
Cannabidiol Does Not Produce a High
No, it is not possible to feel a high after ingesting just CBD.
Unlike psychoactive THC, which produces a high, CBD interacts with the human body in a fundamentally different way. In other words, CBD is safe to take throughout the day, at work or before bed without worrying about negative effects.
Additionally, because legal CBD is sourced from hemp that contains less than 0.2 percent THC, you cannot accidentally consume enough THC to produce any unwanted effects.
What is CBD in contrast to THC? CBD, THC, and all other cannabinoids interact with the body through a major biological system known as the endocannabinoid system.
Generally, the endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis within the body. This means balancing biological processes as they respond to external elements.
Discovering the Endocannabinoid System
Compared to the reproductive system, nervous system, circulatory system and all other major networks in the human body, the endocannabinoid system is a relatively new area of study.
Though no less essential than other biological systems, the endocannabinoid system was only discovered in 1992. Research into the effects of cannabis led to its discovery. That's what the endocannabinoid system is named after: cannabinoids; "Endo," which means inside.
The Endocannabinoid System's Three Main Components
How exactly does the endocannabinoid system work? It’s primarily made up of the following three elements:
Two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB-1 and CB-2, occur throughout the peripheral and central nervous systems. More specifically, these receptors exist in the immune system, kidneys, liver, brain, gastrointestinal system, and beyond.
Otherwise known as the cannabinoids which the human body naturally produces, endocannabinoids affect how the body experiences pain, memory, appetite, immunity, mood and more.
They exert their influence within the human body by binding to endocannabinoid receptors.
EnzymesOnce an endocannabinoid has played its role in maintaining homeostasis within a specific part of the human body, an enzyme fatty acid will degrade it, according to research published in Pharmacological Reviews.
How CBD Affects the Endocannabinoid System
CBD benefits exist because the human body already contains the receptors to which the cannabinoid can bind.
But compared to the body's naturally-occurring endocannabinoids, cannabinoids often function for longer periods of time. Some experts believe that CBD produces its effects by stimulating the endocannabinoid system rather than producing those effects itself.
A Short History of CBD
If CBD can have such profound and beneficial effects on the human body, why has its use and research been restricted for over fifty years?
For a long time, hemp and cannabis were not legally distinct. In other words, because of restrictions on psychoactive cannabis and THC, research and applications of CBD suffered.
Hemp's Ancient History
By some estimates, hemp is one of the world's oldest crops. Instances of hemp cultivation date back to 4,000 BCE in China. Europe, the Middle East, and Russia all have hundreds of years of history of hemp farming. It was a common material for canvas and key for producing sails, as well as for paper, rope, and textiles.
Hemp Prohibition Across the Western World
Between the 1920s and 1960s, European states slowly banned cannabis and classified it as a drug. As was the case in the United States, hemp prohibition remained prevalent largely until the 21st century.
Today, hemp farming is legal across most of Europe and legally distinct from cannabis.
Four Ways to Take CBD
What is the best way to take CBD? Cannabidiol comes in many forms and can be added to foods, drinks or taken on its own as a tincture or pill. Here are the four most common ways that people take CBD, each with its own benefits.
CBD oil, otherwise known as a tincture, is a liquid that contains a concentrated amount of cannabidiol. Tinctures are placed and held under the tongue for a minute or longer.
Tinctures are one the fastest ways to experience CBD benefits. More specifically, this is because tinctures have high levels of bioavailability. This means that a large percentage of CBD will enter the bloodstream if taken as an oil.
As a tincture, CBD can have a strong, earthy flavor. However, CBD oil may also be available in different flavors.
Lotions, creams and CBD balms are another popular way to experience CBD benefits. They often come in a variety of concentrations. These balms are ideal for assuaging topical, localized discomfort and easy to apply throughout the day.
Vaping CBD is another common method of ingestion. Not only are vapes faster acting than some other methods, but some find them to be more convenient. They often come in a variety of flavors, too.
Another popular way to experience CBD benefits, edibles are one of the tastiest and most discreet methods of ingestion. The most common type of edible is CBD gummies. CBD edibles are also easy to dose since each edible will have the same amount of cannabidiol.
Edibles are more likely to contain artificial flavors, preservatives, and excess sugar. This is why it’s key to look for organic and vegan options.
What to Look for When Choosing CBD
No matter what type of cannabidiol you choose, the best way to experience the effects you want is to check for these elements.
Is It Third-Party Lab Tested?
Third-party lab testing is the only way to ensure that a product actually contains what it announces on the label. This means checking CBD and THC content, as well as other additives.
Where Is It From?
Hemp is farmed throughout the world, which means that it can be sourced from anywhere. The best way to make sure that you're consuming hemp subject to your country's health and safety laws is to choose products grown within Europe.
What Type of CBD Is It?
The most common types of CBD: full-spectrum and isolate.
- CBD isolate does not contain any other plant fiber, oils or compounds. Many believe that isolate does not produce the same quality experience because it does not benefit from the Entourage Effect: when hemp compounds exist side-by-side, their effects are more beneficial.
- Full-spectrum cannabidiol includes other terpenes, cannabinoids, and oils that amplify CBD's benefits. Though it also contains trace amounts of THC, these are not enough to produce any psychoactive side-effects.