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What is CBD?

Mother Nature has created a wonderful plant and CBD is an interesting compound, with many potential benefits, but there is lots of information and misinformation out there on the Internet. If you’re preparing to try CBD, please read the suggestions below.

The best way to describe the feeling of taking CBD is an absence of negative feelings, whether that’s pain, anxiety, or stress. CBD helps you feel calm.  It can quiet a busy mind.

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound from the Cannabis sativa plant, which is also known as hemp.  It's a naturally occurring substance that's used in products like oils and edibles to impart a feeling of relaxation and calm. Unlike its cousin, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the major active ingredient in marijuana, CBD is not psychoactive. Hemp and Marijuana are part of the same family of plants, but they are not the same.  CBD is generally made from the hemp plant, not the marijuana plant though it can be made from both. THC, specifically Delta-9 THC, is the psychoactive molecule that causes the feeling of getting high, but at low doses it helps to reduce pain. CBD, on the other hand, it works to reduce the effects of THC.  CBD works to reduce anxiety caused by too much THC.

Cannabinoids, which can be either consumed or produced naturally by the body (endocannabinoid), are chemical compounds that interact with the body’s central regulatory system. This central system helps to keep our bodies balanced day to day, including: appetite, pain sensation, mood, memory, immune system functions, and inflammation control. Although our bodies can naturally produce its own endocannabinoids that bind to cannabinoid receptors in both the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, phytocannabinoids from plants are known to help to "kick-start" our central regulatory system. CBD can also change the endocannabinoid system’s response to anxiety disorders and depression.

When you ingest CBD, it binds to cannabinoid receptors throughout your brain and body. These are located throughout your nervous system, digestive system, and immune system. In binding to these receptors, CBD helps your ECS communicate better with these other systems, enabling it to create the positive health effects like reduced inflammation and pain relief.  

Typically, quality CBD comes from the buds the plant produces.  Some manufacturers throw in the “whole plant” which includes the stalks and other non-bud parts of the plant.  These products are fine to use, but just require more biomass to produce the products than if they were made with just the buds.  Basically, it means the farmer harvested the whole plant, most likely with a machine, instead of by hand as most small farms do.  The smaller farms cut just the buds by hand to make quality CBD.

There are 3 kinds of CBD: isolate which has all of the cannabinoids, including THC, stripped out, broad spectrum which has the cannabinoids, but the THC is stripped out, and then full spectrum which has up to .3% THC.  While small amounts of THC greatly aid in providing pain relief, first responders and others sensitive to drug testing should take isolate or broad spectrum products only to avoid failing a drug test.  Even with .3% THC, a person could fail a drug test. 

Metabolism, weight, genetics, and one’s hydration level can affect how much CBD you need for a positive effect. Similar to alcohol, the more you weigh the more you’ll need.  And the more muscle you have the more you’ll need.  CBD interact with fat tissues better than muscle.  CBD takes a little while to work; give it a week, raise your dose over time.

The “entourage effect” refers to the benefits that one can experience by ingesting multiple cannabinoids together, including CBD and THC. In short, while CBD and THC have their own powerful benefits, they tend to be more potent when combined – especially when it comes to pain relief.

Some people have better success using full spectrum CBD products for pain relief because of the entourage effect.

It takes your body between 1-2 days to remove half of CBD from your system. The remainder continues to be excreted from your body at the same rate until none is left in your system.  Considering the CBD stays in your system, by taking it daily you’ll be increasing the concentration in your blood, to the point where you’ll be able to achieve results.

If you take enough full-spectrum CBD you could get high. While the low concentrations of THC in federally legal CBD aren’t enough to get you high on a small dose, taking an entire bottle at once may result in impairment, depending on the size of the person and the size of the dose.

People do not develop a tolerance to CBD.   Researchers have found that CBD produces a bell curve response. In layman’s terms, this means that CBD is most effective when you find the ideal dose for you. You won’t feel the effects if your dose is too low, but if you take more than you need, you’ll also notice a reduction in effectiveness. 

Some people with chronic anxiety may choose to take their dose once a day. However, it’s common for people to experience some tiredness when taking CBD, especially at the beginning. For this reason, some people choose to split up their dose over the course of the day, to reduce any potential tiredness, or to take their dose at once in the evening before they go to bed.

Although CBD oil is one of the most popular products, CBD is available in many forms. There are four main ways to ingest CBD, including:

  • Transdermal application through an oil, lotion, or extract massaged into the skin
  • Oral ingestion through CBD edibles, gummies, capsules, or oil added to food.  
  • Sublingual tinctures which are administered under the tongue
  • Inhalation through vaping or smoking

Note:  Most food and beauty products come from isolate

Which CBD product is best for you depends on personal preference. However, the way you ingest CBD can determine how quickly it affects your system, as well as how long those effects last.  See our dosing guide.

The Hemp Farming Act passed in December 2018. The Act was included in the 2018 Farm Bill, which is officially known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. The bill, which was signed into law in December 2018, defines hemp as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

The bill made hemp an agricultural commodity and removes it from the controlled substances list, thus removing it from the oversight of the DEA. In other words, any industrial hemp product is now legal on a federal level nationwide, including CBD.

Although CBD and THC are the most dominant compounds in the cannabis plant, they aren’t alone. There are dozens of other cannabinoids and terpenes that work together to provide different synergic effects. Both CBD and THC can relieve symptoms of chronic pain and inflammation in unique ways, both alone and working in concert with other cannabinoids.

Rob MacArthur, Co-founder, The CBD Curators