An Introduction to Cannabidiol (CBD)
Cannabidiol, or more often simply called CBD, has been the center of extensive media attention for the last several years. In fact, CBD serving as the subject of millions of news segments, articles and countless publications, with a Google serving up over a 193 million hits when searching for “CBD”.
Despite this, many people are still not sure of what CBD is, how it works, how to use it, and what to use it for. In this introduction guide, we answer all these questions, and more.
WHAT IS CBD?
CBD is one of many types of cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. It is also the most researched and best understood of all the cannabinoids, having shown as a safe, non-addictive, non-intoxicating compound with several potential health benefits.
As mentioned, CBD is one of over 140 naturally occurring chemical compounds found in hemp and cannabis plants called cannabinoids. CBD is extracted from the plant to produce a raw extract that can then either be refined into a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD oil, or a CBD isolate.
These different forms of CBD is then used in various different types of products, from CBD gummies, vapes and creams, to the most popular and widely used products - CBD oil and tinctures.
WHY IS CBD SO POPULAR?
Despite CBD not being on the market for that long, it has become incredibly popular. One big reason for this is because of the plethora of celebrities, pro-athletes and “every day” people sharing their stories of how CBD helped them - no small wonder then that it's gone mainstream! But some other factors have also played a role in influencing the popularity of CBD, including its updated legal status, availability and some of its inherent properties.
When you hear about CBD, it's mostly stories about its potential health benefits - people claiming that CBD has helped them find relief from a wide range of chronic illnesses and diseases as well as promoting general health and wellness.
Another reason for CBD’s popularity is the fact that unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD’s more notorious cousin, it is not intoxicating or psychedelic. This means that CBD will not cause the mind-altering sensation of being ‘high’ that is often associated with cannabis.
Also, unlike cannabis and THC, CBD is also increasingly becoming legal across the world. For instance, in the US, the Farm Bill was passed in 2018. This bill means that CBD derived from a particular cannabis plant called industrial hemp that contains less than 0.3% THC is federally legal in all 50 states. In contrast, they still classify THC as a Schedule I Controlled Substance, and the government and DEA still considers THC in cannabis as illegal. Similar laws differentiating between hemp / CBD and cannabis / THC are in place in the European Union and various other countries worldwide.
And with its updated legal status, CBD products are also widely available in health stores, dispensaries, web shops and even supermarkets. Among the most popular forms of CBD is oil-based tinctures, often referred to as CBD oil. CBD oils are taken sublingually by placing a few drops under the tongue and holding it under the tongue for up to two minutes.
CBD oils are usually a combination of a carrier oil, such as olive, coconut or hemp seed oil that is mixed with a CBD extract or isolate. This helps to balance potency as well as help the CBD absorb more easily into the stomach walls and membranes. But oil also helps with the absorption rate (aka, bioavailability) of the CBD because the oil (and therefore also the CBD) is absorbed quickly and easily into the bloodstream through mucous membranes located under the tongue.
Sometimes CBD oils also contain other types of active ingredients (that have therapeutic properties of their own), including terpenes, herbs and essential oils, making it popular for people who want added benefits. Sweeteners and other flavorings can also be added to hide the natural “hemp” flavor and improve the taste.
WHAT DO WE KNOW FROM STUDIES SO FAR?
There are dozens of purported health and wellness benefits associated with the use of cannabidiol. And what scientists have found so far is that the primary way in which CBD works is because of the way it interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS) as well as other receptors, genes and biological systems.
The main job of the ECS is to help keep the body in a state of homeostasis, and when the ECS is out of balance, it can cause different symptoms and ailments in what is known as a clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) with the many benefits of CBD being because of its ability to kick-start and support the ECS. But also because CBD acts on other neuro-genetic biological systems including glycine receptors (GlyRs), TRVP‐1 receptors and 5HT1a receptors, it has shown to have a wide range of other therapeutic properties - at least in some experimental models.
Some of these include:
- Autoimmune diseases (fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Neurological conditions (Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Huntington’s)
- Metabolic syndrome (diabetes, obesity)
- Neuropsychiatric illness (autism, ADHD / ADD, PTSD)
- Gut disorders (Crohn’s)
- Skin disease (acne, dermatitis, psoriasis)
- Cancers (breast, colon, neuroblastoma)
What are the most common medical uses of CBD?
Although CBD has the potential to help a range of condition, people use it for more common conditions like general health and wellness, pain and inflammation, sleep, anxiety and depression as well as healing some skin issues like acne. So, let us dive a bit deeper into actual studies that show great promise for helping relieve some of the most common issues people use CBD for.
1. Reducing Anxiety / Depression One of the most popular uses of CBD is combating anxiety and depression. CBD’s anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties are because of its ability to modulate the activation of the 5-HT1A receptors involved in brain development and mood. But scientists also found that CBD restores endocannabinoid signaling similar to that of conventional antidepressant treatments.
2. Immune Support / General Health & Wellness CBD can help increase general health and wellness primarily because it helps support the immune system in various ways. For instance, CBD is well known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties - both of which is related to immune system health. But CBD also stops the breakdown of the endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-AG, linked to maintaining homeostasis and healthy immune function.
3. Inflammation / Pain Relief The powerful pain-relieving effects of CBD are because of several mechanisms of action. Firstly, CBD also can suppress the glycine receptor activity responsible for the sensations of pain. But CBD also relieves pain because of how it interacts with the ECS to help:
- suppress pain processing by regulating the CB1 receptors responsible for pain
- activate the CB2 receptors that stimulate the release of natural pain killers
- restore the balance of anandamide and 2-AG that block pain signals
4. Better Sleep and Brain Function CBD also helps improve REM sleep. REM sleep is vital for optimal cognitive functioning because of the role it plays in helping the formation of new memories, stimulating the central nervous system, and restoring brain chemistry to a normal balance during sleep. And again, because CBD prevents the breakdown of anandamide (also known as the bliss molecule), it sets the scene for better sleep by reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.
5. Healing Acne and Other Skin Issues CBD is great for a treating and healing a variety of skin conditions like wrinkles, eczema, and psoriasis because of its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. But CBD is also great for treating various types of acne thanks to its ability to adjust how and how much sebum the skin produces.
WHERE DO I START WHEN WANTING TO TRY CBD?
When starting out in the world of CBD, the vast amount of information, product types and stories can become overwhelming. And trying to figure out which products to choose, how to take it, and how much to take is problematic at best.
How do I the find right product?
When deciding on the right CBD product for you, the primary consideration is what you want to use it for? This will help determine the level of potency, bioavailability and onset time your product needs to provide you with.
The rule of thumb is that the more severe the symptoms and/or condition, the higher the potency your product needs to be. For more information on how to decide on the right potency for you, go to “How to Choose the Right CBD Oil Strength for You”.
The bioavailability of a compound is governed by the form in which you take it and determines how much of it you should take for it to reach a high enough concentration in the body for it to work. To read more about bioavailability, go to “What is CBD bioavailability and why does it matter?”
Onset time is how long a compound takes to get into your system. There is a relationship between bioavailability and onset time, with the key factor in onset time is the how the CBD gets into your system. So for instance, when inhaled, the CBD enters directly into the bloodstream via the lungs, the onset time is fast and the bioavailability high. But, when eaten, the bioavailability is greatly reduced and onset time increases as CBD must make its way into the digestive system.
|CBD oils & tinctures||Sublingual||Medium||Medium|
How do I use CBD?
How you use CBD will very much depend on the product you use, and what you are using it for.
CBD Oils & Tinctures
Place the desired dosage of CBD oil under the tongue and hold it there for 1-2 minutes before swallowing the rest.
Swallow the desired amount of capsule(s) with a cold liquid.
Scoop the desired serving amount into a liquid and mix well. CBD water soluble powders can also be used for making facial sprays or masks.
Consume in the same way as any other candy or baked product
Apply a small amount of CBD salve or cream directly to the problem area and massage into the skin. Reapply every 3-4 hours or as needed.
How Much CBD do I Take?
Unlike other pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements, with CBD, there is no single “correct” dosage that works for everybody. This is because everyone is different, and CBD also interacts differently with each person’s endocannabinoid system.
But, with that said, the rule-of-thumb is to start low and go slow. The recommended starting dose of CBD is of 25 mg taken twice a day. This dosage can slowly be increased every 3-4 weeks by adding another dose of 25 mg of CBD per day until symptom relief is attained. Conversely, if symptoms worsen, it is recommended to decrease the dose by 25 mg.
For more specific dosage recommendations, MyDosage App's “Find your dosage” section can help.