What is CBD and How Does It Work?
In recent years, there has been a considerable buzz around CBD. From workout boosters to breakfast smoothies, CBD add-ins are becoming increasingly popular. CBD is also being touted as a panacea for a wide range of medical conditions, ranging from anxiety to Alzheimer’s disease. So, what is CBD? Why are so many people using CBD? And does it really have health benefits?
What does CBD stand for?
Cannabis sativa, commonly known as the marijuana or cannabis plant, contains more than 100 compounds, including CBD which is short for cannabidiol. Together, all the compounds found in the cannabis plant are called cannabinoids.
Perhaps the best-known cannabinoid is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis and is responsible for producing the euphoria or “high” associated with marijuana.
Although both are cannabinoids found in cannabis, unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive. Meaning, CBD does not have mind-altering properties and will not make you high. Rather, the effects of CBD cannabidiol are increasingly being studied to manage a wide range of medical conditions. CBD is an essential compound in medical marijuana. According to the World Health Organization, CBD does not have a potential for addiction and has not caused any public health concerns to date.
What is Delta-8?
Delta-8 is a cannabinoid that has been on the radar because it is very similar to delta-9 THC. Both have a similar chemical structure and cause similar effects like euphoria and sedation. However, delta-8 is far less potent than delta-9 THC.
Where does CBD come from?
As noted, CBD comes from the cannabis plant, but CBD may also come from a close relative, the hemp plant. Hemp contains under 0.3% of THC which makes it non-psychoactive (in contrast, the marijuana plant contains high concentrations of THC). Also, hemp is naturally rich in CBD, making it a good source for various CBD products.
What is a CBD tincture?
CBD is available in many forms. The most potent and expensive form is CBD oil, which is is made by extracting cannabidiol from the hemp plant and diluting it with a carrier oil like hemp seed or coconut oil.
Tinctures are alcohol-based formulations. A CBD tincture is a mixture of CBD extracts suspended in distilled alcohol along with peppermint or cinnamon oil and glycerin.
CBD: tincture vs. oil
Both CBD oil and tincture can be consumed, for example, by placing them under the tongue. CBD oil tends to have an unpleasant taste and oily after-taste. In contrast, the tincture is available in different flavors and is more palatable. It is also possible to cook with CBD tinctures. CBD tinctures have a higher bioavailability and a longer shelf life. However, tinctures have a lower potency than CBD oil.
Is CBD legal?
CBD is widely available in many parts of the United States, but its legal status remains uncertain. All 50 states have passed laws about the legality of CBD with varying amounts of restriction. Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 THC are legal under federal law but illegal in some states.
Laws have been relaxed recently to allow research on what health conditions CBD can treat and at what dose. It is easily available online without a medical marijuana license.
Part of the confusion about the legality of CBD is also based on whether the CBD originates from the hemp or marijuana plant. The legal status of CBD is expected to change when the hemp plant becomes legal, which would make it difficult to prohibit CBD.
Does CBD oil actually do anything?
More research is needed to substantiate the various claims about the health benefits of CBD. It is commonly used to treat pain and inflammation throughout the body, anxiety disorders, insomnia, blood pressure, and arthritis. CBD is being studied as a potential treatment for a wide range of medical conditions, including in people with schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. However, currently, the only CBD product that has approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a prescription oil called Epidiolex which is used to treat two types of recalcitrant epilepsy called Lennox G and Dravet syndrome.
How does CBD work in the body?
CBD, like all cannabinoids, produces effects in the body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system controls a wide variety of functions in the human body, such as movement, pain, thinking, emotions, mood, memories, appetite, sleep, pain, and inflammation.
There are 2 types of cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, CB1 receptors, and CB2 receptors, which are present throughout the body, but specifically in the central nervous system and immune system. The body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The effects of CBD, including anti-inflammatory and pain relief effects, are exerted through its influence on the endocannabinoid system.
How does CBD oil make you feel?
CBD can make you feel relaxed and a little “warm and fuzzy”, but it is not intoxicating. Products that contain a combination of CBD and THC can be intoxicating.
Does cannabidiol CBD help with chronic pain?
Marijuana has been used for centuries to treat pain. More recently, scientists have been exploring the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol. It is believed that CBD can help reduce chronic pain and neuropathic pain through its impact on the endocannabinoid system. In many countries, an oral spray Sativex, which contains a combination of cannabidiol CBD and THC, is approved to treat pain related to multiple sclerosis.
What is the downside of CBD?
Although it is generally well-tolerated, cannabidiol does carry some risks. CBD may cause side effects such as drowsiness, fatigue, dry mouth, reduced appetite, and diarrhea. There can also be interactions between CBD and medications such as blood thinners.
The varying dosage and purity of CBD products are a cause for concern. Many CBD products sold online contain more than 0.3 THC or do not contain the amount of CBD indicated on the label. Therefore, before looking for CBD products online and before using CBD, it is important that you talk to your healthcare provider and seek medical advice.
CBD vs. hemp oil
CBD oil and hemp seed oil are two different things. CBD oil is made from the stalks, flowers, and leaves of the hemp plant. It contains a high concentration of cannabidiol.
Hemp seed oil comes from the seeds of the marijuana plant. These seeds have numerous nutritional benefits but do not contain CBD.
CBD vs. Xanax
Xanax (alprazolam) is a widely prescribed anti-anxiety medication. However, it carries the risk of side effects, addiction, and overdose, especially when mixed recreationally with alcohol or opioid drugs. CBD may help people suffering from anxiety or panic disorders. Many people choose it as a more natural treatment for these conditions. If you are planning to use CBD to treat anxiety, you must do so under close medical supervision. Also, use only high-quality legitimate CBD products and check the label to confirm the product has undergone third-party quality testing.