What is CBD (cannabidiol)? Everything you need to know
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the hundreds of chemical compounds found inside hemp plants. But, aside from the name, what else do you know about CBD? Below you’ll find a complete summary of what CBD is. Should you decide to delve deeper into the potential of CBD, we’ll provide suggestions for further reading on the subject.
However, with a lot of ground to cover, it makes sense to start with the obvious—what is CBD?
WHAT IS CBD?
CBD is an organic compound that exists inside Cannabis sativa. It belongs to a class of chemicals called phytocannabinoids, and has the unique ability to influence the human body via its mediation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Once extracted, CBD is added to a range of carrier oils and consumed a few times per day, typically as an oil or capsule. CBD is favoured for its lack of side effects and good safety profile, while appearing well-tolerated across hundreds of studies.
WHERE DOES CBD COME FROM?
CBD is one of dozens of phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids for short) found inside hemp and varieties of marijuana. It forms part of the species’ chemical structure alongside compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids. The flowers of mature hemp plants contain the most cannabinoids (and the greatest levels of CBD), rather than the stalks or seeds—with seeds containing zero CBD.
In nature, these chemicals protect hemp from pests, pathogens, and disease. Now, scientists have found that they may exert similar functions in humans. To isolate CBD, sophisticated techniques such as CO₂ extraction, purification, and distillation break raw plant material down to its constituent parts.
HOW DOES CBD WORK?
Inside all humans (and household pets, among other animals) is a network of receptors called the endocannabinoid system. These receptors monitor a vast array of biological processes with the primary goal of maintaining equilibrium between them. Cannabinoid receptors exist in our central and peripheral nervous system, digestive system, and skin. In fact, there aren’t many places you won’t find CB1 or CB2 receptors.
Usually, the ECS supports a state of balance (also called homeostasis) by encouraging the production of beneficial enzymes and endocannabinoids. But, with the mediating effect of CBD, this natural process is boosted even further. The cannabinoid bolsters the influence of the ECS, supporting a natural approach to improved well-being, and potentially acting as a powerful ally against dozens of diseases and disorders. For a detailed look at how CBD works, click here.
IS CBD ADDICTIVE?
It’s common for users to be concerned about possible side effects. Thankfully, current evidence suggests that CBD is not only safe, but free from tolerance-forming properties. And, despite CBD’s loose affiliation with the psychotropic compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD won’t get you high.
A comprehensive 2018 review by the World Health Organisation outlined just how safe CBD is. They stated that “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence”, going on to add that “CBD is generally well-tolerated with a good safety profile”.
Some evidence suggests CBD may interact with certain prescription medications, and there are reported instances of mild side effects including dry mouth, fatigue, and decreased appetite. If you have any concerns about possible side effects, you can find more information here.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CBD?
As we’ve alluded to, the influence of CBD is vast. Research is ongoing, but preliminary studies suggest CBD could have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anxiolytic, and antihyperalgesic properties, among numerous others. It would be impossible to detail all of the studies into CBD, but they cover conditions such as:
• Crohn’s disease
It’s important to remember that CBD’s links to the conditions outlined above mainly stem from preclinical or animal-based studies. While results certainly appear encouraging, and lay a strong foundation for the cannabinoid, there is still much left to discover about CBD’s full potential. To learn more about the possible benefits of CBD, click here.
IS CBD LEGAL?
Second, to possible side effects, the legality of CBD is a crucial concern for consumers. However, you’ll be pleased to know that the cannabinoid is legal throughout most of America, Canada, and Europe. The cannabinoid is not scheduled under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and can be bought and sold online provided it’s produced in-line with strict regulations.
In the majority of markets, CBD must be extracted from hemp to avoid adverse levels of THC. In America, THC content may not exceed 0.3%, while many European nations impose a 0.2% limit. The cannabinoid is also permitted by the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) for use in professional sports.
HOW DO YOU USE CBD?
For most users, a few drops of CBD oil on or under the tongue is enough. CBD oils come in a range of concentrations and a variety of carrier oils, which can make it challenging for first-time users to know which product type is right for them. Fortunately, we’ve put together a beginner’s guide to taking CBD, including the pros and cons of each product type, to make the decision simpler.
Aside from CBD oils, the compound has found its way into:
• Medical creams
• Pet products
Each of these product types serves a different purpose, and there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to which one is best. Due to the safety profile of CBD, experimentation is straightforward. And, if you cannot pick one product over another, it’s entirely possible to combine them to reach your desired outcome.
ARE CBD OIL AND HEMP OIL THE SAME?
CBD oil is derived from the flowers (and sometimes leaves) of mature hemp plants. Hemp oil, on the other hand, is made by cold-pressing hemp seeds, and does not contain any cannabinoids. Hemp oil will not influence your body in the same way as CBD oil, although it does have several nutritional benefits. It’s common for consumers to confuse the two, especially since hemp is involved in both. If you’ve tried to decipher the different types of CBD oil, but still aren’t sure which one is right for you, check out our step-by-step guide here.
To give you complete peace of mind, look for CBD producers who have their products third-party tested. Companies that independently verify products make it easy for consumers to check what is and isn’t in every bottle.
SHOULD YOU TRY CBD?
Having learned the major characteristics of CBD, you likely have a better idea of whether you could benefit from its influence. The compound does appear well-tolerated, but it isn’t entirely free from side effects, so careful consideration is needed. If you have any doubts, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about CBD. They should be able to advise you of any risks specific to your medical history.