What exactly is CBD? Let’s begin with some fundamentals. Cannabidiol (CBD), is a compound that comes from the Cannabis Sativa L. plant. There is a multitude of fallacies about cannabis, but the first one worth clarifying is that both marijuana and hemp are part of the Cannabis plant species and both embody compounds known as “cannabinoids.” Unlike its notorious cousin, THC, CBD does not make a person high.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
A fact that many people find astounding is that the human bodies produce their own cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids (endo- means within). Humans are born with them! Something else that shocks people is that cannabinoids aren’t just found in the cannabis plant, they’re also naturally occurring in nature (like kale and broccoli for examples), but they are the most abundant in cannabis.
When we consume cannabinoids, they interact with the endocannabinoid system, a system of receptors throughout our central nervous system and almost every organ of our bodies (our skin, digestive tracts, etc.). Cannabinoids are the keys that unlock these receptors and this system is extremely important to our health because they can help regulate the immune system, protect the brain, help manage stress and even keep the body in physiological balance (homeostasis).
I like to think of CBD like a vitamin. For example, we’re born with calcium in our bones and as we age, our natural reserves of calcium deplete. Similar to how we’re encouraged to start taking calcium supplements to keep our bones strong, we also need to supplement our natural reserves of CBD as we get older to help keep our bodies in balance. The body becomes more susceptible to damage by stress as a person ages. This is why CBD should be considered as a general wellness supplement. Because it has no debilitating side effects and is non-psychoactive, it is virtually safe for any person of any age to use.
WHAT CAN YOU USE CBD FOR?
As with any supplement, how it affects a person can vary based on their individual body chemistry, but here are some of the researched benefits of CBD:
– analgesic/pain relief
HOW DO YOU USE CBD?
There is an abundance of ways one can consume CBD and it’s essential to understand that the human body processes and absorbs CBD differently depending on how we consume it. The proper phrase for this concept of absorption is “bioavailability.” Higher bioavailability makes it easier for the body to absorb it.
What all of these methods share is that CBD is not psychoactive — meaning, no matter how you use CBD, the CBD itself won’t make you feel high.
Sublingual (tinctures/oil): Some tinctures are oil based while others are alcohol based. Tinctures allow for consistent dosing of CBD since they come with measured droppers. You squeeze a few drops (or more, depending on how much you’re looking to consume) under your tongue and you hold it there for 30 seconds. Under the tongue is an effective way to consume CBD because it absorbs more directly into your bloodstream so your body doesn’t waste much of it.
Inhalation (vape/flower): The lungs are highly permeable and so this is another good method in terms of higher bioavailability and it can work faster than other methods since the vapor goes straight into your circulation.
Oral (capsules/edibles): Surprisingly, taking CBD orally often has the lowest bioavailability, or, the lowest absorption by your body. If you think about the digestion process, you’ll start to understand why: Your food passes through a lot of enzymes that break it down as it goes through your digestive tract. In general, not much of the CBD taken in capsule form is absorbed (only 20%). With that said, “water-soluble” formulas are best in this form of consumption.
Topical (creams and salves): Our skin is the body’s largest organ and we absorb a lot more through our skin than you would think. CBD not only absorbs through our skin, but it also can be more bioavailable than most other methods. While CBD used topically has the same effects as CBD used in the other methods above, many of these products contain added ingredients that can provide additional therapeutic value. Many CBD tinctures/oils work topically as well!
With the farm bill passed, the community can expect more in-depth research on cannabis to come to light. With over 100 different types of cannabinoids included in this divine herb, there is yet more magic to be revealed about what cannabis is really all about.