What is CBD [A Comprehensive Guide]
As long as you have internet access, you have likely heard about cannabidiol (CBD) and its incredible popularity. The CBD industry has absolutely exploded of late. Not even two years ago, the compound was illegal at the federal level and now we are seeing it pop up everywhere from gas stations to online stores.
The shift began with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed CBD from the list of banned drugs, thus clearing the path for full legalization. Since that time, research shows that as many as 1 in 3 American adults have tried CBD.
This, in turn, has turned CBD into a thriving industry. According to one estimate, CBD revenues are expected to more than double for the next two years.
However, CBD is still relatively new, and many questions remain about what it is and how it works.
We break it all down in one handy guide that will answer all of the big questions;
1. What is CBD
2. History of CBD
3. How Does CBD Work
4. How is CBD Made
5. Types of CBD
6. How CBD is Used
What is CBD?
CBD oil is created from the Cannabis sativa plant, also known as hemp.
CBD oil's internal components can be broken down into roughly three categories:
1. Cannabinoids: CBD is just one of many cannabinoids that are extracted from the hemp plant. Cannabinoids including CBD can be found in the cannabis plant as well. Cannabinoids are a specific type of chemical component that interacts directly with your body's Endocannabinoid System. We'll cover that in more detail later in this article.
Cannabinoids are largely responsible for the physical and emotional reactions you may feel when using CBD oil. Multiple types of cannabinoids can found in CBD oil, including CBD, THC, CBG, and more.
The most important and well-known cannabinoid is CBD itself.
2. Flavonoids: Flavonoids are a specific type of chemical compound that is found in plants, fruits, and vegetables. There are over 6,000 types of flavonoids, and they are responsible for impacting the taste, smell, and appearance of cannabinoids. They also are loaded with beneficial antioxidants and can help provide the various health benefits of CBD.
3. Terpenes: Like flavonoids, terpenes are chemical compounds that can impact the taste and smell of a plant. They are largely responsible for the flavors of many plants that you consume. They can also have certain chemical impacts on your body.
History of CBD
Despite its relatively recent legalization, CBD is not new. Indeed, according to available research, the first recorded use of CBD actually dates all the way back to 2737 BC.
Between then and now, CBD has many recorded uses throughout history. For example, there is some evidence to indicate that it was used by Queen Victoria in the early 20th century as part of an effort to help the Queen deal with period-related pain.
Hemp, historically, was a huge cash crop in America was used for a variety of manufacturing and medicinal purposes. The passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 slowed the demand for hemp by making it harder to produce and consume.
It also increasing the stigma around the compound, and the criminalization of CBD essentially started around this time.
America spent the 1960s onwards engaged in an active war on drugs, and that war had many other casualties. One of them was the ongoing efforts to prohibit marijuana and CBD, despite the fact that there was ample evidence to indicate that the compounds could potentially have medical benefits.
Efforts to loosen restrictions around both substances started fresh in the 1990s, but CBD remained stuck until 2014 when Congress passed the 2014 Farm Bill. That bill allowed for heavily regulated pilot programs that would allow for the production of hemp.
This, in turn, led to the 2018 Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill did not specifically "legalize" CBD. What it did do was remove it from the list of Schedule One prohibited drugs, as maintained by the United States Food & Drug Administration.
This helped to clarify its legal status, as some states had already legalized the compound and were allowing its sale within their borders. The legalization allows for CBD to be manufactured and processed over state lines. It also legitimized the CBD industry, allowing businesses to have access to the banking, financing, and insurance sectors.
However, some regulations on CBD remained. CBD could have no more than .3% THC content, and all states that allowed for the growth and processing of hemp and CBD had to provide a plan and receive approval from the United States Department of Agriculture. Furthermore, states were largely free to establish their own regulations in the states.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD's benefits are tied directly to the impact that the compound has on your body's Endocannabinoid System. First discovered in 1992 by Dr. Lumir Hunus & Dr. William Devane, your Endocannabinoid System works to keep your body in a state of homeostasis.
This means that it has an impact on a variety of physical and emotional sensations, including pain, sleep, anxiety, hunger, stress levels, and more.
There are multiple components to your body's Endocannabinoid System. These include:
- Cannabinoids that your body produces.
- Cannabinoid receptors that can be found throughout your entire body, including in your skin, muscles, and organs. Thus far, researchers have identified two types of cannabinoids, known as CB1 and CB2. However, it is possible that additional cannabinoids exist.
- Enzymes that destroy cannabinoids.
Under normal circumstances, your body produces cannabinoids. These cannabinoids work like a key, binding with your cannabinoid receptors like they are a lock.
This, in turn, is responsible for the various physical sensations that your body experiences as a result of changes to your Endocannabinoid System. Once a reaction is complete, enzymes break down the cannabinoid.
A common misnomer in the CBD world is that CBD actually binds with your cannabinoid receptors. This is not true. Instead, CBD impacts the entire reaction by:
- Strengthening the binding between your body's own CBD and receptors.
- Slowing down the breakdown of CBD by inhibiting the work of the enzyme that breaks down the CBD. This, in turn, makes the reaction last for a longer period of time.
CBD has many potential benefits, but it is clear that research is still ongoing. The United States Food & Drug Administration has only approved one CBD-based drug - Epidiolex - a drug that can be used to treat rare seizure disorders in children.
Other than that, the United States Food & Drug Administration has ruled that specific medical claims about CBD cannot be made, and has actually sent cease & desist letters to CBD companies that have tried to market CBD as such.
Despite this, scientific evidence has shown that CBD may have the potential to address numerous illnesses. Furthermore, countless anecdotal reports have found CBD to be helpful at addressing some issues. These include:
- Pain, including muscle soreness, arthritis, chronic pain, and nerve pain
- Skin care, such as psoriasis and eczema
- Sleep, anxiety, and stress reduction
How Is CBD Made?
There is no one, set way that CBD is produced. Instead, there are several methods of production and different extractions processes for CBD. These include:
CO2 Extraction: This is arguably the most popular way of making CBD, but also among the most expensive. The raw Cannabis sativa plant is placed in a chamber, and CO2 is then pumped into that chamber. This pushes CBD oil into the CO2, which is then extracted into a second chamber.
From there, the CBD oil is pumped into a third chamber, and the CO2 is pumped out, leaving behind the crude CBD oil. What happens next depends o the product being made. The CBD oil is then further processed to be injected into a tincture, combined with a carrier oil, infused into an edible, or other processes. CO2 is considered one of the safest extraction methods.
Liquid Solvents: This involves mixing the Cannabis sativa plant with some sort of liquid, then extracting that substance into some sort of CBD. This method is cheaper, but it can also leave CBD infused with an unpleasant liquid taste or an overall less pure product. However, done right, this is a good way of creating CBD tinctures.
Infusion: A plant is heated in order to remove as much plant as possible, leaving behind the CBD components. It is then mixed with a carrier oil, which combines with the remaining CBD. This method is among the oldest methods of creating CBD.
Types of CBD
All CBD is not the same, and there are three types of CBD on the market today. These include:
Full Spectrum CBD: Full Spectrum CBD is the most "natural" form of CBD. It is processed to retain as much of its preexisting chemical components as possible. This includes flavonoids, terpenes, and all cannabinoids - including THC.
THC, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is the cannabinoid in marijuana responsible for getting someone "high." To be clear, legally produced Full Spectrum CBD will not result in any sort of intoxication, as the levels are far too low.
Broad Spectrum CBD: Broad Spectrum CBD is almost identical to Full Spectrum, but with one very key difference: It contains no THC.
Isolate: Isolate is the most different of the three types. Its process removes all terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids except for CBD itself. This, in turn, leaves behind a white, powdery substance that is 99% pure CBD. Many use it when creating their own CBD concoctions, or for cooking with CBD.
Users of Full Spectrum CBD often cite the "Entourage Effect," which is the idea that CBD works best when it is in its most unprocessed form, including all of its natural components - including THC. There is some evidence which points to the therapeutic benefits of the Entourage Effect, but there is also evidence that points the other way.
So, why do some people prefer Broad Spectrum CBD? Two reasons. First, is personal preference. Some people simply don't want to consume any THC. Furthermore, though it is difficult, it is possible for CBD use to result in a positive drug test.
Indeed, there have been instances of people losing their jobs as a result of a positive drug test. As such, if you get drug tested, it may be safer to stick to Broad Spectrum CBD.
How CBD Products Can Be Used
One of the chief reasons for CBD's popularity is its flexibility. CBD can be used in many ways, including:
Tinctures: CBD Tinctures are CBD oil that is flavored with a carrier oil. It comes in many dosages and flavors, including cinnamon, plain, and more. You can usually find a flavor you like and mix the tincture with food or drink. You can also take it directly under the tongue, and this will speed the rate at which you feel an impact from the CBD.
Gummies: Gummies are one of the most popular forms of CBD edibles. As the name implies, CBD gummies are CBD snacks that come in gummy form. You can eat them in order to get your dose of CBD. Of course, standard disclaimers apply: If you are a diabetic or have certain food allergies, you may want to try an alternate way of consuming CBD.
Topicals: CBD in many types of topical applications, including lotions and roll-on sticks. You can use this to directly rub the CBD into an area of pain or soreness. Conversely, you can apply it to regular skin as part of an effort to make your skin feel better and address irritation.
Dog treats: CBD dog treats have become more popular of late, particularly as a way of potentially addressing pain in animals that cannot be resolved by traditional medicine. However, you should always check with your veterinarian before giving your dog CBD treats.
Isolate powder: Isolate powder comes in a small tin and is usually in a white powder. It is 99% pure CBD and can be mixed to any food or drink that you want. Some people also use Isolate to make their own CBD items.
In terms of CBD dosage, you should always start with what is on the package and go from there. That dosage is created based on the recommendation of the manufacturer, and it is always a good bet to stick with their recommendations when you start using CBD.
If you do not feel the desired effect of CBD, gradually increase the dose until you do notice a difference. Keep in mind that there are some side effects when it comes to CBD use, including upset stomach, dry mouth, and fatigue.
These side effects are rare, but it is better to be safe than sorry. You should be prepared to deal with these side effects and make sure that you can easily lie down, get something to eat, or use a bathroom. Furthermore, it is always worth checking with a doctor before trying CBD, as there are some concerns about the compound and drug interactions.
There is no question that more research needs to be done, but it does appear as if CBD has the potential to help you address multiple ills. Make sure to talk with a doctor, purchase CBD that has provided a Certificate of Analysis, and start slow. From there, you may find that CBD can be very helpful and beneficial to you.