Civilisations have been using cannabis for centuries for its medicinal qualities. In fact, the recorded use of cannabis goes back to the ancient Chinese times of around 2900BC. The fact that it has been vilified over the past few decades in the UK means that any research into understanding the health benefits of the plant have been stunted.
Luckily, recent advancements of technology along with in-depth research has seen the laws beginning to change, allowing more extensive studies into how the compounds in the cannabis plant work and affect the human body, and we are beginning to see things move.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a natural compound that is found in the cannabis plant. There are over 100 significant compounds found in cannabis, including CBD and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) which are known as cannabinoids. Included in the compounds are also flavonoids and terpenes, which can give the plant it’s famous aroma, taste and also performs other important functions for the plant.
In the human body, we have a number of systems, one being the endocannabinoid system. If you haven’t heard of the endocannabinoid system, it is not surprising as it was only discovered in the 1990’s – during research into the cannabis plant – hence the name. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for the regulation of certain bodily functions, including:
- Immune system
- Central nervous system
It regulates these functions through the interaction between endocannabinoids which are made naturally in the body and cannabinoid receptors (generally known as CB1 and CB2 receptors) to keep the body in a state of homeostasis. This means keeping everything at the ideal level for the body to function at its optimal level.
Scientists have found that when there are depletions in the levels of endocannabinoids, some health problems can occur. But they have seen a glimmer of hope, coming from the cannabinoids which are present in the cannabis plant.
Cannabinoids like CBD and THC can help to replenish the levels of cannabinoids and help the body to regain homeostasis, improving general health and well-being, as well as helping to deal with some of the health problems that have occurred due to the lack of cannabinoids.
CBD and THC are very similar – in fact, they have identical molecular makeup. However, there is a difference in the placement of one molecule which means that CBD cannot easily bind with some of the cannabinoid receptors, whereas THC can. It is due to this binding of THC that means that the brain is sent a message, and users feel the ‘high’ which is commonly associated with cannabis. CBD, on the other hand, does not produce any high.
Although there is still a lot more research to be carried out, scientists think that CBD could potentially be used to help with a number of health problems, including:
- Pain relief
- Help with depression and anxiety
- Help in the reduction of some epileptic seizures
- Help with the reduction of nausea
- Stabilizing appetite
CBD is extracted from the cannabis or hemp plant, usually using a super-critical CO2 method. This means that Carbon Dioxide is passed through the plant, taking the compounds out as it goes – in a similar process to de-caffeinating coffee. Once the CBD has been extracted, it can then be made into a product which can be consumed by people.
There are a number of different ways that you can take CBD, including vaporising it through an e-pen, eating it either in a capsule form or through edibles (CBD-infused food), rubbing it into the skin, or one of the most popular methods – through CBD oil. CBD itself isn’t water soluble, so has difficulty being absorbed into the human body, and this is why it is often mixed with a carrier oil. Typically, CBD is mixed with MCT oil, coconut oil, olive oil or hemp seed oil for better absorption into the body.
Taking CBD Oil
CBD oil is usually taken in drops or a spray under the tongue, which makes it come into effect quickly – usually within about 20 minutes, as well as being easy and discreet to use. Whether it is taken with a dropper or a spray, they offer a relatively accurate measurement of your dosage of CBD.
A good thing about CBD oil is that it is flexible. This means that you can also add it to your food – either by dropping it into a sauce or an unbaked batch of cakes or brownies, for example.
CBD and the Law
The laws regarding CBD oil can vary across the world. Of course, it is important to check what the laws are wherever you go – and be sure to check regularly as laws are changing frequently! Although there are many states in the US where cannabis use is completely legal, there are many places (including the UK) where CBD is totally legal, but THC isn’t. When you are extracting the compounds from the plant, it is almost impossible not to get traces of THC, and this is why hemp has been cultivated.
Hemp is a strain of cannabis which has been cultivated to have legal THC levels – which in the UK is less than 0.2%. It won’t get you high and is completely legal.
Choosing your CBD Oil
When you are buying CBD oil, you will find that there are usually three types of oil to choose from:
1. Full Spectrum – also known as whole plant extract. This is an extract of all of the compounds from the hemp plant (including traces of THC) and is the most effective oil.
2. Broad Spectrum – includes most but not all of the compounds (no THC). This isn’t as effective as full spectrum oil but is still effective.
3. CBD Distillate – as ‘pure’ a CBD oil that you can find, but the least effective of the three.
It is important that if you are thinking about trying CBD oil, that you speak to your doctor first – especially if you are taking medication as CBD can affect its strength.
CBD is safe to use, non-addictive, has no bad side effects and there has never been a fatal overdose of it, and this is why it has been used for so many years by some cultures and scientists are getting so excited about its potential in the future.