Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of at least a hundred cannabinoids — chemical compounds from the Cannabis Sativa plant.
It’s gained momentum in the wellness world, thanks to the media.
But what is it, and how is it used?
In this article, we’ll tell you all about what CBD is and its uses.
The Basics of CBD: Definition, Types, and Usage
CBD is not psychoactive. This is contrary to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the MAIN psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant.
That means you can get the benefits THC gives without any mind-altering side effects when using CBD.
What Are the Ingredients of CBD?
What you get with your CBD depends on the type of CBD you have. The types differ in their extraction methods and diffusion levels.
Here are the three different types of CBD:
Full-spectrum CBD is an extract that has all the naturally-available compounds the cannabis plant has to offer.
Hemp-derived full-spectrum CBD will have only less than 0.3% THC. However, THC levels will increase if the FLOWERS are also extracted as oil.
Some of the compounds that will come with CBD in this type include:
- Essential oils
- Other cannabinoids
Full-spectrum CBD is said to be able to cause the “entourage effect” — a stronger psychoactive and calming effect than THC and CBD when taken separately.
This kind of CBD is typically chosen by people who want to experience the cannabis plant’s full effect.
Broad-spectrum CBD is quite similar to full-spectrum CBD. The only difference is that the plant undergoes an additional extraction process so that very little to no THC is in the CBD.
This means you might be able to enjoy all the effects of the plant — from the smell to the taste — WITHOUT experiencing the psychoactive elements.
As the name implies, CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD since it doesn’t contain any other compound from the plant. Because of that, it CANNOT create the entourage effect.
This is tasteless and odorless, preferred by people who really just want CBD.
Cannabidiol (CBD) vs. Cannabis-Derived Products: What Are the Differences?
Let’s break down “cannabis” for a bit:
“Cannabis” is a taxonomic term that covers flowering plants from the Cannabaceae family.
Botanists actually aren’t sure where the evolutionary divergence of these plants started since there’s a lack of significant fossil evidence.
Regardless of the more minor details, all you need to know is that hemp and marijuana are two popular plants that fall into that category.
In our everyday life, there are cannabis-related terms that can be confusing. We’ll discuss them below:
CBD vs. THC
Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids found in cannabis plants.
THC is psychoactive and is what gives users a “high.” Meanwhile, CBD may be used to help relieve some health issues without the psychoactive effect.
These cannabinoids can have different effects on various people. As such, whether you’re using them as medical cannabis or not, it’s best to consult health care providers before you use them.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
Hemp and marijuana are cannabis plants that contain CBD and THC. However, the difference lies in how much of each cannabinoid they have.
Hemp plants are high in CBD and low in THC. The amount of THC it has is so low that it won’t cause a “high.” It’s even possible that it WON’T register on a drug test.
It’s important to remember that hemp oil doesn’t necessarily mean CBD oil.
Meanwhile, marijuana is normally high in THC and moderate in CBD. That means medical marijuana can be intoxicating.
Research on medical marijuana is also severely restricted by federal law.
What Are the Best Ways to Use CBD?
CBD is very versatile — especially if it’s in the form of an oil.
The MOST effective way to use oil is to take it sublingually. In simpler terms, it may work best if you hold it under your tongue for 30 to 60 seconds.
This is because the mouth can increase CBD’s bioavailability by giving the permeable mucous membranes in your mouth enough time to directly absorb the CBD.
Taking CBD sublingually might give you quicker results compared to taking edibles.
Other ways of using CBD are:
- Eating them through edibles
- Applying them to your skin
- Adding it to coffee/cocktails/another favorite drink
These other ways will admittedly work slower than sublingual products, and the human body will absorb a lower percentage of CBD too.
However, they can be more convenient and easier to include in your daily routine — not to mention you won’t have to deal with an obviously “weedy” taste.
Health Benefits of CBD
CBD works by interacting with the neuroreceptors in your endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is still being studied by experts. However, they’re still largely unsure exactly how CBD interacts with the ECS.
The two main hypotheses so far are:
- CBD prevents endocannabinoids from breaking down, making them more effective on the body.
- CBD binds to a yet-to-be-discovered receptor.
But so far, it’s believed that it may regulate a range of functions, such as:
Below, we list some potential benefits of using CBD:
CBD may help promote better sleep quality.
If you’re having difficulty falling asleep (or staying asleep), it’s likely because you have high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the evening.
CBD is said to be able to act as a sedative, slowing the release of cortisol.
This effectively helps you calm down enough to sleep. Additionally, because you’re calm, you might experience fewer nightmares too — or if you do get nightmares, you barely remember them.
These things mean that CBD might be able to help you through your sleep cycles without disruption! Because of that, CBD may also regulate sleep and minimize daytime drowsiness.
Gives a Sense of Calm
Endocannabinoids and their receptors are spread all over the body — including the nervous system. You can even say it’s a bridge between your body and mind.
CBD interacts with these receptors throughout the nervous system, which can have a soothing effect.
It’s also possible that CBD promotes calmness by boosting serotonin levels, which improves your mood and, possibly, anxiety disorders.
Promotes a Healthy Appetite
THC tends to give you the munchies, but CBD might not.
THC stimulates the CB1 receptor of the ECS, which releases a hormone that prompts you to increase food intake.
Meanwhile, CBD seems to act as a CB1 receptor antagonist, blocking off or “deactivating” the receptor. This results in a reduced appetite.
However, CBD may also promote a HEALTHY appetite! For one, it does this by potentially alleviating stress and boosting serotonin, increasing your desire to eat.
You might see some significant improvement when you use CBD oils on the outside, too.
For one, it might be able to hydrate your skin, helping combat skin dryness and the itchiness that comes with it.
CBD might also soothe skin and reduce the appearance of irritation — it could be good for people with sensitive skin too.
It may also be able to help regulate your hormones, and that includes oil production, so you’re not creating too much sebum that can cause breakouts.
However, keep in mind that CBD use on the skin is still a relatively newer science than orally-consumed CBD. As such, more research studies are needed to ascertain how effective CBD really is for the skin.
Prevents Hair Damage
Environmental factors like pollution and poor lifestyle choices can cause your hair to be unhealthy.
CBD oil may be able to help moisturize and smooth your dry and lifeless hair, improving its appearance. It can keep your hair well-hydrated too.
You can extend the usage of CBD to your scalp as well. Doing so can give your scalp the same benefits as using CBD on your skin.
Healthy levels of oil production, for instance, can reduce the problems of dandruff and dry scalp since you’re keeping it well-moisturized.
Aside from that, you’re cleansing your scalp from chemical deposits from products or other sources to encourage HEALTHY hair growth!
Side Effects of CBD
Despite some people using medical cannabis to alleviate certain health conditions, it might still have some adverse effects.
Below are some safety concerns you should keep in mind regarding CBD use:
Interference With Other Medications
CBD might cause altered concentration, which is when either too much or not enough of a certain medication is absorbed by the body.
This happens because CBD competes for or interferes with how the liver enzymes break down other medicines.
Human studies suggest that altered concentration can cause the medication to not work correctly or increase the risk of side effects.
This particular study mentions how CBD can interact with cyclosporine and tacrolimus, among others.
Some of the more potentially SERIOUS drug interactions are:
A good rule of thumb is to check if your medications have a grapefruit warning.
The Food and Drug Administration says that consuming grapefruit while you’re on certain medications might cause a higher concentration of the drug to enter the bloodstream. This can cause an overdose.
That’s because something in grapefruit functions the same way as CBD — so you should also avoid CBD if you’re taking drugs that have the grapefruit warning.
But to be safe, if you’re taking other medicines, it’s even more important to talk to your doctor before starting medical marijuana.
CBD might promote good sleep — however, that’s the case if taken in the RIGHT dosage.
If you have too much or take CBD with other sedating medications, it can cause excessive drowsiness.
The kind of CBD you take can also define how sleepy you end up.
As CBD isolate, it shouldn’t be a problem. However, full-spectrum CBD might be sedating since it contains THC.
Diarrhea, stomachaches, and liver problems are common gastrointestinal issues that CBD users may experience. However, these side effects tend to appear if you take high doses of CBD.
This is especially more concerning if you have liver disease. That’s because CBD increases liver enzymes, leading to an inflamed liver.
As such, talk to your doctor first to see if you can take CBD. It would also be a good idea to have your liver checked regularly if you’ve been allowed to use it.
If your liver is healthy, but you’re experiencing stomachaches and diarrhea, two things you can do to alleviate that are:
- Try CBD in a different form
- Lower your dosage
What Are the Different CBD Products You Can Use?
CBD comes in different forms. Below are a few of the most common CBD products you can use:
Sublingual products DON’T have the sugar and preservatives that edibles have.
Aside from CBD oil, they come in sprays, oils, tablets, and tinctures. The last part pertains to solutions that are created by soaking cannabis flowers in alcohol or oil.
Studies suggest that sublingual products work the fastest among other ways of taking CBD. This particular study mentions Diverse Biotech Inc., which has early clinical trials of pure synthetic CBD.
The study also mentions that CBD with high water solubility can also have higher bioavailability.
You also preserve more of the CBD since you’re not subjecting it to your digestive tract.
If you’re taking CBD oil as is, you can mix it with carrier oil — such as hemp seed oil or coconut oil to dilute it a bit.
WARNING: Stay away from MCT oil since it can cause stomach problems.
Since CBD oil is very versatile, there are many creative ways you can use it.
Add a few drops to your DRINKS — from mocktails to tea! Coffee, in particular, is actually a great drink to put CBD in.
That’s because coffee can increase CBD oil’s bioavailability since CBD is better absorbed if you take it with something fatty. You can even put some grass-fed butter (which is healthier than regular butter!) into your coffee to be sure that it’s a fatty drink.
If you’re worried that CBD will ruin your coffee’s taste, get unflavored CBD or organically flavored CBD that suits the coffee.
Another way to use your CBD oil is to put it in salads.
In fact, unflavored CBD will fit nicely alongside your other cooking oils.
CBD-infused topicals are products applied directly to the skin. Some examples include:
- Transdermal patches
However, the skin ISN’T as permeable as mucous membranes (such as the ones under your tongue), so you’ll need to choose a product with a high amount of CBD to make the most of it.
Remember to apply it generously, too.
CBD lotions are the easiest topicals to apply. Ingredients of these lotions are typically composed of:
- CBD oil
- Oil base
- Emulsifying agent
Depending on the topical, you can also have analgesics like menthol and camphor to make it more soothing and better for ache relief.
Oral CBD is the next effective way of taking CBD after sublingual products.
Some common edible CBD products are:
- Dietary supplements
You can even have baked products, like brownies, that have CBD!
Edibles can hide any weedy taste the CBD might have. However, though edibles are more effective than topicals, they still have more cons than sublingual products.
For one, edibles experience the first pass effect. This effect happens when something (in this case, CBD) is only partially broken down by the liver and digestive system.
Because of that, it can take up to two hours to feel the effects. On top of that, you’ll only absorb 20% to 30% of what you consume.
The ingredients that edibles are made of will depend on what they are and who manufactures them.
For instance, gummies from cbdMD have:
- Organic tapioca syrup
- Cane sugar
- Fruit juice
- Sunflower oil
- Natural and artificial flavors
How Do I Know I’m Getting a Quality CBD Product?
The most important thing to look for when buying a CBD product is the certificate of analysis (COA). This is a document that shows you the results of any clinical trials the product has undergone.
Having a COA also means the CBD product was tested by a third party with no stake in it.
There are several ways you can find the COA:
- Scan the QR code on the product.
- Go to the manufacturer’s/distributor’s website.
- Email the company to ask for it.
When you have the COA, below are three important factors to keep in mind:
1) Double Check the Label
Labeling accuracy would probably be the most crucial thing to look at.
See if the CBD and THC concentrations on the COA are exactly the same as what’s on the product label.
You’d be surprised how common label inaccuracy problems are. Studies suggest that most are NOT accurately labeled.
This study even found that only 31% of cannabidiol extracts sold online are ACCURATELY labeled.
Meanwhile, 43% contain higher amounts of CBD than stated — which can be dangerous to those with medical conditions that make them quite sensitive to it.
2) Look at the Cannabinoid Profile
If your product contains full- or broad-spectrum CBD, you should look at what other cannabinoids and compounds are in it.
Some cannabinoids it should have include:
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
There should be no problem if your CBD product contains only CBD isolate. However, still check the survey data to see if this is really the case.
3) Study the Additional Lab Charts
This is where it can get a bit overwhelming.
However, the important thing here is to check the scientific evidence for heavy metals and pesticides. If you find that something IS detected, see if it falls within the safe limits for ingestion.
It can admittedly be time-consuming, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Overall, check the status of all the charts and make sure they all say “pass.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
There’s still so much we don’t completely understand about CBD. But we can answer a few general related questions about it below:
Who Should Use CBD?
CBD can be used by ANYONE. After all, it may offer some health benefits — from promoting sleep to preventing hair damage.
Who Shouldn’t Use CBD?
CBD isn’t a one-size-fits-all product. Some of the people who CANNOT use CBD are those:
- With liver problems
- Taking certain medications
- With hemp allergy
- Have underlying health problems
What’s the Right Dosage of CBD?
The correct dosage of CBD for you depends on several factors, such as:
- Body weight
- Individual chemistry
- What you’re using it for
It’s best to start with a small dosage — maybe 20 mg a day. Then you can continue increasing that by 5 mg a week.
If you’re experiencing side effects like stomach ache, you might have already reached your limit and should dial it back again.
If you’re taking medical cannabis, consult your doctor about the appropriate dosage. Then, make sure to STICK to that dosage.
What Type of CBD Is the Strongest?
CBD isolate is the strongest and purest form of CBD.
That’s because CBD is extracted from every part of the plant. This process also produces a crystallized form of CBD that’s at least 99% pure.
On the other hand, full-spectrum CBD is also potent for a different reason. This type of CBD has everything the Cannabis Sativa plant has to offer.
Thanks to all those compounds interacting, full-spectrum CBD can cause the “entourage effect.”
CBD is currently being used to alleviate certain health conditions. After all, it comes with benefits, like soothing your skin and promoting a sense of calmness.
There are many ways to take CBD — from dietary supplements to topicals.
You might find that your state’s laws have some leniency regarding CBD. However, overall, these are NOT regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
More research and human studies are needed in understanding how CBD really affects health conditions.
But, for now, it’s best to consult a doctor first before taking CBD.