“I’ve packed everything I need for this trip – swimsuit, vitamins, bike gear, CBD oil, I’m good to go.” Those were the parting words of my travel companion last month as she checked things off her packing list, one precious item at a time before we set out on a two-week road trip along the coast. “CBD oil?,” I asked. “Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it,” she replied.
In fact, the world is awakening to the benefits of CBD, the non-psychoactive cousin to marijuana, and as more and more people try it out (in products as diverse as tinctures, beauty creams, and pre-rolled joints), the number of naysayers is declining rapidly. Despite decades of stereotypes, depicting marijuana users as red-eyed stoners with a burrito in hand, CBD is redefining the cannabis landscape, putting the plant firmly on the map of the mainstream.
WHAT IS CBD?
CBD (also known as cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant.
There are a few important things to note here:
- First, CBD is just one of the compounds found in cannabis (there are over 500 in total).
- Second, CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it does not get you high.
A report from the World Health Organization states, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…”
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CBD AND MARIJUANA
So what is the difference between marijuana (most commonly thought of as a favorite pastime for adolescents cutting class) and CBD (a newfound favourite for athletes, fashionistas, pet lovers, parents, and senior citizens alike)?
Let’s start by taking one step back.
The plant Cannabis sativa has two primary species, hemp and marijuana.
Marijuana is rich in THC, the psychoactive compound that gets you high.
Hemp, on the other hand, contains a significantly lower amount of THC (in fact, in order to be legally cultivated, hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC), and is rich in CBD, which, as we’ve already covered, will not have you trolling Uber Eats at 3 a.m.
Scientists have identified two receptors in the human body that respond to cannabis – CB1 and CB2. These receptors are part of the larger endocannabinoid system, which helps your body regulate the hormones that influence appetite, pain sensation, mood, memory, anxiety, and more.
Scientifically speaking, both CBD and THC have the exact same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms, but a tiny difference in how the atoms are arranged leads to different effects on your body. Jeffrey Raber, CEO of California-based cannabis chemistry lab The Werc Shop, describes it well, “it’s a wildly different key going into the lock.”
Where THC binds with the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain (producing a high), CBD binds very weakly, if at all, to CB1 receptors, but has a stronger affinity for CB2 receptors. A bunch of very particular reactions occur in the middle and the result is that THC produces psychoactive effects by affecting the brain and spinal cord, while CBD acts on the other receptors without being psychoactive.
POTENTIAL USES AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF CBD
It’s important to note before we get into the next section that Pure CBD Exchange makes no claims about the medical or health benefits of CBD.
In June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Epidiolex as a medication to treat rare forms of epilepsy – it was the first prescription medication to contain CBD. With the exception of Epidiolex, the FDA has not approved CBD to treat any other medical conditions. The below resources and articles are listed only provide to an index of studies and areas where CBD shows promise as a medical treatment. One or two studies does not guarantee that CBD will work as a treatment for a given condition or that it should be used for one. Even if approved as a treatment for a certain condition by the FDA, there’s no guarantee that CBD will prove effective for you. Every human body is different and each responds to different substances in different ways. Consult your physician before taking any CBD product.
CBD, LET ME COUNT THE WAYS
So what’s the best way to CBD? The answer is, it depends. But here are some of the most popular methods available.
Tinctures is a fancy name for CBD oil in a discreet little eye dropper. This is the second-fastest way to absorb CBD (after smoking), and one of the most popular methods to enjoy the many benefits of CBD. Available in different doses (Pure CBD Exchange for example offers tinctures in concentrations of 2500mg, 1500mg, 1000mg, and 500mg), tinctures are generally mixed with some type of oil.
For purists, all-natural CBD hemp flower may be the way to go, either in all its plant-like glory or ready-to-smoke in pre-rolled joints. Smoking offers the highest bioavailability of CBD, which basically means you get more CBD into your system, faster than with other forms of consumption, and mounting evidence suggests that CBD may be more effective in its whole and natural state (an outcome known as the entourage effect).
Vaping involves a vape pen that heats up a small portion of concentrated CBD oil until it boils, allowing you to inhale the vapor. Controlling dosing can be difficult as how much CBD you absorb depends on how hard and how long you inhale, but vaping is also one of the quickest ways to get CBD into the bloodstream (though for the shortest period of time), making it an accessible vehicle for near-instant effect.
Lotions, Salves & Creams
CBD dosing is a confusing topic. The FDA has not created a Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for CBD, and CBD does not have an official serving size. How much you should take depends on a variety of factors including the concentration of the CBD in the product; the method of consumption; individual characteristics like your genetic makeup, gender, and weight; potency of the strain; and what you’re hoping to achieve by using it. One person might simply be using CBD to promote general health, while another might be using it to address acne or insomnia. How much they take will differ accordingly.
To give us a starting point, previous studies have said that around 300 milligrams daily are required to achieve stress-relieving results, but new research shows that as little as 25 milligrams a day can already elicit positive effects. That’s important news, especially since it makes any CBD regimen more affordable and accessible for people seeking relief and results.
Determining your ideal serving might take a little patience and experimentation but whether you’re consuming CBD for the first time, or you’re a regular user, it’s always a good idea to start small and progress slowly so you can determine what works best for you. A 2018 article from Medium recommended using three simple steps to determine your ideal dose:
1. Estimate your dosage based on your body weight
A good rule of thumb is 1-6 milligrams of CBD for every 10 pounds of body weight. For example, 20-33 milligrams would be a good starting dosage for a 200 lb patient, while 15-25 milligrams would be best for someone who weighs 150 lb.
2. Start small and increase gradually
Determine your initial dosage based on your weight, then gauge how your body reacts to that amount of CBD. Increase gradually (continuing to monitor your body’s reactions) until you achieve the desired results.
3. Consult your physician
Most importantly, always consult your physician, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
Since the market for CBD is unregulated, it can be difficult to know what you’re getting. A 2015 study by the F.D.A. revealed that many CBD-labeled products actually contained very little CBD. A 2017 article in JAMA reported that, in a study of 84 products sold online, 26% contained less CBD than advertised and 43% contained more. A 2017 study by the American Medical Association of 84 CBD products purchased online, found that almost 70% were mislabeled with respect to the amount of CBD.
2021 Update: A new report shows that quality across the CBD industry has improved quite a bit. This new study shows that 73% of CBD products now contain within 10% of the advertised amount.
With such wildly varying results, it’s no wonder some people are wary of trying CBD. But it’s important to know what you’re getting because, when it comes to what you put into your body, quality counts and low-quality CBD products won’t provide you with the same benefits as high-quality products.
Do your research. Don’t be afraid to reach out to companies and ask questions. Look for brands that are transparent and committed to quality, like Aspen Valley Hemp Company and Pure CBD Exchange who use only the cleanest and most potent varieties available, grown naturally, and hand selected from growers across the country, ensuring an exceptionally pure product, straight from nature, and ready to consume, however you choose.
In general, be sure to look for:
- Third party testing (companies that stand behind their products don’t have anything to hide).
- Products with less than 0.3% THC (the standard to be considered an industrial hemp product).
- Naturally-derived products sourced in the U.S. (hemp is a heavily regulated commodity in the U.S. so domestically-sourced products will be Farm Bill Compliant and of higher quality).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We’ve covered quite an encyclopedia of CBD info in this guide, but before we wrap up, here are some of the questions we hear most often:
Will CBD make me high?
No. Quality CBD products, derived from hemp, contain less than 0.3% THC, not enough to get you high.
How do I take CBD?
You can take CBD in a number of ways including smoking, vaping, edibles, oils, and creams or lotions.
Is CBD legal to use in all 50 states?
Not right now – always check your specific local and state laws regarding CBD and Hemp. Industrial Hemp is federally legal in the United States provided that the plant contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.
CHOOSE A GOOD COMPANY AND STICK WITH THEM
CBD is a complicated product and the current market can be confusing for newcomers and experienced users alike, but by following some of the recommendations laid out in this guide, you’ll be well positioned to dip a toe into the (extremely calm) waters of CBD, or to cannonball into the deep end of cannabidiol.
Perhaps the best takeaway is this: find a good company that you trust and stick with them. That’s a proven path to a more present, grounded, CBD-centred state of mind.