What is CBD
What is CBD?
More and more people are discovering the physical and mental health benefits of cannabidiol, or CBD. Yet research on this fascinating natural substance is still catching up with the public’s appetite for information about its uses. If you’re curious about what CBD is and how it works, you’ve come to the right place. Find all your CBD questions answered in this guide.
The Cannabis Plant
The Cannabis plant is one of the most pharmacologically active plants on the planet, containing over 400 chemicals including flavonoids, terpenoids, and of course cannabinoids. CBD is one of those cannabinoids.
While there is some dispute over the exact number and nomenclature of the different species of Cannabis, we’ll broadly distinguish between what many call “hemp” plants – harvested for both fiber and seed oil – and “drug” plants.
But what’s the difference?
The distinction sometimes boils down to the amount of CBD vs. THC contained in the plant. THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is famous for its psychoactive effects – in other words, it’s what gets you high when you consume THC-rich cannabis products. CBD, on the other hand, produces no psychoactive effects.
Different species or “strains” of Cannabis can contain both THC and CBD – not to mention other cannabinoids – in a wide range of proportions. However, hemp plants are broadly classified as containing much less THC and more CBD than so-called drug plants. BIOS Labs extracts its CBD from industrial hemp.
CBD, Your Mind, and Your Body
The cannabis plant happens to be one of the most (if not the most) pharmacologically active plants on the planet, containing over 400 active chemicals. The unique active components of cannabis are called cannabinoids, which are found alongside active chemicals called terpenoids (we also refer to them as terpenes) and flavonoids. These chemical components work together to provide a wide variety of therapeutic benefits to the human body.
Cannabis sativa is one of the oldest domesticated plant species. After originating in Central Asia, it has been used for medicinal and psychoactive purposes for millennia. So, what’s responsible for those medicinal and psychoactive effects? Natural products called cannabinoids, including CBD.
To understand the many wonderful uses of CBD for your well-being, it helps to take a little crash course in how CBD and other cannabinoids interact with your body.
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that show up naturally not only in plants like Cannabis, but also in your own body. There are over 100 known cannabinoids – of which CBD and THC are only a small portion – that work together to produce various therapeutic effects on the body. Your body in turn uses a built-in system to mediate those effects.
Inside every vertebrate (yep, that means you!) is what’s called the Endocannabinoid System, or ECS. This system consists of neurotransmitters called “endocannabinoids” that bind with cannabinoid receptors that are present throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems.
Though the medical field has been aware of the ECS for decades, research has only recently begun to shed light on its importance for our health.
How does the ECS work?
When you consume CBD, the ECS is what allows your body to reap the benefits. In addition to mediating the effects of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids, the ECS is involved in regulating all kinds of cognitive and physical processes, including memory, mood, appetite, and even the “runner’s high” you get from voluntary exercise.
The two primary types of receptors in the ECS are CB1, present in the central nervous system and brain, and CB2, present in the peripheral nervous system (everything outside of your brain and spinal cord). These receptors are involved in the regulation both of cannabinoids naturally produced by your body as well as those consumed from plants or other substances.
What does CBD treat?
Studies are uncovering a treasure trove of health benefits from CBD, and investing in more research can only benefit the public. Below are some of the uses people are finding for this natural substance.
CBD and Pain
One of the oldest uses of cannabis has been to treat pain. Both CBD and THC have analgesic properties that can alleviate nerve pain and chronic pain by interacting with neurotransmitters and reducing inflammation. People have found CBD tremendously helpful in alleviating pain from both arthritis and multiple sclerosis, among other conditions.
CBD and Mental Health
Though CBD has no psychoactive properties, studies have found it to be helpful in easing the effects of anxiety and depression, as well as insomnia. With more research into these therapeutic benefits, CBD could act as a safe and natural alternative to pharmaceutical drugs with harmful side effects or addictive properties.
CBD and Epilepsy
Research shows that CBD is effective in reducing seizures in adults, children, and infants. In fact, the first FDA-approved CBD-based prescription drug was designed for this use.
CBD and Cancer
CBD is popular with cancer patients for its pain alleviating properties, but it can also help with the side effects of cancer treatment like radiation and chemo, including nausea and vomiting – not to mention any resulting stress or depression. There is even evidence that CBD can help protect against tumor progression.
Other Medicinal Uses of CBD
Past or current research has shown CBD to be potentially effective in the following other conditions:
Who is CBD safe for?
Again, CBD has absolutely no psychoactive effects – it doesn’t get you “high.” That makes it safe for children, people operating machinery or vehicles, those recovering from addictions, and even your pets.
Taking CBD: An Introduction
One of the advantages of CBD as a treatment for physical or mental ailments is the many ways you can consume it. CBD is highly adaptable to your lifestyle, whether you prefer the convenience of capsules, the high bioavailability of tinctures, or anything in between. Each intake type has its unique advantages, dosing method, and effectiveness. Finding the right one for you depends on your preferences and the condition you’re treating.
CBD tinctures are some of the most popular and effective ways to consume CBD. Tinctures are usually taken sublingually (i.e., under the tongue) with a dropper, allowing the CBD to bypass the digestive system. That means more cannabinoids are delivered straight to your bloodstream, allowing the CBD to take effect more quickly than other methods. CBD tinctures are popular for pets, children, and adults alike.
Vaporizing CBD is another immensely popular method, not least because it has the highest bioavailability by most accounts. Like taking CBD sublingually, inhaling CBD straight into the lungs lets the cannabinoids enter your bloodstream with very little breakdown. So while the effects of CBD may not last as long as with, say, edibles, they will be maximized and will hit you more quickly.
Capsules, Tablets, and Softgels
CBD capsules, tablets, and softgels offer convenient alternatives to tinctures. Divided into pre-dosed units, capsules let you know exactly how much CBD you’re taking, allowing for easy dosage and adjustment. Capsules and tablets can be used for pain and insomnia, among other conditions.
One of the advantages of CBD edibles is the sheer variety at your disposal, from baked goods to chocolates to gummies. And while edibles have their drawbacks – the CBD takes longer to hit, and much will be filtered out in the digestive tract – the effects can last longer than with tinctures or vaping, often by several hours.