Thanks to its many potential therapeutic uses, CBD has become one of the most talked-about natural supplements around. But with so much information (and misinformation) out there, learning about it can quickly become overwhelming for newcomers.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide to provide you with everything you need to know to understand the basics of CBD, all in one place. Let’s dive into this incredible cannabinoid and what everyone needs to know about using it!
What Is CBD?
CBD, formally known as cannabidiol, is the second-most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. It is naturally occurring in both the cannabis plant and hemp plant (also known as cannabis sativa). Direct from the plant, it can be extracted, isolated, and infused into products such as oils, edibles, topical creams, and more.
CBD vs THC
While there are well over 100 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, most of them only appear in trace amounts. THC and CBD are the exceptions. Some strains contain THC levels of more than 30% (300 mg of THC per gram of cannabis), while others have been specially bred to feature more than 15%.
These two cannabinoids have the same chemical makeup: 30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. However, the way that these atoms are arranged is not the same, and this difference leads to them functioning very differently.
Both of these cannabinoids are known for having a range of therapeutic abilities, but there are also some important differences when it comes to CBD vs THC. The biggest difference is in their psychoactive ability.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is an intoxicating and mind-altering cannabinoid known for producing a euphoric and uplifting high. However, CBD does not produce any kind of buzz whatsoever. Instead, it produces calming and relaxing sensations that many people feel can help them relax.
Using CBD: CBD Oil Benefits
There are many reasons why people turn to CBD and CBD oil.
Some people feel that it can help them to better manage their stress and anxiety. Additionally, many people who have anxiety-related sleep problems find that CBD can help them fall asleep more easily and feel more rested in the morning.
Others turn to CBD for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving potential. Some people swear by it’s pain-relieving ability and many athletes and gym-goers use CBD in order to improve recovery time and minimize muscle and joint pain following strenuous activity and exercise.
CBD has also been found to help people with certain epileptic conditions to reduce the frequency of seizures and improve their quality of life.
How Does CBD Work In the Human Body?
Like THC, it’s believed that CBD works by stimulating activity in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a physiological network of cell receptors and neurotransmitters that works to keep the body in balance (homeostasis) by regulating critical functions such as sleep, appetite, stress, pain, and more.
However, unlike THC, CBD does not bind directly to CB1 and CB2 cell receptors. Instead, it’s been called a ‘promiscuous’ molecule that acts through various different pathways. Research indicates that CBD actually has more than 65 different molecular targets of activity.
For example, CBD is believed to bind directly to TRPV1 (transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily v. 1) receptors that work to modulate things like pain perception and inflammation. It’s also been found to activate 5-HT1A (hydroxytryptamine) serotonin receptors, a receptor that is believed to affect numerous processes including nausea, appetite, sleep, pain perception, anxiety, and addiction.
Additionally, CBD is also believed to act as an antagonist to certain receptors in the ECS, making them lose their binding affinity for other molecules, or deactivating them altogether. One example is the deactivation of GPR55 receptors, the activation of which could potentially lead to cancer cell proliferation. Another example is how it can negatively affect the ability of THC to bind to CB1 receptors, making THC’s effects less intense and less noticeable.
As you can see, CBD does not work through one simple mechanism. Instead, it is a complex molecule that causes various changes throughout the ECS which allow it to influence the many ways that our minds and bodies work.
Methods of Consuming CBD
Nowadays there are many different ways to consume, each with its own advantages.
Oil has become the most popular way to make the most of the therapeutic potential of this cannabinoid. There are many CBD oil benefits that make so many people want to buy the oil instead of other products. For starters, it’s not only quick and easy to use but also very discreet. Moreover, when using the oil sublingually or swallowing it straight from the dropper, most people begin to feel its effects within 30 minutes. Additionally, it can even be added to other drinks and liquids to mask its natural flavor and make it even easier to get down for those who don’t like the taste of hemp.
Edibles and capsules are other popular forms of CBD due to their simplicity and ease of use. However, because they have to be digested, it can sometimes take up to 1–2 hours to really feel their effects. This slow digestion process does have its benefits though. Because it’s a slow and gradual process, the effects hit you bit by bit over time, resulting in effects that can sometimes last as long as 6–8 hours.
Many people dealing with localized muscle or joint pain turn to topical creams, salves, and lotions. These topical creams are infused with CBD and can be spread over any trouble spots in order to provide relief. Additionally, they are not systemic, and instead only provide effects in the exact spots that they are applied.
Best Practices For Using CBD
Ready to try using CBD? There are a few things you should keep in mind.
It’s important to find the right dosage for your body and your situation. CBD is believed to be more stimulating at lower doses and more relaxing at higher ones. If your dosage isn’t giving you the effects you want to see, it may be a good idea to increase it. Just remember to start low and go slow when dealing with dosages. There’s no point in using too much if a little is enough. Additionally, going too high too fast could result in you experiencing unwanted side effects.
Many people try CBD once and claim that it doesn’t work. But it’s important to use it regularly, not sporadically or occasionally. If you still aren’t experiencing the effects you’d like to see after a couple of weeks of regular use, then maybe CBD just isn’t for you.
Listen To Your Body And Keep Track of Results
After you’ve taken a dose of CBD (and given it some time to work), think carefully about the effects you’re experiencing and whether they’re helping you to achieve your wellness goals. Being deliberate about this will give you a better feel for whether or not CBD is actually working for you. A good way to do this is to keep a journal where you can document and track how you feel after each session.
CBD Side Effects
CBD is considered to be generally safe, but it does have some side effects you should be aware of. The most common side effects include headache, nausea, dry mouth, diarrhea, and drowsiness.
These effects are much more common at higher doses than lower ones. That’s why it’s important to not go overboard when experimenting with dosages. Experiment carefully and you’ll be unlikely to experience any of these unwanted effects. If you do experience them, it’s best to lower your dosage to something your body is more accustomed to.
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