Ah, the good old days. Back when CBD meant “Central Business District” to many of us.
Those days are long gone.
Now we know CBD as cannabidiol, an organic compound derived from the hemp and cannabis plants.
We find it in health food stores and other shops. In pills and tinctures. Salves and creams. Chocolate bars, honey sticks, energy bars, sleeping masks and coffee, among many other things.
And as the CBD boom continues to crest, we will encounter the substance in increasingly more products and outlets.
Here’s the thing:
Before we start exploring CBD’s wild diversity of applications and products, we should feel comfortable with the answer to this question: What exactly is CBD?
You’re about to find out.
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You’re also about to discover CBD’s broad range of thrilling advantages, as well as the spectrum of conditions and experiences for which it is being used.
But before we get there, let’s build the sturdy foundation we need to fully understand and appreciate the CBD revolution.
The 101 on CBD
Your new secret weapon?
Let me make introductions.
Cannabidiol is something called a “phytocannabinoid” (also, simply, cannabinoid) one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in the hemp and cannabis plants.
Discovered by American scientist Roger Adams in 1940, it wasn’t until 20 years later that Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam described CBD’s chemical structure, and importantly determined that it was non-psychoactive, as are most other cannabinoids.
That’s not all…
The most famous cannabinoid, THC, is what gets people high. CBD doesn’t do that, but it interacts in potent ways with the human body.
Just as THC deliver strong effects to the brain, so does CBD to the human body and the brain — minus the “high” part.
How Does CBD Work?
So we know CBD is a powerful organic substance found in hemp and cannabis plants, and that it doesn’t get you high.
But how does it work?
I can’t emphasize this enough:
CBD’s myriad benefits and pleasures would never flower if not for something called the endocannabinoid system, a network of neurotransmitters that are heavily involved with important aspects of the human body, including endocrine function, hormonal balance and the central nervous system.
The system’s name is no accident. While it is an organic part of every human body, it is named after cannabis, of which hemp is a sister.
The best part?
This startling factoid.
The endocannabinoid system contains homegrown cannabis-like substances.
Your body already supports substances similar to ones found in cannabis. And while the homegrown compounds play roles in the body entirely independent of the introduction of cannabinoids, when cannabinoids are added to the body health-positive things take place.
Too good to be true?
Fortunately, it is simultaneously good and true.
Here’s the deal:
The endocannabinoid system stands on three sturdy legs:
- Endocannabinoids, which are the body’s own substances that mirror the cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis plants. One of the best-known endocannabinoids, anandamide, comes from the Sanskrit word for bliss, and is known as the “bliss molecule.”
- CB receptors, found throughout the body (and especially in the nervous system), which help invite cannabinoids into the endocannabinoid system
- Enzymes that eliminate endocannabinoids and cannabinoids after they have exhausted their usefulness.
Why does this matter?
The system hums along for all of us, regardless of whether we add cannabinoids to our bodies. And it’s essential for something central to CBD called “homeostasis.”
Before we reveal CBD’s wealth of groundbreaking advantages, it’s important that you understand homeostasis.
Further Reading – CBG, The Emerging Cannabinoid
CBD and Homeostasis
Here’s the key takeaway:
Think of homeostasis as what happens when a car’s engine is in tip-top shape. The pistons fire precisely on time. Fresh oil is distributed in such a way that gears and parts turn effortlessly, and without noise. The radiator keeps things cool, the battery is fully charged, and the transmission switches gears with great efficiency.
When it’s all firing in the zone, homestasis is ideal. But you know how it goes with engines — the spark plugs lose their spark, oil gets gunky, timing belts fray and miss beats.
You can spend quite a bit of time, and money, achieving auto homeostasis. And unless you are a gear head, the work gets done by mechanics in professional garages.
That’s the endocannabinoid system — the body’s own garage, packed with mechanics.
What are we trying to tell you?
Here you go.
The system maintains proper body temperature and works to ensure a healthy heartbeat.
It lets you know when fuel is required (your stomach is growling), and when the body needs more of certain kinds of minerals or vitamins.
Those free-flowing hormones? The endocannabinoid system regulates their distribution.
Further Reading: What do color and clarity say about your CBD Oil?
CBD and Receptors
Let’s return to those CB receptors we referenced earlier as one of the three legs of the endocannabinoid stool. They play important roles in maintaining homeostasis.
A lock. A key.
The endocannabinoid system supports two cannabinoid receptors: CB1, which deals the central nervous system, and CB2 which is responsible for aspects of the immune, digestive and peripheral nervous system.
These receptors, which were only discovered in the mid-1980s in a St. Louis University laboratory, work like…
Wait for it…
A lock and key.
There’s a catch.
They don’t need cannabinoids — those compounds found in cannabis and hemp — to work. Instead, the body normally uses the receptors to receive from the brain the body’s own endocannabinoids, like anandamide.
But since the structure of endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are similar, receptors also receive cannabinoids that enter the body.
Further Reading: Where To Buy CBD Oil
The strange truth is…
When the cannabinoids (the keys) from CBD products enter the body, they immediately begin looking for receptors (locks). The magic occurs when the lock and key align — that’s when messages from the cannabinoid get distributed through the rest of the body.
Better than sex?
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
CBD and Enzymes Boost Bliss
Let’s return to homeostasis, the garage and mechanics.
Once the cannabinoids unlock the CB receptors and enter the endocannabinoid system, they search for areas in need of tune-ups, if not overhauls.
They are like so many energetic and savvy new mechanics joining the endocannabinoid system and working to keep everything running smoothly.
That’s not all.
One of the keys to CBD in particular? By communicating with the enzymes that break down endocannabinoids, CBD effectively increases the volume of endocannabinoids in the system.
Further Reading: A Cannabis Enthusiast’s Guide to Terpenes
What does this mean?
For example, it means more anandamide, the “bliss molecule,” circulating through the body. It’s fair to say that more bliss generally is a good thing.
And as we get closer to showing you all that CBD has to offer — hold tight — we predict your own wells of anandamide are starting to swell.
The Scientific Research Behind CBD
With so much recent attention paid towards CBD, and the explosion of products, skepticism has arisen. Does this stuff really work? Is it snake oil?
What’s the real story?
While the marketing sometimes does go overboard — for example, ditching medications for Parkinson’s Disease in favor of CBD supplements is not a good idea — the science behind CBD is stout. And it has a ways to go, too.
The research touches on a number of areas. But it’s in the realm of childhood epilepsy syndromes, like Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, where studies have most strongly confirmed positive effects from CBD.
These conditions don’t normally respond to medications, but CBD managed to either diminish the volume of seizures or downright eliminate them. The Food and Drug Administration has even approved a drug, called Epidolex, that involves CBD.
There’s even more.
Research affirming CBD’s medical potential, if not promise, roams far beyond a small family of seizure conditions. One study, published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, found that 62 percent of people who use CBD do so for medical reasons.
For what conditions are they swallowing those supplements and tinctures and lathering those salves? Pain, anxiety and depression.
Let’s consider these areas of research, as well as others.
This is big stuff.
You’re still wondering:
What will CBD accomplish for you?
Glad you asked.
CBD For Anxiety
Anxiety is a principal reason for exploring CBD among people who have experimented with the cannabinoid.
This may not come as a huge surprise — anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States, interfering with the lives of more than 18 percent of the population, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Further Reading: Which CBD Tincture is Right for You? Complete CBD Tincture Reviews
Research into CBD and anxiety includes:
Help with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).
- A 2011 study in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology that treated 24 people suffering from Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), a condition social anxiety condition that affects how people engage with social life. The study found that those treated with CBD prior to a public speaking test experienced reduced anxiety compared to other populations within the test group.
Even MORE help with SAD.
- Another 2011 study in the journal Psychopharmacology that used neuroimaging to assess anxiety levels in another group of people suffering from SAD. The study found that “CBD reduces anxiety in SAD and this is related to its effects in limbic and paralimbic brain areas.”
CBD helps BOOST the all-important bliss molecule.
- A 2014 study in the journal Translational Psychology that concluded augmenting the endocannabinoid system in ways that increase levels of anandamide (the “bliss molecule”) can mitigate stress and dampen anxiety. And we know that one effect of CBD is the effective boosting of levels of endocannabinoids, including anandamide.
CBD can relieve post-traumatic stress disorder.
- A 2016 study in the journal The Permanente involving one 10-year-old girl who had experienced sexual abuse and minimal parental involvement prior to age five. The child was treated with CBD oil for anxiety, and the study concluded that CBD oil was a “safe treatment for reducing anxiety and improving sleep in a young girl with posttraumatic stress disorder.”
Interested in learning more about the benefits of other cannabinoids?
See ==> The Top 10 Cannabinoids and What Each Does for You
CBD overall shows promise for a wide range of anxiety disorders.
- A 2015 study in the journal Neurotherapeutics summarizing the state of research concluded that “CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders…”
CBD For Pain
CBD beats pain?
How can this be?
If you read about CBD’s promise for anxiety, there’s a good chance you also heard about its applications for pain management and relief.
Where products for anxiety are mostly supplements, tinctures and oils, CBD products for pain include all of the above as well as salves and creams and things like bath salts.
Well, it’s clearly worth it for athletes, who on average experience more day-to-day pain than the general population.
Jocks have fully embraced CBD.
One national organization, Athletes for Care, revolves around promoting both CBD and cannabis through its network of dozens of pro athletes, including former Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer, ultramarathoner Avery Collins, snowboarding star Greta Gaines, and NBA player Kareem Rush.
Check it out:
If jocks are on board with CBD for pain, there’s something powerful happening with the organic compound.
From managing chronic pain to recovering from injury and stress, increasingly more people are turning to CBD for relief.
The science for pain-relief is just as robust as it is for anxiety.
Peer-reviewed, published studies include:
CBD suppresses painful inflammation.
- A 2012 study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that application of CBD “significantly suppress chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain without causing analgesic tolerance in rodents.”
Chronic pain subject to CBD therapy.
- A 2007 study in the European Journal of Pharmacology in which the results “indicate a potential for therapeutic use of cannabidiol in chronic painful states.”
CBD treats pain without side-effects.
- A 2018 study by researchers at McGill University and published in the journal PAIN said CBD “can be used as a medicine without the dangerous side effects of THC,” according to one of the researchers in an interview.
Arthritis gets suppressed with CBD.
- A 2016 study in the European Journal of Pain found that “topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviours and inflammation without evident side-effects.”
CBD For Depression
Just as for anxiety and pain, people suffering from depression choose from among a wilderness of medications, all of which in the case of depression alter brain chemistry.
Many of the prescription medications can be effective, but most patients experiment with many different medications and combinations of medications before finding one that works, at least for awhile.
Meanwhile, more and more people are turning to CBD for help with depression.
I can’t believe this is true, but…
Depression, an affliction that visits 10 percent of the population, is yet another condition for which CBD is demonstrating promise.
As with all CBD research, it remains nascent, and conclusive results are elusive. But the pace and intensity of research is rapidly increasing because studies already conducted show immense promise for the places where depression and CBD intersect.
Among the published papers showing effective depression treatment through CBD, highlights include:
CBD offers great psychiatric potential.
- A 2009 study published in CNS & Neurological Disorders Drug Targets concluded that CBD has “great psychiatric potential, including uses as an antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like compound.” Anxiolytic means an anti-anxiety drug.
People with diminished motivation and pleasure treated with CBD.
- A 2016 study in the journal Neuropsychobiology that found “CBD may be beneficial for the treatment of clinical depression and other states of prominent anhedonia.” Anhedonia involves feelings of diminished motivation and ability to experience pleasure.
CBD can mirror expensive pharmaceuticals, without side-effects.
- 2010 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology that found CBD “induces antidepressant-like effects comparable to those of imipramine.” Imipramine is a prescription pharmaceutical used to treat depression.
Research suggests CBD could become an antidepressant drug.
- A 2016 study published in 2010 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology that concluded “CBD could represent a novel fast antidepressant drug.”
Extraction Methods Important for CBD
You’re nearly a CBD expert at this point — but not quite. You know what it is, how it works, and what the science says about the compound.
What do you know about how the products are made?
You’re about to add extraction science to your list of CBD expertise.
Why do you need to know this?
It’s an important part of the CBD puzzle. Understanding how we get from plants to gummies will help with your CBD decisions.
Both hemp and cannabis plants contain CBD. But you don’t just scrape the substance from the leaves, buds or stems. Instead, you need to break down the plants and withdraw the chemical compound through different high-tech extraction methods.
One thing to remember:
Extraction methods can pull all cannabinoids and other things like terpenes from the plant; if the plant is cannabis, that includes THC. With hemp, the THC is not part of the profile.
To isolate individual cannabinoids like CBD from plants, many extracts must then undergo distillation, which isolates individual cannabinoids, separating them from the rest of the plant compounds.
Why does this matter?
Some products embrace “whole-plant” extraction, meaning the product contains CBD as well as the other compounds that were extracted from the plant. Others contain CBD “isolates,” which means the extracts were subject to certain styles of C02 extraction or underwent distillation, and the CBD in the product is not combined with other elements of the plant.
So some products are “whole-plant,” and others aren’t.
What’s the big deal?
Some people embrace whole-plant styles, believing the range of cannabinoids found in hemp (the plant contains more than 100 of them) are essential for unlocking the plant’s full power. Others want nothing more than individual cannabinoids, like CBD, in their products.
The most common extraction method leverages solvents such as ethanol to strip the cannabinoids from the plant matter. The plant matter gets mixed with the solvent; the liquid is eventually strained from the hemp; and then the liquid gets evaporated, leaving behind the cannabinoids and other compounds that were stripped from the hemp.
But there’s a catch.
The method is dangerous (solvents like ethanol are highly flammable), and in addition to cannabinoids the process strips chlorophyll, which gives the eventual oils a bitter taste. In addition, it takes work to remove every last scrap of solvent from the final product.
Instead of relying upon solvents to remove cannabinoids from hemp plants, C02 extraction turns towards carbon dioxide that, through a combination of high pressure and heat, pulls cannabinoids like CBD from plants. The equipment is far more expensive than what is required for solvent extraction, but it’s also more efficient.
One big advantage: the process allows technicians to withdraw individual compounds from plants. So using C02, technicians can just focus on removing CBD from the material. With solvents, everything is stripped, requiring a post-extraction distillation process to isolate individual compounds like CBD.
There are drawbacks. The equipment is pricey, far more than what is required for solvent-based extraction. And you need crackerjack staff to run the machines. Using this equipment is complicated, and not meant for people without experience.
Universe of CBD Products Roams Far and Wide
We’re almost there.
Found your new secret weapon?
At this point, you’ll be the life of the party should somebody ask, “Hey, what is this CBD stuff all about?”
But you still need to master the skinny on a few more things…
Namely — what kinds of products are available, and for what reasons are people using them?
It wasn’t long ago that most CBD products were supplements, tinctures or creams infused with CBD, to be lathered on knees and shoulders.
Times have changed.
In addition to these products, CBD now can be found in a diversity of food products — everything from boxes of fancy chocolates to bags of gummies to beer, tea, cocktails, slushies, pet treats and even aioli.
That’s not all…
Vape pens get filled with CBD oil. Cough syrup’s got it. Sleeping masks, sex lubricants, mascara, lip balm, bath salts, eye cream, hair pomade, soap … the list does go on and on … and on.
Let’s be real.
Does the world need so many products filled with CBD? Who knows?
For now, companies and entrepreneurs are experimenting wildly with the compound, trying to find products that truly make a difference for consumers, whether it’s a supplement that helps lull them to sleep, a sublingual tablet that gives them energy before a big race, a salve to rub into a sore ankle after the race, or a shampoo.
The most common applications revolve around the conditions we explored above — anxiety, pain and depression, as well as sleep and energy.
And most of the products, whether it’s a bath salt, soap, bon-bon, beer or tincture, tend to focus on one of these most popular applications.
The bon-bon will help you sleep. The tincture is perfect for energy. The bath salt will help relieve anxiety. And so on.
Wait a minute.
How can this be?
How could one organic product aid both sleep and energy? How could the same thing also mitigate pain, and manage anxiety?
The strange truth is…
Let’s bet back to the endocannabinoid system, and CBD’s relationship with it.
It’s all about homeostasis — remember that?
Instead of producing effects, in the manner of caffeine sending jolts of energy to the brain, or sedatives knocking people over the head to send them to sleep, CBD eliminates the things interfering with the body’s needs.
I can’t emphasize this enough:
By relieving pain and anxiety — principal reasons for poor sleep — CBD helps people gain restful nights between the sheets. And solid slumber provides energy.
Meanwhile, by mitigating things that lead to lethargy, such as depression, anxiety and pain, CBD helps the body gain access to its stores of energy when it needs them.
The CBD Revolution Is Vast and Rising Vast
The CBD revolution is already here, and it’s spreading fast. This organic substance derived from hemp or cannabis is different from the rest of the world’s diversity of botanicals and pharmaceuticals.
If you take away one thing, let it be this:
By working within the body’s endocannabinoid system to optimize everything from hormone distribution to central nervous system efficiency, CBD becomes an integral part of the body’s inner workings, rather than a periodic add-on, like pain killers, sedatives and stimulants, that never merge with the body in a holistic way.
It’s a whole-body approach to managing a wide range of ailments. But it’s also much more.
CBD helps turns your body into what it’s meant to be.
Feels good, doesn’t it?