What is CBD (Cannabidiol)?
If you are anything like me, you probably have a pretty good understanding of what marijuana is. You might also have a pretty good grasp of its medical applications. But I bet, even if you know about recreational and medical cannabis, you still could have some questions about CBD oil. Perhaps you’ve heard of it already, perhaps not, but cannabidiol (CBD) is becoming an increasingly attractive alternative to both traditional medicine and medicinal marijuana.
I’d love to take a moment to break down the basic building blocks of CBD for you because most people still wonder what it is. The available information tends to fall into one of two categories: complicated scientific research and poorly written fluff articles meant only to grab your attention. Neither of these are helpful for people like us. Cannabidiol, despite the scientific name, doesn’t have to be that complex.
What is CBD?
The easiest way to introduce CBD is by explaining what the endocannabinoid system is. This system, first discovered in the early 1990s, is responsible for pain sensation, appetite, memory, mood, and some emotional behavior. It's your body’s protection system against internal and external stressors. If something begins to tilt your body’s delicate inner balance, this system comes into play to return it to homeostasis.
In response to various triggers, the body will produce endocannabinoids, which eventually find a specific receptor and lock into it. The most important ones in this explanation are the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Now that you have a grasp of the endocannabinoid system, the next piece of the puzzle is the cannabinoids. The cannabis sativa plant includes both marijuana and industrial hemp. No matter the strain, cannabis has been found to contain compounds called phytocannabinoids (usually just referred to as cannabinoids). When ingested, they mimic the activity of our naturally produced endocannabinoids. Cannabinoids perfectly fit into our cannabinoid receptors and alter our endocannabinoid system in a multitude of ways.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is just one of many the cannabinoids found in cannabis. Depending on the variety, some cannabis strains have been found to have dozens of different cannabinoids. While THC remains its more famous cousin, CBD increasingly has found to have more medicinal applications.
If you don’t already know, THC is the only compound in cannabis responsible for any “high.” Perhaps CBD has garnered so much recent attention because it feels so different than what people expect from cannabis.
What Does it Feel like?
Are you confused about why CBD doesn’t make you high? You are not the only one! One of the most popular questions regarding CBD is what ingesting it feels like, CBD oil, even in high doses, feels extremely mild. You won’t feel “high” or have a strange alteration in mood. It also won’t make you paranoid or even stimulate a case of the munchies.
Instead, most people report feeling calm and relaxed. Unlike some strains of THC-heavy cannabis, CBD oil also doesn’t make you drowsy. In my own experience, I can confirm I only felt a gentle sense of relaxation (if I feel anything at all). The sensation does not develop suddenly. If I didn’t know I had taken CBD oil, most times I’d probably assume I just was feeling utterly calm.
What are the Potential Health Benefits?
These days the barriers (both legal and social) to medical marijuana are falling quickly. But even still, medical marijuana is not for everyone. Let's face it, not everyone wants to be stoned, and not everyone should be stoned. This is why CBD is so popular. It has many of the same benefits associated with medical cannabis, but absolutely none of the problems. Some people even would argue it has more health benefits.
I use CBD to for my anxiety disorder, as it has been found in many small-scale human trials to reduce the daily experience of anxiety and fear. It also has been found beneficial for those with depression and certain psychotic disorders.
Beyond what I personally have experienced with CBD oil, the laundry list of potential health benefits seemingly is unlimited. Recent research has explored CBD's potential as a potent anti-seizure medication, and lab studies are demonstrating tumor-fighting capabilities.
Further research shows significant benefit for chronic pain reduction and incredibly compelling conclusions regarding its anti-inflammatory properties. Want more? There are studies into its usefulness for reducing substance abuse problems, reducing PTSD symptoms, and even some research into its potential to reduce the risk for diabetes.
I'd like to mention here that in all areas rigorous scientific study is ongoing to confirm these experiences and results on a broader scale. However, the preliminary evidence is extremely promising.
Is it Safe?
Short answer -- yes. Long answer -- almost always yes. In fact,only in a few instances has CBD ever shown any side effects at all. One study into the use of CBD for people with Parkinson’s disease noted some patients experienced more tremors, one of the disease’s first symptoms, when on extremely high doses. However, others saw a reduction in tremors.
One other potential side effect I'd like to mention is CBD may reduce the absorption of hepatic drugs. Hepatic medicines are processed through the liver. It is important to speak with your doctor for more information if you are taking any medications.
Is CBD Legal?
The legal situation is probably the second-most asked question about CBD. One of the essential things to know about many CBD products is they are sourced from hemp, not THC-containing marijuana. Because hemp can’t make you high, the plant and anything derived from it remain legal to sell, use and produce. Of course, there are some complex technicalities, but CBD remains legal in all states and at least 45 countries around the world.