One of the most frequently talked about substances for enhancing wellness in recent years, cannabidiol, or more commonly known as CBD, is a chemical compound that comes from the Cannabis sativa plant, or marijuana, cultivated throughout recorded history for medicine, industrial fiber, food, recreation, and other purposes. After the passage of the 2018 US Farm Bill that legalized industrial hemp, and the legalization of both recreational and medical cannabis in multiple states, CBD products began to explode in popularity thanks to its therapeutic properties.
The only thing that’s spread faster, is the confusion over what it really is.
What Exactly is CBD?
CBD is a phytocannabinoid, one of 113 identified cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, accounting for as much as 40 percent of the plant’s extract. Unlike its cousin, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the major active ingredient in marijuana, it’s not psychoactive. In other words, it won’t get you “high.”
How Does it Work?
Both THC and CBD work by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. This is a regulatory system in the body that consists of naturally occurring cannabis-like molecules. These molecules, or endocannabinoids, are similar to neurotransmitters in that they carry messages throughout the body to help maintain homeostasis. CBD and THC are known to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system at two currently known receptors, CB1 and CB2.
Primarily present in the brain, CB1 receptors are involved in the thyroid, liver, peripheral nervous system, and more. THC attaches to those receptors to inhibit the release of neurotransmitters and may also increase the release of others, which alters normal functioning. It was once believed that CBD worked the same way, but with CB2 receptors, found in abundance in the gastrointestinal, immune, brain, and nervous systems; however, researchers no longer believe that’s the case. It’s still unknown as to exactly how CBD affects the body, although many experts think it encourages more of the body’s own endocannabinoids to be produced, in turn, helping to combat inflammation, ease pain and reduce anxiety.
How CBD is Used
CBD comes in multiple different forms. How one chooses to use it is simply based on personal preferences and requirements. The method of how it’s delivered affects how fast it will work and the types of effects it will have on the body too.
CBD is available as an edible with a wide range of products that can be consumed such as chocolates and other candies, which may take anywhere from about 30 minutes to four hours to take effect. It also comes in pills and capsules, oils, and tinctures, which are placed under the tongue using a dropper. It can also be found in CBC drops. CBC is another one of the hundreds of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It’s believed to fight inflammation without activating cannabinoid receptors and produces a stronger effect when combined with CBD.
Lotions, creams, and oils with CBD, are yet another option, used directly on the skin to treat localized pain.
When trying to determine which to use, drops under the tongue are generally quicker than edibles, with effects often felt in just a few minutes. With topicals, the time frame varies widely – some may feel it right away, others may not feel it for a few hours.