One of the biggest products to hit the supplement scene in recent years is CBD. Yet, even despite its boom in popularity, there’s still a lot of confusion about how it works—and even about what it is! The purpose of this article is to sum up everything you need to know about CBD, so you can feel good about incorporating it into your lifestyle in the right capacity. Let’s get into it!
Clarification on what CBD is and isn’t
For starters, CBD isn’t pot, weed, the electric lettuce or whatever you want to call marijuana. To understand what CBD is and isn’t, you need to understand the difference between genus and species.
Cannabis is a genus of plant. Within that genus there are different species of cannabis—namely, marijuana and hemp. Both species contain an array of cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. Marijuana has high concentrations of THC; CBD is prevalent in hemp. And, today, thanks to horticulturists, it’s possible to grow species of both plants with control over the cannabinoids they contain—it’s why there are so many strains of marijuana out there. For hemp, it means growing plant with a statistically insignificant amount of THC and a plentiful about of CBD.
In summation, CBD and THC are two different cannabinoids with different properties, harvested from two different species of cannabis plant. Although they’re related, they’re very much different.
What’s a cannabinoid and why are they important?
Cannabinoids are compounds specific to the cannabis genus of plants. THC and CBD are cannabinoids, and there are many more, including CBC and CBG. Each cannabinoid has its own properties and interacts with the body in different ways. THC has psychoactive properties, which is what makes you feel “high” after ingesting it.
The reason CBD is such a popular cannabinoid these days is because the identified properties of CBD are hugely beneficial to the body.
- Anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling properties
- Pain relief, including for chronic conditions
- Reduction in feelings of anxiety and depression
- Neuroprotective and seizure preventing properties
- Improved heart health, including blood pressure
While studies are still ongoing about the properties and capabilities of CBD and other cannabinoids, there’s definitive evidence that they play a vital role in our health and wellness.
How do cannabinoids work?
When ingested orally or sublingually (under the tongue), cannabinoids are absorbed into the blood stream where they interact with our endocannabinoid system. This system is parallel to our central nervous system, meaning cannabinoids interact with neurotransmitters that influence a response from our brain. While the links are still being studied, this is largely why CBD and other cannabinoids are so beneficial—because they influence physiological responses that can improve our health and wellness (i.e. anti-inflammatory response).
How to supplement CBD
Supplementing CBD is much the same as any other supplement. It’s important to find a dosage that’s right for you and incorporate it into a routine. Most people will start with 15-20mg daily and adjust from there. Of course, every person’s lifestyle, health and tolerance for CBD is different! Here are some common examples of how you might supplement CBD into daily life:
- Each morning with your coffee, to start the day focused
- Twice each day, morning and evening, to calm your nerves
- Small doses throughout the day to address chronic pain
- Before bed, as a way to promote calm and restful sleep
- After a workout, to reduce inflammation
The beauty of CBD is that it’s impossible to “overdose” on—the bioavailability of this cannabinoid is lower than our metabolization of it, meaning it’s impossible to take too much. To put this in perspective, the average person may take 20mg doses two to three times per day (<60mg daily). The highest tested dose was 1,500mg and it was well-received and safe!
The only thing to pay attention to are drug interactions. This is true of any supplement. While CBD has few (if any) side effects, there are a couple of drug interactions to be aware of.
- CBD can slow the metabolization of pain medications
- CBD can enhance the drowsiness effects of other medications
- CBD may interact with medications processed by the liver
It’s also a good idea to avoid drinking alcohol while taking CBD, as alcohol increases the amount of CBD absorbed by the body and how it’s processed. Again, these side effects are minor and non-emergent.
Explore the benefits of CBD
There’s a reason CBD has become such a hot supplement—there are widespread benefits almost anyone can take advantage of. And, without the psychoactive properties of THC or the legality issues of marijuana, CBD has quickly become a favorite of everyone from athletes, to laborers, to medical professionals and anyone else looking to improve their wellness without the use of prescriptions.