There’s still a bit of confusion about what CBD oil actually is, and what it stands for. CBD stands for cannabidiol and it is one of 100 active cannabinoids in the hemp plant. Pure CBD extracted from industrial hemp does not contain Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is present in various strains of cannabis. Full spectrum CBD oil may contain trace amounts of THC, however it is not enough to produce any effects. In fact, there are no psychotropic effects when using CBD oil, which is what makes it legal. There are only around 50 hemp plants approved for producing CBD products. These have to demonstrate a THC content below 0.2 percent in order to be sold legally. Today, cannabis is used for medical purposes due to the over 60 different cannabinoids that each have their own influence on the body. CBD is just one of these many cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.
What's a Cannabinoid?
If you're taking CBD for the first time, you're probably wondering what a cannabinoid is, we’ll get into that but first, we’ll focus on one specific cannabinoid: CBD. The human body contains many systems, which perform several functions such as the digestive, nervous, and respiratory systems. Our nervous system consists of the spinal cord, nerves, and brain. There’s one particular system that was discovered fairly recently in the 1980s called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). All mammals have ECS, which consists of chemical signaling and two (known) receptors that are bound to our amino acids. These receptors are known as the CB1 receptor and the CB2 receptor. These receptors are everywhere in the body, meaning that all of the other systems are actually modulated by the ECS system.
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system and is usually consumed as CBD oil, but also comes in a variety of other products. CBD has been researched quite extensively in recent years, and due to all the curiosity and hype, the first highly concentrated CBD products have entered the market. Worldwide research results have led to the interpretation that CBD is safe, and won't cause any psychotropic effects. That's right, unlike its notorious counterpart THC, which is prominent in many strains of medicinal cannabis, CBD is not psychotropic. It doesn’t get you high, wired, blazed or stoned, the way a high THC containing strain would. Getting back to cannabinoids, there are many others such as CBG, CBN, and so on, however these cannabinoids have not been research as extensively as THC and CBD.
Exactly How Many Cannabinoids Exist?
The most well researched cannabinoids are still THC and cannabidiol (CBD). Almost everyone has at least heard of these compounds, whether they use cannabis for medical/recreational reasons or not. However, the list of cannabinoids that exist is much longer than THC and CBD. There isn't an exact number, but at least 60-100 different cannabinoids have been identified by researchers with many more thought to be undiscovered.
How Does the Body Use Cannabinoids?
Everyone reacts to cannabinoids differently, due the varying needs of our endocannabinoid systems. Cannabinoid receptors occur in nearly every major organ system, and depending on an individuals needs, the effects of cannabinoids can be very different from person to person. CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are linked to the immune system cells. In simple words, the endocannabinoid system is like the body’s super computer, which automatically comes in to help our body maintain a healthy and stable environment.
By introducing cannabinoids to your system, cannabinoid receptors communicate to affect essential body processes, including memory, appetite, pain, mood, neuroprotection, immune function, cognitive processes, fertility, body temperature, and more.
... are there any side effects?
CBD is generally safe to use and practically free of side effects. Most people like to take CBD because they don't have to worry about any psychotropic effect when using CBD products. Many people who take CBD regularly say that there are not any side effects that disrupt day to day life activities. In addition, the tolerance, even with long-term use of a few drops of oil daily, is often described as very good. Taking CBD oil can cause mild side effects such as decreased appetite, diarrhea and drowsiness.
From a medical standpoint, there are very few reasons not to try cannabidiol. However, an interaction with conventional medication cannot be excluded in every individual case. CBD can potentially interact with prescription medications. This is because the way that your body metabolizes CBD can interfere with how your body will metabolize other medications you are taking. If medication is npt properly metabolized in the body, it can linger for a longer amount of time and cause unwanted side effects.
This is the reason why your medical practitioner should be informed or asked for advice before using cannabis products.
Categories Of Cannabinoids
There’s 3 categories of cannabinoids you should be aware of: Endocannabinoids which are naturally produced by the body, Phytocannabinoids which are found in the cannabis plant, and Synthetic cannabinoids which are produced by the pharmaceutical industry. Endocannabinoids naturally produced by the body are linked to a person’s experience of hunger, movement control, and pain. PhytoCannabinoids can affect the human experience of hunger, movement control, and pain if they communicate with your endocannabinoid system. Synthetic cannabinoids are commonly found in cosmetic and topical products.
Subcategories Of Cannabinoids
In order to simplify things a bit, let’s dive deeper into the subcategories of cannabinoids:
Major cannabinoids: Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
Minor cannabinoids: Cannabichromene (CBC), Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabinol (CBN), Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
Other cannabinoids: Cannabielsoin (CBE), Cannabitriol (CBT), Cannabicyclol (CBL)
Key Differences Between Cannabinoids
The most noticeable difference amongst cannabinoids is how psychoactive/psychotropic they are. For example, CBD, CBD, and CBG cannot induce psychotropic effects and this is simply because of their molecular structure. THC, CBDL, and CBN all show varying levels of psychoactivity and can produce psychotropic effects.
The most well-knows and researched cannabinoids are CBD and THC. CBD has remarkable properties that can also counter the mind-altering effects of THC. But what effects does CBD have on our bodies and health? And where does this healing substance come from?
The difference between CBD, Marijuana & Hash
Once the THC content in a cannabis plant is above 0.3%, its considered as medicinal and requires a prescription from your health care practitioner. Hemp derived CBD products do not come from medical cannabis products. Medicinal cannabis strains are also called "marijuana" by some, but this is mostly an outdated slang term. Mostly CBD-containing and almost THC-free cannabis products have nothing to do with the medical cannabis plants prescribed to patients by doctors. The psychotropic effects of cannabis oil depend very much on how much THC is contained in a cannabis plant or the end product made from it. Very different proportions of a cannabis plant can be used to manufacture the product. During processing, lumps and plates can be pressed from the resin, which are then also referred to as hash. Hash is also known for its rather high content of THC and thus has a strong psychotropic and intoxicating effect, in contrast to CBD.
You can read more about the differences between cannabis and hemp here.
CBD – 4 Facts Worth Knowing About Cannabidiol
- What effect does CBD have on the body and our health?
- From where is CBD obtained?
- Is CBD legal?
- CBD research
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1. What Effect Does CBD Have On The Body And Our Health?
CBD helps you keep your balance and control, thanks to CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system. This system not only passes through your brain, but throughout your entire body, regulating functions such as hormone production, appetite, sleep, mood, pain sensation and immune system reactions. It might not be a miracle disease cure, but it can naturally improve your quality of life.
CBD keeps the endocannabinoid system harmonious and balanced, supporting your overall sense of well-being. Simply put, cannabidiol and hemp help the EC-system to make important adjustments. Learn more about the endocannabinoid system here.
CBD takes effect with differing speeds and intensities, depending on which product you use. In CBD oil, the dosage is absorbed through the mouth’s mucous membranes, sidestepping the stomach and thus taking effect faster and with more intensity than CBD capsules do. CBD diffuser pens, on the other hand, are absorbed through the lungs and thus take effect the quickest and most intensely.
2. From Where Is CBD Obtained?
Cannabidiol is primarily derived from the hemp plant. An ever-growing fanbase sings CBD’s praises, while few actually know the process through which CBD is derived to retain its terpenes and cannabinoids.
This process is one of the safest and most effective ways to extract CBD in its essential components. See the most important processes listed in the following table:
|CBD extraction process|
Subcritical CO2 extraction process
Supercritical CO2 extraction process
Low pressure extraction
Steam distillation extraction
The most important step here is the supercritical CO2 extraction. Sounds complicated––and it is. So put away the little chemistry set. Producing hemp extracts yourself is no easy feat. The extract is produced alongside extractors, which separate the desired ingredients from the rest of the plant material under various pressure ratios and with help from carbon dioxide. This gentle extraction process means that the valuable components of the hemp plant remain unchanged. The intermediate product is a raw oil (crude oil, which has little to do with normal CBD oil) which is then cleaned and filtered through a second purification process. The final product is a natural full-spectrum hemp extract containing the important terpenes. What are terpenes? Learn more here.
3. Is CBD legal?
Let’s get one thing out of the way: this is no black and white topic. CBD legality differs from country to country, so does its government approval. In the United States, for instance, the FDA has yet to approve any CBD products for consumption, while it has approved a seizure treatment drug that contains a purified form of CBD. Is cannabidiol legal for UK users? Yes, because it’s not included under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. CBD is used, among others things, as a dietary supplement in the form of oil, a medicinal product when in the form of capsules, or cosmetics when in the form of CBD gel, for example.
Important to note: The products you use must be THC-free. CBD does fall under the EU’s Novel Food policy, since it’s considered a new type of foodstuff. The Novel Food catalogue is applied differently from country to country, usually behooves the interpretation of the regional authorities, and is reviewed with each new product. This is no problem for consumers - it’s up to manufacturers and producers to ensure that they’ve dealt with it.
If you travel with CBD products, for example CBD oil, you should know that the CBD itself is not a problem. However, you do need to be careful: if the product contains the slightest amount of THC, you should check the corresponding cannabis law of the country you’re traveling to.
In the UK, the deciding law is the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, which classifies cannabis as a Class B drug. For CBD to be legal, it has to be officially THC-free, meaning it contains less than 0.2% THC. It also has to be advertised as a nutritional supplement, not as medicine.
Want to know more about CBD’s legal position? Our Hemp Wiki article Is Cannabidiol legal in the UK? answers the important legal questions.
4. CBD Research
Cannabinoids, specifically CBD, are being intensely researched for their perceived high potency and apparent health benefits. In 2019, over 500 CBD studies were published in medical journals. In comparison, 2017 yielded less than half that amount.
What Current Studies Are Finding
There are some studies out there which found that CBD may be able to ease Multiple Sclerosis, at least for some patients, but the benefits of cannabis use in people with Multiple Sclerosis are still currently being researched. The available data indicate that a cannabis extract with a roughly 1:1 CBD to THC ratio used as an oral spray may reduce pain and muscle spasms in Multiple Sclerosis patients. Still, more research is needed to determine whether readily available CBD products really can provide MS symptom relief, and to better understand how patients could be using them.
According to a study presented at the 2019 American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting, Cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to cut seizure occurrence by almost 50% in patients with Dravet syndrome. Also, back in 2017 the American scientist Prof. Orrin Devinsky investigated the use of CBD in Dravet syndrome. The study found that CBD can reduce and weaken the epileptic seizures during the disease. More than 100 children and adolescents aged 2 to 18 years participated in this study. The children who participated in the research suffered from therapy-resistant seizures more than four times a month, despite the regular use of medication. The randomized controlled trial was conducted at 23 centers across the United States and in Europe. In the children and adolescents who received CBD, there was a marked decrease in the frequency of attacks from 12.4 to 5.9 per month. In comparison, the seizures in the placebo group decreased on average only from 14.9 to 14.1.
Research On CBD and THC For Pain
With a simple search online, you may come across tons of research on CBD and THC for chronic pain and inflammation. Although it may seem there are plenty studies and anecdotal evidence out there, there's still a lot more research needed for scientists to fully understand if CBD really may have any anti inflammatory benefits. In the meantime, the research on animals that has been found about using CBD for pain is promising. However, more clinical trials on people are needed to verify the pain-relieving benefits of CBD oil and medical cannabis products.
Most of the other research you can find online about CBD’s potential health benefits are not done on people but primarily on animals. The lack of clinical trials on people is the reason why the research done so far is not clear and there's no solid conclusion people can rely on when it comes to long term benefits. CBD seems to be able to interact with the immune system, reduce inflammation, and reduce pain from a number of conditions in animals. Studies on animals date further back (as far as 2009). Some of the studies from recent years are listed below:
2016: A study used CBD as a treatment for early pancreatic inflammation in pre-diabetic mice. (Inflammation of the pancreas can lead to diabetes) Mice who received 10 weeks of CBD therapy developed diabetes later than the mice that did not get the CBD treatment.
2017: Another study on male rats examined the effects of CBD on osteoarthritis. After two weeks, acute inflammation of the joints was reduced by CBD therapy treatment applied to the affected area. CBD was also found to prevent the development of nerve damage and joint pain.
In the largest study conducted in Germany to date, we interviewed two different test groups on the subject of the CBD and focused on the CBD experiences of CBD users and experts: CBD survey: What we really know about CBD!