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Learn About CBD
Cannabidiol, or CBD, has significantly improved the lives of more than a million people just since 2015, even though it has been banned all over the world since the 1930’s. For 75 years it was assumed and feared to be psychoactive just like it’s molecular cousin, THC. Yet, it’s very different as you will soon see. . .
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol is a plant-based cannabinoid, or a phytocannabinoid. (“phyto” means it’s extracted from the stem of a plant; specifically the cannabis plant). CBD and THC are both phytocannabinoids which have a profound effect on the functions of your brain and body. However, they both work in entirely different ways.
Cannabinoids come in all shapes and sizes, but are so tiny they’re invisible to the naked eye. Ones to watch out for are the synthetic variety (i.e. those which are man-made). These are also a common alternative to the naturally extracted cannabinoids. Examples include: K2, Spice and synthetic marijuana, but these should be strictly avoided because they are typically highly unhealthy; because they are treated with harmful chemicals which dilute the positive properties of CBD. In some cases, they are toxic.
We make CBD in our bodies
Another major variety of cannabinoids are endocannabinoids. These are in all our bodies and are naturally produced.. One example of this is anandamide, which is popularly referred to as the “bliss molecule.” This is because it offers a whole host of mood-enhancing properties. We all have endocannabinoid receptors at various points in our bodies, including the hippocampus and amygdala areas of the brain, as well as the spleen and selected muscle tissues. They serve to regulate all manner of internal processes, including our mood, our energy levels, blood pressure and even our immune system. When external cannabinoids are administered, they react with those receptors present in the body and attach themselves to them. It is the physical and neurological reaction of the cannabinoids with the receptors that brings about the positive effects.
How does CBD work?
Even though CBD is a cannabinoid, it does not react with our bodily receptors in quite the same way as conventional endocannabinoids. Instead, it inhibits the body’s production of FAAH (Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase) which helps us produce anandamide, the previously mentioned “bliss molecule.” This in turn reacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) within our bodies and produces all those celebrated positive effects.
Is CBD psychoactive or psychotropic?
So why has — and in many states and countries still is — CBD classified as a recreational drug when it is naturally produced and its benefits are clearly medicinal? It’s because CBD is derived from the cannabis plant, and is therefore culturally associated with the production of illegal substances like marijuana and cocaine. CBD, however, is not typically psychotropic (it is, however psychoactive). Psychotropic means it intoxicates you; psychoactive means it affects your brain function; e.g., anesthetics, analgesics and anticonvulsant drugs as well as drugs used to treat neuropsychiatric disorders, such as antidepressants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics, and stimulant medications.
The psychoactive compound in cannabis is called THC, and its concentration within a plant determines the psychotropic properties a user will experience. CBD is largely derived from the hemp plant, as this offers the highest overall concentration, with minimal THC. For the highest THC concentration, we need look no further than the infamous marijuana plant.
In some ways, this is an oversimplified view of the complex relationship between CBD and THC. In fact, both have medicinal properties, though the ways they behave within the body are quite different. While THC is typically characterized as an intoxicant, it does in fact offer some positive benefits. Likewise, CBD is not purely medicinal- it does in fact have some psychoactive properties, but these do not affect users in the same way as illegal recreational drugs.
What are the benefits of using CBD?
So, let’s learn about CBD oil and what it actually does. Typically, it is used to combat stress, anxiety and depression. The increase in anandamide production generates further positive reactions with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors, creating positive active potentials. Essentially, this enhances the electric current moving around the body via the neurons, and therefore works to profoundly reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
CBD also reacts with the body’s TRPV1 receptors. These work to regulate the body’s central nervous system and peripheral system. They are integral to the way in which the body experiences pain. Therefore, the interactions of CBD and the TRPV1 receptors can go a long way toward reducing long-term pain, helping to regulate body temperature and therefore fundamentally improving overall mood.
Another illness which can be positively treated with CBD is insomnia. That’s because CBD also offers notable sedative properties, without the fear of drowsiness which is a common side effect of conventional analgesics. Because our sleep patterns are inextricably linked to our psychological well being and state of mind, often the mood-enhancing qualities of CBD are all that is required to assure a good night’s sleep.
Here is yet another example of CBD’s uses to promote general well being. We all experience tiredness in the mornings from time to time, and naturally our first recourse is to down a hot cup of coffee. But too much coffee or more specifically, too much caffeine can enhance feelings of stress and anxiety. However, if you combine coffee with your CBD usage, this can help you to attain an overall sense of balance and equilibrium, counteracting the jittery impact of the caffeine with the sedative properties of the CBD.
A major illness which has been shown to benefit from CBD usage is epilepsy. It works to reduce the impact of key symptoms, and has proved so successful that it has already achieved official status as the recommended treatment for Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Geraut Syndrome. It has even received the blessing of the WHO (World Health Organization) for the positive impact it has had and continues to have for epilepsy sufferers.
CBD helps defeat pain
The key benefit of CBD is its use for the reduction of pain sensations. We know that CBD helps regulate our body’s experience of pain, but it’s important to recognize that CBD acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory. It is therefore a great option for those suffering from joint pain, arthritis and other long term physical conditions. Because it has no known harmful side-effects, it has been positively compared to one of America’s most popular painkillers, Vicodin. Whereas Vicodin is a powerful anti-pain medication which can be highly addictive, and also has numerous other physical side-effects, CBD offers virtually the same experience without any of side negative side effects.
CBD helps reduce cancer’s devastation
For cancer sufferers undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy, one of the most troubling side-effects is the constant nausea and frequent bouts of vomiting. But CBD also has proven anti-emetic properties, and is therefore a great option to complement more drastic and invasive cancer treatments. More generally, it has been shown to be an effective booster in the fight against cancer cells, helping to fortify the immune system and generally enhancing quality of life. While no clinical trial has yet proven that CBD cures cancer, it can make living with cancer easier.
How can you take CBD?
While there are other ways of administering CBD, the oil (and not from hemp seed oil) is the most popular, as it is the simplest. It is not absorbed into the body as quickly as it would be if you were to use a vape, liposomal sublingual or intravenous options, but oil is a much less risky choice which has not been found to harm any user’s body. Vaping, for example, can be quite a dangerous method because it’s vapor can incorporate additives into the CBD formula which are harmful, and can even become toxic within the body, leading to a bad reaction.
Intravenous transmission is naturally the quickest and most effective way of getting CBD into the body- you are after all administering it directly into the bloodstream, but it is also the most invasive. You leave yourself open to infection and all manner of other unpleasant side effects that come from using a needle. Therefore, oil is not only the safest but the most hygienic.
How CBD oil is extracted from the plant
Another element to take into account when shopping for CBD is the method that has been used to extract it from the cannabis plant. As the aim of extraction is to provide the CBD in its most concentrated form, different methods have different success rates. CO2 extraction is the most common method in the production of CBD- it is clean and safe, but it requires a whole lot of highly expensive and specialized equipment. That’s why it is typically used only by professionals, manufacturing CBD for commercial use. In high pressure states, the CO2 liquefies and separates the active ingredients from the plant matter. This means that once the plant matter has been fully flushed away, we are left with pure, CBD-rich oil.
The oldest extraction method, dating back some five hundred years, requires the use of ethanol. This is considerably more dangerous than the CO2 approach because it requires the ethanol to be heated, and therefore the risk of fire or explosion is heightened in manufacturing. In addition, the resulting substance can be very difficult to dose accurately. It is typically recommended that only tiny amounts of this extracted CBD are ingested to begin with, as it can be highly potent.
Lastly, the hydrocarbon extraction method is a decidedly mixed bag when it comes to efficacy. It’s pretty good at removing all the unwanted plant matter whilst retaining the positive elements of the CBD. But because hydrocarbons are both flammable and neurotoxic, their usage is always going to be somewhat problematic. If they are not completely removed from the resultant CBD oil, they can have decidedly harmful effects for users. They can even prove toxic. Another issue with the hydrocarbon method is its flammability- large-scale fires and explosions have been caused in the past by inadequate safety procedures.
All in all, there are pros and cons of each means of administering CBD, as well as each extraction method. Everybody is going to have their own individual preferences, too. The best thing to do is to do a bit of research and reading around before taking the plunge, to work out which approach is the right one for you.
Other uses for CBD oil
What are some of the other uses of CBD? Those looking to spice up their culinary experiences might like to consider using it as an ingredient to infuse into your meals. CBD is the perfect way to make a dining experience more relaxing. Other ideas include its use as a massage oil, to really enhance the naturally soothing properties of the massage. It’s an antioxidant too, meaning it is a great way to fight the aging process and give you a glowing, youthful look.
Its use is not limited to humans, either. Studies have shown that CBD oil can have a beneficial effect on certain domestic pets, too. Just to be on the safe side, though, it’s best to do a bit of research before going ahead with this. You don’t want to put your four-legged friend’s health at risk.
Further studies have indicated that using CBD can be an effective means of quitting smoking, too. Weaning yourself off tobacco is one of the most difficult things in life to accomplish, but with CBD as an alternative, it doesn’t have to be as traumatic or frustrating as it has been in the past.
Hopefully this overview has helped you learn about CBD, it’s effectiveness and versatility as a means of relieving negative symptoms and generally improving quality of life. It is a substance which has long been misunderstood, but which now is finally gaining the prominence as a medical aid which it has always been capable of. It’s easy to obtain, easy to use and its benefits are plentiful.