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What Are Cannabinoids?

What Are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are compounds that are located in cannabis plants. When cannabis is consumed, cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system in our bodies. Although there are hundreds of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, the two most commonly discussed are THC (Delta9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol).

 

The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is an intricate and complicated cell communication system. It is still not completely understood, but it is known to help regulate a number of bodily functions including sleep, appetite, memory, stress, and mood. Researchers believe that the main role of the endocannabinoid system is maintaining homeostasis, which is the stability of our internal environment. Cannabinoids bind to receptor sites in the brain and body when cannabis is consumed, and different cannabinoids cause different effects.

The endocannabinoid system is made up of 3 main components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Endocannabinoids are molecules just like cannabinoids, but produced by the human body. Currently there are two identified endocannabinoids: AEA (Anandamide) and 2-AG (2-Arachidonoylglyerol). They are produced as much as the body sees fit, so levels vary in different people. Endocannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body to signal that help is needed. Enzymes are what break down endocannabinoids when they are done helping. These enzymes are fatty acid amide hydrolase which breaks down AEA, and monoacylglycerol acid lipase which breaks down 2-AG.

 

Cannabinoid Receptors

The 2 main cannabinoid receptors are CB1 (Cannabinoid receptor type 1) and CB2 (Cannabinoid receptor type 2). CB1 receptors are mostly located on nerve cells in the brain as well as in the limbic system, and CB2 receptors are mainly located in the immune system. Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor, and the effects will differ depending on where the receptor is located in the body and what endocannabinoid it is bound to.

Cannabinoid receptors are what cause various effects on the body and mind when consuming cannabis. These receptors are part of the G protein-coupled receptor category, known as GPCR and/or 7TM receptors. They are called 7TM receptors because the receptors travel through the cell membrane 7 times. G protein-linked receptors detect molecules outside the cell and activate signal transduction.

Signal transduction occurs when a molecular signal is transmitted through a cell, resulting in a cellular response. This stimulus is detected by proteins, which are referred to as receptors. When the receptors pick up on these signals, they activate multiple signal transduction pathways. 

 

THC and CBD

thc cbd

THC is the cannabinoid found in cannabis that has psychoactive effects, causing a “high” feeling when consumed. It is found in non-hemp cannabis plants, which contain more than 0.3% THC and sometimes containing up to 30% THC. When smoked, THC flows directly to the lungs, which contain a vast number of tiny air sacs called alveoli. These have a large surface area, making it extremely easy for the THC to be absorbed into the body. When you consume THC in the form of an edible, it goes through a process in your liver that turns it into 11-Hydroxy-THC, which is much smaller than delta-9. This makes it easier to penetrate the brain, and has a higher binding efficiency for CB1 receptors. That explains why consuming THC edibles can be a more intense experience that lasts longer than smoking.

THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain, producing psychoactive effects. Studies have also shown THC to help with symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. THC stimulates neurons to release higher levels of dopamine than would normally be released, causing the sensation of “being high”. It can also cause users to feel anxiety or paranoia.

CBD is a cannabinoid making up 40% of cannabis extract. It is usually extracted from the hemp plant, which is the variety of cannabis plants that contains 0.3% of THC or less. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause psychoactive effects when consumed. CBD ignites our body’s endocannabinoid system by binding to receptors throughout the body, however researchers aren’t sure which receptors it binds to. CBD is often used for pain relief, anxiety, and a number of other ailments, due to anecdotal evidence and some preliminary studies. Many users report that CBD can help with nausea, anxiety, sleep, chronic pain, skin, and mood. 

Cannabis research has shown initial evidence of a phenomenon called the entourage effect, in which multiple cannabinoids work together to alter each other’s effects. One of the popular reported effects is that CBD may mitigate some of the negative effects caused by THC, such as anxiety. There are many cannabinoids and various other compounds that may be involved in this effect, but more research will need to be done.

What is CBD Oil and How is it Made?

What is CBD Oil and How is it Made?

Whether one is already a CBD user or a potential user, the question may arise – how is CBD oil made? What exactly is CBD oil and what is it used for? Before addressing those questions, it is important to understand the different terms related to cannabis.

The term cannabis refers to a genus of plants within the Cannabaceae family, consisting of three primary species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis (1).

 

Cannabis Plant

There are two main categories of cannabis plants. Hemp plants are categorized as those containing less than 0.3% of the cannabinoid THC, whereas other varieties contain more.

Hemp plants are incredibly easy to grow, and it is believed that hemp was the first crop ever cultivated by humans (1). Hemp fibers have been used for centuries to make a large variety of things, from sails for ships, to rope, to clothing and concrete. Hemp flower, hemp seeds, stalks, and leaves are all parts of the hemp plant that get used (18). The hemp seed is used for many foods and nutritional benefits (2, 18).

Other varieties of cannabis contain more than 0.3% THC (1), sometimes up to 30% (2). These plants are much harder to grow than hemp, and require strict conditions and maintenance. They have also been utilized for centuries for their psychoactive properties and medicinal benefits (31, 32).

 

Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are specialized compounds produced by cannabis plants (9).

Named after them, endocannabinoids are similar compounds that are produced by the human body. Endocannabinoids are part of a complex system located throughout the body, but they essentially work to maintain internal health by facilitating communication between cells. When cannabis is consumed, cannabinoids bind to receptor sites in the body and brain, with different cannabinoids providing different effects (26).

Cannabis plants produce hundreds of cannabinoids, over one hundred of which have been identified (14, 21). When the cannabis plant is still in the ground, it produces what are called acid cannabinoids. The cannabinoids that are most abundant are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), but in their original forms they are THCA and CBDA, with the “a” standing for acid (9). When heat is applied to these cannabinoids, a process known as decarboxylation, the chemical structure changes and they become the THC and CBD that are familiar to users (9).

 

THC vs. CBD

CBD can be extracted from any cannabis flower, and is exactly the same molecularly from either type of plant (1, 2, 23). Only small quantities of THC are found in hemp. Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids, but have different properties and effects. THC causes psychoactive effects, or the feeling of being “high”, while CBD does not.

Like all cannabinoids, THC and CBD interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. These two cannabinoids actually have the exact same molecular structure, but due to the way the atoms are arranged, they cause different effects (25). THC binds with the CB1 or cannabinoid 1 receptor in the brain, whereas CBD does not. CBD can actually interfere with the binding of THC, which decreases the psychoactive effects (25).

Terpenes are similar to cannabinoids in that they are chemicals produced by cannabis plants and there are many different kinds (27). Terpenes are aromatic oils that are secreted from the cannabis plant, as well as many other plants. Terpenes give different strains of cannabis particular aromas, which also causes different looks and flavors (15). It is thought that terpenes may play a role in the entourage effect by interacting with cannabinoids to cause a variety of different effects (27).

The entourage effect is the term for the anecdotal reaction that different combinations of cannabinoids produce different effects, and that CBD may have more successful effects when combined with THC (11). In addition, it has been reported that CBD may help combat negative psychological effects from THC (22).

 

How to Make CBD oil

cbd oil

There are a few ways to extract CBD from the cannabis plant.

CO2

The most popular method is using CO2, in which carbon dioxide is used to extract CBD oil from the plant. The specific type of CO2 used is called supercritical CO2, which means that it can function as both a liquid and a gas (29). Two pressurized chambers are used for the process, one containing CO2 and the other containing the plant (28). The CO2 is pumped from its chamber into the plant chamber, where it turns into liquid due to the pressure (29). The CO2 extraction method uses high pressure and extremely low temperatures which is the best environment to isolate and preserve the purity of CBD oil (30, 24). In the chamber, the liquid CO2 breaks down the plant and causes the oil to separate, absorbing it (16, 29). Then the CO2 containing CBD is pumped into a third chamber, where it turns into a gas state and leaves behind the oil (29). The CO2 extracts with 90% efficiency, creating a high concentration of CBD from this method (24). This process requires the proper machinery, which is very expensive, but is the preferred extraction method for CBD oil. It is safe, efficient, and free of bad-tasting chlorophyll (30). This process also allows for creating oil with varying amounts of CBD concentration (16). 

Solvent

Solvent extraction is another method and has many risks, but has some benefits as well. This process can be achieved through either hydrocarbon extraction or by using a natural solvent like ethanol. The hydrocarbon method involves solvents such as butane, propane or petroleum (16). The benefit of this method is that it is incredibly effective at separating the wanted materials like cannabinoids and terpenes from unwanted materials like chlorophyll. This process creates wax or potent cannabis concentrates called shatter, which look like brittle candy. These products are consumed through inhalation with a dab rig or vaporizer (30). The major risk with this method is that if the toxic solvents are not completely evaporated from the CBD extract, traces could remain in the resulting products, which has occurred (16). Hydrocarbons are also highly flammable, so not only are they harmful to consume, but have been known to explode during the manufacturing process (30).

Ethanol

Ethanol is a good solvent option, because it is a high grain alcohol and safe for consumption. One benefit of using ethanol is that it can create very concentrated and potent CBD oil. The cannabis flower is soaked in ethanal and strained, which produces an oil that is then heated. The result is a highly concentrated goo texture, just like with hydrocarbon solvents. When using ethanol, there is a risk of also extracting chlorophyll, which gives the resulting product a bad taste (16).

Steam

Steam distillation is a method that uses steam to separate CBD oil from the plant. The steam actually extracts CBD vapors, which float up and are captured in a vessel where they are condensed into oil and water. Then the liquid is distilled, and the CBD oil is extracted from the water. This method works well, but is more difficult, less efficient, and requires more plants. There is also a risk of the hot steam damaging or altering the cannabinoids (16).

Infusion

One of the oldest methods, which is also used for making THC edibles, is oil infusion. In this process, the cannabis flower is decarboxylated by heating it at a particular temperature for a particular length of time. This changes the acid form of CBDA into CBD, which is the desired form of the cannabinoid. Then the plant is infused into a carrier oil like olive oil or hemp seed oil. The downside is that carrier oils do not evaporate, so the end product has a big oil to CBD ratio (29).

If a cannabis plant with THC is being used for the extraction, a full spectrum CBD oil will be produced, meaning it contains all of the cannabinoids including THC. If wishing to create broad spectrum CBD, which does not contain THC, a hemp plant should be used for extraction. Some users prefer full spectrum CBD due to the entourage effect, while others prefer broad spectrum, since THC is not legal everywhere and not every user wants psychoactive effects.

Isolate

Winterization is the process used to create CBD isolate (29). This method is used to further purify the oil after its extracted and remove unwanted materials (24). The extract is combined with 200 proof alcohol and frozen overnight. The next day, the mixture is run through a filter to remove extra fats. It then gets boiled until the alcohol evaporates, which is effective because the alcohol has a lower boiling point than the oil (29, 24). You can also repeat this process and continue to boil off different compounds at various boiling points to further refine the oil (29). The resulting product is a flavorless, odorless powder containing only CBD (16). Many users report that CBD isolates are not as effective as oil, due to the lack of other cannabinoids and terpenes needed for the entourage effect (24).

 

 

How to Consume CBD oil

sublingual cbd oil

CBD oil is consumed sublingually, meaning under the tongue. Using a dropper allows for a fairly precise dose, and also allows for experimentation with dosage.

CBD tinctures are similar to CBD oils but differ in ingredients. The major difference is that tinctures by definition contain alcohol. To create tinctures, cannabis is soaked in alcohol or watered down alcohol, which breaks it down and extracts the CBD. Tinctures also contain more ingredients than just CBD. These additions could be vitamins, herbs, or essential oils (12). Not all tinctures are the same, but they must either contain alcohol or additional ingredients to be classified as tinctures. There are also products sold called CBD oil tinctures, which usually contain a carrier oil and no alcohol, but do contain additional ingredients. Tinctures and oil tinctures often have a better flavor due to the extra ingredients added (12), but because of the alcohol content, not every consumer will want to or be able to consume tinctures. CBD oil can be purchased in its natural flavor, but also in a variety of other flavors. Natural additives like flavorful essential oils can be added for a more pleasing taste.

Both CBD oil and tinctures are consumed sublingually or can be added to foods and beverages. 

 

Why CBD oil instead of other consumption methods?

There are many other types of CBD products available for purchase and consumption. In addition to CBD oil, CBD can be consumed in the form of flower for smoking, concentrated oil for vaping, topical creams, edibles, and oral sprays. There are some benefits of consuming CBD in the form of CBD oil.

Consuming CBD sublingually provides more bioavailability than edibles, and the effects are fast acting (17). Bioavailability refers to how potent a drug or ingredient is by the time it reaches the treatment site (20). CBD oil takes around 30-90 minutes for effects to kick in, and tends to last for at least four hours (19).

Consuming CBD in oil form has far reduced health risks compared to smoking or vaping. Unlike those methods, CBD oil does not damage the lungs, and no studies have yet to show health effects from consuming CBD oil. It is also easy to carry around a CBD oil bottle and consume it on the go.

 

Health benefits of CBD oil

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence regarding successful use of CBD to treat health problems (3). CBD research has been minimal in the past, but recently some studies have emerged that show successful results. CBD may be useful in treating pain (7), psychosis (5), and anxiety (4). There is also now an FDA approved CBD medication, which is prescribed for treating extreme cases of epilepsy (6).

The only reported side effects of CBD have been changes in appetite, changes in weight, drowsiness, diarrhea, and mood change (13). In addition, it is important to keep in mind that certain combinations of medications should not be consumed, so users should check with a doctor before taking CBD with other medicine. 

 

 

Citations

  1. Cadena, A. (2019, October 18). Hemp vs marijuana: The difference explained. CBD Origin. Retrieved from https://cbdorigin.com/hemp-vs-marijuana/
  2. Premium Jane. (2019, September 27). The difference between hemp and marijuana. Premium Jane. Retrieved from https://premiumjane.com/blog/difference-between-cannabis-and-hemp/
  3. Velasquez-Manoff, M. (2019, May 14). Can CBD really do all that? The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/05/14/magazine/cbd-cannabis-cure.html
  4. Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, 12(4), 825–836. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
  5. Zuardi A.W., Crippa J.A., Hallak J.E., Bhattacharyya S., Atakan Z., Martin-Santos R., McGuire P.K., & Guimarães F.S. (2012). A critical review of the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol: 30 years of a translational investigation. Current pharmaceutical design, 18(32), 5131-40. DOI: 10.2174/138161212802884681
  6. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2018, June 25). FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy [Press Release]. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-drug-comprised-active-ingredient-derived-marijuana-treat-rare-severe-forms
  7. Reiman, A., Welty, M., & Solomon, P. (2017). Cannabis as a Substitute for Opioid-Based Pain Medication: Patient Self-Report. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 2(1), 160-166. http://doi.org/10.1089/can.2017.0012
  8. Narang, N., Sharma, J. (2011). Sublingual mucosa as a route for systemic drug delivery. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 3, 18-22. Retrieved from https://innovareacademics.in/journal/ijpps/Vol3Suppl2/1092.pdf
  9. Sigman, Z. (2020, February 27). Decarboxylating cannabis. Project CBD. Retrieved from https://www.projectcbd.org/guidance/decarboxylating-cannabis
  10. Jordan, D. (2019). CBD edibles: What are they and what’s to know? Leafly. Retrieved from https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/cbd-edibles-what-are-they-and-whats-to-know
  11. Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: Potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), 1344-1364.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x
  12. Price, S. (2020, January 20). CBD oil vs CBD tincture: what’s the difference? Health Europa, Medical Cannabis Network. Retrieved from https://www.healtheuropa.eu/cbd-oil-vs-cbd-tincture-whats-the-difference/96708/
  13. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2020). What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD. United States Government. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-need-know-and-what-were-working-find-out-about-products-containing-cannabis-or-cannabis
  14. Jikomes, Nick. (2017, March 24). A list of major cannabinoids in cannabis and their effects. Leafly. Retrieved from https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/list-major-cannabinoids-cannabis-effects
  15. Rahn, B. (2014). What are cannabis terpenes and what do they do? Leafly. Retrieved from https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/terpenes-the-flavors-of-cannabis-aromatherapy
  16. CBD Awareness Project. (2019, March 30). CBD extraction methods. CBD Awareness Project. Retrieved from https://www.cbdoil.org/cbd-extraction-methods/
  17. Narang, N., Sharma, J. (2011). Sublingual mucosa as a route for systemic drug delivery. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 3, 18-22. Retrieved from https://innovareacademics.in/journal/ijpps/Vol3Suppl2/1092.pdf
  18. Vivek, V. (2019, December 14). The usages of every part of hemp plant. Hemp Foundation. Retrieved from https://hempfoundation.net/the-usages-of-every-part-of-hemp-plant/ 
  19. Project CBD. (2019). CBD User’s Guide. Project CBD. Retrieved from https://www.projectcbd.org/how-to/cbd-users-guide
  20. Chow, S. C. (2014). Bioavailability and bioequivalence in drug development. WIRE Computational Statistics, 6(4), 304-312. DOI: 10.1002/wics.1310
  21. Lafaye, G., Karila, L., Blecha, L., & Benyamina, A. (2017). Cannabis, cannabinoids, and health. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 19(3), 309–316. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5741114/
  22. Niesink R. J., van Laar M. W. (2013). Does cannabidiol protect against adverse psychological effects of THC? Front Psychiatry, 4-130. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00130
  23. Reviewed by Dr. Adie Rae, Ph.D (2020, February 3). Hemp-derived CBD vs. marijuana-derived CBD: What’s the difference? Weed Maps. Retrieved from https://weedmaps.com/learn/cbd/hemp-derived-cbd-vs-marijuana-derived-cbd-so-whats-the-difference
  24. Arnone, V. (2020, February 26). How is CBD oil made? A beginners guide to hemp extraction. Big Sky Botanicals. Retrieved from https://bigskybotanicals.com/blog/how-is-cbd-oil-made/
  25. Holland, K. (2019, May 20). CBD vs THC: What’s the difference? Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-vs-thc
  26. Rahn, B. (2014, January 22). Cannabinoids 101: What makes cannabis medicine? Leafly. Retrieved from https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/cannabinoids-101-what-makes-cannabis-medicine
  27. Jacobs, M. (2019, February 21). The difference between cannabinoids and terpenes. Analytical Cannabis. Retrieved from  https://www.analyticalcannabis.com/articles/the-difference-between-cannabinoids-and-terpenes-311502
  28. Team Bloom. (2020, March 29). What is the Best Carrier Oil for CBD? The 7 Best CBD Carrier Oils. Bloom. Retrieved from https://bloomhemp.com/blog/what-is-the-best-carrier-oil-for-cbd-the-7-best-cbd-carrier-oils/
  29. American Cannabis Consulting. (2019, July 15). How is CBD oil made and extracted? American Cannabis Consulting. Retrieved from https://americancannabisconsulting.com/how-cbd-oil-is-made-and-extracted/
  30. Sigman, Z. CBD oil: An introduction. Project CBD. Retrieved from https://www.projectcbd.org/cbd-101/what-is-cbd-oil
  31. McDonough, E. (2016, September 20). The history of pot brownies. High Times. Retrieved from https://hightimes.com/edibles/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-history-of-pot-brownies/
  32. Kuddus, M., Ginawi, I., & Al-Hazimi, A. (2013, June 24). Cannabis sativa: An ancient wild edible plant of India. Emirates Journal of Food and Agriculture, 25(10), 736-745. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.9755/ejfa.v25i10.16400
CBD User Guide

CBD User Guide

CBD User Guide: How to Consume CBD

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is currently one of the most popular trends in health and wellness. There has been plenty of anecdotal evidence of CBD being used to successfully treat a variety of ailments (1). There have also been preliminary research studies showing evidence that CBD may be useful in treating anxiety (2), psychosis (3), epilepsy (4), and physical pain (5), to name a few. Whether one is curious about trying CBD or has tried it before and wants more information, this guide should provide a well-rounded overview of CBD. There are many ways to consume CBD, and it can understandably be overwhelming when choosing a preferred method of consumption.

 

Choosing A CBD Consumption Method

 

CBD Oil

CBD oil is one of the most common forms of consumable CBD. So what is CBD oil exactly?

To make CBD oil, cannabidiol is extracted from the hemp plant and then infused with a carrier oil like hemp seed oil or MCT, which is extracted from coconut oil (6). Some may confuse CBD oil with hemp oil (also referred to as hemp seed oil), but they are not the same thing. The main difference between hemp oil and CBD oil is which part of the cannabis plant they come from. CBD is found in the leaves, flowers and stalks of hemp plants. Hemp oil is made from the seeds of the hemp plant, which contain no CBD, but are often used for hair and skin health. (7) Both CBD oil and hemp oil contain less than 0.3% THC, which is the cannabinoid with psychoactive effects (8).

CBD oil is consumed sublingually by using a dropper to place it under the tongue. The dropper allows for a fairly precise dosage, and also allows one to experiment with dose amounts. Taking CBD sublingually ensures one absorbs more CBD than one would with edibles, and the effects are fast acting (9). Unfortunately the dropper will not provide quite as accurate of a dose as something like a capsule will. One other drawback is that some users do not like the taste of natural CBD oils, but there are various flavor options available on the market. 

The onset time and duration of the CBD effects will differ depending on various factors, but typically it takes up to 45 minutes minutes for sublingual CBD to kick in, and it lasts for 2-6 hours (15).

 

Tinctures

CBD tinctures are similar to CBD oil, but differ in the ingredients and the way they are made. CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the hemp plant using CO2 and infusing it with a carrier oil, such as MCT. That means the only two ingredients in CBD oil are CBD and oil. Tinctures are typically made by soaking the cannabis in alcohol, or a combination of alcohol and water. Alcohol is used to break down and extract the CBD, and then additional ingredients are often added such as terpenes or other cannabinoids. Many commercially sold tinctures do not contain alcohol, but the extra ingredients still classify them as tinctures (12).

As with CBD oil, tinctures are consumed sublingually, which provides fast acting effects and even higher bioavailability than oil. Another benefit of tinctures is that they often have a better flavor than oil (12). The drawback is that they can contain alcohol, so anyone with an aversion to alcohol should not consume tinctures.

 

CBD Edibles

CBD can be consumed in the form of food just like THC edibles. CBD treats can either be cooked at home by adding CBD oil to whatever is being made, or be purchased pre-made. If cooking with CBD flower, it will need to be decarboxylated and infused with fat just like THC edibles. The easier method would be to simply add a few drops of CBD oil to a smoothie, salad dressing, or any other edible item.

If cooking is too nerve wracking or time consuming, one can also purchase edibles. One of the most popular CBD edible options are CBD gummies, but CBD chocolate bars, cookies, drinks, and many more products are also available. 

CBD edibles are easy to consume anywhere, and can be a tasty option. One drawback to edibles is that they get partially broken down in the digestive system, and by the time they are absorbed, the user only receives 20-30% of the CBD they ingested (13).

It can take up to two hours for the effects of edibles to set in, since they must pass through the digestive system, and they last anywhere from four to eight hours (14, 15, 16). Both of these times vary per consumer and are affected by height, weight, activity, and other things consumed that day. With edibles, the CBD continues to release slowly over an extended period of time and can last for six to eight (16).

 

CBD Topicals

CBD creams are another option for consumption. They are made by extracting CBD oil and then infusing it with other healing ingredients like essential oils. Topicals are absorbed into the top layer of the skin, as opposed to being transdermal and infusing into the bloodstream.

Many people use CBD for rheumatoid arthritis, joint and muscle soreness (17), and chronic pain (18). As with other forms of CBD and THC, there still is not enough substantial evidence to prove these products work, however, it is easy to see why they might. CBD has the ability to increase natural endocannabinoids and desensitize pain receptors (18).

Exercise and strength training create micro-tears in muscles, and the body will feel sore until the immune cells repair the tissue. CBD is thought to limit some of the body’s inflammatory signals, helping with muscle pain but not restricting the body’s healing process.

An additional way that CBD is thought to help physical pain is through TrpV1 receptors (18). These are receptors in the body that when activated, produce heat to soothe pain (20). CBD activates these receptors, creating heat to address pain.

Topicals are best used for joint or muscular pain because they can be applied directly to the problem area. It can take 20-60 minutes for the effects to kick in (14,15), and they tend to last 2-5 hours (11,14), but vary considerably in both onset time and duration per consumer (16).

 

Smoking and Vaping

Just like cannabis containing THC, CBD flower can be smoked. Any of the regular cannabis smoking methods may be used such as a pipe, water pipe, or joint.

Vaping is similar to smoking in that the CBD is inhaled, but instead of flower, vape pens heat up CBD oil concentrate which is then vaporized and inhaled. Depending on how long and deep the inhalation is, the body will absorb 10-60% of the CBD. (13, 21).

Smoking and vaping are the fastest acting and most bioavailable methods of consumption. The CBD enters the lungs and then goes into the bloodstream, skipping the digestive system (11). It will only take a few minutes to feel the effects, up to 10 minutes at the most (14, 16). If one is trying to quit smoking nicotine, smoking or vaping CBD can be a great alternative with fewer health risks (22). Effects from these methods tend to last around 2-4 hours (11, 16).

Be aware of the health risks that come with smoking or vaping anything, such as lung injury (24).

 

CBD Capsules

CBD capsules or CBD softgels are pill capsules filled with CBD extract. When a capsule is consumed, CBD goes through the digestive system and ends up in the liver to be metabolized (25). Unfortunately, by the time CBD reaches the bloodstream, the concentration of compounds are reduced. This means that consuming CBD in the form of capsules has low bioavailability, roughly 13-19% (26).

A major benefit of capsules is the pre-measured dose. Capsules are also easy to bring and consume anywhere. The onset time and duration are the same as edibles; the CBD will take at least 60 minutes to take effect, depending on what else was consumed that day. It will also last 4 hours or more, slowly continuing to release throughout the day (14).

What to look for in a CBD product

cbd shopping

Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum

Some terms that will appear when exploring CBD products are full spectrum or broad spectrum, so users should be aware of the difference between full and broad spectrum CBD.

As we know, the cannabis plant contains many cannabinoids, two of which are CBD and THC. Full Spectrum CBD contains all of the cannabinoids, including THC. It has been reported that this type of CBD relieves pain better by interacting with the THC, but not everyone can legally consume THC or wants the psychoactive effects (10). Broad Spectrum CBD contains all cannabinoids except THC. Any THC is removed, making these products legal in the U.S. (28).

Quality CBD products will specify which CBD spectrum was used, or the THC to CBD ratio of the product.

 

Ingredients

When it comes to cannabis products, one of the most important things to look at is the ingredients. Depending on the type of product, one should make sure that it only has CBD (and THC if that is okay) and other natural additives.

 

Lab tested

Quality CBD products go through third-party lab tests to ensure their quality and confirm the exact amounts of ingredients. Since CBD isn’t currently regulated by the FDA, this is the best way to ensure that the products consumed are safe and contain what they claim to. Lab testing provides customers with an unbiased scientific analysis of cannabinoid profiles, meaning which cannabinoids and how much are in the product (29).

 

Where and when was it grown

Look for CBD products that are U.S. grown. This ensures that it falls under strict U.S. guidelines and agricultural regulations (30).

It is also important to check when the product was manufactured and when it expires.

 

CBD Dosage

cbd dose

Determining CBD dosage differs per person, and will take some trial and error. Obviously it is better to start small and increase from there, which could mean starting with 20 or 40 mg a day (23). Try and keep track of how much CBD is taken and what effects are felt, to determine if that dosage is right for the user. Do not ramp it up too quickly, because small doses of cannabis tend to provide stimulation while too much can cause sedation (11). Dosage will differ per consumption method.

CBD capsules or gummies are the easiest forms of CBD to track dosage. Generally each individual capsule or gummy is one dosage, but be sure to read the bottle for dose instructions.

Smoking or vaping is another easy method to monitor dosage. Because inhaling CBD is so fast acting, the effects (or lack of effects) should be felt within minutes. Try waiting 20 minutes just to be safe, and if no effects are felt, take another puff.

CBD edibles can be a little tricky to dose, but if the edible was purchased, the amount of CBD and/or THC will be on the label. If the edibles were made at home, be careful. The tricky aspect of dosing edibles is that they are slow acting, so the user will not know for up to a few hours. Many people have made the mistake of assuming it did not work and consuming more, but it is best to wait a few hours and determine whether the effects are felt.

For CBD cream, it is important to rub a very small amount on the skin to start. 24 hours should be enough time to check for a rash or other negative reaction. Once the user can confirm no adverse effects, they can apply more to the skin. More can always be added so starting with a small dose is best.

CBD oils and tinctures will list the amount of CBD in milligrams on the bottle, but will probably not list the amount per drop. One will need to look at the amount of total CBD in milligrams on the bottle and do the math. If a 20 milliliter bottle of CBD oil contains 400 drops, and the label says there are 2000 milligrams of CBD total, that means each drop contains 5 milligrams. Again, a nice low dosage to start with is 20 milligrams, so in this scenario the user would take 4 drops. A drop is literally that – just one drop – not the entire dropper.

 

Entourage Effect

The entourage effect is a common phrase used in relation to CBD products. As mentioned earlier, CBD and THC are two cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant. There are also many other cannabinoids, and they may support the effects of the main two. It is theorized that different combinations of these cannabinoids produce different effects. The entourage effect is based on a very small amount of research and mostly anecdotal evidence, but some preliminary research has shown that CBD may be more effective when taken in combination with THC (10). Terpenes are aromatic oils that are secreted from the same glands as CBD and THC. These are what give certain strains of cannabis particular looks, odors, and tastes (19). Terpenes may also be involved in producing entourage effects.

 

Are there any side effects of CBD?

While there are no reported long-term side effects of consuming CBD, one thing to be aware of is mixing medications. If on medication, talk to a doctor about the combination of substances and make sure it is safe. Other than that, reported side effects have included change in appetite, change in weight, diarrhea, drowsiness or fatigue, and mood change (27).

 

 

Citations:

 

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