Getting started can be difficult, but this guide will help you navigate the world of CBD.
Some terms to know before you start reading.
CBD - Cannabidiol
It is a chemical substance found in the Cannabis plant. It has some known health benefits, and more are being discovered every day. It is non-psychoactive and safe. You cannot get high from ingesting CBD.
THC - Tetrahydrocannabinol
It is a chemical substance found in plants. It has some known health benefits, but most research in the field is focused on CBD and not THC. THC is responsible for the high associated with Marijuana.
The flowers produced by female Cannabis plants with high (20+%) concentrations of THC.
Genus of flowering plants from which hemp, CBD, and THC are extracted
The non-psychoactive (less than 1% THC) variety of Cannabis Sativa.
You have probably heard of it, either in the news or from a friend or relative. Somehow, three letters have invaded America and people LOVE IT. Claims range from “it helped me sleep” to “it gave my child with epilepsy joy” to “my anxiety is gone”! This CBD stuff is very prevalent in society, and is slated to become a 22 billion dollar industry in the next three years.
But what is CBD? Is any of the gobbledygook actually useful? Or relevant? And why should I care? And if I do care, what do I need to know to get the right CBD product for me?
CBD & THC: The Basics
Cannabidiol, abbreviated CBD, is one of the most common cannabinoids: cannabinoids are a class of natural compounds found in the Cannabis plant. Despite there being almost 500 different cannabinoids, CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the most prevalent within the plant.
THC is the cannabinoid responsible for everything from stimulating appetite (“the munchies”) to producing a psychoactive effect (feeling “high” or “stoned”). It is important to note that federally legal CBD products contain less than 0.3% THC, an incredibly small amount just there to enhance the effectiveness of the CBD. Consuming CBD will not make you high, it will not make you stoned, and it will not give you the munchies.
The Legality of CBD
One of the most confusing parts to understanding CBD is understanding the laws surrounding it. Remember, CBD is not Marijuana. Hemp is not Marijuana nor is it CBD. They all come from the Cannabis plant, but Marijuana refers to Cannabis with more than 0.3% THC per dry weight. In fact, the average Marijuana plant is greater than 20% THC! CBD is the chemical component in the plant, and Hemp are Cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC.
The 2018 Farm Bill
Due to the 2018 Farm Bill, Hemp became reschedulized at the federal level. That’s right, Cannabis products with less than 0.3% THC are federally legal.
According to a memorandum by the Office of General Counsel at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):
- Hemp, as defined by a THC content of less than 0.3% dry weight, is no longer a controlled substance.
- States and territories cannot forbid the transportation of Hemp from states where it is legal.
- People arrested for growing Hemp in the past 4 years can legally grow Hemp now.
The USDA gives licenses to people for the purpose of growing Hemp legally. It is very important to remember that the USDA governs the production of Hemp. The making of consumables from the Hemp, and any Hemp-based medications are in the purview of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Similarly, the rules listed above illustrate how the USDA will be enforcing the 2018 Farm Bill. Other agencies are going to have their own rules and regulations.
The Benefits of CBD
It is an unfortunate truth that most scientific research into Cannabis has been severely hindered by governmental policies. The result of Cannabis prohibition is manifested in the lack of compassionate cancer treatments and an opioid crisis claiming hundreds of lives daily. But instead of focusing on what we don’t know, let us instead take a look at the facts.
CBD & Its Medicinal Properties
The Endocannabinoid System
Your body (yes, yours) has an endocannabinoid system. “Endo”, the Greek prefix for “within” refers to your body’s natural infrastructure for synthesizing and degrading cannabinoid compounds. That is correct: without ever consuming any type of Cannabis your body makes Cannabis-like compounds. This infrastructure is composed of three things: cannabinoid receptors, found throughout the brain and body; endocannabinoids, naturally occurring Cannabis-like compounds; and enzymes to either synthesize or degrade said endocannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) regulates optimal internal body operating conditions, managing everything from external pain to internal stress and appetite regulation.
CBD is very effective as pain relief, for both neuropathic and physical pain. Neuropathic pain is pain caused from mental disorders, the most common examples being Epilepsy and Multiple Sclerosis. CBD acts like a neuroprotectant, preventing chemicals that cause inflammation from being released. In neuro-normal people, CBD acts on receptors in the brain which reduce inflammation from physical pains.
CBD, specifically, is incredibly effective at helping deter seizures in people with epilepsy. This fact is so incredibly proven that the first Cannabis drug approved by the FDA, called Epidiolex, is sold as medication for people with Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut, two rare, devastating forms of Epilepsy.
CBD is very effective at treating Wasting Syndrome, a side effect of people getting treated for cancer or AIDS. Wasting Syndrome is characterized by a large loss of body weight, which in these patients is due to aggressive treatment. CBD is not only useful as an antiemetic (inhibits nausea/vomiting) but also regulates appetite to prevent Wasting Syndrome
There are approximately 45 million people in the United States battling PTSD. Individuals with PTSD have universally low anandamide, which is the neurotransmitter associated with bliss and joy. In individuals with PTSD, low anandamide means bad memories are more easily recalled, which causes most of the symptoms of PTSD. CBD binds to CB1 receptors in the brain, which results in higher anandamide levels. Anandamide blocks memory collection, which results in lessened PTSD symptoms
Insomnia, Addiction, & More
There is more. A lot more. Studies going on point to CBD as a useful treatment for people with insomnia, or as a way to break an addiction to cigarettes or even opioids! Higher levels of anandamide are also associated with lower symptoms in depressed persons, and generally reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
But wait, there’s more!
Remember earlier how CBD was introduced as a cannabinoid? A substance found in the Cannabis plant with medicinal properties? Turns out, it’s not the only one. There are hundreds of different compounds found in the Cannabis plant. Called terpenes, these compounds are found in much lower concentrations.
The Entourage Effect
A medical principal called the Entourage Effect summarizes terpenes nicely: The whole plant, in all its chemical glory, is more potent than the individual cannabinoid compounds. This sets up the future of holistic personalized medicine: based on your symptoms and potential ailments, you can purchase a terpene blend designed to aid you specifically.
The Advil Effect
Let us not also forget what this writer is dubbing the Advil Effect: you don’t need a neuropathic disease or a psychological disorder to benefit from CBD. Sometimes you just wake up with a crick in your neck. At work, after typing for a few hours your fingers cramp. Maybe you just get a headache, or a burn, or a little cut. CBD applied topically helps speed the healing process of cuts, burns, bruises, and scrapes. Ingesting CBD when you have a headache or a higher stress level is a fast way to beat the headache, and is safe and easy to consume.
Since Cannabis has been out of study for so long, there’s a lot of basic information we don’t know. We know that most mammals (and a lot of non-mammals) have endocannabinoid systems; the body’s natural infrastructure for processing cannabinoids. We also know that humanity has been using Hemp since the beginning of civilization with Hemp cloth being found in Mesopotamia, dating to 8000 B.C.
CBD & RDI
We also know how most vitamins and nutrients work. We know what they do, and are able to set a metric called Recommended Daily Intake, or RDI. It is exactly what it sounds like: nutrition requirements for healthy people, set by the National Institute of Health. Every vitamin and mineral and nutrient has an RDI, but CBD does not. This is due in part to the illegality of CBD, but even more so due to the recent discovery of the ECS. It wasn’t until the early 1990s when we discovered that our bodies are naturally equipped for cannabinoids, implying that they are part of a person’s health and well-being.
As for you, dear reader, unfortunately it means there isn’t a scientific thing to point to when guiding your dosage. Instead, we offer instead a little bit of math:
CBD Dose Breakdown
One full dropper contains around 1mL of oil, and 1mL contains about 10 drops.
Check the label for the milligrams of CBD present per unit volume, and the number of servings
Total mg CBD/ total mL bottle = amount of CBD/mL
Serving size (mL) * amount of CBD/mL = Quantity of CBD/dose
For example, Maku 1000mg tincture in a 30mL bottle: 1000/30 = 33.33mg CBD/mL
A single serving is 0.5 mL: 0.5mL * 33.33 mg CBD/mL = 16.65mg CBD in your dropper
Maku puts the dosage on their label, but most companies do not. Use this methodology to figure out how much CBD you get per dropper. Other methods of CBD consumption, like softgels and gummies, usually list the CBD per individual unit.
Above and beyond showing you how to figure out how much CBD is present, it is up to you to figure out what works. If one dropper doesn’t help your pain, try two droppers. If at 3+ droppers you’re not feeling any effect (or a minimal one), you might need a higher-milligram product.
The CBD industry is poised to explode, reaching $22 billion in the next three years. That’s a huge amount of money in the industry, which means there will be CBD oil companies forming, with the goal of selling sub-par products to make a quick buck.
When Making A Purchase...
- “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is” holds true. 10,000 mg for $15 is an insanely good deal! So good, these companies don’t need to showcase their lab results. DON’T TRUST THEM.
- Make sure the brand you are buying from is established. A quick Google search will turn up a company’s website, and you can also look up independent reviews of brands. In general, if a company doesn’t have a website DON’T TRUST THEM.
- Look for lab results! Companies that stand by their products will make available their lab tests, so consumers like you can check to see if there are pesticides or heavy metals. Generally, companies that don’t make these available use lower quality hemp with pesticides.
- Some companies offer good, quality products but at a severely inflated price. Most CBD oils out there are 2-4x as expensive as Maku oils. Shop around a little bit to get a good price gauge.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most companies, on their websites, offer customer support. People at reputable companies will try to assist you in your journey of CBD. Even if the prices are wrong, good customer service is a landmark of a good company.
- Don’t buy your CBD products at a gas station.
It’s ok, you made it. Take a deep breath. You are now armed with knowledge. Use what is written here when making a CBD-related decision. Share this information with people who may use it. And as always, spread harmony.