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The ABCs of CBD

Does it seem like everyone these days is talking about CBD-this and CBD-that? You may have just nodded along to these conversations because you wanted to seem in-the-know. In this post we will catch you up on all the questions you may have been too embarrassed to ask about CBD. Even if you are a bit more familiar with CBD, we hope you can find some helpful or clarifying info in this post.

CBD is an abbreviation of cannabidiol, a naturally occurring compound found in the resinous flower of the cannabis plant.

CBD is one just one of the many (hundreds or thousands) of naturally occurring compounds which can be found in the cannabis plant’s flower. Perhaps the most widely known compound from the cannabis flower is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is known for causing the euphoric “high” associated with cannabis use.

Although CBD and THC are in the same family of compounds, cannabinoids, they have very different effects on the human body –  CBD use doesn’t result in a euphoric or “high” sensation. And actually, depending on the amount and order in which you consume these two compounds, CBD may actually lessen or neutralize the psychoactive (mental state-altering) effects of THC.

One reason for the recent increase in popularity is the legalization of CBD (derived from hemp plants) in the US at the Federal level as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. (If you are curious about the difference between hemp and cannabis, they are actually the same species of plant. Hemp is just what we call cannabis plants which produce less than 0.3% THC  – an important distinction for legal reasons).

So if CBD doesn’t get you “high” – what does it do?

There are a variety of reported uses for CBD. The evidence or support for these uses ranges from anecdotes (personal stories) to highly controlled clinical and scientific studies. Some things which CBD has shown promise for are:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep
  • Depression
  • Pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes

For many of these potential uses, it is thought CBD may be providing beneficial effects through reduction in inflammation. If you are surprised one compound can have so many effects, perhaps our introductory post on how cannabinoids interact with the human body may interest you (Endocannabinoid System 101).

CBD is made available for consumption in many forms. Some of the details which change between products are:

  • the way that CBD was extracted from the cannabis plant (which can change which other cannabinoids might be present) and further processing for refinement
  • whether the CBD is in some sort of carrier or solution (e.g. in oil or ethanol)
  • encapsulation to make the CBD more water-soluble

Use of CBD is considered quite safe and it is not addictive. However, it is not without potential side effects or contraindications (situations which increase risk including other medications, complete list here). The most common reported side effects for CBD are tiredness, diarrhea, and changes of appetite/weight. These side effects are not considered to be as bad as many of the commonly used medications. This makes CBD an attractive alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals for treatment or management of many conditions.

If you are considering use of CBD, just be aware that manufacturing of CBD is not regulated at a federal level. What this means for potential consumers is that not all products on the market will be held or manufactured to the same standards. Many companies will make test results available upon request. This puts both responsibility and power in the hand of the consumer.

While this is far from everything there is to know about CBD, we hope that this post was helpful making you more familiar. If you’d like to learn more, subscribe to our newsletter where we will notify you of  future posts so you can expand your knowledge surrounding CBD and its effects on the body.