CBD – or Cannabidiol – is a revolutionary cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp. Unlike its cannabinoid-cousin, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not have an associative ‘high’ with its use. Because of this non-psychoactive nature, Cannabidiol has gained a sizable following in the world of health & fitness. Both THC and CBD have a host of benefits, from pain relief to reducing inflammation and improving the quality of sleep. People young and old, hale and ill, busy or relaxed can put CBD to good use in their daily routines. There are so many ways to get your daily dose of CBD: drops under the tongue from a tincture, applied as a topical cream or gel, or ingested via capsule or powder. So many ways to take CBD, so many advantages for your health, but there’s only one form of safe – and legal – Cannabidiol: hemp-derived.
As CBD has progressed from an illicit substance to Federal Legalization (Farm Bill 2018), it has come under great scrutiny for the litany of benefits it has been purported to have for human and animal health. This is to say, CBD is known to be prevalent in both cannabis and hemp, but when we are discussing CBD in its official, legal capacity we are referring to hemp-derived Cannabidiol only. Whether you are interested in CBD for its reported anti-cancer properties, to help you get a good night’s sleep, or to ease your everyday pain & inflammation, there is a surprising lack of research into this plant-medicine. Since it is now approved for public and professional use – WADA has now listed CBD has an approved substance (2019 Prohibited List) – CBD will continue to gain popularity. With a greater consumer demand for hemp-derived CBD, the medical community will follow suit and further explore the science of this unique and natural remedy.
If there’s not much published resources for the safety and efficacy of CBD, then how can you be sure if it’s right for you?
There are many people who ask themselves this question, especially if they’re concerned about using CBD in a professional athletic, fitness or sports environment. Getting started with Cannabidiol is often the most arduous, but like any journey worth taking you often have to take a chance when making that first step. Your first step to living better, living healthier and loving your body begins with understanding CBD, so here’s a guide to CBD & How It Works.
what IS CBD?
Although hemp has been a part of human history for thousands of years, it wasn’t until the 1940’s that CBD was isolated from wild Minnesota hemp. The famous Dr. Roger Adams is considered to be the godfather of CBD research, but it wasn’t until the mid 1960’s that Dr. Raphael Mechoulam further identified the relationship of phytocannabinoids like CBD and THC to our Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
What is a phytocannabinoid? For that matter, what is my Endocannabinoid System? You might ask. There are a lot of terms to understand when discussing CBD, so here are the basics you need to know:
Hemp – (Cannabis sativa L.) is a tall, narrow plant rich in CBD, which is harvested from its flowers, seeds and/or stalk fibers. Unlike its close relative, cannabis, this plant species is relatively low in THC, usually containing less than 0.3%. It is important to understand that cannabis and hemp are not the same plant, but they share certain characteristics – such as producing phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD.
(The Benefits of Hemp-Derived Phytocannabinoids, Cristiana Paul, MS & Nicole Spear, MS, CNS 8/18)
Phytocannabinoids – plant-derived compounds capable of directly interacting with cannabinoid receptors in the body. Over 100 cannabinoids exist in various Cannabis species, such as CBD, THC, CBN, CBG, and many more. Clinical research has focused primarily on the psychotropic cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and its non-psychotropic antagonist, cannabidiol (CBD).
(The Benefits of Hemp-Derived Phytocannabinoids, Cristiana Paul, MS & Nicole Spear, MS, CNS 8/18)
Endocannabinoid System – a signaling system laced throughout the central nervous system and distributed among peripheral tissues, including the immune and reproductive systems, gastrointestinal tract, sympathetic ganglia, endocrine glands, arteries, lungs and heart. The endocannabinoid system contains two subtypes of G-protein coupled cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, which are modulated by endocannabinoids.
(Grotenhermen, F. (2005). Cannabinoids. Current Drug Targets. CNS and Neurological Disorders, 4(5), 507-30.)
It is important to note, that CBD does not bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the same way as THC – that is to say, CBD has more of a modifying effect on the ECS receptors in the body, whereas THC has a predilection to bind more directly with these types of receptors CBD stimulates receptors and can actually help to minimize the psychoactive effects of cannabinoids like THC. This is why some people prefer to take what is known as Full-Spectrum cannabis or hemp products (full-spectrum: containing multiple cannabinoid profiles, such as a combination of THC + CBD, to reap the benefits of both phytocannabinoids on their own, as well as in tandem).
how does cbd affect your mind & body?
Cannabidiol is not known to have very noticeable effects, which is part of its allure to many people seeking natural alternatives to pain medications or fitness supplements. As previously mentioned, CBD interacts with your Endocannabinoid System (ECS), but what is actually occurring when cannabinoids like CBD encounter your body’s receptors?
Your brain is made up of hundreds of billions of neurons – cells that are the building blocks for your nervous system. Neurons are unique cells in that they exchange information; signals are carried from parts of your body to the brain and vice versa through synapses. Synapses are the channels on which neurons transmit information, sent via transmitter and received by a receptor. When Cannabidiol is consumed, its molecules send signals throughout the body and activates certain receptors. Receptors, when activated, influence certain bodily functions such as pain, mood, hunger, anxiety, or energy. For instance, if you have pain in your knee, CBD communicates with the receptors in your affected area which in turn interacts with the synapses in your nervous system. CBD effectively blocks the pain signals being transmitted to your brain, providing safe, effective and natural relief.
What form of CBD you take and how much you will need ultimately depends on what kind of health benefits you’re seeking. Need pain relief from arthritis or a nagging injury? Try a topically applied CBD roll-on or soothing CBD cream on the sore area. Seeking a sleep aid to help you get some much needed rest? CBD oil drops under the tongue before bed and you’ll be sleeping longer and deeper. Need a boost before a workout, or help recovering after pushing yourself at the gym? CBD capsules are convenient and efficient for busy, active individuals.
Typically, any CBD products applied topically will have the quickest results (pain relief, calm, etc.) , but absorbing CBD through the skin also lasts the shortest duration. On the other hand, ingesting CBD orally via oil tinctures, capsules or powders in food/drink can have just as potent an effect, but you will typically notice the CBD effects for longer durations. Again, CBD affects people very differently, so it is best practice to follow the suggested use/directions on each CBD product and make adjustments according to what your needs are.
what can cbd do for me?
As previously mentioned, CBD interacts with your ECS, and in turn modulates CB1 & CB2 receptors in the brain and body. This biochemical relationship between phytocannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system is what leads to the health benefits and remedial effects of CBD. Cannabidiol is known for having a multitude of positive influences on a person’s health, including:
- Moderates psychotic disorders (Antipsychotic)
- Mitigates degenerative neural disorders (Antioxidant)
- Alleviates anxiety, depression and stress (Anxiolytic)
- Helps to reduce the size and frequency of tumors (Antitumoral)
- Combats pain & inflammation (Anti-inflammatory)
- Reduces severity & frequency of seizures (Anticonvulsant)
- Soothes nausea & digestive issues (Antiemetic)
Even though CBD is widely used and its many benefits are known to many, but CBD research is still in its relative infancy. CBD is commonly used for relief from pain, inflammation, mental & body fatigue, sleep deprivation, and numerous life-debilitating conditions like epilepsy, arthritis and some cases of cancer. With that being said, until official medical studies are concluded and available to the public, many people and medical professionals will not be as eager to try CBD.
It is important to understand that Cannabidiol can have varying effects on each individual user. There is no risk of feeling the “high” associated with THC, but improper dosing can lead to reduced benefits and wasted product. As the saying goes for many natural health supplements: “start low and start slow”, the same should be true for CBD. When you introduce CBD into your daily regiment, stick to the minimum suggested dosage and try to pay close attention to how you feel. People often feel a faint sense of euphoria, a heightened sense of focus or energy, but also a relaxing calm can occur.
CBD is known to be an effective remedy for many ailments, especially so for conditions that are considered to be difficult to treat. Cannabidiol can be beneficial for treating:
- Anxiety/Stress Disorders
- Gastrointestinal Disorders
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Neurodegenerative Disorders
- Parkinson’s Disease
Since its Federal Legalization in December 2018 (Farm Bill 2018), Hemp cultivation and its subsequent byproducts are being researched more fervently. As the scientific community continues to delve into CBD’s potential, its benefits for health & fitness will continue to take shape. Did we mention that CBD has no serious side effects? That’s right, Zero, Zilch, Nada. Some minor after-effects such as dry mouth, an enhanced focus can be considered “negative” by some. Nonetheless, in terms of health-impacting side effects CBD brings only positive health changes without the laundry list of potentially harmful long-term effects of some medications.
how can i take cbd?
There are many ways to consume CBD, and really the only question to ask yourself is: what works best for my lifestyle? How fast you need to experience CBD’s active effects, such as pain relief, the onset of sleep, or a boost of energy can factor into your decision of how you take CBD. Here is our break down of the various ways you can consume CBD:
Smoking/Vaping (Inhalation) – due to the illicit nature of cannabis, and the fact that smoking hemp is considered to be an inefficient way to consume CBD, there is currently no viable and legal way to ‘smoke’ CBD (refer to your State’s laws & regulations concerning cannabis & hemp). There are however some hemp-derived CBD products that can be vaped. Vaping involves heated water particles carrying CBD oil into the lungs – obviously, a much safer alternative to smoking. There are still health risks to vaporizing CBD, but mostly they concern what chemicals could be present in the carrier oil or flavors added. Vaping is a favorite of current/former smokers or people who enjoy socializing while consuming CBD.
Capsules (Ingestion) – like many health & fitness supplements, capsules are a favorite for active individuals. Easy to dose, convenient to take, and a consistent potency make CBD capsules the top choice for many bodybuilders, marathon runners, cyclists, athletes and sports professionals. Capsules usually range in potency from 500 – 3000 mg of CBD per bottle, but regardless of the concentration you can be sure of each capsule’s efficacy. Cannabidiol capsules are considered by many to be the fastest, most efficient way to experience the benefits of CBD.
Oil (Ingestion) – CBD oil is, in essence, the elemental way to consume Cannabidiol. Often carried in a Hemp Seed Oil base – which has a whole host of its own benefits, such as Omegas 3-6-9 – CBD oil can be taken under the tongue from a dropper, combined with food or drink or applied topically. Cannabidiol oil is undoubtedly the most versatile of CBD products, and it is no wonder that it is usually the first form of CBD that people experience. One criticism of CBD oil is that it requires the user to measure their dose more closely than with capsules. This is inherently true, but for this exact reason many people choose CBD oil so that they can adjust how much they take and when, as needs dictate.
Topicals (Absorption) – whether you prefer CBD creams, gels, or sprays, topicals are a great way to experience fast, effective relief from pain or stress. Many professional athletes and sports enthusiasts use CBD roll-on applicators when muscle cramps strike, or rub a soothing CBD cream on their sore muscles between breaks. If there is any downside to topical CBD, it is the length of time that the relief effects last. CBD, when absorbed through the skin, can immediately provide relief but will not last more than an hour or so. So, for individuals seeking remedies for pain, inflammation or stressed parts of the body, CBD topicals provide on-demand, soothing relief.
Edibles (Digestion) – often a favorite among CBD enthusiasts, edibles come in many shapes and sizes: pastries, baked goodies, butter, cooking oils, candies, infused beverages and CBD protein powders, just to name a few. Federal & State regulation dependent, CBD edibles are not wholly regulated and lawful in all municipalities, but their popularity is gaining ground with each passing day. CBD can be a part of everyday life when combined with life’s everyday bites or drinks, but as always it’s important to start slow and measure your dose as carefully as possible. Unlike THC-infused gummies or brownies, CBD edibles won’t cause you to “green out” or suffer a potent psychoactive incident. Cannabidiol edibles are safe, have lasting and potent effects, and most importantly they’re delicious!
Ultimately, it’s all up to personal preference; there is no distinct regulation stating that one form of CBD is “better” than the other. Maybe you prefer to drop CBD under your tongue and move on with your day? Sometimes the soothing cool from a roll-on applicator just makes you feel more at ease than taking CBD capsules. No matter how you choose to take CBD, each method of delivery is just that: a way to introduce the healing power of hemp-derived Cannabidiol into your system.