When most people think about cannabis they think about marijuana, THC, and “getting high.” But in the past few years, another molecule found in cannabis has found its way into the spotlight: cannabidiol, or CBD.
Because of its relation to THC–a molecule that is widely misunderstood and even stigmatised–not much is known about CBD outside of the cannabis community. Many people have never even heard of cannabidiol, let alone know the science behind it and some of the many benefits it offers.
You might be wondering what exactly CBD is, or how it’s different from THC. Or maybe you want to know if it has beneficial properties, or what the correct dosage is. If you have any questions at all about cannabidiol, this guide is for you.
The only place in the world that you can find CBD is in cannabis. Specifically, you can find it in either marijunana or hemp. Marijuana contains both THC and CBD in high quantities, while hemp possess no THC and less CBD than marijuana. CBD is a chemical compound found within the plant–one of hundreds, not all of which are cannabinoids.
There are more than 500 different cannabinoids, including CBD, THC, CBG and CBC. These compounds are divided into 3 groups based on where they come from: phytocannabinoids (including CBD and THC), endocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids. These are found in plants, found in the body, and made in a lab, respectively.
CBD may seem like a new discovery, but actually, chemists first isolated the compound in the mid-1940s. However, cannabis extracts have been used since the rise of civilization! Written records dating back to 6000 B.C. show that the ancient Chinese used the plant. In 2700 B.C., Pliny the Elder used it in Rome to relieve discomfort. It has even been found in ancient Greek and Egyptian graves.
Fast forward to the sixteenth century, and physicians in both the East and the West were prescribing hemp extracts as medicine. Hemp became so valuable that Henry VIII required all farmers to grow it, and some American colonies used the seeds as currency. It was so well accepted in the medical community that it was written about prolifically in preeminent medical publications, “The New England Dispensatory” and “Edinburgh New Dispensatory.”
However, when opioids were developed in the 1900s, cannabis-based medicines and tinctures largely fell out of favor. In the 1930s, cannabis became illegal to grow, and widespread stigmatization occurred. The 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act originally categorized Cannabis as a class B drug along with amphetamines and barbiturates. In 2004, it was downgraded to a class C drug—the category of drug considered the least harmful—but only 5 years later it was again classified as class B.
It can be difficult for scientists to conduct research on class B drugs, which is why CBD is such a misunderstood chemical compound today. Despite this, some studies in the 1960s made important discoveries, including the human endocannabinoid system (which we will cover in the Science of CBD). Since the late 1990s, CBD and THC have been increasingly prescribed for some medical conditions. In the past few years, their popularity has exploded in America and the UK. Scientific advancements have made it easier and more effective to extract CBD and increase its potency.
Now, CBD is one of the fastest growing industries in the United Kingdom.
The human endocannabinoid system (ECS) was discovered in the 1960s and showed that the human body actually produces its own cannabinoids. The ECS helps regulates things like our immune system, pain, mood, blood pressure, bone density, stress, hunger and sleep. Without a fully functioning ECS, the human body becomes ill.
What exactly do endocannabinoids do? They are signaling molecules called neurotransmitters created by the nervous system’s response to environmental and bodily conditions. Neurotransmitters like endocannabinoids travel through our bloodstream to receptors which instruct our cells to change their activities or behavior in some way to keep our bodies in homeostasis, or balance.
The ECS is comprised of two main parts: the endocannabinoids and the endocannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoids like Anandamide and 2-ArachidonoylGlycerol (2-AG) have many functions, including producing serotonin. Throughout our bodies, endocannabinoid receptors sit on top of cells, waiting for signals from the ECS. There are two main types of receptors: CB1 and CB2.
CB1 receptors are enormously important for brain health and are common throughout our bodies. They regulate your mood, memory, pain perception, and motor functions. And when THC binds to these receptors, they are responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijunana. On the other hand, CB2 receptors are more closely tied to the immune system, and so they regulate things like inflammation and our bodies’ response to pathogens.
The ECS’s primary job is to maintain homeostasis in our bodies. Whenever any levels are too high or too low, the ECS activates receptors to rectify the change. When you are too hot, the ECS makes you sweat to cool down. When you feel your stomach rumbling, it’s your ECS telling you to eat because you are hungry and need fuel.
Most cannabinoids are able to bind to and trigger both CB1 and CB2 receptors, including 2-AG and THC. However, CBD does not. Rather than triggering the ECS receptors, CDB adjusts the receptors’ capacity to bind to other cannabinoids. It also affects other kinds of receptors in the ECS, and, through a protein reaction, increases your endocannabinoid count.
Now that you understand the chemical properties of CBD and how the ECS work, you can understand why CBD does not get you high, unlike THC.
If you inhale or ingest marijuana, the THC molecule from the plant attaches to your CB1 receptor and instigates psychoactive effects–a.k.a., “the high.” Unlike other cannabinoids that attach to CB1, THC gets you high because of its reaction to an enzyme called FAAH. FAAH breaks down the other cannabinoids, like Anandamide, that bind to CB1 and make us feel happy or content. However, FAAH cannot break down THC, which means that it stays in your system for a much longer period and has a greater influence on your body.
On the other hand, CBD stops FAAH from dissolving endocannabinoids like Anandamide. This means it can have a greater impact than it usually does. It does not get you high, but it can encourage feelings of happiness or lack of stress. Essentially, CBD helps our systems use endocannabinoids more effectively.
Fun fact: When you take CBD along with THC, the CBD inhibits THC from having full effect because it is already inhabiting many of the CB1 receptors that the THC wants to attach to in order to activate its psychoactive effects. And while the CBD is preventing much of the THC from attaching to receptors, it is still activating other receptors that produce “happiness chemicals” like Serotonin and Adenosine.
Clearly, cannabidiol deeply affects your ECS. But what exactly are some of the benefits of using CBD?
Phytocannabinoids like CBD are woefully under researched, and thereby woefully misunderstood.
However, we do know that CBD can stimulate and regulated activity in the ECS. And in 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that CBD had no negative medical effects on the body and has no risk for dependency. In fact, WHO also announced that CBD has promising medical benefits, including treatment and care for Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, cancer, anxiety, pain, depression, arthritis and diabetic complications.
It is believed that CBD can help alleviate pain because it prevents absorption of the pain-regulating compound Anandamide. When more Anandamide stays in the bloodstream instead of being absorbed, it can more effectively regulate a person’s pain.
A study in the European Journal of Pain found, in both animal and human trials, that individuals with arthritis experience lessened inflammation and pain when CBD is applied topically. For these reasons, many sufferers of chronic pain believe they feel positive effects after using CBD. Cannabidiol also regulates and lowers brain inflammation which can exacerbate pain, insomnia, and immune system failure.
Cannabidiol has been used for mood stability and emotional wellbeing since ancient China. If your body isn’t producing enough serotonin, also referred to as the “happy molecule,” CBD can influence production of Anandamide, which stimulates serotonin production.
We are not claiming that CBD is proven to offer any medical benefits. However, many people use it to treat various ailments and are thrilled with their success.
There are many different ways that you can use, ingest, or inhale CBD, including as a tincture, an edible product, a pill, or a topical product like a lotion or cream. But which way is best, and how do you know how concentrated the CBD is?
To know the answers to these questions, you need to know about bioavailability. Bioavailability is how much and how fast CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream. Every CBD product and form has a different usage and potency.
The only way to absorb 100% of the CBD is to have it intravenously injected into your bloodstream, which is probably not a practical daily method for most people.
You can take CBD orally by eating or drinking CBD infused food and drink. However, when you do this, the CBD must pass through your digestive system which filters out most of the potency. At the end of this process, the bioavailability of CBD is very low, with studies showing it to be between 4% and 20% bioavailability.
You can also take a tincture–a CBD infused liquid with an oil or alcohol base–sublingually. To do this, you drop some of the tincture the sublingual gland, found underneath your tongue. This can produce a bioavailability of up to 35%.
Like tobacco and marijuana, you can get CBD as an e-liquid for vaporizers, or vape pens. When using one of these devices, you inhale CBD directly into your lungs. This allows the CBD to quickly enter your bloodstream. Scientific studies show that inhaling CBD has a bioavailability of 56%.
Here at HOW, we are passionate about using CBD to help people around the world. Our experts have searched far and wide for the best methods to extract and package CBD.
We offer our customers an organic CBD oil of superior quality. All of our products contain less than 0.2% THC and are fully legal in the United Kingdom. We ensure that HOW CBD oil contains only two ingredients–CBD and olive oil–and is free from all parabens, artificial dyes, artificial scents, toxins, and heavy metals.
Because we always strive to offer our clients the highest quality products, we use full spectrum CBD oil, rather than a CBD isolate.
CBD isolate is extracted CBD molecules and concentrated, removing any non-CBD particles, including terpenes, other cannabinoids, and phenolics. When isolated from these other molecules, CBD becomes less effective.
In a full spectrum oil, these cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and nutrients are intact. These all help to enhance CBD’s effects, making CBD full spectrum oil a superior quality product compared to CBD isolate.