Everything You Need To Know About CBD, THC & The Endocannabinoid System
Given the recent widespread increase in medical cannabis legalization across the US, it’s certainly no surprise that CBD has seen a meteoric rise in both use and popularity over the last few years. And of course, given the fact that a few of its success stories have been covered by the likes of CNN, Forbes, and USA Today, the attention of millions have started to seriously turn onto this all-natural, 100% plant-based therapy.
Have you noticed the new trend of hemp-based products to hit the market recently? Extracts from the cannabis plant can now be found in skin care products, make-up, medicinal products, drinks in cafes, infused flavored water, infused food products, and the list goes on and on. If you’ve been wondering exactly how cannabis extracts can be used in these applications, how it’s legal, and what the health benefits are, then keep reading as we explore it all.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound found in the flower of cannabis that contains therapeutic properties. CBD is a safe, non-addictive substance and is one of more than a hundred ‘phytocannabinoids’ found in a cannabis plant.
Health Benefits of Using CBD
The effects of CBD are 100% therapeutic in nature – it produces no psychoactive or intoxicating effects whatsoever.
Some of the most common conditions that people use CBD oil for are chronic pain, anxiety, depression, arthritis, and insomnia. However, CBD interacts on a cellular level with essentially every system in the human body, give it the potential to be an all-encompassing therapy for any range of medical issues. In fact, in the more than 20,000 published scientific studies involving cannabinoids (cited below in an article released by NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), it has been documented that CBD oil may have potential to help treat:
- Cancer-related symptoms
- Pain relief
- Menstrual cramps
- Stress and anxiety
- Supporting bone and heart health
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Autoimmune diseases
- Gut disorders
- Metabolic syndrome
- Skin disease
- Seizures / Epilepsy
- Spasticity / Muscle spasms
And this is by no means a complete list – like we mentioned earlier, the simple fact that CBD oil interacts with endocannabinoids and their receptors in every cell and tissue type in the body, truly does give it the potential to be an all-encompassing therapy for any range of medical issues.
What is The Difference Between CBD & THC?
So now that you understand what CBD is, let’s talk about THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short, is the compound that causes the high that cannabis. THC can be used in smaller doses for medicinal purposes, but hemp only contains trace levels of THC – so you’re not going to get high from your new face cream!
Both CBD & THC carry significant therapeutic attributes, but they work in different ways, especially when sending different receptors to the brain and body. THC isn’t fully legalized everywhere, but thankfully CBD products are becoming more and more widely available.
Will CBD Oil Get You High?
The short answer is no but instead can provide relief for conditions like chronic pain, arthritis, anxiety, inflammation, and depression and has even been found to carry anti-cancer properties.
Studies have also found that CBD products to an effective treatment for seizures and are used by patients with epilepsy.
In December 2017, the World Health Organization declared in a report that cannabidiol (CBD) should not be internationally scheduled as a controlled substance and that in its pure state, cannabidiol does not appear to cause harm or cause abuse potential.
The Endocannabinoid System
In order to understand how CBD works in the body to produce its therapeutic effects, one must first have a general knowledge of the endocannabinoid system, or ECS.
CBD impacts our bodies in it’s many different ways, through the regulation the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is essentially is the human body’s very own “internal” cannabis system. That’s correct, our bodies endogenously manufacture active compounds which are virtually identical to those found in CBD. Research has found that the endocannabinoid system is the largest neurotransmitter system in the human body and one which plays a vital role in regulating homeostasis through a range of physiological processes that affect our everyday life.
In fact, the naturally-occurring neurotransmitters and receptors that make up the ECS are so widespread throughout the body that doctors have labeled it as perhaps the most “central component of the health and healing of every human being.” The only reason we haven’t heard much about it over the years is because it’s only recently been discovered – in the 1990’s to be exact, by famous Israeli scientist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam.
On a therapeutic level, CBD works by interacting with ECS receptors in the body’s various cell, organ, and tissue systems. And since its receptors are found literally all throughout the body, it makes sense that cannabis – and CBD oil in particular – has the ability to effectively treat any range of medical challenges.
From our mood, sleep and energy levels, intestinal fortitude, immune system function, blood pressure, bone density, glucose metabolism, pain threshold, stress, appetite and hunger, apoptosis (programmed cell death), the ECS affects them all.
The three main components of the endocannabinoid system are cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and metabolic enzymes.
Cannabinoid receptors lie on cell surfaces throughout the body and transmit information about changing conditions to the cell’s inside, which sparks a cellular response. The two major cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system are the CB1 and CB2 receptors. They are not the only cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, but they were the first ones to be discovered and are the most widely researched.
CB1 receptors are predominately found in the brain and central nervous system, and to a lesser extent in other tissues. THC binds to these receptors, which causes users to experience the high associated with this compound.
CB2 receptors on the other hand, are abundantly found outside of the nervous system and in the peripheral organs, especially in the immune system. Both of these receptors can be found throughout the body.
Endocannabinoids are endogenous cannabinoids that bind to and activate cannabinoid receptors, similar to the way that plant cannabinoids do. These cannabinoids are produced naturally by cells in the human body and help regulate many biological functions.
Metabolic enzymes perform various cellular functions that are vital for homeostasis. When working with the endocannabinoid system, metabolic enzymes get rid of endocannabinoids after they have been used. FAAH is an enzyme that breaks down anandamide, while MAGL breaks down 2-AG.
These enzymes ensure that endocannabinoids are only used when they are needed, but not after they have been used. This allows endocannabinoids to be distinguished from other molecular signals in the body, such as classical neurotransmitters or hormones that remain for later use.
The three main components of the endocannabinoid system can be found inside almost every major system of the human body. When something brings a cell outside of its “middle range”, the body relies upon these components to get the system working properly, thus bringing back homeostasis.
So when the endocannabinoid system stops functioning properly, what happens next? Scientific research has found that the result of a chronically deficient or overactive endocannabinoid system can be linked to pathological conditions.
Including CBD as part of a treatment plan to monitor a deficient or overactive endocannabinoid system has been linked to regulating a poor endocannabinoid system and has been known to slow – or in some cases stop – disease progression.
Is It Safe to Take CBD?
One of the main draws to using CBD over other pharmaceutical (or even over-the-counter) drugs, is that it has shown to be extremely safe in terms of its almost complete lack of side effects.
In fact, just last year (2017) the World Health Organization issued a massive statement to governments all over the world, essentially proclaiming its effectiveness as a medicine and the fact that it is not associated with any adverse side effects. Here is one of the official statements that was released at the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence in November 2017:
| “…[based on evidence from studies, it has been determined that CBD oil] is safe, well tolerated, and not associated with any significant adverse public health effects.”
Moreover, WHO went on to say that the active cannabis compound is “not associated with abuse potential, does not induce physical dependence, [and is] is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
In short, to answer the question of “is it safe to take CBD oil,” the answer is a resounding YES.
How to Use CBD?
CBD products can come in many forms and are an easy addition to your current health routine. Once the CBD compound has been extracted from a cannabis plant, it is then packaged in the form of a concentrated oil or cream for a range of applications. CBD can be found in pharmaceutical products, beauty creams, shampoos, oils, make-up, food and candy, vaping products, flavored water, and can even be purchased as an all-purpose palliative for your furry four-legged friends who may suffer from anxiety.
How CBD should be used depends largely on what it’s being used for. We suggest talking with your health practitioner before using CBD oil.
Types of CBD Products
- Oils: CBD oils are the most potent and unprocessed form of cannabidiol. The oil is removed directly from the flowers, stalks, and seeds of the plant during the extraction process.
- Tinctures: A tincture is usually extracted with alcohol or another solvent.
- Concentrates: A stronger dosage of CBD.
- Capsules: Typically a capsule will contain 10-25 milligrams of CBD and can be taken with water.
- Topical: More and more topical products are popping up in the market in the form of lotions, salves, and balms. These can benefit the skin, joints, and muscles, working once absorbed by the skin.
- Edibles: Also becoming more popular, although difficult to measure exactly how much you are getting. Edibles come in the form of chocolate, coffee, baked goods, gummies, and more.
- Powders: Powders are another way to ingest internally and can be added to water, juice, teas, or smoothies. Be sure to do research on how to look for the highest quality powder.
- Vape Oils: A vape pen can be used though this requires heating which can have an effect on the CBD oil.
- Sprays: Sprays usually contain a lower dosage but can be another way to ingest internally.
Where Can I Get CBD Oil?
Though a quick search for CBD products on Amazon serves up more than 3,000 results for expensive tinctures, fancy lotions and overpriced bottles of gummy bears, Amazon’s selling guidelines prohibit the sale of CBD and products containing cannabidiol.
That means most of those products that come up on Amazon when you search “CBD” probably aren’t the real deal. Instead, they’re most likely made of hemp oil, sometimes called hemp seed oil, which is extracted by cold pressing hemp seeds, so it doesn’t contain THC and contains very little CBD, generally.
On the other hand, most real and authentic CBD products don’t come cheap, and there’s a scientific reason why.
Because the CBD industry is still fairly young, it’s important to do your homework and find products that are truly pure. Price is often a marker of purity; if you find a CBD oil claiming 100-milligram potency for under $40, chances are that the CBD is not pure and cannot be sold throughout the country.
But below you will find a couple of CBD product recommendations. We will be adding to this list as local laws and this new industry evolves.
Charlotte’s Web Extra Strength Capsules
If you’re new to CBD and aren’t sure where to start, enjoy the ease of adding Charlotte’s Web Cannabidiol (CBD) Capsules to your supplement routine with the convenience of a capsule. Their Hemp Plus capsules contain 18mg of CBD per capsule and help provide support for normal, everyday stresses* and recovery from exercise*. $69.99
Charlotte’s Web Maximum Strength CBD Oil
Charlotte’s Web Maximum Strength CBD Oil is a 100% CO2-extracted formulation containing their highest available level of CBD 960mg of CBD per mL) to support your overall wellness. $164.99
Seventh Sense CBD Muscle Balm
Seventh Sense CBD Muscle Balm is infused with a potent blend of menthol, peppermint, ginger, comfrey, camphor and 100% hemp-derived CBD to provide soothing, cooling comfort where your sore muscles need it most. The ultra-effective formula penetrates deeply to deliver instant relief you have to feel to believe. Start spreading the word. $19.50
Seventh Son CBD Foot Cream
Step into your best self with Seventh Sense CBD Foot Therapy, made to relieve tired feet and soothe dry, cracked skin. Infused with ginger, peppermint, menthol and 100% hemp-derived CBD, this luxuriously soothing formula eases aching muscles with cooling comfort, so you can continue on, wherever the path takes you. $19.50
29 states in the U.S. have legalized the medical use of Marijuana and 44 states legally allow usage of CBD Oil and none intoxicating hemp oils (those with THC counts of less than .3%). The law differs from state to state and country to country so it’s best to do some research for your area. For now, Ohio only allows true CBD Oils, that is those with contents higher than .3% to be sold through licensed dispensaries.
Locally, dispensaries will sell medical marijuana plant material for vaping, and in oil, tinctures, lotions, patches, and edibles. Ohio’s law prohibits smoking marijuana or growing it at home. Patients with one of 21 qualifying medical conditions can buy and use medical marijuana after registering through a certified marijuana doctor in Ohio.
Provisionary dispensary locations in Columbus, OH include Terrasana; Greenleaf Apothecaries, 111 Vine St.; 127 OH, 1361 Georgesville Road; Harvest of Ohio, 2950 N. High St.; and Verdant Creations, which will be on Cassady Avenue.
Check Where You Source From
With the boom of CBD products, it’s no wonder that some are taking the chance to capitalize and get involved in this growing business so it is more important than ever to do your research on what you are buying and where it is coming from.
Don’t be confused by hemp seed oil and true CBD oil. Hemp seed oil comes from the seeds of the hemp plant, it won’t have the same benefits of a CBD Oil. Hemp oil has been available and legal for years, and although a great oil for cooking and your skin, the cannabinoids found in hemp oil are quite low – again close to 0% and less than .3%.
Be sure to read the labels and find out the total milligrams of CBD in the entire product vs. how many milligrams in a standard recommended dose of that product. All products will vary and it will also depend on what your individual goal is.
You will also want to check the CBD and THC ratio. Some products will have microdoses of THC but if you are looking for a product that is strictly CBD, you will want to look out for this when choosing a product.
Be a savvy buyer and ask questions! If you’re looking for a high-quality CBD oil, make sure you are buying full-spectrum hemp extract that contains the beneficial cannabinoids.
With America moving fast into the future of medicinal and wellbeing use of cannabis, we can’t wait to see other countries follow suit. We’ll continue to watch this trend unfold and share more information.
We would love to hear about your personal experiences with CBD and how you incorporate it into your daily health and wellbeing routines. Share in the comments below.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.