What Is CBD?
There’s a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation out there about CBD, otherwise known as cannabidiol. As one of the active ingredients in cannabis, you’ll find it in medical marijuana, but it won’t get you “high.” As Harvard Health Publishing explains, this is because cannabidiol is “derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant.” CBD is not marijuana, though it is a component of it.
Some worry that consuming CBD oil can lead to addiction or impairment, but that’s not really a concern. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential… To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
To clarify, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the main chemicals found in marijuana. As explained by WebMD, “THC also produces the “high” people feel when they smoke marijuana or eat foods containing it.” Some CBD products do contain THC, but typically in very small amounts (0.03% or less).
Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum & Isolates
If you’ve started exploring the world of CBD, you’ve probably come across three major types of CBD products — full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolate. It’s important to understand the difference before buying anything so you can make an informed decision.
Full spectrum, sometimes referred to as “whole plant,” means that the products “contain CBD, terpenes (essential oils found in all plants), and other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN and trace amounts of THC.” Full spectrum products are the most popular, as the therapeutic benefits of the individual components are magnified by the “entourage effect.” Because full spectrum products contain a very small amount of THC, they could be detected on a drug test.
For something that offers the benefits of cannabinoids and terpenes but doesn’t contain THC, look for broad spectrum products. These items will have either gone through additional processing to remove the THC or they are isolate-based products with added cannabinoids and terpenes.
Anyone concerned about failing a drug test, or wanting to avoid THC for other reasons, should probably stick to isolates. These products tend to be labeled as “pure CBD” because the cannabinoids have been isolated from all other components. For those concerned about anything showing up on labs, be sure to find the purest isolates (99.9%) because purity can vary by company and product.
How Is CBD Oil Used?
When deciding how to use CBD, it’s important to consider bioavailability. Simply put, you’ll want to think about how much of the product will make it into your system. Each delivery method — sublingual, inhalation, oral, topical, transdermal and suppositories — will have a different level of bioavailability, which you’ll need to weigh before making a choice.
When most people think of cannabinoids, they think of CBD oil. These oils are typically taken sublingually and held under the tongue for 60-90 seconds. This allows the products to be absorbed by the mucous membranes and comes with a bioavailability of 20-30%.
Not only can you get a pretty accurate dosage this way, but the CBD will go directly into the bloodstream. The effects can be felt relatively quickly with this method, which is preferred by those with chronic conditions. Flavored oils can be helpful to sublingual users who don’t like the natural taste.
Some people use CBD for instant relief (from a panic attack, for example). Vaping/inhaling the product sends it straight to the lungs, where it’s quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. The effects can be felt immediately, which can be reassuring to those in distress.
The bioavailability associated with this method can be between 30-40%, with the benefits lasting several hours. Again, flavored CBD can be used in a vaping device for those who prefer to mask the natural taste.
Another option is to eat or swallow CBD. In addition to gel caps and capsules, a range of edibles, including chocolate bars and gummies, can be consumed to reap the benefits. While this can be a convenient option for some, especially while traveling, the bioavailability is just around 5%.
The upside is that, while it takes longer to kick in, the effects of consuming CBD this way can last up to eight hours. If this is your preferred method, you may need to take more in order to reach an optimal dosage, which can get quite expensive.
Got a dry patch of skin or a sore knee? Applying CBD topicals directly to the spot could be helpful. These products come as creams, salves, balms and lotions and are designed for targeted relief. As such, it should come as no surprise that the bioavailability associated with this method is low or non-existent.
CBD infused topicals can be beneficial for the areas onto which they are applied, but if you’re trying to alleviate symptoms associated with anxiety or a migraine, they are not ideal. These are intended for treating targeted physical concerns, and because they don’t get absorbed into the bloodstream, are unlikely to be detected on a drug test.
Typically found as patches, creams and lotions, transdermal CBD products are similar to topicals in that they are applied to the skin, but transdermal formulas are designed to be absorbed. As a result, the bioavailability is around 70% minimum.
While they are more expensive, they can provide both local pain and whole body relief (including mental and neurological conditions) for between eight to 12 hours.
Although less common, CBD suppositories are available. These are ideal for those who cannot swallow, are experiencing nausea or vomiting or need higher doses of CBD. The bioavailability is between 80-90%, which is the highest you can get. Suppositories work very quickly and can last for up to eight hours.
What Method and Dosage Should You Take?
While I’ve made an effort to cover some of the basics surrounding the use of CBD, I’ll stop short of providing recommendations about methods of delivery or dosage. This is a deeply personal decision and will depend on your needs, as well as how your body responds to CBD.
One form of usage might work perfectly for someone, while others might combine several methods. Truth be told, you’ll probably need to experiment a little to find the right fit. It’s best to start low and gradually increase the amount you’re using every few days until you find the optimal dose. This article on CBDOilUsers.com could be helpful during this process.
Choosing a Brand
As with any supplement, you should always be careful about where you buy your CBD. It’s usually best to order directly from the manufacturer, as counterfeit products have begun to infiltrate the market. In addition to this great article about How to Shop for CBD, you should consider the following questions:
- How was it extracted? If it was processed using toxic materials such as butane or propane, you should probably move on.
- Where was the hemp grown? Is the company sourcing their hemp from overseas, or is it coming from a local farm? The answer to this question will say a lot about the quality of the product you purchase.
- Does the company use third-party testing? To ensure a product is high quality and safe, non-company personnel should conduct tests. Look for brands that make lab results available to consumers.
- What are people saying about the product? Always look for reviews from consumers as well as reputable sites dedicated to CBD education.
- Does the website look legit? Visit the website of any brands you’re considering. If the information seems outdated or the contact information is missing or suspicious, it could be a scam.
As is the case with any purchase, you can do all the research in the world and still be duped. There have even been times when popular CBD products were found to contain dangerous chemicals. Learn as much as you can about a brand before you try their products, and then remain vigilant for any changes.
Demand for CBD Is Growing
This is just another example of how wellness is being redefined in America. As more people search for viable and effective alternatives to pharmaceutical interventions, the popularity of CBD products will likely continue to soar. We’re witnessing a huge shift in how people engage in self-care, and before long, maybe it will be hard to remember a time when CBD products weren’t part of our daily lives.