Let’s be honest—we all like to stay up to date on trends. No matter your age, it’s nice to be in the loop when it comes to new fads, exciting discoveries, and significant social changes. CBD is something that seems to cover all three of those! Is it a trend? Most definitely. A passing one? The jury is still out but…we don’t think so. This is because it is so much more than just a fad. It is a part of innovative and modern research. It has a fascinating history marked by pivotal legislation, complete with controversy and decades long debate. That’s right, CBD is much more than its trendy nickname and its quick-to-rise popularity that seemed to come out of nowhere. Get ready for some good old-fashioned learning, folks!
So, What Exactly Is It?
The name you likely known is CBD, but its actual name doesn’t roll off the tongue quite so eloquently; its formal name is cannabidiol, and it is one of over 400 chemical compounds found in plants of the Cannabis genus. The Cannabis genus is a rather large genus. For the sake of efficiency, we’re going to focus on two plants in particular that are especially relevant in this story: the hemp plant, and the marijuana plant (but we’ll circle back to this later).
Now, CBD is not just a “chemical compound,” it is a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are basically extra special chemical compounds that can interact with our brain and produce meaningful changes. There are over 113 of them found within the Cannabis genus, and CBD is just one of them. Another well known one is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Although both CBD and THC have an ability to interact with out brain, they do so in very different ways. You see, our brains have something called an endocannabinoid system. This is found not only in human brains, but animals’ as well! The endocannabinoid system is essentially a complex communication network made up of cannabinoid receptor cells and pathways that allow for these meaningful changes to take place. When a cannabinoid comes in contact with a receptor cell, the respective unique interactions takes place, which ultimately sends signals throughout these pathways, thus producing said changes.
The exact different between THC and CBD’s methods of communication is kind of like day and night. THC is a force to be reckoned with. It binds directly and firmly with the receptor cells, resulting in a not-so-subtle response. This effect produces an intoxication characterized by a wide array of feelings, from intense euphoria to intense paranoia. This intoxication is often referred to as a “high” and is what defines THC as a psychoactive drug. CBD MCT oil, on the other side, is a much more passive communicator. It binds indirectly (if at all) and quite gently with receptor cells. CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it does not produce the high we associate with THC. That’s not to say it has no effect, though. Many people note that, sometime after ingestion, they feel relaxed and calm, with an improved mood.
Hemp and a History Lesson
So, now we circle back to the whole “hemp and marijuana” thing. While both of these plants are in the cannabis sativa genus, and both contain many different cannabinoids including CBD and THC, they are different in a significant way. Hemp contains very high levels of CBD and very low levels of THC. Marijuana is the opposite; it contains predominately high levels of THC and low levels of CBD.
As we know, marijuana and its associate, THC, have been illegal and quite controversial, historically speaking. Unfortunately, the hemp plant and CBD were sort of shunned by association. This all changed in 2018, when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) passed that years Agricultural Improvement Act, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill. This legislation, for the first time in American history, defined hemp and all hemp-derived products as separate from the marijuana plant and THC. This largely has to do with hemp’s low THC content, typically less than 0.3%, which is not enough to get someone high. This bill was monumental; it legalized hemp, making it and all related products accessible to people in the United States, for the first time since the attack on cannabis began back in 1937.
As with any piece of legislation, there is bureaucracy involved. Hemp is a controlled commodity that comes with specific regulations as to what defines it as legal on a federal level. For example, in order to meet the definition of a legal hemp product, a CBD product cannot contain more than 0.3% THC. Furthermore, the Food and Drug administration keeps a close eye on what marketers can and cannot say about CBD products. This is because research is relatively new, and according to the FDA, there is not sufficient government-approved research to make medical claims of CBD’s abilities…with the exception of one condition.
Epidiolex was the first (and currently the only) FDA approved CBD based medication. Research found overwhelming evidence of CBD’s ability to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in two rare forms of epilepsy that are known to be treatment resistant. While this is the only current FDA recognized form of CBD treatment, researchers are working to uncover all the other potential benefits it may have to offer.
Usages and Safety
As stated, CBD has not yet been proved to be a legitimate medical treatment for anything, but anecdotal and preliminary evidence has been promising for a number of conditions. Among them include pain related to inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, acne and more. In terms of safety, the question of whether it is or isn’t is connected with the lack of research. The side effects we know of are minimal; they include nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and a decrease in blood pressure. However, we do not yet know the effects of using CBD over a long period of time due to research being just preliminary. We know after this article you may feel like a CBD expert, but it’s always wise to speak with a medical professional before implementing top notch CBD into your regiment.