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What is CBD: EirHealth’s Complete Guide to CBD

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From A-Z: We answer all questions about what CBD is and how can it help you

CBD has been touted for its many benefits in the past few years, appearing in beauty and personal care products, on cafe menus, and on the shelves of national chain stores. In fact, it’s now more accessible than ever. The CBD market is currently valued around $590 million, and is expected to surpass $22 billion by 2020, according to research firm The Brightfield Group.

Even before CBD became a cultural buzzword, it was prized by wellness enthusiasts and health experts for its vast all-natural therapeutic properties.

But what exactly is CBD, and what does it do? Here is our definitive guide to everything you need to know about the crop that’s taking over the world.

CBD 101 – what is cbd?

CBD, officially known as cannabidiol, is one of the most prominent cannabinoids present in the Cannabis genus of plants. Cannabis plants have three strains—Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis—some of which are further differentiated as marijuana or hemp. The main difference between the two is that hemp only stems from the Sativa species, while marijuana can come from either Sativa or Indica strains. Marijuana plants contain higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the cannabinoid that produces the “stoner’s high.”

What is CBD and how to benefit from it?

CBD is classified as hemp, meaning there’s 0.3% THC or less present in the compound. Marijuana, in contrast, can best be described as any cannabis derivative containing 0.3% THC or greater. CBD is legal as long as it is hemp-derived and falls within the limits on THC.

CBD has powerful non-psychoactive properties (meaning it doesn’t get you high) that make it ideal for medical use. However, uses range along a spectrum from health to wellness to recreation.

When, How, And Why To Take CBD

Since CBD is non-psychoactive, it does not greatly affect or impair mental ability throughout the day. Potential side-effects are rare, but can include mild lethargy or a suppressed appetite.

What is CBD and how to use cbd drops
The most popular form of CBD is an oil based tincture

CBD can be ingested via capsules or tinctures, vaporized, or used topically. The most potent way to take CBD is to ingest it—but vaporizing may be felt more quickly. A 2018 study that surveyed CBD users across the United States found that a majority of users prefer to take cannabidiol sublingually, or orally.

The same study found that almost 62% of those surveyed use CBD for medical reasons.

CBD isn’t a cure-all, but its ability to ease certain symptoms of several physical and mental illnesses are felt by those who use it. Among the more common uses for CBD are to help treat anxiety, cancer, seizures, PMS, stress, migraines, and depression—to name a few. Additionally, CBD is often considered a sleep aid since it helps ease some of these conditions that commonly interfere with sleep patterns.

While medical cannabidiol research is still in the early stages, there are numerous testimonials from health and wellness practitioners, as well as individuals and patients, that are decidedly pro-CBD.

To determine which dose and product is right for your needs, always consult a medical professional before trying a new supplement.

The Endocannabinoid System: Your Highway to CBD

The individual components of the cannabis plant, including THC and CBD, were discovered and studied over the early to mid-1900s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that scientists truly connected the dots on how cannabinoids interact with the body.

What is CBD and how to benefit from it?
CBD works great as a pain reliever

The discovery of anandamide, a neurotransmitter and endogenous cannabinoid with a structure similar to THC, was a turning point for scientists. In 1992, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, one of the scientists responsible for much of the 20th century cannabis research, discovered that anandamide was part of a larger system in the body. Known as the endocannabinoid system, this network consists of powerful endocannabinoid receptors that bind with cannabinoids and allow the compounds to enter into the bloodstream.

Since then, knowledge of the endocannabinoid system, how cannabinoids affect the body, and the impact CBD can have on illnesses has grown at an exponential rate.

A 2006 study published in the The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics synthesized everything scientists knew about the endocannabinoid system since its discovery. This included key findings from neural research and significant results from clinical trials across multiple categories spanning pain and inflammation, gastrointestinal disorders, and musculoskeletal disorders.

After looking at such a large cross-section of research, scientists concluded the future of cannabinoids to be overwhelmingly positive, indicating significant therapeutic uses for CBD.

The State of Hemp In 2019

Despite everything that is known about CBD’s positive effects, CBD regulation across the globe is still in its infancy.

In June 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first clinical cannabidiol solution—Epidiolex, designated for treatment of severe epilepsy—for legal medical use.  

Subsequently, the FDA implemented the Farm Bill at the close of 2018, removing hemp from the controlled substances list and opening up the floodgates for brands clamoring to cash in on the “green rush.”

what is cbd and what's its legal status
Hemp buds after harvesting with almost no THC

On May 31, 2019, the FDA held a public hearing that acted as an open forum for brands, companies, and officials to discuss the way forward. The consensus was that the FDA needs to move quickly on new regulations to allow growers to thrive, to enable healthcare professionals to generate more data, and to pull back the curtain on what CBD in food really does.

In Europe, the E.U. recently defined hemp CBD products as “novel foods” in a formal statement issued by the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute. This classification means that, despite burgeoning scientific research, the governing bodies don’t have enough information on CBD, and products must be weighed on a case-by-case basis before going to market.

Regulations big or small that allow the sale of safe, legal hemp products are a step toward charting a course for the future of CBD.

CBD Takeaways

Ultimately, cannabis is still a nascent category. Brands and products are outgrowing regulations, so not every CBD offering is top-notch or representing itself accurately. To avoid purchasing a placebo or harmful product, be sure to double-check the label and growing information to ensure it is premium quality.

That said, CBD can be effective as an everyday supplement to your health and wellness routine. Always consult a medical professional before trying a new product to determine if it is right for you.

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