The beginner’s guide to CBD
Welcome to the dizzying world of CBD – one of beauty products and beer, of science and head-spinning jargon. Let’s wade through the basics, so you can make an educated choice when picking your first CBD product.
A quick note on the legalities…
If you’ve been on social media over the past five or so years, you’ll likely have noticed how many people are claiming that CBD is helping them in one way or another. You might have read about CBD and seizures, chronic health conditions and anxiety. Yet despite this, CBD sellers and manufacturers ARE NOT allowed to make any medical claims. At all.
As a CBD consumer, it pays to do plenty of research. Here are some links to the most recent and ground-breaking studies into CBD (although a lot more work is required to firm up our understanding of CBD potential).
What is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is a chemical compound of the cannabis plant.
CBD DOES NOT make you high. It is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that does that – another compound of the cannabis plant. In the UK, products are required to have less than 0.2% THC to be legal.
Across the Atlantic in the U.S., medicinal cannabis falls into one of three categories:
- Type 1 (THC-dominant) – High THC, low CBD (famously intoxicating cannabis varietals)
- Type 2 (THC & CBD) – Mixed THC and CBD cultivars (intoxicating, but not as edgy as THC-dominant varietals)
- Type 3 (CBD-dominant) – High CBD, low THC (non-euphoric marijuana or hemp)
In the U.K., products *should* fall into the third category. We say should, as a recent report found that all too many products weren’t what they proclaimed to be. Some contained too much THC, while others contained no CBD at all.
So this makes for lesson number one – always buy your CBD from a reputable source, and be sure that the products are third-party tested.
Introducing your endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signalling system found throughout the body. It regulates many essential body functions including sleep, appetite, mood, pain, memory, and more. This system was only discovered in the 1990s, so scientists are still only in the early stages of learning about it.
Endocannabinoids help your body to run as it should. So far we’ve identified two key endocannabinoids:
- anandamide (AEA)
- 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG)
These endocannabinoids can bind to two types of receptors that are also found throughout the body:
- CB1 receptors – mostly found in the central nervous system
- CB2 receptors mostly found in the peripheral nervous system, especially in immune cells
When endocannabinoids bind to these receptors, your ECS system is told it needs to take action. For example, it might be told that there’s an injury site that is inflamed.
The link between CBD and the endocannabinoid system
The relationship between CBD and the endocannabinoid system is still being explored, but some believe that CBD helps to protect endocannabinoids from being broken down. In turn, this means that they can be more effective. An alternative school of thought is that CBD binds to a receptor that is yet to be discovered.
Now with that in mind, what strength should your CBD be?
To discover your ideal CBD dosage you may need to experiment a little. Generally speaking however, most users of CBD find that between 10 to 20mg taken once to twice a day is sufficient (although some take as little as 1 to 3mg every 12 hours).