What is CBD?

Today Let’s Learn: CBD Edition

Chances are, you’ve probably heard about CBD recently, but you are unsure what it is and what it means. Regardless of your relationship with cannabis, there are some good reasons to know what CBD is, its effects, and how you can utilize it for your own needs related to weed as well as not related to it.

What is CBD?

Most people are intimately familiar with THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, or what most people like to think of as “the stuff in weed that gets you high.” Well, CBD is essentially THC’s sister. CBD is short for cannabidiol, and like THC, it is a chemical compound called a cannabinoid. Various organisms, including humans, have a biological system within their bodies called the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. This system naturally creates chemical compounds that are similar in structure to the cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Although similar, these naturally occurring cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, do not get you high. Instead, they are important for various functions of the body including memory, fertility, appetite, and pain-sensation.

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On the right, you can see an endocannabinoid, 2-Arachindonoylglycerol (2-AG), and how its chemical structure has some similarities to cannabinoids. Because of the similarities in chemical structure between natural and internally occurring endocannabinoids and cannabinoids found in plants, both are received by the ECS and create effects on the body. THC primarily creates effects that are psychoactive, creating “high” feelings, including altered perception and memory. The effects of cannabidiol are typically non-psychoactive, meaning that they do not create this “high” feeling. They do however still interact with the ECS and produce other body effects. Several of these effects include: anti-inflammation, anti-anxiety, pain relief, among others. In addition to these typically “medical” effects, CBD also temporarily opens the ECS receptors, making them more sensitive to the cannabinoids that interact with them during that time.

THC & CBD

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Now that we know more about CBD and its relationship to the body, let’s analyze it’s relationship with other cannabinoids, particularly our esteemed friend THC. Because cannabinoids are chemical compounds, they tend to have different reactions with each other, leading to different effects in the body. While much research is yet to be conducted, some general observations have been made about the two cannabinoids in combination. Overall, the relationship between the two is harmonious. THC in combination with CBD can often be considered a “power move” of sorts for both medicinal and recreational purposes.

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For medical patients, CBD is a common go to compound for reasons that have been outlined above, but some research suggests that CBD and THC work better together for medical purposes because the two react in a way that can create entirely new and specific effects in the body than if they were working alone. In essence, the two serve as counterbalances to each other and different ratios of each together can lead to increased efficient use of them both for specific needs. For example, a product may have a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC. This means that there is equal parts CBD to THC in the product. These products have been found to be some of the most effective for conditions involving sleep, such as insomnia. Others, in smaller ratios, such as a 25:1 ratio CBD:THC have been found to be more effective in treating anxiety.

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A common misconception is that CBD is just for those who have a medicinal purpose to achieve. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. CBD can help to achieve a better, more sustained, and comfortable high for all individuals. Two ways in which CBD does this is by, one, amplifying positive aspects of a high or two, reducing negative aspects of a high. An example here relates to a topic touched on earlier, the way CBD increases the ECS’s sensitivity to cannabinoids. When taken some time (around 30 minutes) before THC, CBD opens the receptors of the ECS, and when the THC comes after, the ECS absorbs the THC more fully. This can lead to a variety of effects, some positive and some negative. There is such things as too much of a good thing, and experimentation of CBD and THC together is an interesting avenue that all should explore. CBD prior to THC can potentially change your highs for the better, help your weed last longer, and give you effects you may not have before.

On the flip side, if taken after THC, CBD acts as a antidotal force. If you’re experiencing an uncomfortable high, which most everyone who uses marijuana has had at some point, CBD can mitigate negative effects and reduce those less than pleasant reactions. A good general tip is to always have some CBD handy in the event of an uncomfortable high.

Where to Find CBD

At this point you may be thinking about your own potential uses for CBD, so the natural question becomes where does it come from and where can you get it.

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CBD is most often derived from the hemp plant, marijuana’s close cousin. Visually, hemp and marijuana plants, and flowers, are almost indistinguishable from each other to the common eye. Can you guess if the photo on the right is a hemp plant or a marijuana plant? A hard guess, but it is a hemp plant. Both plants produce “buds” where cannabinoids are most concentrated. Various cannabis plants however are bred to include high levels of CBD and THC together. Many of the cannabis buds that are bought at your local dispensary do contain some level of CBD, although they are not always labeled to include that distinction.

Since a legal distinction separates CBD and THC, various hemp products with naturally occurring CBD can be found at health food stores in states that do not have marijuana friendly legislation. They can also be found online. However, any products that contain both CBD and THC together can only be obtained legally at a dispensary in a legal state. Like THC, CBD comes in a variety of forms, from flower, edibles, topicals, tinctures, oils, and capsules.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this post has helped to inform you more about CBD and encouraged you to include it in combination with your THC products. It’s potentially in your own life is for you to discover, and like many things in life, it is often advisable to travel new roads and to leave no stone unturned