So, exactly what is CBD? We’ve all heard of it by now, this revolutionary product changing the world. An acronym can be a tricky thing without running off to Google. So, here, we take a deeper look into this revolutionary natural product changing lives across the globe.
What is CBD exactly?
CBD is the acronym used to describe Cannabidiol. This is a phytocannabinoid (basically, a molecule synthesized by the cannabis plants), that constitutes up to 40% of the cannabis plant’s extract.
Let’s go back a bit – to Cannabis. Another plant we’ve all heard of, cannabis has been around for a millennia. This little green flowering plant has been cultivated, for thousands of years, due primarily to the multitude of health and practical benefits that it offers. Originating in Central Asia, Cannabis is also known as hemp, a term ascribed to Cannabis varieties cultivated for non-drug use. The hemp plant has been used primarily for fiber, fuel and textiles due to its hardiness and adaptability to most environments.
Cannabis and hemp have often been given a bad rap due to them having a misguided reputation of only being associated with recreational drug use. The compound associated with the ‘high side’ of Cannabis is something called tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as “THC”, something not contained in CBD. Things are changing thankfully, as a flood of new studies reveal the many benefits of this special plant and the associated usage of CBD.
Back to CBD, this compound comes naturally in the form of an oil. The compound is extracted from the hemp plant’s stem, stalk, leaves, and flowers – nothing goes to waste. There are essentially three common methods by which to extract CBD from Hemp1:
- Solvent Extraction – Uses ethanol or alcohol to extract the compound from hemp. Quick, cheap, and easy, the plant’s waxes are dissolved out of the plant itself and the ethanol or alcohol is evaporated, leaving behind the cannabinoids and oils. Easy!
- Olive Oil – The oldest form of extraction, olive oil has long been used as an extractant. Many CBD users attest to this being the most preferred method. The plant is heated to just the right temperature, for just the right amount of time to activate the plant’s chemicals (a process known as decarboxylation). Olive oil is then added to the plant material and the plant is heated again. The drawback here is that the dosage is diluted by the olive oil and it doesn’t keep for very long.
- CO2 Extraction – This is the most common and industrialized method to extract CBD. Used by most companies in the CBD industry, it is clean, safe, and efficient. Something called a “closed-loop extractor” is used to extract the CBD in a three-phase process. Carbon dioxide at different temperatures is combined to put it into a supercritical state (in a between a gas and liquid state). This supercritical liquid gas is then run over the hemp, after which the CO2 is separated, leaving a very clean and concentrated CBD oil behind. Pretty cool.
There are three types of final product CBD – Isolated CBD, broad and full-spectrum CBD. Isolates refer to a pure CBD oil form, nothing but pure CBD, baby! Broad Spectrum contains almost all of the essential cannabinoids, except for THC, no high – no worries! Full Spectrum still contains the range of almost 120 other cannabinoids, which also holds a wealth of health benefits.
So, what happens once we’ve managed to get the CBD out of the plant? The raw oil is cleaned and filtered to remove any fats, waxes, chlorophyll, and extractants. This final product must contain at least 70-90% CBD to be considered ready for consumption.1
What Does CBD Actually Do?
First up, let’s be clear. CBD does not create a “high” or any form of intoxication, the guy responsible for that (THC) was left out of the extraction process altogether. The list of benefits of CBD is growing by the day.
The main focus on the uses and benefits of CBD is almost exclusively centered around health – both physical and mental. The medical fraternity has established 4 main areas of CBD oil benefit – neurological, pain and sleep, gastrointestinal and behavioural.2
Much has been made of one of the mainstream benefits of CBD use in the treatment of anxiety. Multiple studies have shown that CBD is extremely effective in helping people to manage anxiety disorders and depression. The oil interacts with certain receptors in the central nervous system, responsible for causing anxiety. Though not fully understood yet, it is believed that the CBD is able to increase serotonin levels, alleviating feelings of anxiety.3
Pain management is another realm where CBD is changing lives. Used in managing arthritis, MS disorders, and chronic pain, CBD is able to reduce inflammation and block the receptors that communicate pain to the brain.4 Its use specifically for pain is fast becoming a universal practice for doctors all over the world.
Many of the incredible benefits of CBD are yet to be discovered. As its use is slowly being accepted across the globe, we will no doubt see a marked increase in the list of benefits of CBD as time carries on.
How it is administered?
CBD can be taken into the body in a variety of methods – further illustrating its diversity. The most common techniques include inhalation as smoke or vapor, as a pill or by mouth (sublingually) in an oil form known as a tincture.
Although mostly consumed orally, as the industry grows, other, innovative methods have come to the fore. These include ointments, softgels, or creams that can be applied directly to affected areas of the body. The most common method, however, it by liquid drop form aka tincture. The CBD is administered using a dropper, either straight into the mouth or by mixing it into a drink or food.5
Either way, getting it into your body is simple and painless.
How Legal is CBD?
While the jury is still out in some countries, CBD enjoys legal status in over 20 countries around the world, including most of the United States, Europe, Argentina, Canada, Australia, and South Africa. Things are a little more complicated in the US. While some states have granted CBD full legal status, others are still on the fence with others banning it outright. 11 states have granted their citizens the right to use CBD with the rest slowly following suit.6
Check the CBD legal status before heading out to get your hands on some of this miracle product.
The Future of CBD
With so many ongoing studies into CBD, new revelations are being announced daily. Time will tell as to how long it will take before we all get to enjoy this natural painkiller/anti-depressant/health food/life-changer. Either way, the wonders of this compound are there for all to see. As the world changes its views on so many different things, we hope to see CBD becoming a universal supplement for us all.
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