CBD 101: The Basics

No matter where you look, those three letters are seemingly everywhere! Whether it be in a gas station, retail store, or specialized shop, products labeled with the letters CBD are taking over left and right.
But what does it all mean? It may seem overwhelming to take it all in at first, but learning from the ground up can make it much more manageable.

What is CBD?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring chemical. It is found in the Cannabaceae family of plants, specifically in the genus of flowering plants known as Cannabis. These plants have a rich history of medicinal use due to its therapeutic profile, and the research regarding the benefits of cannabis has gained momentum within the last 10 years.
Cannabis plants produce unique chemicals called cannabinoids. Our bodies have natural receptors for these substances in the endocannabinoid system, and it can be activated by phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoids found in cannabis). The affected endocannabinoid system is involved in multiple physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.
The two most abundant and commonly researched cannabinoids include cannabidiol and perhaps the most famous cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Will it get me high?

Because CBD is associated with cannabis, many people assume that using a product infused with CBD will have the same effects as smoking cannabis. This is not true!!
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical compound responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis such as: a possible sense of euphoria and relaxation, heightened sensory perception, altered perception of time, and an increase in appetite. While THC may provide relaxation to the user, there is evidence to suggest that it is short-term relief and higher doses of THC have an anxiogenic effect (works to increase anxiety).
Cannabidiol does not share the same psychoactive qualities as THC.
  
It does not cause a “high” in users, and has been associated with the same sense of relaxation and pain relief that THC can provide.
Unlike THC, studies suggest CBD is an anxiolytic compound (it reduces anxiety) at both low and high doses. There is even scientific evidence that CBD be used to counteract the anxiogenic characteristics of THC (Niesink & van Laar, 2013).  When used in conjunction with THC, CBD will regulate cannabinoid stimulation in the brain and weaken the overall strength of the mind-altering substance.

Is it safe to take CBD?

CBD is normally very well-tolerated, but there is always risk of side effects when putting any form of substance into your body. Although very mild, CBD can cause side effects such as dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness and fatigue.
More importantly, CBD can also interact with other medications you’re taking, such as blood thinners. It is always important to consult with a medical professional before beginning a new treatment.
In a review of CBD, the World Health Organization stated, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
This is contrary to findings involving THC.
Although it is debated heavily among users, there is substantial evidence in clinical studies that indicate THC dependence exists (Budney, 2006; Budney and Hughes, 2006; Copeland, 2004; Roffman and Stephens, 2006).

How much modern research is being conducted?

CBD is still a budding research topic and recent events (such as the legalization of hemp) have made it widely available for all forms of clinical research. The beginning findings have been optimistic, as there has been evidence found to suggest CBD could be used to relieve physical and mental ailments, such as anxiety.
According to ClinicalTrials.Gov, there are over 100 active clinical trials involving the study of cannabidiol. Although anecdotal evidence is promising, CBD can become even more legitimized as a treatment as contemporary scientific evidence continues to accumulate!
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