What the hell is CBD?
I've recently been hearing more and more about something called, "CBD", and I have a lot of questions - Is it weed or not? Will it still get you high? Why is it supposedly so good for you? How come it's available in some stores, even in places where weed is illegal? Do I have to smoke it, or are there other ways? Help!
Los Angeles, CA
We feel you, this is one of the questions we hear the most, and not just from cannabis newbs. Even if you've been a long time cannabis user, it's not uncommon to have never heard of CBD until recently. There's a lot to unpack when explaining what CBD is, so I'm gonna lay it out question by question.
(Note - there's a ton of information out there about CBD, THC, and everything related to cannabis. The following answers are the result of doing a ton of research but by all means, fact-check away before making any decisions related to consumption of cannabis. All sources used are listed at the bottom of the article.)
So here's the deal:
Is CBD weed or not?
If by "weed" you mean is CBD part of the same plant as THC, then yes. CBD (short for cannabidiol) is the second most prevalent cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant next to THC.
Will CBD get you high?
Nope - Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive which means it won't get you high. This is why some CBD is able to be used on children and pets. However, CBD will do a lot of other amazing things in your body (see below.)
Why is it supposedly so good for you?
CBD has a ton of amazing benefits, including but not limited to:
- Pain relief
- Treatment of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders
- Can block the growth of cancer cells and inhibit tumors
- Contributes to overall wellness
- It looks to be especially promising for conditions that are difficult to treat such as Crohn’s disease, PTSD, and multiple sclerosis
How come it's available in some stores, even in places where weed is illegal?
First, we need to clarify the difference between hemp and marijuana: both come from the cannabis plant, but different parts and with different properties. Marijuana describes the cannabis flower which contains high amounts of THC, and hemp describes the cannabis stalk which contains only trace amounts of THC. (Be on the lookout for a future post going into way more detail on the difference between the two.)
The CBD you see sold in health food stores (and now even at Target) and being used in CBD-infused cocktails like the Stoney Negroni at Gracias Madre in West Hollywood is derived from hemp, not marijuana. Only products made from industrial hemp (containing less than 0.3% THC) are legal to sell, buy, consume, and ship.
The CBD from marijuana is only used in states where it has been legalized, like Colorado and California. Marijuana-derived CBD has a concentration of around 20%, compared to only 3.5% from hemp. High-quality CBD oil, manufactured from marijuana, is very expensive, so if a product with CBD has a low price tag, it’s because there’s too low of a dose or the quality of the CBD is quite poor.
how can i take CBD? do i have to smoke it?
Oh girl, there are so many ways you can benefit from CBD without having to pack a bowl and smoke it:
- Oil: The most popular way to consume CBD, oils are extremely versatile. You can replace the fat in your recipes with CBD oil to make edibles (check out the beautiful oil-infusing LEVO machine), mix them into any beverage or food (like your morning smoothie), or consume it via capsule.
- Tinctures: One of our personal favorite consumption methods, CBD tinctures come in a dropper bottle or spray, so you can either drop the medicine directly onto or spray it under your tongue. Tinctures are far less concentrated than oils, so they're a more mild form of the medicine. I have one for wellness that I take in the morning and at night.
- Vaping: Vaping CBD oil is gaining popularity (we also love this method) so more companies are offering specialized CBD vape pens. When you use a vape pen to inhale CBD, you feel the effects pretty much immediately, as opposed to waiting up to two hours for an edible to kick in.
- Topicals: Yes, you can even rub CBD directly onto your skin via infused lotions. This is a great method when using CBD to treat inflammation-related symptoms and pain. If you're a bit paranoid about getting high (even though it's not gonna happen without THC), using a topical cream is your best bet since dermal absorption does not produce any psychoactive effects. You can also use CBD patches which release the medicine throughout the day.
- Smoking: If you're into consuming your cannabis via the good old fashioned method of packing a bowl, hitting the bong, or rolling a joint, you can find specific strains that are rich in CBD and low in THC. Some of the more popular strains are Charlotte's Web, Harlequin and Cannatonic.
How is CBD different from THC?
CBD does not activate the same receptors in our bodies that THC does. Among many other factors, this means that CBD will not get you high, whereas THC will.
Within each of us is an endocannabinoid system with receptors spread throughout the brain and body. The two types of cannabinoid receptors (the ones affected by cannabis) are CB1 and CB2. THC activates both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, while CBD does not directly stimulate them.
- Found in the brain
- Responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects
- Play a role in memory, mood, sleep, appetite and pain sensation
- Found in immune cells
- Responsible for marijuana’s anti-inflammatory effects
- Work to reduce inflammation (which is believed to be a factor in many diseases and conditions)
CBD, on the other hand, binds to TRPV1 receptors, which are known to mediate pain perception, inflammation, and body temperature. CBD also activates a receptor situated on the surface of a cell's nucleus (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, or PPARs) which is responsible for shrinking tumors in human lung cancer cell lines, as well as breaking down a key molecule linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease.
For those suffering from anxiety, CBD can have a major relaxing effect. Unlike most anxiety medications, it doesn't come with a host of uncomfortable side effects. While THC can make anxiety worse in some cases, CBD can have a body effect similar to being enveloped by a warm, calming blanket.
There's so much more information to share on the incredible benefits of CBD, but let's be real - you probably already stopped reading a few paragraphs ago. Check out any of the links listed below for more information, and of course stay tuned for more information coming from inex women.