Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, has become a popular topic of conversation in the last few months. More and more, radio and TV shows host discussions about its many benefits for many ailments (we ourselves were pleased to be invited on to RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta to discuss the very same). But very few discuss what exactly it is and how it works.
CBD is one of many elements derived from the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa). Although Cannabis or Marijuana is better known as a psychoactive drug, only one element within the plant really has that as a primary effect, THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol. Many more have varying benefits for humans.
Our body interacts with all the different elements from the Cannabis plant via the cannabinoid system. Awareness of this system has only really come about since the 1970s. This system has two types of receptor that interact with the different components of the plant. THC primarily interacts with CB1 receptors which connects to our neural pathways. This is what gives THC its psychoactive properties. CBD, on the other hand interacts more with CB2 receptors which are connected more with immune tissues. It also has some weak interaction with CB1 receptors which may be behind its effects on stress levels.
CBD and other cannabis elements
Many of the hemp oils available are referred to as “full spectrum”. These oils contain larger amounts of the cannabis plant. So, they would contain THC, CBG, CBN, CBD and more. There is some evidence to show that all these different elements work together in what is called an “entourage effect”, where they work together to increase the effectiveness of the other. This entourage effect can be of greater help to some than a pure CBD oil, but very often can contain varying amounts of THC which some may not wish to have at all. Full spectrum oils tend to be made from the complete plant and then used in a carrier like olive.
Some oils are made with pure CBD. These are referred to as having been made from isolate. CBD isolate is pure CBD in powder form that has been extracted from the plants by varying means. Many oils, like Boyd’s use CBD extracted via high pressure, low temperature CO2 extraction which helps conserve the quality of the CBD. This extract is then dissolved in a carrier so as to make absorption as effective as possible. In Boyd’s case, we use MCT oil (medium-chain triglycerides) which is made from the better quality fats from coconut oil. MCT oil is our preference due to how quickly the body can break it down and absorb it, unlike olive oils or hemp oils, which must pass through the digestive system, thereby losing large amounts of CBD in the process.
How much CBD is in products?
CBD oils will either use milligrams or percentages to indicate how much CBD they contain. Full spectrum oils are more likely to use percentages. This is generally because hemp oils tend to have a number of different elements and many plants are now bred to have a higher amount of CBD in them. However, this can also be confusing. Customers cannot be sure if the percentage is that of the original plant, from the extraction period or that of the final product. Unfortunately, they have been repeatedly proven to be unreliable.
Oils which use an isolate refer to CBD amounts in their products in milligrams. Because the CBD isolate is in a measurable powder form, they have the benefit of being able to weigh the exact amount of CBD used in each product. However, the quality of that isolate then becomes of paramount importance. This is why it’s vitally important that customers only buy from companies that prove the provenance of their CBD, and its purity. All reputable companies will have lab test results for each batch of their product available to their customers.
So what does CBD do?
Because the discovery of the endocannabinoid system only happened relatively recently, there are limits to the scientific research performed on the effects of the different elements of the cannabis plant are limited. However, the majority of the research has involved THC and CBD. A poorly performing endocannabinoid system has been connected to migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel system, obesity. Rebalancing the endocannabinoid system (ECS) can have positive effects on these issues.
CBD is most commonly associated with its effects on inflammation and anxiety, backed up by research since the 1970s and 1980s. These positive effects come down to CBD interaction with the CB1 and CB2 receptors and some more peripheral receptors around the body.
Our long-term customers are successfully using CBD to deal with issues of FM, MS, general age-related pain, sports-related injuries and pain and issues of serious stress and anxiety.
Many of these papers are widely available. If you have a query regarding any particular issue and research, we can supply links to scientific papers laying out how successful tests were in linking CBD to positive treatment. Feel free to email us on [email protected]
These papers often also highlight any adverse side effects from using CBD with other medication. However, anybody considering using CBD should always check with their doctor first.
CBD has little side effects, especially at low doses. Confidence in its use is growing, with the World Health Organisation officially stating CBD “did not indicate that cannabis plant and cannabis resin were particularly liable to produce ill-effects” and that CBD “shown therapeutic potential for treatment of pain and other medical conditions such as epilepsy and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis”.
For anyone using CBD in a sports context, WADA (the world anti-doping agency) have removed CBD from their list of banned substances as they found that it “is not a cannabimimetic and has no psychoactive activity”. However, THC still remains on their list. Please remember this if you are supplementing for sports. Any product with even the slightest amount of THC will show up as a test fail in any dope-tested sport.
If you have any more queries about CBD or what to ask us particular questions about our own products, please feel free to contact us at [email protected]