What Is CBD and How Does it Work?
Monday, 25 March 2019
There's a lot of information floating around the web about CBD at the moment. Some of it is useful, some of it is misleading and most of it is just confusing. There's still a lot in the air when it comes to CBD, but to save you time and torment we've distilled the best answers we can to the questions: What is CBD and How Does it Work?
The Basics – What is CBD?
CBD is short for Cannabidiol, one of at least 113 cannabinoids found in Hemp and other Cannabis plants. There is a huge variety of cannabinoids and they represent a huge variety of effects, but the two most notorious are CBD and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
While CBD is a legal non-psychoactive chemical associated with a set of calming, soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, THC is an illegal psychoactive chemical responsible for most of what we associate with the effects of cannabis: getting high, heightened anxiety, etc. That these two chemicals are found in the same plant is a shame, because THC has managed to give CBD a bad name over the last 50 or so years. It wasn't until 2017 that CBD achieved proper recognition from the World Health Organisation (WHO) as not only safe to use but showing "no evidence of... any public health related problems".
The Science – What Does CBD Do?
Its sudden rise to prominence has seen some spurious claims about CBD. Research is ongoing and promising, so even the more fanciful of these claims may yet hold some truth. For the time being, even while it would be irresponsible to make many medical claims about the chemical, we have learned a fair amount about its therapeutic effects.
Most accounts of CBD will talk about the Endocannabinoid system, a complex web of receptors found over the body. To understand CBD's therapeutic impact, however, you only need to know that there are two kinds of receptors in the human body that react to cannabinoids like CBD or THC: CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are located largely in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are distributed much more broadly around the body, signalling the potential for CBD to have different effects depending on where it is used. The effects of CBD will vary, for instance, based on whether it has been rubbed onto the skin or absorbed into the body orally.
The Use – What Effect Does CBD Have?
The endocannabinoid system has a role in the regulation of many bodily functions including pain perception, appetite, thinking and motor activity. The body produces its own cannabinoids – called endocannabinoids – but external cannabinoids like CBD have also been found to influence the system. What's more, endocannabinoids are not very mobile and only have local effects, but cannabinoids like CBD are able to have a much broader influence on the system.
CBD has been found to interact with the endocannabinoid system more indirectly than other cannabinoids, indicating its subtle, more passive impact.
The Bizarre – Why is CBD Often Absorbed Below the Tongue?
This might seem like a pretty odd way to ingest a chemical, but it is all down to something called the "first pass effect". This is a phenomenon where certain chemicals are greatly reduced in concentration during their initial metabolism. By absorbing CBD into the bloodstream below the tongue, rather than ingesting it, a significantly larger amount of the chemical makes it into the body than would have otherwise.
The opposite effect can also be found in some chemicals. In fact, in a theoretical full spectrum CBD extract that hadn't had the THC content removed, not only would normal ingestion reduce the potency of CBD, it would actually increase the potency of THC!
The Practical – How Do I Get the Most Out of CBD?
Since the endocannabinoid system is so diverse, it's worth thinking about the kind of relief you need. If you're looking for targeted relief a skin cream or balm could offer the precise therapy you're looking for. In that case a skin scream like the Vitality CBD Moisturising Effect Skin Cream (300mg) could offer gentle soothing, or the Vitality CBD Muscle Balm (300mg) could offer a deeper penetrating treatment.
If you want more general relief there are a variety of oral solutions available, such as the Vitality CBD Oil Berry Oral Drops (600mg). If you vape, it is one of the most effective methods of administering CBD. An e-liquid like the Vitality CBD Oil Natural E-Liquid (600mg) features a subtle flavour so you can easily combine it with your favourite e-liquids.