What Is CBD?
CBD is the acronym for cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive, non-intoxicating organic compound found in hemp, a variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant that was once primarily known for its many other industrial and agricultural uses. Now hemp is the face of CBD!
CBD is a cannabinoid, one of the over 100 unique organic chemicals (typically referred to as compounds) produced by cannabis plants. In plants, these compounds are specifically referred to as phytocannabinoids. They are also produced in the bodies of humans and animals; in that case, they are called endocannabinoids. You may have heard of the endocannabinoid system in the human body – that’s where the name comes from! (More on that later.)
Cannabis is easily the most famous source of cannabinoids, but it’s not the only one. Other plants you may not have realized contain cannabinoids include black pepper, echinacea, and cacao.
To very briefly touch on CBD vs. THC, the latter is the other famous cannabis compound. Short for tetrahydrocannabinol, this is the chemical responsible for the psychological effects of cannabis. This is in contrast to CBD, which is non-psychoactive and doesn’t lead to a head high, paranoia, or racing thoughts that are closely associated with THC.
Where Does CBD Come From?
The cannabis plant itself has a long history, with earliest recorded use appearing to be in ancient China, sometime around 6000 B.C. But CBD as we know it was not discovered until 1940, by an American chemist named Roger Adams – a descendent of John Adams, the second president of the United States! Roger Adams was the first person to isolate and identify CBD.
Unfortunately, in 1970 came the Controlled Substances Act, which made the possession of cannabis illegal and threw all forms of cannabis, including the hemp plant, into the same category. It wasn’t until the ‘90s that some progress toward legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes was finally made. California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis. Massive progress has been made since then, with medical cannabis now legal in 36 states, while recreational cannabis is legal in 18 states, and public opinion continues to grow in favor of both.
Partially due to the groundswell of support for medical cannabis, CBD has become more and more popular. This is largely due due to the fact that it may be able to provide many medical benefits without the psychoactive components of THC.
Now, a plethora of research into CBD’s ability to help with pain is ongoing, with many studies showing promising results. A short list of studies includes a 2006 article which describes that preclinical and clinical studies have suggested that CBD may be useful in treating diverse diseases, including those related with acute or chronic pain; 2019 study that found application of CBD cream for pain twice a day to provide pain relief for a group of people suffering from a particular kind of jaw pain; a 2020 study about nerve pain in which many participants experienced reduced pain levels with the use of topical CBD oil; and a 2020 review of CBD formulations in pre-clinical studies found to have diverse medicinal properties, including anti-nausea, anti-emetic, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, antipsychotic, and anti-anxiolytic.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
A quick lesson on hemp vs. marijuana: they are both botanical classes of the Cannabis Sativa plant, but tend to be grown for different reasons, resulting in different uses. Marijuana tends to have higher concentrations of THC and is typically grown for recreational, entheogenic, and medicinal purposes. Hemp is grown specifically for industrial and medicinal use, has naturally lower concentrations of THC, and higher concentrations of CBD. We’ll get into the modern legality in the next section, but another way to distinguish hemp is by its federally legal definition: cannabis and cannabis derivatives with extremely low (no more than 0.3%) amounts of THC.
Is CBD Legal?
Yes! H.R. 2: The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the Farm Bill of 2018, legalized the use of non-THC cannabinoids from the hemp plant grown according to the specifications laid out by the legislation. Put simply, CBD is legal!
Hemp is defined as cannabis and cannabis derivatives with extremely low (no more than 0.3%) amounts of THC. The Farm Bill declassified hemp from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act, allowing it to play a larger role in the agricultural industry.
Some states have their own hemp laws that do not mirror the Farm Bill. This handy chart from Leafly includes each state and explains the restrictions. Alaska, for example, has bans on CBD-infused food and beverages, while in Delaware all hemp growers must be affiliated with Delaware State University. The only states which have their own restrictions against CBD are Idaho, Iowa, and South Dakota, but federally, CBD is legal everywhere.
What Are the Benefits of CBD? How Does It Work?
As we mentioned, CBD is one of hundreds of components in cannabis. A source no less than Harvard Medical School cites a report from the World Health Organization that states "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."
As for how CBD works, it’s now time for a quick lesson on the endocannabinoid system. A biological system in the human body, it’s composed of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, enzymes, neurons, and neural pathways. The ES is involved in a great deal of processes, including motor learning, appetite, and cognitive functions. The cannabinoid receptors exist to interact with endocannabinoids, but they also interact with phytocannabinoids, like CBD. The overall goal of the endocannabinoid system is to create and maintain homeostasis, or balance, within the body.
The existence of the endocannabinoid system is a major reason behind the potential benefits of CBD
which include the ability to support pain relief, ease tension, help with insomnia and sleep issues, provide stress relief, and even more medicinal and calming effects.
According to Harvard Medical School, both studies and self-reported anecdotes from humans suggest the following CBD benefits:
- Relief from anxiety. Many studies and clinical trials are currently exploring this in depth; here’s one 2015 study that states current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders.
- Treating insomnia and general sleep troubles. In one 2019 study, CBD was found to improve sleep scores within the first month in 48 patients, as well as decreasing anxiety within the first month in 57 patients.
- Chronic pain. Numerous studies are exploring the role that CBD can have in chronic pain relief, with this 2020 study concluding that CBD is a well-tolerated and safe natural compound exerting analgesic effects in animal models alongside clinical studies.
*Additional potential benefits of CBD include helping reduce cancer symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment; reduction in acne through the use of CBD oil; benefits for neurological disorders like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis; heart health; and substance abuse treatment. As time goes on and more research continues to be conducted, we’re sure to learn a great deal more about CBD and its growing list of potential benefits.
What Are the Effects?
Are There Any Side Effects?
We’ve discussed the major effects of CBD above, but to sum it up CBD may be able to promote a calming sense of well-being, which can contribute to stress and anxiety relief. Additionally, CBD is currently being studied for anxiety, depression, and pain, particularly chronic pain. Broadly speaking, CBD is generally well tolerated. According to the Mayo Clinic, the side effects are minimal and include dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue. More important than these side effects is the fact that CBD can interact with other medications, specifically blood thinners. Avoid CBD if you’re on blood thinners and make sure to consult your doctor about interactions with all medications.
What’s the Best CBD Dosage?
CBD dosage is a common question, and the most simple answer is that it varies depending on each person and their specific needs. Generally speaking, taking CBD 1-3 times per day is ideal if you’re interested in promoting a calming sense of well-being, whether that is related to stress or pain. If sleep is your biggest concern, we recommend taking CBD 2 hours before bedtime, daily. Additionally, if you are using CBD topically, that can be done as needed, localized to the specific area you’re targeting on your body. Read our helpful blog on How Much CBD Should I Take to learn more about dosing based on needs and how to enhance absorption.
Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?
Another common concern is does CBD show up on a drug test? Unfortunately, the answer is that we can’t be sure. According to WebMD, pure CBD should not cause you to fail a drug test – but that depends both on the purity of the CBD and the type of drug test. When it comes to CBD purity, there are three common types: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate.
According to Medical News Today, the main difference between the types of CBD has to do with the compounds they contain. CBD products which contain numerous naturally occurring cannabis plant extracts like terpenes and other cannabinoids – most importantly, including up to 0.3% THC – fall into the full-spectrum CBD category.
Broad-spectrum CBD, on the other hand, can also contain numerous compounds of the cannabis plant, but is entirely free of THC. Isolate is pure CBD, so it’s also free of THC. But it’s usually much more processed and typically comes in a crystal form that is then ground up and sold as a powder.
The big takeaway is that you should avoid full-spectrum CBD if you have a drug test in the near future, as it may inadvertently trigger a positive due to the small presence of THC.
Broad-spectrum CBD – the type used in Highline products – should not show up on a drug test as it does not contain any THC.