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The conversation surrounding cannabis products in the United States has shifted significantly in just the last decade or so.
Not only is medicinal marijuana recognized almost universally as a powerful, all-natural part of modern medicine these days (and usually seen as a better alternative to prescription painkillers), but even attitudes about recreational marijuana and CBD products have changed almost completely.
State after state across the US have chosen to legalize recreational marijuana (or at the very least decriminalize it), and CBD products can be purchased in all 50 states – over-the-counter or online with absolutely zero headache or hassle whatsoever.
If you’re interested in using CBD products, but aren’t quite sure of exactly what CBD is or how it can help, we’ve put together this quick guide to help get you started!
At its simplest, CBD is essentially cannabis oil or the concentrated liquid extracts pulled out of marijuana plants (scientifically known as cannabis sativa).
Most people are familiar with the ability for marijuana to get you high, and the hallucinogenic properties of this plant are made possible through powerful cannabinoids known as tetrahydrocannabinol - or THC, for short.
THC is the main hallucinogenic/psychoactive compound in marijuana and is the driving force behind but getting people high.
But it isn’t the only cannabinoid in cannabis.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the other major cannabinoid in this plant, a chemical compound that has absolutely zero hallucinogenic or psychoactive properties whatsoever – but a chemical compound that has a whole host of other health and wellness properties tough to find anywhere else.
It’s the “other” chemical compound in marijuana, one that won’t get you high but one that can transform your health and wellness almost instantly.
CBD delivers its payload of beneficial properties by interacting with specific parts of our body, components scientists have recently classified as endogenous cannabinoids.
These are all natural cannabinoids that our body produces all on our own, biochemicals that have almost the exact same makeup as those found in cannabis plants – which is why CBD and THC are able to have such a profound impact on the way we feel (though in different ways).
It wasn’t until the late 1980s (1988, to be specific) that medical experts started to better understand how cannabinoids interacted with our biology. Scientist Lisa Matsuda discovered (along with her colleagues from the National Institute of Mental Health) a specific DNA sequence that works to encode THC receptors in the brains of rats, stumbling upon the initial research that would later lead to our understanding of the endocannabinoid system in the human body.
The endocannabinoid system in our bodies works to handle a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to physiological processes that include how we feel, our overall energy levels, our ability to push back against mental stress and pressure, as well as things like our the regulation of our immune system, our blood pressure levels, and even our bone density and glucose metabolism levels.
We have two different kinds of cannabinoid receptors in our bodies that respond specifically to CBD, classified as CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily found throughout the brain and our central nervous system and handle our “mental and emotional” cannabinoid needs, whereas CB2 receptors are found in more of our peripheral organs and handle the bulk of our physical and immune system cannabinoid needs.
The beautiful thing about external sources of CBD – like the kind of CBD you can consume internally or applied topically – is that it is rapidly absorbed through our bloodstream and immediately shuttled to these cannabinoid receptors. From there these “raw materials” go to work instantly, working the same way that our own internal sources of endogenous cannabinoids would.
People asking what is CBD are finding out that it's a lot closer to biochemicals our bodies already produce - and it has the power to offer the same kinds of benefits, too.
The most exciting thing about the world of CBD today is that we are still in the infancy of really understand what and how it improves our overall health and well-being, though we understand enough to realize that this could be a major breakthrough in the world of all natural healing – and many people already consider it to be exactly that!
We know for certain that this “multipurpose molecule” works wonders to alleviate physical stress, pain, and tightness throughout our bodies. People use CBD every day to relax worn-out muscles, to recover from tough workouts faster, and to generally unwind and sort of “chill out” the same way that a deep tissue massage would help with.
What is CBD other than a game changing new solution to a world more stressed out and overwhelmed than ever before?
Researchers published a clinical study in Frontiers in Pharmacology back in 2017 that showed just how much of an impact CBD had when it came to protecting the hippocampus, the part of our brain most responsible for several critical functions (like learning, memory, and navigation).
CBD was especially useful in protecting the hippocampus during high levels of external stress, and some in the study suggested that CBD might also be a breakthrough in helping to prevent the kind of brain self-destruction that is caused by schizophrenia.
Also in 2017 research was published in the Annals of Palliative Medicine that showed just how beneficial CBD was with chronic pain management issues. This backs up a lot of anecdotal evidence of regular CBD users that claim they just flat out feel better when they use CBD products on a consistent basis.
A considerable amount of people use CBD on a regular basis to push back against feelings of anxiety and depression – conditions that the World Health Organization recently classified as the single largest contributor to disabilities in the entire world.
Research published by the National Institutes of Health in the United States looked into whether or not CBD oil (600 mg doses, in specific) could be effective at helping those with social anxiety disorders eliminate those kinds of symptoms – and early indications are that it was as effective as pharmaceutical without any of the potential side effects in both the short or long-term.
As far as the US FDA is concerned, however, the only currently approved use of CBD is for treating epilepsy – and it’s proven to be a complete and total game changer in that department. A cannabis-based drug called Epidiolex is used to treat incredibly rare and severe forms of epilepsy, and a recently published clinical trial has shown conclusively that this CBD-based drug reduce the amount of seizures in those that used it by more than 50%.
With more and more products hitting the market today - and more people experimenting with them - the future has never looked brighter for CBD!