Have you tried CBD? Are you thinking about it? If so, you’re not alone — CBD products are growing increasingly popular, with millions of people using them on a regular basis. As more companies enter the market to take advantage of this demand, there is a growing number of products from which to choose.

How much do you really know about CBD and how it affects your body? What should you know before you experiment with CBD products? Read on for a closer look at the science behind CBD, how it interacts with the different systems in your body, and how it may affect you.

The Difference Between CBD and THC

For years, cannabis, or marijuana, has been associated with its psychoactive effects and the “high” it causes, which is due primarily to tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. More recently, however, marijuana has become an accepted treatment for a variety of medical conditions. Dozens of states have legalized marijuana not only for medical use but recreational use as well. The result is that millions of people who wouldn’t have used marijuana before are now enjoying it legally, and this cultural shift has helped increase interest in the use of CBD, or cannabidiol.

After THC, CBD is the most prevalent chemical substance in marijuana. Researchers were able to extract CBD from cannabis in the 1940s, and by the early 60s were able to identify its chemical structure. CBD can be derived from cannabis or from hemp; the CBD derived from hemp tends to have less THC than CBD that is derived from cannabis.

Understanding the chemical structure of CBD helped scientists take the next step of identifying the chemical structure of THC. They discovered that the “high” that cannabis produces is from the THC, not CBD. THC works in the brain by triggering the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is associated with feelings of pleasure. Because THC produces a high, it is illegal in some states and may only be used for medical purposes. In other states, it is often subject to strict regulation.

How CBD Works in the Body

CBD is legal in all 50 states of the U.S. because it doesn’t create a high. It has been studied for its effects on several health conditions, including helping to ease arthritis and joint pain and chronic pain. It may also help ease anxiety and depression; reduce the pain associated with cluster headaches and migraines; help with sleep disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and help ease nausea. It’s also been shown to have positive effects on conditions including asthma, epilepsy and other seizure conditions, nausea, multiple sclerosis, and some lung conditions, and appears to be helpful in treating neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

The reason CBD can be an effective treatment for so many conditions is because of how it works in your body. Your body produces substances called endocannabinoids that play a role in regulating different interval functions. CB1 endocannabinoid receptors are found in the central nervous system and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system.

CBD’s molecular structure allows it to bind to either type of receptor. When it binds to a receptor, neurotransmitters are released. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that connect nerve cells to other parts of the body, such as the brain, organs and muscles. The location of the CBD receptor determines what effects it will have.

Using CBD: Factors to Consider

If you have a medical condition that CBD may help with, you should talk to your doctor about adding it to your treatment regimen. Once you get his or her OK, you’ll find a wide variety of CBD-containing products from which to choose. If you prefer edibles, you can find gummies, chocolates, and other foods and drinks that contain CBD. CBD-containing lotions and creams can be massaged into your skin and offer different scents and strengths. You can also choose tinctures and oils.

If you ingest CBD via pills, gummies or other edible means, the CBD is broken down by your digestive system and then circulated throughout your bloodstream. The digestive process means that it may take more time to feel its effects, but those effects also tend to last longer.

With a topical treatment, you can apply the CBD directly to a painful area, so you should notice its effects more quickly. Because CBD topical treatments usually have low bioavailability, it isn’t absorbed into your bloodstream.

If you take CBD orally, you can do so by placing it under your tongue (sublingually) or by ingesting it. To take it sublingually, you would typically place a few drops of an oil or tincture under your tongue for up to a minute and then swallow; the CBD is absorbed into your bloodstream through your mouth.

Before You Purchase CBD

One last note: When purchasing CBD products, pay close attention to the label to see how much CBD the product contains. Notice how CBD affects you; it can have a different effect on people, so it’s smart to start with a low dose and experiment from there. If you have any questions about using it, talk to your doctor.

For more information about CBD, check out the accompanying resource.

AUTHOR BIO: Michael Barnes is the founder and CEO of 420DC, a cannabis marketing platform in Washington, D.C. He has 15-plus years of experience in marketing as well as the cannabis industry.

Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s). 

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