If you’re new to this whole CBD thing, you probably have a lot of questions. Even if you’re a CBD vet, chances are, you have more questions on the topic than answers. Because CBD is relatively new to the spotlight, it can be rather mysterious and confusing to say the least. Important research on CBD has been crippled by prohibition, according to Jamie Evans, founder of The Herb Somm and author of The Ultimate Guide to CBD: Explore the World of Cannabidiol. “Research on CBD is still in the early stages, which means we don’t have enough evidence to support all the many anecdotal claims that have been made about it,” she says.
But we do know a lot. Most importantly, we know that CBD (also known as cannabidiol) is a plant-based medicine, which deems it higher on the totem pole for many of us merely based on that fact. It’s one of the 100 or so compounds found in the cannabis plant family (marijuana or hemp). It’s non-intoxicating and non-addicting. What does that mean exactly? Evans explains that CBD doesn’t give one the same “high” effect that THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, would. “Instead, it can help relieve anxiety and stress by interacting with serotonin receptors that are found in the brain,” she says. “CBD is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, inhibiting the release of signaling molecules that come from immune cells that promote inflammation in the body.”
How does CBD work?
CBD works with our Endocannabinoid System (ECS), explains Brooke Alpert, R.D., licensed holistic cannabis practitioner and founder of Daily Habit CBD. Each of us has one of these systems in our body and its main goal is to help maintain homeostasis or balance. “The ECS has receptors all through the body that are just waiting to utilize the compounds from the cannabis plant, especially CBD,” she says. “By consuming a good quality CBD, the receptors on the ECS respond to the CBD and help your body adjust to meet your needs.”
Who should take CBD?
Both CBD experts and CBD users alike will mostly agree on the fact that pretty much anyone anywhere can benefit from CBD. That being said, it’s vital that users are aware that CBD, being a plant-based medicine, will affect people differently. “It is truly an individualized form of medicine that varies from person to person,” says Evans. “Depending on your endocannabinoid system, metabolism, body weight, diet, etc., CBD will impact you differently than other people.”
What are the different types of CBD?
There are a few different types of CBD including full-spectrum, broad-spectrum and isolate. “Full-spectrum CBD products contain most of the chemicals found in the industrial hemp plant, including less than 0.3 percent THC, terpenes, flavonoids, and other phytocannabinoids,” explains Kasey Nichols, N.M.D., naturopathic doctor in Tempe, Arizona. “Broad-spectrum CBD products have all the rich chemical profile and synergistic effects of full-spectrum CBD products minus the THC content.” Broad-spectrum CBD undergoes a purification to ensure there are no detectable levels of THC.
Last, but certainly not least, is CBD isolates, which are made to contain just cannabidiol without the added terpenes, phytocannabinoids, flavonoids, and other constituents, according to Dr. Nichols. “While you may think that this is the best choice when choosing a CBD oil, there is some evidence that CBD isolates don’t manage customer concerns as well as full or broad-spectrum products, likely because they lack the synergistic components of the plant.”
Can CBD show up on drug tests?
Depending on what type of CBD you’re taking, it may show up on a drug test. Because full-spectrum CBD contains trace amounts of THC—the active ingredient drug tests are looking for—it may show up on a test. If you’re worried about this, Evans recommends looking into broad-spectrum hemp CBD products, which are similar to full-spectrum, but the product goes through extra processing to remove all traces of THC.
How much CBD should you take?
Because everyone reacts differently, there is no one-size-fits-all dose. In general, Evans says most people begin with somewhere between 5-30 milligrams per day for everyday relief. It’s always a good idea to discuss dosages with your healthcare provider, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medication at the same time. “Unfortunately, CBD is a potent inhibitor of two types of p450 liver and gut enzymes that break down over a third of prescription drugs,” warns Evans. “These interactions could potentially be dangerous for your health.”
When do CBD benefits start to show?
Since every person reacts differently, the benefits may vary, as will when they start to take effect. Alpert I recommends that her clients give CBD at least 5 days to start working its magic. “For many people the benefits are subtle so it’s not always such a major shift, but if you take a body inventory and realize that you’re sleeping better, feeling less stressed, taking less pain medication or more,” she says.
Does CBD cause side effects?
Research is still being done to understand potential side effects of CBD. Some of the most commonly reported effects to date include tiredness, diarrhea, upset stomach, and changes in appetite. “These common side effects are typically not caused by the CBD compound itself, but can often arise from the carrier oil the CBD has been combined with including olive oil, coconut/MCT oil, grapeseed oil, emu oil, or hemp seed oil,” says Evans. If you do experience any of these side effects, try lowering your dose or switching to another brand that uses different ingredients.
Can I use CBD if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
At this point in time, there’s not enough research to conclude whether or not CBD is beneficial or harmful for a developing fetus or a nursing infant. For this reason, it’s best to ask your healthcare provider before trying CBD if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.