CBD, short for cannabidiol, is an active compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD is not intoxicating (won't give you the "stoned" feeling) and the CBD molecule in most products available (outside of legal dispensaries) is extracted from hemp. Hemp is a variety of cannabis that naturally has only traces (up to 0.3%) of THC, the active compound that gets people high. In order for hemp derived CBD products to be legally sold in the US, they must be tested for THC levels at or below that limit.
CBD works with your endocannabinoid system, or ECS. Your ECS contains two types of receptors, CB1 and CB2 receptors which are scattered throughout the brain and body. It also consists of cannabinoids that are naturally produced in the body. This system wasn't discovered until the 1990's when a researcher who was looking to understand how THC creates a "high" feeling came across an unknown system in the body. This system, now called the ECS, functions to stabilize our internal environment--temperature, mood, memory, immune system and more.
While the research on CBD is ongoing and the results are highly anticipated, the actual current usable data is scant. We have relied largely on anecdotal evidence to support product claims. However, according to Jan Roberts, CEO and director of translational research at the International Research Center on Cannabis and Mental Health in NYC "It (CBD) helps the cells and the neurons function the way they're supposed to, bringing them back into balance." Great news for all of us to know we can reach for something other than the usual suspects when we’re feeling out of balance, or generally not our best selves.
In order to navigate a CBD purchase a little more confidently, let's take a look at a few differentiation points to consider while searching. While there are over 100 cannabinoids we are currently aware of, most of the CBD products available on the market include anywhere from 1-10 different cannabinoids. You'll notice the term CBD Isolate on some products. This simply means that those CBD products isolate the CBD molecule and therefore have 0.00% THC and zero additional cannabinoids. You'll see other CBD products labeled "full spectrum" or "broad spectrum". These will have some amount of THC and other tertiary cannabinoids in the final product. It's important to note that CBD isolate and full spectrum are not necessarily better or worse--they are available to suit the different needs of consumers based on their lifestyle and preferences. The number one indicator of a product you can trust is that they are 3rd party tested with lab results available--if not posted on their website, then they are made available on request. You will want to make sure the hemp is sourced domestically (i.e Colorado Hemp), the manufacturer abides by Good Manufacturing Practices, and the final product is not mixed with any unstable oils that can easily turn rancid (i.e. olive oil, grapeseed oil etc).
In the future, I will do a deeper dive into the different delivery methods of CBD (inhale, edible, oral), the highly subjective dosing suggestions (how many milligrams does my body actually absorb and use?), and why CBD nanomulsions deliver the most bioavailable and fast acting CBD currently available.