A Starter's Guide to Understanding Cannabidiol

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, is a phytocannabinoid found in agricultural hemp. Phytocannabinoids are any cannabinoid that occurs naturally within the cannabis family of plants. The two most well known phytocannabinoids are psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD.

THC vs. CBD?

Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive. CBD oil is naturally occurring in industrial hemp, which is not currently unlawful. The reason: hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC in dry weight, meaning it is not considered marijuana.

The Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana

Hemp and marijuana are both considered Cannabis Sativa L. Their difference is their THC content. Think of it like decaf coffee and regular coffee or nonalcoholic drinks versus alcoholic drinks. Or, Kombucha, which has nominal alcoholic content.

Agricultural hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight. CBD products made from agricultural hemp are used strictly for health benefits.n Marijuana is Cannabis Sativa L. that contains more than 0.3 percent THC. It’s often referred to in Sativa or Indica strains.

Health Benefits

CBD is capable of affecting nearly every biological process—think metabolism or homeostasis, the constant chemical reactions that take place within the body and are critical for us to live.

HERE’S HOW: The phytocannabinoids in plants are similar to the endocannabinoids found in humans. In the human body, these receptors are part of the central regulatory system called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) that consists of cannabinoid receptors, self-made cannabis-like compounds, and enzymes the body makes as needed through ongoing chemical recations. In each tissue, cannabinoids perform different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, to maintain a stable and balanced internal environment despite fluctuations in our external environment. CBD may be used to modulate the ECS and is thought to support and regulate optimal function in the body’s various systems.

A growing body of scientific evidence and controlled studies is supporting its health-related properties, including:

  • Antioxidant properties on par with or greater than vitamins A, C and E

  • Calming qualities similar to melatonin and magnesium and ability to support mood, sleep and brain health

  • Ability to help promote metabolic wellness similar to cinnamon extract or chromium

  • Healthy inflammation response support

  • Broad-spectrum nutrition; rich not only in phytocannabinoids, but also fatty acids, terpenes, plant-derived sterols, chlorophyll and naturally-occurring Vitamin E

A Friend of the Environment

Agricultural hemp grown outdoors is the most environmentally friendly form of hemp. It sequesters CO2, leaving the soil in better condition than before. It requires 80 percent less water to grow than indoor-grown medical cannabis and doesn’t require artificial light.

Quality & Potency

Just like with any supplement product, there are some important quality boxes that a CBD product should check off.

  • Extracted, purified and manufactured without chemical additives

  • Companies offer full traceability in regards to operations and processes

  • “Solvent-free” solutions or products free from all harmful residual solvents

  • Verification of purity via independent third-party testing, offering certificates of analysis for each batch

  • Reputable with other quality-oriented retailers

Image credit: WikiMedia Commons.

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