How does CBD work?

CBD products seem to be everywhere… popping up in your local grocery and drug store chains, online, in skin care products, topical creams, tinctures and even food products. Why have we only recently seen a rise in CBD products, and do they work the way they are touted to?

CBD (cannabidiol) is derived from hemp which has been grown by people for over 6000 years. Many products have been made from hemp over time including cloth, ropes and paper. In the United States hemp was a required crop in the 1700’s. In fact, the original two copies of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp parchment. Hemp as a crop waned in popularity as lumber and cotton became crops of choice for many of the products hemp had been used to make, the Marihauna Tax Act of 1937 made it even less desirable to grow. In 1970, Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act, signed by President Nixon, which made marijuana a Schedule 1 drug alongside heroin, ecstasy and LSD, with cocaine and methamphetamines being one class lower.

Even with limits being made on hemp, people have claimed that cannabis has medicinal benefits, but the illegality of marijuana due to its psychotropic qualities and subsequent laws have made research into its benefits difficult. In December 2018, the Hemp Farming Law (defined as cannabis with less than 0.3%) was passed which removed hemp from being a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Suddenly CBD products were everywhere, including in states that have yet to make it legal.

But does CBD actually have real benefits? Research has been slow but people seeking solutions to pain, anxiety and athletic recovery have decided they can’t wait for answers and have begun finding relief from CBD. The good news… there is science to back up the claims people are making about the benefits of CBD.

Humans and other vertebrae species have what is now known as an Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Through the ECS your body produces molecules, endogenous cannabinoids. The main function of the ECS is to maintain bodily homeostasis (biological harmony in response to changes in the environment). Our self-made cannabinoids bind to cell receptors CB1 and CB2, which are found on the surface of cells throughout our bodies. CB1 is found in higher concentrations in the brain and spinal cord, while CB2 receptors are found in large numbers within the immune system and on our skin. Where these cannabinoids bind can affect either pain (CB1) or inflammation (CB2). Research is beginning to link our Endocannabinoid System to:

  • -Chronic pain
  • -Inflammation
  • -Immune system responses
  • -Skin function
  • -Nerve function
  • -Sleep
  • -Stress
  • -Digestion
  • -Appetite

Keeping our ECS system in balance is key to being and feeling healthy.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is higher in marijuana, acts similar to our body’s cannabinoids in that it binds to our receptors. This can be beneficial by possibly helping to reduce pain and stimulate appetite, but in some people can cause paranoia and anxiety. CBD does not make you “high” like THC and is not thought to bind to our receptors, but rather prevents endocannabinoids from being broken down, keeping our ECS in balance.

CBD holds promising results and much more research will likely result in more benefits than we now know. When you decide to use CBD, keep in mind a few important facts: Hemp is highly absorbent and should only be extracted from organic hemp, keeping unwanted minerals and heavy metals out of your CBD. Make sure your provider has third party lab reports to back up their level of CBD, THC and unwanted heavy metals and organisms. Lastly, consult your health provider before adding CBD to your regimen if you are on any medications.