Get Well

Wellness One-Oh-Ones: CBD

by Hannah Smith

Welcome to the Wellness One-oh-Ones, a digital encyclopedia for all your wellness needs. This series is geared to tackle those everyday questions you secretly ask yourself in wonderment when you hear about a new trend. Instead of pretending to know what people are talking about, come hang with us as we uncover the latest and greatest in the wellness industry. Check back every other Wednesday to pick up your refill — no doctor’s signature required.

Cannabis is not a new discovery by any means, but it’s safe to say that it has taken the wellness world by storm. While some admit to smoking for anxiety, others microdose to help ease symptoms of epilepsy, and some stay away from it altogether. That is until the introduction of CBD. CBD, a form of cannabis that cannot get you high, has stormed the market uber successfully over the past year or so, penetrating lattes, face masks, and nearly everything in between. But what is it really? How does it work? How do you know it won’t get you high? With the help of Gabe Kennedy of Plant People, we answer your questions below.

What is CBD?

According to Gabe, CBD, otherwise known as cannabidiol, is one of many naturally occurring chemical compounds found in the cannabis flower. Unlike typical cannabis that gets you high (THC), CBD cannot get you high in any way. Rather, it helps to relax the body in a number of ways. Not only is it great for relaxation, but CBD has been proven to effectively treat a number of maladies, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, dermatitis, dementia, and more.

What Does Full Spectrum Mean?

“Full spectrum refers to an extracted oil that contains more than just CBD. It is rich in other phytocannabinoids such as CNC, CBN, and CBG, as well as terpenes (think aroma).” Because it contains multiple phytocannabinoids, it also has a trace amount of THC, but still not enough to get you high. To put it simply, though, “full spectrum oils are closest to the whole plant. All of these [phytocannabinoid] compounds are synergistic with each other, which is thought to promote higher efficacy in aiding peoples common ailments.” So do you really need full spectrum? If you’re looking for the best effect possible, then the answer is yes. Gabe notes that, “like any plant medicine, the closer to the whole plant, the more comprehensive the remedy. That said, CBD works best in conjunction with other plant materials — the closer to the whole plant the better. Nature works in mysterious ways, and the entourage effect is complex.”

How Is It Different From THC?

THC is another naturally occurring chemical compound found in the cannabis flower, but it is the only compound that can get you high. That being said, the primary difference between the two is how they interact with your ecocannabindoid system, which is a system within our bodies designed to react and interact with different cannabinoids. Gabe informs us that not only does every human and vertebrate have this system in their bodies, but that humans produce five of our own cannabindoids (called endocannabinoids) and that plants other than cannabis contain cannabinoids, too. With that, he argues these different cannabinoid compounds matter if our bodies evolved with a system to use them.

All of that being said, Gabe notes that “On the molecular level, CBD and THC are very similar, but [just] one key difference in their structure makes them have completely unique effects on our bodies.”

What Are the Most Common Benefits?

People turn to CBD for a number of reasons. “Most people are looking to CBD to help them deal with stress, anxiety, pain, and inflammation. In more severe cases, people are using it for epilepsy, cancer treatment, and [treatment for] neurological diseases and disorders. Gabe “got into cannabis after a traumatic ski accident and multiple back surgeries, and has found a lot of pain relief,” but he found more than that. He’s also experienced “a reduction of stress and anxiety, and my general aches and pains have lessened.” He lists other effects he’s noticed since using CBD, such as the “ability to disconnect from technology, being more present, and find[ing himself] much less reactive to traditionally triggering situations.” If you’re dealing with any of the above, CBD is likely the right choice for you.

Pain Management: Whether it’s applied topically through a balm or cream or taken orally through an oil, CBD has been hailed for its ability to ease chronic pain. Simply put, it works by inhibiting neurotransmitters in pain pathways, thus effectively reducing pain.

Anxiety and Depression: Low levels of seratonin and GABA can lead to increased anxiety and depression, along with other mood disorders. CBD works to combat this by working directly on the brain receptors for each of these chemicals, increasing them and in turn, increasing your overall mood.

Sleep: In the same way that CBD has the ability to reduce anxiety, CBD can also help with sleep. With smaller anxieties put to bed, you’ll have an easier time resting, noticing an increase in both sleep quality and quantity.

Anti-Inflammatory: Anti-inflammatory properties go hand in hand with pain management properties and then go one step further. The plant’s anti-inflammatory properties are what are helpful in pain management, but they will also help remedy inflammatory autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and psoriasis, to name a few.

Why are CBD Products Seemingly So Expensive?

“At the end of the day, there is a lot of time and energy that goes into the production of a finished good. We start with working the land, creating plant clones, growing them, planting them, tending them, testing the plants and soil, harvesting, curing, grinding, and then processing and extracting the plant matter. Then, depending on the product, it will go through other processing methods, more testing, and then formulation. After formulation, we must test the product again, package it, label it, track it and then sell it to customers. That is not even considering the overhead of facilities, insurance, banking fees, other various inflated costs due to working in cannabis.” Essentially, CBD is not cheap to produce, so it’s not cheap to purchase, either. One of Gabe’s hopes is that “as the market matures, prices will become more accessible as well.”

[Editor’s Note: Since we’re not know-it-alls, always make sure to consult with a doctor before trying anything new. We’re here to guide and provide information that could potentially help, but each person is different so do what’s right for you!]

Feature Image via Ella Xu

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