There is so much mystery surrounding Cannabidiol (CBD) and the endocannabinoid system (ECS), so the purpose of this article is to inform in laymen terms all of the factors that one should know in case you are curious about trying CBD.
Over the last 2 decades researchers have started to uncover a remarkable amount of information proving the legitimacy of endocannabinoid system and the cannabis plant’s application to it, but there is so much modern science still has yet to fully understand as well. It is humbling that in the age of technology and exponential advancement, this archaic plant and its coinciding regulatory system has still managed to outsmart us.
Having worked in the cannabis industry helping multiple CBD companies in their product development, there are a couple things that everyone should know before choosing a brand. (I want to preface this, for those who don’t know, any CBD products being sold over the counter LEGALLY are only allowed LESS THAN .3% THC. That is POINT THREE percent THC, so if you are worried about getting high it is very unlikely that this will be an issue, unless you are dosing many times over the suggested amount.)
1. Everyone has an endocannabinoid system, therefore everyone can benefit from CBD.
The reason why CBD has been successful treating so many diverse conditions is because our bodies create small amounts of endogenous cannabinoids that bind to cannabinoid receptors in the ECS that regulate our central and peripheral nervous systems. These endocannabinoids are called on when cellular function deviates from homeostasis, therefore maintaining optimal function of cognitive processes, the reproductive system, appetite, pain, mood and memory.
With that being said, due to our drastic change in diet in the last 100 years, our diets contain much less of the nutrients that are precursors to the production of the endocannabinoids that mitigate stress and inflammation, which have both been linked to a plethora of diseases. Even if you do not have health problems that need immediate attention, chances are the lifestyle you are living is not completely in alignment with your body’s operating system. Specifically, CBD can be useful to the modern day human because of the bombardment of information and over-stimulation of our brains neurons.
This is a huge reason why stress levels are higher than they’ve ever been. When a neuron is firing excessively, the neuron it is connected to produces Endocannabinoids that retroactively calm the neuron down to bring it back into homeostasis. That begs the question, then why are we still so stressed out? The answer is because our diets and lifestyles are vastly different from the diet of the prehistoric human, devoid of the nutrients from indigenous herbs and undomesticated plants that are required to keep up with our rapidly changing world. Supplementation of CBD can help with this, as well as moving toward an organic, non-processed diet consisting of seasonal seasonal foraging of indigenous plants. This might seem unrealistic but with the rise in cancer in an astonishingly short amount of time would suggest it necessary.
2. Isolate vs. Full Spectrum Oil
If you do any research on the CBD market, you will see the terms “Isolate” and “full spectrum oil” used, depending on the brand you are looking at. Lets break it down:
Many companies use the isolated CBD molecule to eliminate any THC (which is also a cannabinoid) in their products. The process by which this is done separates all the other cannabinoids (THC, THCA, THCV, delta-8 THC, CBDa, CBC, CBGa, CBN, CBDv), vitamins, minerals, protein, chlorophyll, terpenes, flavonoids and fatty acids. There are a couple reasons this could be, one being because of the potential legal ramifications if the FDA or DEA decides to penalize companies for using any THC whatsoever, even at the legal limit.
The other would be because it is most cost effective for the company making the products because it is so concentrated that it requires such a tiny amount to achieve the desired milligrams per unit. This is a great option for anyone who is extremely sensitive to THC or is worried about about a drug test. However, I would suggest reading the next section if you are hoping to use CBD to treat a health condition.
Full Spectrum CBD Oil
Many CBD companies are using a diluted full spectrum CBD oil (it is very concentrated and must be diluted to achieve less than .3% THC). This means that the whole plant is used to extract a full spectrum profile of plant properties, including cannabinoids (THC, THCA, THCV, delta-8 THC, CBDa, CBC, CBGa, CBN, CBDv), vitamins, minerals, protein, chlorophyll, terpenes, flavonoids and fatty acids. These compounds work together to produce a synergistic effect, commonly referred to as “the entourage effect”. Studies out of Israel have documented the superior therapeutic results from whole-plant cannabis extracts with the full spectrum of cannabinoids compared to just the isolated CBD molecule.
Cannabinoids in full spectrum CBD oil
A huge contributor to this effect but are also the least commonly understood. Terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds, produced by a variety of plants and some insects. To date, there has been about 100 different terpenes discovered in various cannabis strains, but the synthesis of them depends on the climate, soil, age and stressors. The more rich with microbial biodiversity the soil, the more terpenes will be produced. Think about body odor, and how the more bacteria and dirt you have built up, the stinkier you will be. Terpenes are the body odor of the plant, the essential oils. They often have a strong odor and some have insecticidal properties, deterring herbivores and attracting predators of herbivores.
Terpenes are what give off the distinctive aromas and flavors of plants, but they also control the effects that you feel from cannabis by controlling how much THC enters through the blood brain barrier and influencing neurotransmitters in various ways (depending on the terpene combination), causing us to relax, energize or uplift our mood. For example, Linalool is an anticonvulsant and could be used in conjunction with a full spectrum CBD oil to help control seizures. If you or someone you know is looking into CBD to treat pain or a medical condition, full spectrum oil is recommended because of the additional compounds that will work synergistically to relieve symptoms. My favorite full spectrum brand is Myriad Wellness. Check them out here.
3. Not all Hemp/CBD companies are created equal
One major point of confusion for many CBD consumers is language surrounding hemp oil content vs CBD content. For example, a company might say their products contain 250mg of Hemp oil. This can be very misleading because 250mg of Hemp oil and 250mg of CBD are not the same. Hemp oil may contain small amounts of CBD but unless there is clear statement of how many milligrams of CBD is in that product, it may not be worth the price. If you are using CBD for chronic pain or illness misleading labels such as this can also give the illusion that you are dosing more CBD than in reality, consequently requiring more of the product or an inability to attain desired relief.
Not all Hemp plants are created equal either. Hemp is a bioaccumulator, which means if it’s grown in toxic soil it will uptake the toxins and remove them from the soil. Hemp can be used to clean up nuclear and radioactive waste from the ground and repurposed into a hemp “plastic”. This is great for the planet, but turning that same product into health supplement would not be wise. Much of the hemp in the market is grown in places like Kentucky and Tennessee, which are some of the most heavily mono-cropped and sprayed areas in the world, primarily with Glyphosate or “RoundUp”.
This toxic herbicide stimulates cell mutations (cancer), interferes with cellular communication (your body’s immune system) and destroy the gut microbiome (also linked to many diseases). Glyphosate is used heavily in these areas because mono-crop farms cannot naturally compete with native weeds due to the lack of biodiversity that would eat, deter or outgrow the weeds naturally. Glyphosate can travel up to 2 miles in either direction, which is all to say that you should be very selective over WHERE your CBD oil originated. Even if it was not sprayed directly, it could have come in contact, depending on the area that it was grown in. The lack of biodiversity from spraying and mono-cropping also translates to the soil, where much of the microbial interactions happen that stimulate terpene production.
When the soil biodiversity is gone, the plants that grow there will in turn be less nutritious and medicinal because they are up taking less nutrients from the soil. Think about the old saying, “you are what you eat”. The same issues apply to the food we eat. A plant can only be as nutritious as the soil it is grown in, which is a huge reason for a lot of the health issues our society is facing now as a result of large agricultural corporation produce and their unsustainable farming practices. I recommend selecting a brand that’s hemp was grown in Oregon, where the farming laws are much more strict, the land has not been heavily mono-cropped or sprayed, and the natural eco-system lends to a more rich soil, rather than the dust bowl soil of the midwest.
Myriad Wellness’s hemp is grown and extracted by naturopathic doctors in Oregon, where they have very strict farming regulations and all of the oil is rigorously tested for purity. Myriad also donates 5% of their products to an organization called Growing Veterans, because of studies that suggest CBD has positive effects on PTSD, anxiety and depression.
Make the environmentally responsible choice to know where your hemp comes from, and support ethical farming practices. The industry is just taking off, and what we support now will be what we get in the future.