What is CBD?
CBD is short for Cannabidiol, which is a plant-derived substance that comes from the hemp plant. It is actually one of 118 different cannabinoids that have been found in the hemp plant! CBD affects our own internal cannabinoid receptors which are a part of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), whose main job is to oversee all our other body systems and keep them in a state of balance, or homeostasis.
CBD is also called by its more proper name “phytocannabinoid,” which means plant-based cannabinoid.
What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
The ECS is a system of highly refined receptors that are located throughout the human body. We can often determine the importance of a system by the number of receptors it has, in which case the ECS would rank right near the top!
The ECS is widely considered to be the 12th system in our body, similar to the digestive, pulmonary, and endocrine systems. It is made of up receptors called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are located primarily in the brain and CB2 are typically found in the immune system, but they both can be found throughout your body. The endocannabinoids (cannabinoids made by the body) that affect these receptors are called 2-Arachyldonoylglycerol (2-AG) and Anandamide.
Anandamide is often called the “bliss” molecule and is responsible for the energetic or amped up feeling you get after a long, vigorous workout.
Will CBD make me “high” like marijuana?
This is probably the most common question in regards to CBD, and with good reason! CBD comes from the hemp plant which is part of the Cannabis family, same as marijuana. Hemp looks like and smells like marijuana, so it would be easy to get the two confused.
The reason that marijuana makes you feel a high is because it contains a significant amount of a chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes the psychoactive effects people call “getting high.” The marijuana plant averages over 20% THC and is thus considered a drug and is illegal in the US except in the states that now allow medical and recreational use. The hemp plant, in order to be legally grown, produced, and distributed in the US, must have a very low percentage of THC (0.3% or less). Many CBD formulations have no THC in them, and others have 0.3% or less (in order to be legally sold).
With such a small amount of THC in your bottle of CBD, it would be impossible for you to develop a psychoactive effect similar to marijuana. And CBD by itself has a host of positive effects on your body, but does not cause any of the negative effects like THC such as paranoia and hallucinations.
Does CBD really work?
The short answer is, YES. At times it may seem like CBD is shrouded in mystery or hyperbole, with some products promising to cure everything from cancer to insomnia. Because it is a supplement and not bound to the same rigorous standards as prescription drugs and over the counter medications, sometimes these amazing claims are seen as exaggeration and make people skeptical. This is understandable, because the endocannabinoid system was only recently discovered in the past 30 years. It’s new, and even most healthcare professionals do not understand it completely. That is why I have done the research, used myself as a guinea pig, and have developed these resources to help you navigate the CBD space.
But again, the cool thing is yes, we know that CBD works, and here’s how: We know that it affects the enzymes responsible for metabolizing our endocannabinoids (MAGL and FAAH) and increases the amount of time that Anandamide and 2-AG work in the body. CBD also affects a host of other cannabinoid and g-protein coupled receptors (big words, but explained in better detail in my book!). The question is, does CBD produce enough of an effect for you to feel it? The majority of the time this answer is YES. But the question of whether the effect is worth the cost and your time is something only you can answer. As a pharmacist I can say that I have seen positive effects in hundreds of people, including myself, to make it all worthwhile.
What about drug interactions?
Yes, certain drug interactions can occur with CBD, so we need to proceed with caution. CBD is metabolized by enzymes in the liver, which are responsible for deactivating the drugs we ingest. Now, the amount of interaction and the subsequent affects are where it gets tricky. For the most part, CBD binds itself to these liver enzymes, which slows the metabolism of the medication. Usually this results in higher levels of the prescription drug circulating in the body for longer periods of time, which can lead to an increase in side effects.
There are certain drugs that we are more careful when combining with CBD such as warfarin and amiodarone. For a complete list of drugs affected by CBD, visit the drug interaction page on the website for more information: [www.awakentocbd.com]
What is in CBD oil?
CBD comes in 3 different formulations which I will help clarify for you.
- CBD isolate: only contains CBD.
- Broad Spectrum: contains all parts of the plant, but no THC. The manufacturer goes through an extra step to remove any THC from the hemp.
- Full Spectrum: contains all parts of the plant plus a legal amount of THC (0.3% or less).
When extracting CBD out of the hemp plant, you also get a host of other vitamins, minerals, terpenes, and flavonoids which are very beneficial to your body and your health. Hemp is a multi-purpose plant that has been kept on the sideline in America because of its close relation to marijuana which has prevented it from being studied more closely and used appropriately in our culture.
But, back to CBD. The broad and full spectrum formulations are thought to work better because all the components of the plant are more effective when given together than apart (this is called the entourage effect). There are over 100 different kinds of CBD in the plant and each one has a slightly different purpose in addition to flavonoids and terpenes. We are only scratching the surface at understanding all that the hemp plant and CBD can do for our health.
How much CBD should I take, and will I feel something right away?
Whoa there pardner, let’s not get ahead of ourselves with two questions! I’ll do my best to parse out an answer in the space we have below but no promises.
Dosing can be a complicated question depending on such factors as age, weight, and liver function. I have attached a dosing chart to my website that goes through this question in more detail.
In order to treat common complaints such as insomnia, pain, inflammation, or anxiety, most people will start out around 25 mg per day of the CBD oil or capsule. I recommend a “low and slow” to approach for first timers, meaning you start out at 10-12 mg/day for 7-10 days before increasing to a full dose (or 25mg). Most people will find the sweet spot in the 50-100 mg/day range, but you can take a couple of months to get there. Those with more severe symptoms may top out in the 100-120 mg/day range, so it has a wide variety of possible effective doses.
Effects are not normally felt right away, but they can be in some situations. Keep in mind you are affecting a biological system in your body, and not a single targeted symptom. The ECS works to bring the body back into balance whether it is pain, anxiety, or lack of sleep (for example). Think of our ECS in a way that whittles away at your symptoms. It doesn’t come in there with sledgehammer the way a pain medication would.
The secret is to find the right product, at the right dose, and give it time.
Are there side effects?
Yes there are, but not many, and not very often. Keep in mind that CBD is something we call “biphasic” in how it works. If you take too little, it won’t work, and if you take too much, you experience the law of diminishing returns. I like to compare it to fertilizing your lawn: not enough and the weeds will be rampant and too much will burn out your lawn. This helps to keep you in the sweet spot where CBD works and very few side effects occur.
The biggest issues I have encountered, although rarely, are stomach upset, drowsiness, vivid dreams, and diarrhea. Taking your CBD with food and not immediately before bedtime will help to reduce the worst of these possibilities.
Does CBD promote weight loss?
This is the billion dollar question because the health supplement market is littered with empty promises and misleading advertising when it comes to weight loss. CBD will help with weight loss but not in the manner that you might expect. There are 3 methods that have been observed to have potentially positive effects in this area:
- Supports mitochondrial and metabolic health
- Helps your body absorb and metabolize sugars more effectively
- Lowers appetite to decrease caloric intake (CBD does not give you the munchies or increase appetite. Those properties belong exclusively to its more famous cousin marijuana)
CBD works through other systems in our body to return us to our optimal state of health, or homeostasis. We see this across the board with other disease states so this isn’t unique to your diet.
CBD is not a miracle worker in the weight loss category but is more like a potent accelerant when you start to take such positive actions as working out and caloric intake.
Does CBD work well with the Ketogenic diet?
For those of you that aren’t familiar with it, a ketogenic diet is a low carb eating plan that involves eating plenty of dietary fat, a moderate amount of protein, and very few carbohydrates. Combining CBD with a keto diet has some distinct advantages as the two therapies fit in nicely together.
- Both decrease swelling and inflammation in the gut. CBD’s most potent effect is to decrease inflammation and there are many CBD receptors found in the stomach and intestines.
- CBD oil often uses MCT as a carrier oil which is beneficial to a Keto diet.
- CBD oil helps your body metabolize sugars better and reduce the amount of insulin in your body which is augmented by a keto diet. Both CBD and Keto help reduce insulin resistance.
- CBD oil helps to regulate metabolism, food intake, and endocrine function.
- CBD and Keto both decrease swelling and inflammation in the gut. CBD’s most potent effect is to decrease inflammation and there are many CBD receptors found in the stomach and intestines.
- Positive effects have been seen with both for Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions. CBD increases the neurotransmitter adenosine which reduces blood pressure and has neuroprotective effects.
- CBD may help ease the body’s transition into ketosis by stabilizing insulin levels, increasing metabolism, and decreasing anxiety.
Ok, you made me a believer, now how do I get started?
That is great news, I’m glad you are willing to give CBD a try! Now that you are willing to be a believer, how to get started is the most important question. Your health and well-being are important to those of us at Awaken to CBD, so you are in good hands, and we will steer you in the right direction. We already have a host of resources (and are developing more!) to help you make the best decisions for your product and for your health. From online courses to weekly blogs and one-on-one counseling, we will keep you up to date on all the newest trends and information in the CBD world.
I have developed a CBD review process that evaluates over 15 different factors when making your decision about CBD products. We are also developing our own brand of CBD oil that will be a great option for you and check all the boxes in terms of what’s important in a CBD product. Below is a brief review of the categories for you to consider and questions to ask, but if you want more detail my book is the best way to go.
- The Grower: What do you know about the farm that produces your hemp? Do they use sustainable practices? Does it meet organic guidelines? Do they use pesticides? What is the quality of the farming and expertise of the grower? At a minimum the grower should be compliant with state based agricultural guidelines.
- CBD Extraction Process and Certification: How is the product extracted? Are their labs GMP certified or have a state certification? This is the next wave for CBD and I predict the FDA will require this in the future. You want your CBD handled by a food-grade level lab that has gone the extra mile to make sure they use the best practices available.
- Testing: Does your product get tested for contaminants and list what is in the bottle? This is non-negotiable and should be easy to find on the website or by scanning a QR code on the box.
- Ingredients: What are the qualities of ingredients in your CBD? There should not be a lot of extra additives as CBD is very stable on its own.
The best decision you can make is to read through the info and tools on my website, www.awakentocbd.com. My mission is to educate people about CBD and liberate them from any past erroneous notions. I will make sure you get on the right path, with the right product, to get you feeling better. As a healthcare professional who has devoted his whole life to serving others, I hope that you will give me a chance to do the same for you.
The views in this document are expressly the opinion of Sean Gale RPh, and are not meant to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any disease states or medical conditions. Please consult your physician before beginning any CBD therapy. These statements have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA. Buyer is to consume CBD at their own risk. I may be reached for further questions at [email protected].