What every first-time CBD user should know

You’ve heard everyone talking about CBD. You’ve seen it advertised in all kinds of products. And you’re starting to wonder if you should give it a try, to take advantage of its many reported therapeutic benefits.

But you haven’t…yet. Because you’re still wondering what you don’t know about CBD. So this is an attempt to answer any lingering questions you – and all other first-timers – might have.

First things first. CBD is not some new flash in the pan. Use of the compound was first recorded around 2,700 BC and people around the world have been enjoying the therapeutic benefits of CBD for centuries. Researchers are continually exploring new medicinal uses for CBD, while research also continues to ensure there are no undesirable side effects.

While we’re talking about safety, let’s get to the most important fact of all. CBD, officially referred to as cannabidiol, is one of over 100 compounds found in the cannabis plant. It is decidedly not THC (aka tetrahydrocannabinol), one of several other compounds found in cannabis plants. Users consume THC by smoking or ingesting it to get “high.” THC is a powerful psychoactive agent, which is why it is illegal in many places. CBD is neither a psychoactive agent nor illegal. All you really need to know is that CBD has nothing to do with THC – other than the fact that they came from the same plant.

Now back to CBD. It can be completely (100%) separated from THC as part of the extraction process if done right. Manufacturers who used more advanced processes can extract the THC from the Phytocannabinoid rich whole plant extract to remove every bit of the it -- while retaining many other nutrients and cannabinoids. So you can take advantage of CBD’s therapeutic benefits – without taking a trip. 

Truth is, you’ve probably ingested CBD thousands of times already (in miniscule doses), as it can be found in broccoli, peppercorns and sunflowers. Just be sure you check the purity of the product you are planning to try. Some manufactures leave a little THC in the mix, about 0.3%. If you want to avoid THC entirely, check the ingredients on the label – which reputable manufacturers readily avail.

Does it really work? That’s the question you’re probably most interested in answering. The frustrating answer is: It depends. First, it depends on what the product claims it will do. Secondly, it depends on how “pure” the CBD is.

So without going back to high school biology class. Let’s quickly review how CBD works with your body.

The human body has a vast network of receptors, the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining and controlling the body’s neurological balance. Your body naturally produces cannabinoids which help regulate normal bodily functions. Your mood, immune system, sleep cycle, metabolism, cardiovascular system and more are all affected by your endocannabinoid system. Supplementing the body’s natural cannabinoids with hemp-derived CBD can help maintain levels of cannabinoids in your system that may be diminished by outside factors, such as stress.

Next, you have to consider what the product is promising to do. Health and beauty products that already exist for a purpose – massage oils, balms and skin lotions – add CBD to enhance the things they already do well, like help you relax and rejuvenate. If you massage your sore calf muscle on the left leg with plain massage oil and use CBD massage oil on the right leg, you should feel a difference. If all the science goes according to plan, you will feel less pain in the muscle, inflammation will be reduced and you and the calf muscle should feel more relaxed.

Other products, like energy drinks and anti-anxiety dog foods? Well, it’s a little harder to do an A/B comparison to prove effectiveness to yourself. Whatever product you try, it’s best to stay with a reputable manufacturer rather than people who make it in their basement and sell it at your local farmer’s market.

The other important factor is the quality of the CBD itself. It’s primarily extracted from hemp plants, not marijuana plants. Which means those hemp plants should come from established, reputable farms – not cousin Billy in Vermont. 

Also, how the CBD is extracted from the plant matters significantly. Some manufacturers extract just plain old CBD -- called CBD isolate. But it’s missing some of the other cannabinoids you want. Another process delivers what is called “Full Spectrum” CBD. That’s all the stuff you want, plus about .3% of the THC. And then there is a process that produces “Broad Spectrum” CBD which contains an array of beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes, with none (0 percent!) of the THC. The most advanced extraction processes used by reputable manufacturers yields whole-plant extract for the most phytocannabinoid-rich CBD. (That’s the one you want.)

So go ahead. Try that massage oil. Check it’s ingredients for purity. And experience CBD’s calming, refreshing, restorative powers for yourself.