What Ails You? Chances Are, CBD Can Help!
Before Purchasing CBD Note: Some CBD companies are selling products made with foreign hemp, which is less expensive, but can be full of pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins. Read below to find the best methods of choosing a safe CBD.
By: Mary Von Ahnen, Co-Owner Horizon Hot Yoga
Many of you have likely heard something about Cannabidiol (CBD), a molecule occurring in hemp and cannabis plants. It is similar in structure to the THC molecule, a more widely-known substance producing the “high” you get if you ingest marijuana. CBD does NOT produce a “high”. It is non-sedative, non-psychotropic, and has been used for centuries as a natural medicine.
In this article, we will explain what CBD is, why it is so effective in relieving many health conditions, how it can be taken, and what you can expect if you decide to take it.
What Can CBD Do?
CBD is one of several molecules that occur naturally in the hemp plant, which are known as cannabinoids. We have specific receptors that work harder to improve our wellness when we take CBD. The number of conditions that may be helped by CBD is significant:
- Skin and joint pain
- Anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms
- Cancer-related symptoms and reduction in tumors
- Overweight condition/overactive appetite
- Epileptic seizures and other neurological disorders
- High blood pressure
- Psychotic disorder symptoms
- Addictive behaviors/cravings
- Migraine condition
- Fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s Disease, and other auto-immune conditions
- Pet anxiety
How Can CBD Do All This?
Each of us has what is dubbed by the scientific community as an Endocannabinoid System. This system is central to homeostatic regulation, which just means that the aim of our body processing is to maintain, and return to, a healthy baseline state after being disturbed. To keep this system working, the body has more than 65 Cannabinoid Receptors located in the kidneys, white blood cells, liver, lungs, brain, and many other locations. When you take CBD, it binds to these sites to bring homeostatic regulation where there may be areas, such as those in the above list, that have been disturbed. If a receptor site does not need additional CBD (the naturally occurring amount is sufficient), the extra CBD will simply seek a site where the body is not in balance.
The following information is from the May 14, 2019 issue of The New York Times Magazine and helps sum up the reason CBD is so beneficial. As related to the Endocannabinoid System (with which CBD interacts), “Perhaps no other signaling system discovered during the past 15 years is raising as many expectations for the development of new therapeutic drugs,” Vincenzo Di Marzo, an endocannabinoid researcher at the National Research Council in Naples, Italy, wrote in 2008, in the journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. “[CBD] seems to interact with multiple systems, increasing the quantity of native cannabinoids in the human body…and with more than 65 cellular targets, CBD may provide a kind of full-body massage at the molecular level. This comprehensive coverage of body issues that this chemical provides is one reason CBD seems so medically promising,” according to Yasmin Hurd, a neuroscientist at Mount Sinai, in New York.
Our Personal Experience with CBD
I had heard of CBD and was interested in trying it. I have rheumatoid arthritis and general anxiety, two conditions that would reportedly be helped by CBD. I tried a few brands and found a bit of relief, but I used the oil-based CBD, which is taken by holding CBD drops under the tongue until the particles in the oil can be absorbed into the bloodstream. (CBD oil tinctures have less efficacy if you swallow them immediately, because they go directly to the stomach, where gut acids break them down before they can reach the bloodstream and nervous system.) I finally landed on Zodiac Wellness brand CBD, which is a water-soluble tincture and has been formulated to be mixed into beverages. Water-soluble CBD has a much higher absorption rate than oil-based CBD, and although it’s hard to measure exact numbers, CBD manufacturers report 4-10 times higher absorption potential with a water-soluble formula.
This was certainly corroborated by my personal experience: the improved effect of the water-soluble formula was dramatic. In just a few weeks, I was able to get off of one of my RA medicines and also a medicine I was taking for anxiety. I asked my husband to try it as well, as he has suffered lifelong insomnia and also irritable bowel syndrome. CBD has eradicated both of these conditions for him.
Where Can I Buy CBD and What Should I Look For?
Because my husband and I had such dramatically positive results, we decided to carry the Zodiac Wellness brand in our yoga studio, Horizon Hot Yoga (horizonhotyoga.com). We carry many flavors to stir into beverages, and you can sample the product to see what you like. CBD is also readily available on a number of websites and in health food stores, now that Congress has removed hemp from the federal list of controlled substances.
It is important to note that this is, as yet, an unregulated industry. Following the passing by Congress of the 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA is considering how best to require CBD products to be labeled and packaged, but in the interim, consumers must do their research to find safely-made products.
Some CBD companies are selling products made with foreign hemp, which is less expensive, but can be full of pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins. As a marker of safety, you can look for CBD that explicitly states it is made from US hemp. Zodiac sources its CBD only from US states with strict controls on the quality of hemp production.
Another good practice when you choose a CBD brand is to look for current analysis reports, conducted by an independent US laboratory. Higher-quality products will come with access to a “Certificate of Analysis” showing that their CBD has been tested within the last 12 months for cannabinoid profile and safety. When researching brands, we liked Zodiac because they utilize a “double-independent-testing” protocol, where the hemp and tincture are both analyzed for quality at different labs. During our CBD research experience, we have not seen another brand with this additional layer of voluntary consumer protection.
The strength of the CBD in the product is also an important factor. Since there are no labelling or production standards in the US yet, a product could legally have any tiny quantity of cannabinoid and call itself a “CBD supplement”, although you would get no benefit of such a trace amount. With an oral product, look at the numbers as a ratio of CBD (which is measured in milligrams), to liquid volume (which is measured in milliliters or ounces). A higher number is better; if the ratio is low, and you are not consuming enough CBD milligrams (mg), the product might not have enough potency to be helpful. As an example, 1000 mg of CBD in four ounces of liquid is not as strong as 1000 mg of CBD in one ounce of liquid.
One final factor to consider is the level of THC present in the CBD product you choose. Some THC occurs naturally in any cannabis plant, but by US FDA regulations, a CBD product may contain no more than 0.3% THC (unless it is produced, purchased and used in a state with a medical or recreational marijuana policy). This trace THC amount will not cause any kind of high or similar reaction that one might expect with marijuana.
A CBD product that contains up to the federal limit of 0.3% THC is considered “full-spectrum”, because it contains the full range of cannabinoids that can yield health benefits. Still, some people want to avoid even that minuscule amount of THC, if they have concerns about drug testing, have a THC allergy, or might be in recovery. In that case, there is the option of choosing a “broad-spectrum” CBD product (where the THC content is 0.0% but other cannabinoids remain), or a product made from CBD isolate (in which every molecule that isn’t CBD is eliminated in a lab during the extraction process). We recommend using a full-spectrum CBD product for the most benefit if possible, because the process of removing every microgram of THC also strips out the other valuable non-intoxicating cannabinoid molecules like CBDa, CBG, CBA, CBC, and CBL– as well as some of the useful vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, protein, chlorophyll, terpenes, flavonoids that can naturally occur in hemp. Studies have shown that the presence of multiple cannabinoids working together creates a more effective supplement.
How Do I Take CBD?
The biggest question most people have about CBD is “how much should I take?” Everybody is different, and factors like age, exercise levels, weight and height, and diet can all affect how CBD works in your system. Experimentation to find the right personal dose levels is crucial. We recommend that new CBD users start with about 10 mg a day. (In Zodiac CBD strength, this is about 6 drops…3 in the morning and 3 in the evening, but every brand is different in the blend, so look at the CBD mg amount on your product for the most accurate way to determine dosage.) Try this amount for a few days and monitor the effects. Then, increase in small increments each week until you find the regimen that works best. You cannot overdose on CBD because the Endocannabinoid System will just flush and discard any excess. Most people have better responses (and save money!) when they start at a small dose and slowly build upward.
While our bodies build up a tolerance to many drugs or substances that we take, with CBD, early studies have shown the opposite to be true. With long-term use, our bodies need the same or even less of it.
For those of us with health issues who seek holistic approaches as remedies when effective, the advent of CBD on the market is wonderful news. With the credible scientific studies coming out daily about new benefits of cannabinoids on our health, this is an exciting area of exploration, on a natural plant-based molecule that costs less than pharmaceuticals yet could be just as powerful. If you suffer from any of the conditions listed in this article, we highly encourage you to give CBD a try. Everyone is different, but all the people we know who have bought a reputable brand, with significant strength, and used it regularly, have at minimum felt a better sense of well-being. And best case, many, like my husband and me, have been able to eliminate prescription drugs and get relief from years of difficult conditions.