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CBD Explained

The common cannabinoid explained

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CBD – the more we learn about it, the more we understand why it’s so popular. Registered Dietician and Nutritionist Carlene Thomas has led the charge in shaking the stigma from cannabis, using CBD oil to whip up cocktails, smoothies, juices, and more in her new book “CBD Drinks for Health.” Are CBD’s effects immediate? Does it really work wonders against anxiety, pain, and inflammation? This adaptation from Carlene’s book might instill confidence and peace of mind when using CBD oil.

What is CBD oil?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of nearly one hundred naturally-occurring cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana plants and produced within the human body, where they’re called endocannabinoids. While there are lots of cannabinoids, the most well-known are THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol (the one that gets you high), and CBD, or cannabidiol (the one that doesn’t).

CBD oil is consumed orally in liquid form. It can be added to food or drinks or applied with a dropper under the tongue to get the benefits of the compound. CBD oil is sold in an oil base or as a nano-emulsified product to enhance bioavailability. Many nano-emulsified products claim to offer the best bioavailability, but often at a much more expensive price point, with sometimes unconvincing data. No matter which type you choose, it’s important that you find a reputable, trustworthy CBD company that provides high-quality products.

What are the health benefits of CBD oil? How does it work?

Cannabinoids like CBD work by interacting with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to relay instructions from your heart and brain to your gastrointestinal (GI) system and pain receptors. Because CBD oil is fast acting in comparison to many adaptogens, which can require weeks to start working, its effects can be felt quickly. This, of course, means that you get the emotional or physical relief you need, ASAP.

How can CBD help me?

Acts as an anti-inflammatory and decreases pain

CBD reduces the inflammatory response by minimizing the production of cytokines, molecules that cue the body to produce inflammation. It also increases the amount of regulatory T-cells, which work to protect your body and decide what’s friend or foe. CBD binds to the receptors that are responsible for pain reception and inflammation, reducing both issues in the body.

Reduces anxiety and depression and boosts mood

Numerous clinical reviews support the use of CBD for reduction of anxiety and negative, stressful emotions. CBD binds to a serotonin (a neurotransmitter that helps regulate your mood) receptor and boosts this feel-good chemical’s signaling power. CBD also boosts the anti-anxiety effect of the neurotransmitter called GABA, which is what prescription anti-anxiety medications in the benzodiazepine family do. Additionally, CBD has been shown to boost dopamine levels. Dopamine, nicknamed the feel-good chemical, boosts your mood by stimulating feelings of motivation and reward.

Protects against chronic stress

Chronic stress means your body is constantly releasing damaging stress hormones, but CBD can help resolve underlying reasons for chronic stress while also encouraging the body to self-regulate with endocannabinoid production. By using CBD during these more situational times of stress and anxiety, you may begin to unlearn your negative stressful responses to situations that aren’t truly fight-or- flight (answering emails, scheduling a dental cleaning, etc.).

Helps with GI issues

When it comes to the gut, you likely know that reducing stress and inflammation can help with GI issues, including IBS and “leaky gut.” Researchers believe that CBD may also be able to strengthen gut walls to prevent leaky gut, while CBD’s antispasmodic properties are important for IBS.

Improves sleep

If you suffer from anxiety-induced sleepless nights, CBD’s stress-relieving properties can help you get to sleep and stay there. With full-spectrum CBD oil, the entourage effect of a compound called CBN within the blend may be helpful.

How do I know which CBD oil product to buy?

Hemp, which is the base for all the CBD oils, is a bioaccumulation plant. That means good or bad, anything in the soil or sprayed on the plant will be in your product. In general, be cautious. Since CBD is not a regulated product, like everything else in the supplement world, you’ll need to go to companies you trust instead of looking for the least expensive item. A trustworthy company should show you third-party testing information to ensure what’s advertised is actually in the product.

Different plant varieties will have different compound profiles. Hemp growers can select specific strains to grow based on their known health benefits and properties. A brand might use only a specific variety of hemp because they believe it has the right combination of naturally occurring compounds they think their customers will love. If you try one brand and don’t feel it’s a good fit, try a different brand.

How do I know how much CBD to take?

The FDA doesn’t have an official recommended daily intake (RDI) value for CBD. Some companies list a recommended dosage, but since CBD oil can come in varying strengths, it’s important to thoroughly read the instructions. Online reviews can also be helpful.

Just because a specific number on a package is considered a dosage, doesn’t mean it’s the right dose for you. CBD works differently for everyone depending on weight, focus for usage (anxiety, sleep, pain), gender, and how your body reacts to things. CBD is also known to be biphasic. That means at different dosages, CBD can both increase your focus or alertness, and also help with your sleep. There’s a sweet spot that works for what you’re looking for, and it’s likely going to take trial and error to find your correct dosage.

The general starting point recommendation for CBD dosages is between 1–6 mg of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight, taking into account pain level or other ailment severity. For example, a 160-pound person might start at a dosage of 16 mg but could need 96 mg. That’s a pretty big range. No two people are the same, and the more you know yourself, the more CBD will work for you. To find your personalized CBD dose, start low and adjust incrementally.

You may find it helpful to keep a journal. Track the date, your dosage, and what time of day you’re taking the CBD. Take notes on your overall mood, pain levels, digestion, and how well you’ve slept. If you’re in touch with your body, you’ll more quickly figure out your dose. Regardless of your daily dosage, studies show you don’t build up a tolerance to CBD, requiring you to take more and more.

That said, over the course of your life your CBD needs may change due to biological changes. Your endocannabinoid system receptors change as you age, so what worked for you at 25 might be more or less than what you need at age 45. If you feel like your CBD routine isn’t working the way it used to, go back to square one and begin at a starting dose, tracking how you feel over several weeks as you slowly increase your dosage. You can always find your new sweet spot with a little tracking.

CBD Drinks for Health cover page

Carlene Thomas

100 CBD oil-infused smoothies, tonics, juices, and more for total mind and body wellness.

Now that you’ve read the above, we hope you’re feeling like you have a better understanding of CBD and how to use it for you. Check back soon for must-try drink recipes from Carlene’s book CBD Drinks for Health!

Excerpted from CBD Drinks for Health by Carlene Thomas. Copyright © 2020 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

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Carlene Thomas

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Carlene Thomas is a registered dietitian nutritionist, cookbook author, and botanical specialist. Known for her ability to make wellness approachable, Carlene loves to deep dive into research and deliver usable tips and information to readers.