I get numerous questions about CBD- how it works, what it can do, how to take it and more. So, I’ve compiled all of the questions I’ve received over the past couple of years and answered them in this article, you can also visit Weed Mama’s starter guide to CBD.
First, my personal experience with CBD
The first time I tried CBD was in 2016, I was at a dispensary here in Kitsilano, Vancouver and I talked to the budtender about how cannabis can trigger my anxiety. I had just started back to using cannabis after a 6 year hiatus, I had quit smoking weed because it had given me horrible anxiety. The bud tender said he had just thing thing and passed me a small plastic baggie with two golden coloured capsules. “It’s CBD” he said. I asked if it would get me high or have any intoxicating effect and he said no. I was wary, I’d never heard of CBD and didn’t like taking something when I didn’t know what it was. He told me it would help with my anxiety.
When I got home I took one pill and about half an hour later I felt completely relaxed, like I’d taken half of a valium. I took the other pill when I vaporized cannabis and it made the high feel better, cleaner, the jittery feeling that THC can sometimes cause, simply wasn’t there. I couldn’t wait to find out more about this liquid gold called CBD.
Over the years I’ve used CBD to manage generalized anxiety/panic disorder. I’ve found it does help to reduce anxiety and has successfully brought me down from bad panic attacks, I also use it in conjunction with THC to manage the side effects.
What is CBD?
CBD is short for Cannabidiol and is one of the over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD and THC (the one that gets you high) are the two most abundant cannabinoids. Cannabinoids from the cannabis plant bind themselves to various receptors found throughout the body and brain; these receptors are a part of the endocannabinoid system. There are CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the brain and central nervous system, CB2 primarily the immune system. The CB1 receptor’s major role in the brain is to regulate the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate. THC binds itself to the CB1 receptors and mimics the functions of endocannabinoids produced by the body, whereas CBD blocks cannabinoids receptors rather than activating them.
Fun fact– your body creates it’s own cannabinoids called endocannabinoids. Cannabinoids from the cannabis plant are called phytocannabinoids
CBD has the opposite effects of THC and is shown to have no effect on heart rate or blood pressure. CBD also reduces the side effects of THC.
Will you feel anything when you take CBD?
CBD is non-intoxicating and won’t get you high, in fact CBD doesn’t feel like anything most of the time. However it may give you a relaxing sensation and sometimes that can make you feel tired. CBD can also be stimulating like a cup of coffee. Some research suggests that lower doses can be stimulating and higher doses can make you feel drowsy.
Are there risks?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated “To date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD” CBD is well tolerated even at high doses and has very low toxicity. There are very few side effects, the most common being tiredness, nausea and irritability.
CBD can interact with certain medications, especially blood thinners, talk to your doctor before taking CBD if you’re on medication.
The science of CBD
To date the strongest scientific evidence for CBD’s effectiveness is at treating certain seizure disorders, especially very difficult to treat epilepsy in children. Science is catching up on what else CBD can do. So far there’s promising research around treatment for:
CBD is shown to be neuroprotective, it increases blood flow to the hippocampus aiding in memory, which also helps with the temporary memory issues you can get taking THC.
How CBD is derived
CBD can be extracted from the medicinal cannabis plant or hemp. Hemp is cannabis grown with less than .3% THC and has high CBD. You’ll see many products with CBD in the United States because in 2018 hemp was legalized.
CBD is extracted from hemp using solvents, it’s important the CBD you buy is free from toxins, the company you buy from should provide the labs and be reputable. In Canada CBD, including from hemp, is regulated the same as THC.
CBD oil is the most common CBD product on the Canadian market and does contain small amounts of THC. You can also buy CBD in pills that contain CBD oil and CBD extract in edibles, CBD can be extracted so you can get the isolate, where it’s free from THC. You can also buy topicals with CBD in Canada.
CBD is marketed as either full spectrum, broad spectrum or isolate. Full spectrum means all of the cannabinoids, terpenes and other plant compounds are present. Broad spectrum means all of the compounds are present except THC (usually this is hemp derived CBD) and isolate is where CBD is extracted with all other plant compounds removed. In Canada you won’t really see that advertised, mostly because of strict laws around what you can say about cannabis products.
Why Does it matter if CBD is full spectrum? It’s thought that all of the properties of the cannabis plant- terpenes, cannabinoids and flavonoids, work together in concert called the entourage effect, basically think of an orchestra, remove an instrument and it effects the overall sound. Most people desire to have the entire plant intact when it comes to taking CBD rather than an isolate which strips away all of the other plant properties.
Will CBD show up on a drug test?
Generally no, drug tests aren’t looking for CBD, they’re looking for THC. So if you’re taking CBD that contains small amounts of THC then that may show up on a drug test. If it’s hemp derived it likely won’t show up on a drug test unless you’re taking very high amounts of CBD, over 1000mg and most people aren’t going to take that much.
Where do you buy CBD in Canada?
All CBD products in Canada are sold through licensed cannabis stores. If you’re looking for THC free CBD you’re going to have a hard time finding that on the Canadian cannabis market as most of the oils sold have some THC in them. You can buy some edibles that are CBD isolate, including CBD beverages new the the market. Expect to find more CBD products as time goes on.
What type of CBD should you buy?
You can buy CBD dried cannabis cultivars, CBD vape pens, CBD oil, CBD edibles and topicals. For now the best option is a CBD oil that you can add to food, drinks or simply place on your tongue and swallow. CBD oil is not water soluble so you’ll need a drink with fat, such as a yoghurt smoothie or a coffee with cream in order to add the oil. CBD oil also comes in capsules.
You can now buy fast-acting CBD, this comes in water soluble drops that can be added to drinks.
Due to the laws around mixing cannabis and alcohol we don’t get alcohol based tinctures in Canada, tinctures can be used sublingual (under the tongue for fast absorption).
When buying CBD oil look for the amount of CBD per ml. Most come in 30ml bottles. You can buy 300mg bottles which means it’s 10mg per 1 ml, or 600mg bottles which are 20mg per 1 ml. The more CBD in the bottle, the more expensive it’s going to be.
The other options for CBD is through smoking CBD only cannabis cultivars or vaporizing CBD. You can either use a dry herb vaporizer (the Weed Mama preferred method) or buy a CBD only vape pen which uses a concentrate. Concentrates are extracted using solvents and are often stripped of most of the plant properties however terpenes can be added back in for flavour.
CBD can be added to creams, salves, massage oils and even lube. CBD helps with inflammation and tough to treat skin conditions such as eczema. There’s currently only a handful of CBD topicals on the legal market in Canada. With topicals you want to try different brands to see what you like. Also dose is important. While we don’t have a lot of science around cannabis topicals, it’s better to get higher dose topicals, especially when you’re using them in a bath.
How much CBD should you take?
There isn’t a standard dose for CBD yet, we simply don’t know enough about proper dosing however we have a general guideline to follow.
I recommend 20mg per day to start and go up from there. You can start as low as 10mg however CBD seems to work better in higher doses. Start by taking 20mg a day and do that for a week or so, if you don’t notice any difference go up to 30mg, keep increasing the dose until you find a nice place where it’s successfully managing your symptoms.
CBD is best taken daily and built up in your system. Research has suggested that unlike THC you don’t build a tolerance to CBD, in fact the opposite might be true and you get a reverse tolerance, meaning you need less as time goes on however more research is needed to know for sure.
If you’re taking CBD by vaporizing or smoking look for CBD only cultivars, at least 5% CBD can go up to 20% in certain cultivars. For vape pens you can buy a THC free concentrate, look for rechargeable batteries and not disposable.
CBD scams and gimmicks
With the huge rush to CBD (this is mostly true in the United States) you’ll see all kinds of misleading advertising. The most common misleading ingredient is hemp seed oil or cannabis seed oil marketed as CBD, this is not CBD. Remember in Canada the only place you can buy legal CBD is at a cannabis store, it’s not sold anywhere else.
You’ll also (mostly in the United States) see all kinds of gimmicks like CBD fast food, CBD athletic wear (oh yes) CBD pillows, candles (insert eye roll) and other such products that are ridiculous gimmicks. CBD in your pillow isn’t going to do anything other than make you lose sleep from wasting money on a pillow, when you could’ve used that money to buy a good quality CBD oil instead.
With topicals like salves and creams, you’re going to want to find a product that’s high in CBD for it to work properly. For example 25mg of CBD in a bottle of cream is not high enough, don’t waste your money.
CBD is a great way to get the goodness of the cannabis plant without intoxication. It can be used to treat numerous health issues such as anxiety and chronic pain. While more research is needed to understand exactly what CBD can do for us and proper dosing, we do see more and more research singing the praises of CBD and it’s healing properties for so many conditions. CBD is best taken daily and is well tolerated even in high doses.