We all probably know something about cannabis, but its classification as an illicit substance has created many myths and misconceptions about the plant and its properties. Here’s an overview of what exactly cannabis is, how it works, and how it’s used.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis comes from the cannabis plant (cannabis sativa). It can thrive in almost any climate and grows wild in many parts of the world. It contains about 400 chemical compounds, 85 of which can be found in the Cannabis family, the most well-known of which are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis, which means it produces the euphoria or feeling of being “high” most often associated with cannabis use. THC attaches itself to CB1 receptors in the brain, which causes shifts in mood, movement, and cognition. The potency of THC varies greatly, so it produces a wide range of effects.
CBD, however, is non-psychoactive, meaning it produces relaxation but doesn’t alter cognition or create a “high.” This chemical has many therapeutic benefits, however, and is responsible for many of the medicinal uses associated with marijuana. Since many people find the psychoactive properties of THC undesirable, CBD offers many health benefits without the effect on cognition.
While both marijuana and hemp are cannabis plants, the marijuana plant is dominated by the THC compound, whereas the hemp plant is dominated by the CBD compound. CBD is federally legal, and though state laws vary, CBD oil is available for purchase in most states (see details below).
CBD & the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is a collection cell receptors that run throughout our bodies.
Endocannabinoids help the body to maintain balance, or homeostasis, regulating things like mood, sleep, pain, digestion, and much more. CBD acts with these receptors to boost the level of endocannabinoids in the body, reducing inflammation and providing other “neuroprotective” qualities.
How is it Consumed?
There are four main ways to take CBD: ingestion, sublingually, topically, or through inhalation. You can ingest CBD orally through edibles, oils, or capsules, and this is probably the most common method of consumption. To take it sublingually, you put the oil or tincture under the tongue for 90 seconds. This allows it to bypass the digestive system and enter the bloodstream more quickly, so it’s a great option for anyone looking for fast effects. CBD can also be absorbed topically through lotions and salves on the skin. CBD ingested topically will not enter the bloodstream, so this is a good choice for anyone looking for targeted relief. CBD can also be inhaled through a vaporizer, which like the sublingual option, allows it to enter your system more quickly.
How can I get CBD?
CBD derived from hemp is legal in all 50 states and readily available to purchase in most. It’s still illegal to grow hemp in the U.S., but CBD products using imported hemp are legal under federal law. As with any product, we recommend finding a company you trust before you buy to ensure you are consuming the highest quality CBD on the market.
You can learn more about CBD and hemp oil by visiting our Education page.