What is CBD?
CBD, short for cannabidiol (pronounced "ca·nuh·bi·DYE·ol"), is a cannabinoid, which is a naturally occurring compound (similar to an essential oil) found in hemp plants. Hemp is the non-psychoactive cousin to marijuana, meaning hemp and hemp extracts, like CBD oil, will not (and actually CANNOT) get you high, stoned, baked, whatever you want to call it.
Hemp is a plant that contains hundreds of cannabinoids, including CBD, CBN, CBG, etc., making it a unique plant that's designed to work harmoniously with the human body. Cannabinoids interact with our endocannabinoid system to restore the natural balance, health, and wellness our bodies crave.
Back up please, what is our Endocannabinoid System?
Every person, and even every mammal, has an endocannabinoid system (ECS). Our ECS is a biological system that naturally regulates our:
Our ECS is made up of three components: endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes:
Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids that our ECS naturally produces when needed to keep our internal functions running smoothly; a well known endocannabinoid is Anandamide, a neurotransmitter known as our ‘joy’ molecule.
Cannabinoids produced by plants (like CBD) are categorized as "phytocannabinoids".
Our ECS is made up of two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 & CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found primarily throughout our brain and nervous system. CB2 receptors are found throughout our entire body: our connective tissue, gastrointestinal system, organs, immune cells, lungs, skin, etc.. Cannabinoid receptors are believed to be more numerous than any other receptor system in our body; they interact with our naturally produced endocannabinoids as well as our ingested phytocannabinoids (ie. CBD oil) to promote a state of balance (homeostasis).
And finally, enzymes break down endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids once they’ve carried out their function.
Okay, cool. And what does our ECS do exactly?
Cannabinoid receptors perform different tasks within our body. From monitoring and recycling unhealthy cells, to communicating between various bodily systems and cell types, our ECS promotes internal homeostasis despite changes in our external environment. Our ECS plays a large role in making sure our brain cells are working correctly too.
In other words, our ECS is a homeostatic regulator allowing our nerves to communicate and work efficiently. Our ECS is constantly working within our body and mind to bring about a state of balance. Our moods, happiness, trepidation, anxiety, sleep, pain, and ability to tolerate stress are all regulated by our ECS.
When our ECS is overwhelmed it does not produce enough endocannabinoids to tolerate our day to day habits; this may result in excess inflammation, trouble sleeping, or stress and moods... this is when phytocannabinoids like CBD can help.
"Because the ECS regulates everything - down to your dopamine levels - if it isn't working, nothing is working...
...If you don't know why you feel run-down all the time, despite feeling healthy and exercising, you might have an endocannabinoid deficiency."
- Michele Ross, a Neuroscientist & Cannabis Activist
I'm intrigued, how does CBD work?
CBD boosts our own natural endocannabinoids (think serotonin and dopamine) which improves our moods, long-term health, and overall wellbeing. Small doses of phytocannabinoids from hemp (e.g. CBD) and other plants (e.g. coneflower) help support our ECS by enhancing its signaling capabilities plus increasing its overall health and efficiency.
When we ingest CBD oil, the active cannabinoids (like CBD, CBG, CBN, etc.) will find our most irritated nerve receptors within our body and mind, then work directly at the source to restore balance. This means that CBD interacts with our specific pain and high stress areas that exist because our ECS is not producing enough endocannabinoids to help; CBD and other phytocannabinoids help reduce any discomfort in the moment while simultaneously helping our body and mind heal in the long-term.
CBD works cumulatively within our body and mind, therefore requiring consistent daily ingestion in order to continuously help and heal our physical and therapeutic needs.
Why should I take CBD over other medication?
CBD for Pain & Inflammation
CBD may work directly with cannabinoid receptors found throughout our connective tissue - which surrounds our muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels - to help reduce inflammation and protect against cartilage degradation. CBD may help with chronic pain as well by inhibiting inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat. Furthermore, CBD applied on the skin can help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis.
On the other hand, Advil, and other pain relievers, stop injured or hurt cells from releasing a chemical called prostaglandin, which is the chemical that tells your brain you are "experiencing pain" or "have a problem that needs fixing". When your cells are stopped from releasing this chemical, it means your brain doesn't get the "OW" message as quickly or clearly in that moment. Essentially, Advil (and other pain relievers) makes your pain less severe, but only for as long as you are taking it...
And who wants to take Advil 3 times a day, every single day?! CBD oil is all-natural!
CBD for Stress & Anxiety
CBD may help reduce anxiety and stress by interacting with our CB1 receptors found throughout our brain. The exact way CBD affects CB1 receptors is not entirely known yet, however, it is thought to alter serotonin signals. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that we naturally produce to help with our mental health. It is known as our "happiness hormone" for one of its functions is mood regulation. Low serotonin levels are commonly linked to depression and anxiety.
Furthermore, CBD's ability to interact with our central nervous system suggests it can help balance out cortisol levels, improve our behavioral responses to stress, and help boost our overall moods.
CBD for Relaxing & aid in Sleep
A common reason for sleep problems is that our minds don't calm down when we want them to. A racing mind can be triggered by daily stress and anxiety, which is associated with higher cortisol levels (our stress hormone). People with insomnia often are found to have high cortisol levels at night, which is also associated with an increased number of nighttime awakenings. CBD comes into play at night by helping balance out our cortisol levels and relaxing our racing minds.