While cannabis is now legal across much of the USA and all of Canada, CBD derived from industrial hemp has been around a while and is starting to gain traction in the mainstream market. Available in multiple formats, there are plenty of options for those looking to utilise its benefits. From oil based CBD tinctures and vape pens to edibles and topical treatments, consumers have a world of choice when it comes to administering what’s been dubbed the “wonder drug.”
What is CBD and what are the benefits?
CBD (cannabidiol) is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid from the cannabis plant though is typically distilled from hemp. It carries the relaxing benefits of the plant without the high meaning you can utilise the benefits of the cannabis plant and still go about your day as normal. Initially discovered in the 1940s, CBD has been the subject of intensive study since then.
In the cannabis plant, when combined with THC (the part that does make you high) CBD helps counteract the psychoactive effect. It typically makes the “peak” less extreme and the high last longer. Many strains of cannabis now are incredibly high in THC and low in CBD. To be classified as purely CBD, the product must have less than 0.2% THC which is why the most common source of CBD is the hemp plant as it’s naturally THC free.
CBD is an anti-inflammatory compound that’s been studied extensively, with more research coming out all the time. Some of the benefits include helping with anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, skin conditions, seizures and pain relief. Depending on the kind of effect you’re hoping to achieve you may want to try a certain dosage and means of application.
What are the different ways to use it?
One of the most popular ways people administer CBD is with drops. They’re concentrated bottles of oil that you only need to use once or twice a day, you only need a few drops under the tongue morning and evening to enjoy the benefits. They’re an ideal option for people wanting a high dose each day with minimal effort.
You can also use e-liquids, made for use with e-cigarettes and are inhaled in the same way you would nicotine. The benefit of these is they’re quickly absorbed and they stay in your system for a few hours. CBD e-liquids also come in regulated strengths allowing you to decide precisely how much you’ll actually be using. E-liquids can be vaped on their own or mixed with other flavours, you can also get flavoured options if the naturally herby taste isn’t your thing.
Another option is CBD edibles. These are ideal for people who don’t want to inhale anything or don’t like the flavour of drops but still want to utilise the benefits of CBD. They often come in products like gummies or mints and come with a regulated dose in each serving. Gummies also make it easy to regulate exactly how much you have each day as they contain a consistent dose in each. The main difference between these and inhaling CBD directly is the bioavailability. When you inhale something the amount your body can absorb through inhalation is around 70%. When using edibles it’s absorption is more around 20% however it does stay in your system for longer and they can be taken throughout the day if you’re microdosing.
There are also topical options like creams, lotions and balms. While the absorption of these is lower than edibles, drops or vaping, they’re useful for targeted treatment. Plenty of people use drops or vaping in conjunction with topical treatments to treat things like muscle and joint pain as well as skin conditions like eczema.
What should I look for when buying CBD?
With CBD products becoming much more mainstream and readily accessible, there are a few of things to look for when you’re buying CBD to make sure you get the best quality.
The first thing to look for is the way the CBD is extracted from the hemp. When it comes to quality, the supercritical CO2 extraction method is considered to be the best. It maintains the structural integrity of the compound while also meaning no chemicals are used.
Secondarily, you’ll also want to look for lab tested products so you know they’re free of chemicals, THC and have the quality and concentration of CBD they claim to. Many companies use third party testing and will do it for every batch of whatever product they’re making.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller, whether that’s online or in a store. The more legitimate retailers of CBD will have a record of the lab testing, or be able to direct you to the manufacturers website for more information. On top of that they should be able to tell you who made them and where the hemp was sourced from.