As the legendary Jack Herer once said: “I don’t know if hemp is going to save the world, but it’s the only thing that can”. But what is so special about hemp? Putting aside its industrial diversity, its plethora of attributes might reverse the accelerated destruction of our ecosystem. Not to mention its bountiful supply of CBD (Cannabidiol).
When you take into consideration hemp’s incredible flexibility, it makes one wonder why it was ever criminalised.
Hemp has the survival instinct of a weed and the nutritional value of a vegetable, and also shares the same aromatic and essential oils as flowers; more specifically, the molecules, terpenes.
Furthermore, the industrial powerhouse inhales more C02 than trees, absorbs toxic metals, and regenerates soil. Shortly after the infamous Chernobyl disaster, hemp’s resilient character proved effective in removing some radioactive strontium and cesium.
Moreover, hemp produces viable biodiesel and offers the industrial necessities of timber. Reinforcing the claims of its ability to replace the oil industry and prevent further deforestation.
What else can hemp possibly offer? Well, unless you have been stranded on a desert island these past few years, you would no doubt have heard of CBD oil.
Hemp is a member of the cannabis species, and in a similar fashion, naturally produces an array of cannabinoids. However, where cannabis contains larger quantities of the psychotropic cannabinoid THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and low amounts of CBD, the figures are reversed with hemp. Thus acclaiming the hemp plant as the largest source of CBD and deeming it as a nonintoxicating substance.
A Brief History of CBD
- The discovery of CBD was a sheer fluke. During the dawn of cannabis prohibition years, an American chemist, Dr. Roger Adams stumbled across CBD, when he was, in fact, seeking to identify the cannabinoid responsible for cannabis’s psychotropic effects (with THC not yet been discovered).
- Two decades later, “The Godfather of Cannabis” Dr. Robert Mechoulam laid the foundations towards understanding the particular effects of individual cannabinoids in 1963 as he identified the stereochemistry of CBD.
- In November 2017, WHO’s (World Health Organisation) preview “reports finds no public health risks or abuse potential for CBD”. The statement was publically declared in February 2018.
- Later that year, Epidiolex became the first-ever FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved CBD-based medicine. GW Pharmaceuticals manufacture and produce Epidiolex to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.
- Before the year was over, on 20th December 2018, the United States government passed the hemp farm bill; thus federally legalising the cultivation of hemp. Albeit with strict guidelines, however, 2018 provided the CBD industry with one of its most progressive years.
- Earlier this week, the Irish government implemented a five-year pilot scheme. The Irish Post reported that under the scheme, a medical consultant can prescribe both Aurora High CBD Oil Drops by Aurora Cannabis Enterprise Inc and CannEpil by MGC Pharmaceuticals to assist with the care of any of the following conditions:
- Spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis
- Intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy
- Severe, refractory (treatment-resistant) epilepsy
What is CBD?
Within the 40 thousand plus cannabis cultivars, there are three variants of molecules: Cannabinoids, flavonoids, and Terpenes. CBD is a cannabinoid, one of over 118 discovered to date. From the vast range of cannabinoids, CBD is among the most abundant. Its rival in dominance is the euphoric cannabinoid, THC.
Although the molecular structure of THC and CBD is not too dissimilar, cannabidiol is non-intoxicating. It is a well-known fact that cannabis can be used as a recreational substance, which is only possible because of the high-inducing effects of THC. So although hemp is a member of the cannabis family, its minimal levels of THC (below 0.2%*) provides consumers the opportunity to reap the benefits of cannabis without “getting high”.
*In the United States and Canada, the THC limit is 0.3%. Anything higher classifies the plant as cannabis.
Just like every other cannabinoid, CBD derives from the precursor and “the mother of all cannabinoids”, CBGA (Cannabigerolic Acid).
Most hemp plants only contain small traces of CBD, as it is still in its acidic state. Raw hemp flower’s most commanding cannabinoid is CBDA (Cannabidiolic Acid), which converts to CBD and neutralises after the process – decarboxylation.
Cannabidiol is possibly one of the most diverse cannabinoids, with a range of analogues that stretch beyond CBD and CBDA.
What is CBD Oil?
One of the most popular cannabinoid-based products is CBD oil. Cannabidiol first became mainstream in the UK in 2016, and since its emergence, it is reported that over one million people consume CBD oil regularly.
In layman’s terms, CBD oil is the concentrated liquid extract of the hemp plant, Cannabis Sativa L.
There are three CBD oils available for purchase: Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate-based. The latter is CBD isolate mixed with a carrier oil. Whereas both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oils are whole-plant extracts. As a result, they contain small traces of many of the plant’s other therapeutical molecules, such as terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids; which is then diluted with a carrier oil.
CBD oils come in a range of strengths, generally containing between 5 and 20 percent of cannabidiol. The common carrier oils are either MCT oil (coconut), hemp seed oil, or olive oil.
Whole-Plant Extract or Isolate-Based – What is Better?
Medical cannabis is a real thing. Back in 1996, California legalised cannabis for THC’s ability to aid with the treatment of glaucoma. But please be advised against similar claims regarding CBD as recent studies suggest that cannabidiol may actually worsen the condition.
Due to the flexibility of CBD isolate, some cannabis researchers prefer isolate-based oils as they can create precise formulas for medical trials. Whereas others prefer a whole-plant extract as you will induce the “Entourage Effect”, which can only occur if you preserve all the plant’s natural molecules.
Although the industry is in its early days, the jury’s verdict is that full-spectrum oils further augment CBD’s ability to act as a wellness-supplement.
How Does CBD Interact with Your Body?
Medical cannabis research witnessed its biggest breakthrough during the 1990s with the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Until then, exactly how cannabinoids interact with the human body were a mystery.
The ECS is a complex system that consists of cell receptors and cannabinoids; to clarify, the human body produces its own cannabinoids. There is a slight difference between the cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant and the human body; however, the way in which they bind with the receptors is identical.
There are two main endocannabinoid receptors: They are called CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Scientific studies identified that both types of cannabinoids bind with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which helps to regulate our brain function and immune system.
Further research is required to identify the impact that cannabinoids have on our health. However, recently conducted trials further reinforce CBD’s stature as an excellent addition to our daily regime.
Does CBD Have Any Side-Effects?
Based on consumer feedback, the vast majority of people do not suffer any side-effects, however, that’s not to say that they may not occur.
With that in mind, what are the potential side-effects of CBD?
- Nausea: Of all possible side effects, nausea is the most common negative report with CBD from customer feedback. Should you experience nausea after taking CBD, there are three things to consider: Have you taken CBD on an empty stomach? If so, this may be the issue. Failing that, you should either stop taking CBD or try microdosing.
- Headaches or migraines: In rare cases, CBD oil has been known to induce headaches or migraines, although, this is not necessarily due to the CBD. Many individuals who have complained of such reactions have solved the issue by switching the brand. The problem lies within the other ingredients. You could be averse to the carrier oil, or the actual brand of oil could be using a poor method of extraction or low-quality hemp.
- Diarrhea: Once, again, a very rare case. Should you suffer a case of diarrhea after taking CBD, we suggest that you adopt the same approach as with those who are affected by nausea (see above).
- Dry Mouth: Those who smoke cannabis can vouch to this – THC is known to heighten one’s thirst. But fear not, it’s nothing that the odd sip of water won’t fix. And let’s be honest, most of us could do with a gentle reminder to increase our water intake.
With all things considered, if CBD is not for you, the worst-case scenario is a minor negative reaction. So if you’re on the fence as to whether to try CBD products or not, give it a try – the pros far outweigh the cons.
Is CBD Safe For Human Consumption?
At the time of publishing this article, the CBD industry is going through a relentless battle over its Novel Food status – an ongoing saga that only Brexit could rival. A Novel Food is a food that has not been in widespread use before 1997.
Cannabis industry advocate, Peter Reynolds, of Cannabis Professionals is spearheading the movement, stating “What should be happening is that the industry should be standing together to resist this groundless and pointless intervention from a self-serving bureaucracy. There’s no purpose in this novel foods initiative except for the bureaucracy to take control of the market but of course, it will benefit big business most of all”.
And rightly so. Previous to cannabis prohibition which was implemented in the 1930s, the human consumption of hemp dates back to ancient Egypt. At its peak, hemp was ubiquitous and bountiful in every continent. Whether directly or through cattle that grazed on the hemp fields, the human race has been consuming CBD ever since our evolution.
Is CBD Medicine?
Cannabis as medicine has made headline news over recent years. Five years after the restricted US legislation changes in California, Canada legalised cannabis for all medical purposes, and later, south of the border followed suit; with medical cannabis now being legal in Washington DC and 33 U.S States.
But does it work? Cannabinoid research shows positive results for an array of conditions, however, conclusive formulas are still being trialed.
Many CBD-related websites have falsely touted cannabidiol to be a panacea. Although evidence highlights that our ancestors used cannabis as medicine and recent studies appear convincing, the fact remains that medical research is in its infancy.
CBD-based products have glowing reviews and have proven to be an effective wellness supplement for people of all ages.
Be that as it may, we must put scientific evidence before hearsay. You cannot put a price on health.
Who Shouldn’t Take CBD?
It is a common misconception that CBD is a benefit to everyone. Your Endocannabinoid system differs from the next person, so whilst it may be beneficial to most of us, unfortunately, for a small minority, CBD may, in fact, have a detrimental effect. Furthermore, CBD could potentially worsen illnesses or be dangerous if taken with some medications.
Should you suffer from the following conditions, please consult with your doctor before taking CBD:
- Glaucoma: As previously mentioned, early scientific research suggests that CBD may prove to be problematic for sufferers of glaucoma. You may come across contrary statements on the internet. This is because medical cannabis has proven to be a viable treatment for glaucoma, however, the conducted research is regarding THC and not CBD.
- Parkinson’s Disease: Once again, please wait for further scientific studies to be conducted. The potential for medical cannabis to act as a remedy for Parkinson’s disease is a reality, but cannabidiol may, in fact, worsen the tremors that are associated with the affliction.
- Liver Problems: At the time of writing, the news that CBD may be bad for the liver is fairly new and research is currently being conducted. What we do know is that CBD has proven to inhibit the effects of liver medication, so if you suffer from any liver problems, please await the results from the ongoing research.
- Lower Blood Pressure: If you have low blood pressure or are taking any blood-thinning medication, then please consult with your doctor before taking CBD, as research suggests that CBD may act as a blood thinner.
Can You Take CBD When Pregnant or if You are Breastfeeding?
Shortly after the discovery of the Endocannabinoid system, cannabinoid research came on leaps and bounds. We informed you previously how the ECS, Phytocannabinoids, and Endocannabinoids, interact. Well, it turns out that cannabinoids are also present within breast milk.
Once again, cannabis research has a long way to go. There is no evidence in existence to suggest that you should or should not take CBD when pregnant or breastfeeding.
Here’s my two pence worth: the cannabinoids produced by the breast are Endocannabinoids, whereas CBD is a Phytocannabinoid. Although they’re similar, whilst we await further research, it’s perhaps best to err on the side of caution.
As hemp was outlawed under the Marijuana Tax Act, the idea of consuming extracts from a member of the cannabis species seems taboo. But with legislation changes and education, public opinion towards cannabis is slowly changing.
Based on existing research and consumer feedback, the reintroduction of CBD into our diets is a good thing.
With all things considered, you must choose a reputable CBD supplier that processes organic hemp through a clean extraction process and backs up the product with lab results.