Cannabidiol, in colloquial language called CBD, is a non-psychoactive, i.e. non- intoxicating component of the hemp plant. In recent years, numerous positive effects of CBD on the human body have been observed, especially pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, the plant substance is becoming increasingly important as an alternative medical preparation and food supplement.
Hemp – The natural origin of cannabidiol
Hemp has been used for medical purposes for over 5,000 years. The useful and ornamental plant can be described as a natural laboratory. About 500 ingredients are now known. Phytocannabinoids, to which CBD also belongs, are of particular interest for pharmaceutical use. CBD is found in the upper third of the hemp plant, but mainly in the flowers. From a biochemical point of view, it is the antagonist of tetrahydrocannabinol, called THC, which is known and controversial worldwide as an intoxicant.
Strictly speaking CBD is a component of the essential oils of hemp. These are produced in the plant hairs of the female specimens and are mainly stored in the flowers. To meet the increasing demand, to increase the CBD content and to improve the quality, special breedings are carried out. This also helps to keep the THC content as low as possible. In some cases, the THC content of cultivars is well below 0.2 %, which is below the maximum permissible level in the European Union.
The extraction of CBD from the hemp plant
There are several ways to extract CBD from the hemp plant. The most common methods are the following:
- Alcohol extraction
- CO2 extraction
It must be taken into account that the therapeutically effective CBD is initially present in the plant in an inactive form as carboxylic acid, in this specific case as CBDa. The A at the end stands for acid, the English term for acid. Hemp itself therefore only ever produces the preliminary stage of what we use as products. This applies both to CBD and to the THC, which is controversial in this country. So in order to have an effective product in your hands in the end, two decisive steps must be taken:
- The extraction of the components from the hemp plants.
- The chemical activation of the ingredients by a so-called decarboxylation, the splitting off of carbon atoms.
Alcohol extraction makes use of the fact that cannabidiol can be easily dissolved from the hemp plant with the help of alcohol. This method is usually used to produce pure CBD (CBD isolate). This is largely free of other cannabinoids like THC.
The CO2-extraction is roughly done by the following measures: The first step consists of crushing and heating the hemp up to 150 °C. Then liquid and strongly cooled carbon dioxide is added under high pressure, whereby the individual plant components separate and the CBDa is converted to CBD. In the last step, the CBD is separated from the other ingredients. This process is the most commonly used today, for example in the production of full spectrum extracts. These are extracts that contain numerous other cannabinoids besides CBD.
The effect of CBD
If the active ingredient enters our body in the form of CBD oil or CBD capsules, for example, it is distributed through the bloodstream in the body where it unfolds its effects. The modes of action are so versatile that CBD in many cases does not replace conventional medical treatment, but can be a useful supplement.
The effect of CBD cannot be limited. On the contrary, the plant substance unfolds numerous effects in the body. CBD has a proven effect:
- Appetite suppressant
- Cell protecting
- Antipyretic (fever reducing)
- Antiemetic (against nausea and vomiting)
- Immun System Boosting
Thus it partly acts in the exact opposite direction to THC. Although many cannabis users report a calming effect after use, which is identical for CBD, the situation is quite different when it comes to hunger: THC increases appetite, while CBD reduces hunger. Even a tumour-inhibiting effect has been proven, although this treatment may only be carried out in close consultation with the doctor and is currently the subject of intensive research.
Once it reaches the body through the bloodstream, CBD interacts with various receptors in the brain and the immune system. Researchers have discovered that CBD has more than ten different mechanisms of action. It interferes with a wide variety of signalling pathways and thus has a positive influence on metabolism. By comparison, THC only affects two receptors, but still has a strong intoxicating effect. It is precisely this so-called psychoactive and potentially addictive effect that is missing in CBD, which makes it so valuable for alternative medicine. The entirety of the receptors on which CBD acts is called the endocannabinoid system.
CBD oil is not a miracle cure, but it can help!
Cannabis and the substance CBD contained in it is certainly no miracle cure, but for many people it is a natural remedy for over 65 different diseases. CBD is still quite unexplored, but many scientists, doctors and pharmacists get rid of the cannabis stigma and research the possible effects of cannabidiol. It is always important here; it can help, but does not have to.
The fields of application of CBD products
CBD does not only work in the brain, but in the most different body regions. This is because CBD receptors are also distributed throughout the organism. The areas of application and indications are correspondingly varied. Among the diseases for which CBD has already been used successfully in a supportive way are
- Antibiotic resistance
- Anxiety disorders
In addition, studies are investigating the supportive application in chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease, tumor pain and many more.
The right CBD dosage
The recommended CBD dose depends on many factors such as height, age, weight and indication. If it is just a matter of being a little less nervous, feeling more vital or combating mild sleep disorders, most fairly low doses are possible. This also applies if other medications (e.g. painkillers, sedatives or similar) are to be gradually reduced under medical supervision. The recommended dosage is also very individual. In any case, it is advisable to contact your doctor or pharmacist in individual cases. A frequent starting dose is one or two drops under the tongue. However, there are a number of other dosage forms besides CBD oil, such as
- CBD Capsules
- CBD Crystals
- CBD Cremes
- CBD Cosmetics
- CBD E-Liquids
Pharmacies and retailers offer CBD in the form of soft or hard capsules. The soft capsules contain the oil, but the digestible capsule allows the oil to unfold only in the stomach and thus does not come into contact with the taste buds of the tongue. Advantages of CBD capsules are the exact dosage, the taste neutrality, the good tolerability and the possibility to take them easily and anywhere. However, some users are disturbed by the comparatively late onset of action. Some people also find it difficult to swallow larger capsules. And, of course, a sip of liquid is needed to take the CBD capsules.
Cannabidiol in the form of oil was the first dosage form on the market. To this day, CBD oil is the most frequently sold preparation of this group of active ingredients in Germany. The individual oil products differ mainly in the concentration of the active ingredient and the manufacturing form. Since CBD is highly fat-soluble, vegetable oils are used as carrier substance. The user takes the oil by dripping it on or under the tongue and then swallowing it. Again, the dosage is very easy and the ingestion can be done without liquid. Nevertheless, the slightly bitter taste does not suit everyone. It can take up to ten minutes before it disappears.
Relatively new on the market are numerous products from the CBD cosmetic range. However, they are now available in more and more shops and online shops and are aimed at
- Joint pain
- Muscle aches
Most manufacturers recommend two applications per day with massaging. These products include CBD cream, CBD ointment and CBD massage oils.
Side effects caused by CBD?
Overall CBD is considered to be very well tolerated and has few side effects. Although it has been popular as a medicinal, ornamental and useful plant for thousands of years, conventional medicine has only recently become interested in cannabis products. Therefore, there are still no studies investigating possible long-term side effects. However, if one looks at the general experience, negative experiences with the natural substance are rarely reported. Occasionally users mention tiredness, dizziness and nausea. In principle, poor tolerability is always to be feared if the products are contaminated or not purely manufactured. Due to the broad spectrum of effects, it is also possible that users experience effects that do not correspond to their original intention. In this case, however, one cannot speak of side effects caused by CBD.
As long-term studies are lacking so far, pregnant and nursing women should refrain from taking CBD-containing products or at least coordinate them in close consultation with the treating physician. There are indications that CBD could have effects on the function of the placenta due to its mode of action.
Even with natural products like CBD, possible interactions with other drugs/chemical compounds must be taken into account. In the specific case, these are especially all those drugs that are degraded in the same way as CBD. Caution is also required when CBD and alcohol are used simultaneously.
- CBD is derived from the hemp plant, but does not have an intoxicating effect and is therefore legal.
- For the production of CBD only low THC hemp is used.
- Hemp itself contains the preliminary stage CBDa. Through decarboxylation it becomes cannabidiol.
- The cannabinoid has numerous positive effects on the body.
When taking products containing cannabinoids, interactions with various drugs may occur under certain circumstances. If you are taking medication yourself, the use of CBD and other cannabinoids should be discussed with your doctor beforehand.