For people wanting to sample the therapeutic effects of marijuana, without experiencing the side effect of a psychoactive high, CBD products are proving a perfect option.
THC and CBD are the two most abundant cannabinoids (cannabis compounds) present in the marijuana plant, however THC is psychoactive while CBD isn’t. THC does have an array of medicinal qualities too, but the euphoric sensations it brings – along with the negative connotations of weed smokers in the mainstream – have historically put many off the idea of medicating with marijuana.
However, CBD offers relaxation, in both the body and the mind, without leaving the user intoxicated. It’s showing to be a winning combination, with demand for CBD soaring to unprecedented heights this decade.
But how much do you know about CBD? Let’s first look at CBD-dominant cannabis strains, and then go over five facts that every CBD user should know.
The advent of CBD-dominant cannabis
CBD-dominant cannabis (or high-CBD cannabis) are strains of cannabis that have been deliberately cultivated to have high amounts of CBD and reduced quantities of THC. Such strains include Charlotte’s Web – named after child epilepsy patient Charlotte Figi (who was treated with CBD oil extracted from this strain) – which boasts a 20:1 CBD to THC ratio. Cannatonic and Harlequin are two other well-known CBD-dominant strains.
Developers are always seeking new ways to maximize the bioavailability of CBD, with nanotechnology touted as the latest way to improve dosing efficiency.
Depending on the MMJ laws in your state, you may have access to CBD-dominant cannabis flower, or just CBD oil. There remains some opposition to the compound, particularly from the federal government, but lawmakers and federal agencies are starting to see the light – even the FDA recently admitted that CBD was “beneficial.”
1) CBD cures
The evidence is now unavoidable: CBD is a curative. Whether it’s mental ailments such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety or depression, or physical conditions like chronic pain and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), CBD can help. And our newfound knowledge of the compound and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in which it works is helping us to see why.
Anecdotal stories from cannabis and CBD users have told us for decades that marijuana is an effective form of treatment; but having the science to prove it has made it more possible than ever for cannabis activists to present the MMJ argument to politicians and the public.
2) The body makes its own cannabinoids (endocannabinoids)
CBD, THC and over 100 more cannabinoids are present in cannabis, mostly located in the resin glands (trichomes) of the plant. But after discovering the ECS in the 1990s, it became apparent that the human body creates many proteins – normally referred to as endocannabinoids – that closely resemble the cannabinoids found in marijuana. The ECS acts similarly to the central nervous system.
Cannabinoids, or cannabinoid-like compounds are present in vertebrate animals, some invertebrate animals and other plants. According to scientists, the ECS has been evolving in life forms for around 500 million years.
Anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamide, AEA – or “the bliss molecule”) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are two of the most important endocannabinoids – the prefix “endo” is derived from ‘endogenous’, which, in biological terms, stands for “growing or originating within an organism”. Endocannabinoids help to achieve homeostasis and balance in the body through neurotransmitter systems.
Cannabinoids derived from marijuana and other plants (CBD, THC, CBG etc.) are known as phytocannabinoids, and these can stimulate the ECS. Therefore, marijuana consumption can help to restore balance or achieve intended effects (e.g. the analgesic effects of CBD aid the reduction of pain perception).
Cannabinoid transmitters are found all over the body, in various organs, although many receptors are concentrated in the brain.
3) CBD is enhanced when combined with other cannabinoids
Unlike in decades past, today’s cannabis cultivators are aware of the cannabinoid concentrations in strains, and crossbreed with the goal of influencing those concentrations. Recreational growers have sought to increase the amounts of psychoactive THC. It’s only recently that CBD has even been on the agenda, as older medical marijuana legislation was based around THC too. But nowadays, companies including the Stanley Brothers cultivate with the sole agenda of increasing CBD potency.
Wild cannabis that has not been subjected to intense breeding will typically have even concentrations of CBD and THC.
Marijuana compounds are incredibly synergistic, and their effects tend to complement each other, which is why marijuana activists overwhelmingly favor whole-plant medicine to isolated medicine. For example, the psychoactive properties of THC are reduced by the anti-psychotic properties of CBD.
Today’s market consists of marijuana strains with 20:1 ratios of CBD to THC and vice versa. But there’s also a huge market for more balanced strains – the likes of Sour Tsunami boast a 1:1 CBD to THC ratio.
Strains with an equal balance of CBD and THC are thought to be the most therapeutic. In such a ratio, the CBD brings plenty of relaxation, alongside pleasurable levels of THC-induced euphoria. However, there can still be variation between strains with the same CBD to THC ratio, as the other cannabinoids and terpenes have their own effects, which we are yet to fully appreciate.
Terpenes are compounds credited for giving cannabis strains their unique scent. They can also be found elsewhere – myrcene, a terpene that increases THC absorption, is present in mangoes.
4) Pets can benefit from CBD medication
We mentioned that vertebrate animals also have endocannabinoid systems, so it makes sense that our pets can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of CBD too.
Animals, particularly with age. experience pain through injury or inflammation, and anxiety too. Pain can also make relaxation more difficult. For our pets, CBD isolate is preferable, since their bodies aren’t equipped to deal with the psychoactivity brought by THC.
More research is needed on how animals respond to CBD and other cannabinoids, although CBD is generally accepted and even promoted by some animal activists. However, if your pet takes other medication or if you have any other concerns, speak to your vet before you start giving your furry friend CBD.
5) CBD has a higher activation temperature than THC
Each cannabinoid and terpene activates at a different temperature. This isn’t a factor when smoking cannabis since the temperature of the flame by far exceeds any of the activation temperatures, but it does play a role in vaporizing. Until a cannabinoid is activated, it cannot oxidize, vaporize, evaporate, polymerize or even convert itself to a state in which our body can “use” it. When making edibles, the cannabis first has to be decarboxylated before it can be used as an ingredient.
While THC decarboxylates around 250°F, following 30 to 45 minutes of heating, CBD decarboxylates slightly higher, at 280°F, and should be heated for anywhere between an hour and 90 minutes.
When vaporizing these cannabinoids, the activation temperatures are considerably higher. To really extract as much CBD from your herb or oil, we recommend vaping at 400°F. Becoming informed about the activation temperatures of cannabinoids and terpenes can help you to create a cannabis experience tailored to your requirements.
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