Many people have heard about CBD, THC, hemp, marijuana and other compounds found in cannabis plants, but do you really know what they are and what they do? In order to understand how CBD may benefit you it is important to understand exactly how it and other parts of the hemp plant work.

What is CBD?

CBD is a cannabinoid. Now you make ask what exactly does that mean? Well, cannabinoids are complex chemical compounds that act on receptors in your cells. Cannabidiol or CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid produced by both the hemp and marijuana plants. Hemp and marijuana plants, though, have many differences. The primary difference is that marijuana grows with high percentages of THC which is the psychoactive compound that gives you the “high” associated with marijuana. Hemp on the other hand, has extremely low percentages of THC meaning you do not get high from the plant, but it has high percentages of CBD.

Studies have shown CBD to have many therapeutic effects including:

  • Antimetic – Reduces nausea and vomiting
  • Anticonvulsant—Suppresses seizure activity
  • Antipsychotic – Combats psychosis disorders
  • Anti-inflammatory—Combats inflammatory disorders
  • Antioxidant – Combats neurodegenerative disorders
  • Anxiolytic/Antidepressant—Combats anxiety and depression disorders

What are Cannabinoids?

When the hemp plant grows it produces many different cannabinoids including CBDA, CBCA, and so on. These cannabinoids are acidic and viewed as an “inactive” until they are heated in some way. When hemp is heated either through smoking, cooking, vaporization, or in a lab, a process called decarboxylation occurs. Decarboxylation turns acidic cannabinoids like CBDA into active cannabinoids like CBD.  There are a whole host of cannabinoids that can occur in hemp or marijuana plants including:

  • CBD—Analgesic, anti-anxiety, anti-bacterial, anti-convulsive, anti-depressant, anti-emetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-insomnia, anti-ischemic, antipsychotic, antispasmodic, immunosuppressive, neuroprotectant
  • CBC— Analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-depressant, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-insomnia
  • CBG— Analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-depressant, anti-fungal
  • CBN – Mild psychotropic, analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-convulsive, anti-inflammatory, anti-insomnia
  • THC – Psychotropic, analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, appetite stimulant, bronchodilator, neuroprotectant.

What are Terpenes?

The hemp plant also has something called terpenes in the plant that you may have heard about. Terpenes in different hemp strains give them their distinct aromas. Terpenes are used by the plants to attract pollinators like honeybees, and to repel pests and insects that would eat the plants. But terpenes have been used by humans for beauty and pharmaceutical products for centuries. Now you may ask what some of the different terpenes in the plant are, what are their benefits and what smell does it create. Well, here is a list to help you understand some of the different terpenes you would find in the plant and what some of its benefits are and what aroma it creates.

Terpene Benefit Aroma
Alpha & Beta Pinene Analgesic, Antibacterial, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant Pine, Earthy
Borneol Analgesic, Antibacterial, Anti-Fungal, Anti-Insomnia, Antioxidant Spicy, Cinnamon
Terpinolene Antibacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant Smokey, Woody
Eucalyptol Analgesic, Antibacterial, Anti-Fungal, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant Minty, Sweet
Beta-Caryophyllene Analgesic, Antibacterial, Antidepressant, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant, Anxiolitic, Neuroprotectant Spicy, Pepper
Beta-Myrcene Analgesic, Antibacterial, Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Insomnia, Antipsychotic, Antispasmodic Sweet, Hoppy
Linalool Analgesic, Antidepressant, Anti-Epileptic, Anti-Inflammatory, Antipsychotic, Anxiolytic, Sedative Floral, Lavender
L & D-Limonene Antidepressant, Antifungal, Anti-Inflammatory, Anxiolytic, Immunostimulant Citrus

How Should CBD Be Made?

When you make a CBD product it is not just as easy as adding CBD to a bottle or tin. High quality products are made in labs with strict quality control standards. A quality CBD manufacturer will work to ensure that both CBD and terpenes are present in the product and at the necessary concentrations, so you receive the full benefit of the product.

You will also want to make sure that your product is not loaded with all kinds of filler instead of high-quality CBD, terpenes, other cannabinoids and essential oils. Many products tout CBD’s ability to work as an anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and analgesic, but if the product does not have the right terpenes included it will not be as effective. If the CBD product has been combined with additional cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant it will limit its impact.

Products that include parts of the whole plant are referred to as either full-spectrum or broad-spectrum. There is evidence to suggest that something called the “Entourage Effect” exists, which suggests that CBD is more effective in combination with parts of the whole hemp plant and not just CBD by itself.

Concentration of CBD

The next factor to consider when sourcing your CBD is to look at how concentrated the product is. Simply put, if you are not using a concentrated product, then you will not receive the benefits of CBD or the other compounds included in the product. The objective when taking any CBD product is to attain an adequate amount of CBD in the body that is safe and effective for its intended use. The effects are different depending on how you administer the product either oral, sublingual, transdermal, or others.

Many companies would add 500mg of CBD to a 30mL or 60mL bottle, which can confuse the customers who thinks that because they are getting a larger bottle, they are getting more CBD. However, what you are getting in this case is a diluted CBD product.

The easiest way to understand this concept is to think about ordering a drink at a bar. If you were to order a vodka and tonic, and you were given one shot of vodka in an 8-ounce glass and the rest was filled with tonic, or you were given one shot of vodka in a 24-ounce glass and the rest was filled with tonic, which would have a higher alcohol concentration?

While both glasses would have the same amount of alcohol, the 24-ounce glass of alcohol would be more diluted. The vodka in the 24-ounce glass would not cause intoxication because your body would metabolize the alcohol before it reaches your blood stream. This same concept is true for CBD that is too diluted. If you are using a CBD product that has 500mg per 30mL, your body will metabolize that CBD before it reaches your blood stream. That is why we typically recommend a product that at least has 500mg per 10mL.

Third-Party Testing

In addition to making sure that your product is not too diluted you should also want to know what is inside of the product. Reputable CBD companies will have an independent, third-party lab check their distilled CBD products for pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins. Once the CBD company receives the lab results back and they are sure that the products they have received from the farm are a high quality, they will then use it to make their various products. After their products are completed, they should then send them back to a third-party lab to test the products a second time to ensure they have the cannabinoid content that is advertised on the product.

Reputable companies will do everything they can to ensure you are getting the both the safest products and to ensure it is the consistency of what is advertised on the label. If your product does not follow all these steps it is time to move on to a different brand.