CBD is the it cannabinoid right now—it’s simply everywhere. You’ll find it as an ingredient in things like lip gloss, bath soaks and bombs, soaps, moisturizers, pet treats, chocolate, olive oil, personal lubricant, muscle rubs and cookies. Of course it’s also available in tinctures and pills meant to do everything from reducing PMS symptoms to alleviating anxiety.
CBD has a fiercely devoted fan base, and new promising products seem to be popping up every day. This popularity is likely tied to the fact that many of the items containing CBD claim a wide array of seductive benefits, from treating insomnia and working as an anti-inflammatory all the way to potentially reducing PTSD and seizures.
We’ve all got problems; some of them literally keep us awake at night. With all the fanfare around CBD, you might be wondering if it can cure what ails you. This beginner’s guide to CBD will help you better understand the cannabinoid, what it does and how it can help.
What Is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It is one of the many (more than 100) cannabinoids identified in cannabis and is similar to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is responsible for the high associated with consuming marijuana. Unlike THC, though, CBD is nonpsychoactive, meaning it doesn’t produce a high, because the two components act differently on brain and body receptors.
While there’s still a great deal of research to be done, CBD is being studied intensely right now due to its potential as a safe, nonaddictive substance that appears to offer users some relief from symptoms related to a slew of illnesses and conditions.
If you’d like to explore the reported health benefits of cannabis without the sensation of feeling stoned, CBD might be right for you.
How Do You Use CBD?
CBD can be used in a wide variety of ways. It’s available in tinctures and pills, and it can be mixed into food or drink. If vaping or smoking is more your style, you can find high-CBD strains or CBD-only extracts. You can also get your CBD through a variety of products like lotions or scrubs (there are even personal lubricants containing CBD).
Each method has a varying degree of usefulness, depending on what conditions it is intended to treat and who is using it. For example, consuming tinctures might be more useful for fighting inflammation than smoking or vaping, but smoking or vaping CBD could be extremely useful to someone trying to quit cigarettes or reduce or eliminate their nicotine intake. But then there are some who experience little to no benefit from using it.
Why Use CBD At All?
Some evidence suggests that CBD has therapeutic and healing properties, such as the capacity to lessen the regularity of seizures, help treat insomnia, minimize panic attacks, treat certain types of depression and anxiety, and reduce pain, arthritis and inflammation and more. While much of this evidence is anecdotal, it points to the idea that CBD may offer help to those who need relief but have not been able to find it using traditional medicine. In addition, hearsay or not, the mountains of positive feedback leave little doubt that there is, in fact, something to THC’s sister component. At the very least, some people have found remarkable relief through the use of CBD.
How Do I Get Started With CBD?
Trista Okel, the creator of Empower, a line of CBD and cannabis health and beauty products that includes personal lubricants, lotions, rubs and tinctures, suggests starting with a topical, or a product that is used by being applied to the skin. “Topical products aren’t psychoactive,” she said. “Soaking in a bath with the salts and then applying an oil [such as Empower’s Topical Relief Oil] is a powerful combo for relief and relaxation.”
Dr. Jenelle Kim, who has spent the last 15 years developing natural products for high-end spas and outlets such as the Ritz-Carlton and Whole Foods, said that makeup is a safe and easy way to dip one’s toe in.
“Beauty products containing CBD are a wonderful way to be introduced into the world of benefits that CBD provides,” Kim said. “When incorporating balanced CBD formulations into your daily regimen, which is the main goal coming from an Eastern medical, herbology perspective, you will experience great results.”
Will It Work For Me?
Like any product or medicine on the market, individual results may vary. While many users champion this so-called miracle drug, there are some who were disappointed with their experiences.
John Garrett, a Tacoma-based writer and film producer, tried using CBD to help manage his debilitating anxiety. “I’d only heard amazing things about CBD oil,” he said, “but after trying four different products, nothing.”
Still, many other users have experienced the exact opposite. Monika T. from Northern California claimed to have a condition cured by cannabis. “FECO [full extract cannabis oils] cured my cutaneous follicle lymphoma,” she said. Monika found relief with cannabinoids, but they are not a panacea, and it is extremely important to discuss serious medical conditions with your physician, and to find out if CBD use is advisable when receiving other treatments.
Clint Alan McCown and Yvonne Ybarra are an Austin-based couple who both use CBD for their ailments—Clint for sleep issues and Yvonne for pain from a dance-related injury. “I’ve been using it for three years,” Clint explained. “My girlfriend [Yvonne] cried tears of joy after three days of use.”
Bryan Neustein, a wine broker in the Los Angeles area, is another customer singing CBD’s high praises. “I love it and use it daily,” he raved. “It really helps my sciatica and insomnia. Plus, my friend’s 3-year-old who suffers from micro-seizures says it has completely stopped the seizures once he started taking it.”
With encouraging examples such as these, it’s no wonder CBD has enjoyed such widespread enthusiasm and popularity. But it’s up to each person to examine the facts and information carefully and decide if CBD is worth trying. Concerns might include an (albeit rare) allergy to cannabis, the fact that many CBD products can be cost-prohibitive and the challenge of where to find it—though, with its ever-increasing popularity, finding CBD is becoming less and less of a problem.
A conversation with a medical professional won’t hurt and is, in fact, encouraged. Though there are few issues on record with negative drug interactions or ill effects of CBD on children, people who are pregnant, lactating or taking certain prescription drugs should proceed with caution and careful consideration.
But Will It Get Me High?
No. Empower’s Trista Okel shares the details behind why, for example, a topical lotion containing CBD can’t get a user high, yet can offer pain relief.
“The cannabinoid molecules, such as CBD, are large and don’t reach the bloodstream when applied to the skin,” she said. “CBD does go deep enough to activate the TRPV-1 and PPAR-gamma receptors in the skin and suppress the TNF-alpha enzyme; all of these actions result in reducing pain and inflammation.”
Taking CBD internally is nonintoxicating too. However, some users report feeling some physical sensations or a calmness when they consume CBD. Others compare CBD to drinking a half a glass of wine or a Valium, and report anxiety and stress reduction when used via tincture drops in a beverage, for example.
Benefits of CBD
As mentioned, CBD use has been associated via anecdotal evidence and some research with the reduction of insomnia, rheumatoid arthritis, PTSD, certain types of seizures, anxiety, muscle pain and inflammation, stress and anxiety, eczema and a host of other illnesses and conditions. Many of these health concerns allow for patients to legally obtain a medical-marijuana card from their doctor.
CBD isn’t a miracle drug and shouldn’t be treated as such. But it serves a whole slew of purposes with varying degrees of success, and many people find the upside of giving it a try to greatly outweigh the potential hazards.
What About Pets?
Pets are included in the bevy of anecdotal evidence supporting the benefits of CBD.
Holly DeRito, an NYC-based animal activist and entrepreneur behind cannabuddykitchen.com, created her own line of CBD products for pets that are safe enough for human use as well. “It tremendously helped my fibromyalgia and the anxiety in my dog,” she said. “My own veterinarian started buying my topical salve for his bulldog’s arthritis after his pharmaceutical resources stopped helping. He found it the only thing that gave her relief.”
DeRito explained that CBD has also helped dogs that her animal-rescue organization, waggytailrescue.org, has helped foster, helping them to adjust to scary new environments and to travel calmly.
When choosing CBD products for a pet (or human), be sure to read the ingredients in order to ensure that it’s coming from a safe source.
Not All CBD IS Created Equal?
Unfortunately, no. Just like any food item, lotion, beauty product or consumable, CBD is subject to being produced improperly or cheaply. Some manufacturers may add fillers or subpar ingredients to cut their own expenses and make more of a profit.
When selecting a CBD product, it’s best to look for those companies that have their testing information available on the packaging or via a QR code. With this, a consumer can then analyze the product’s certificate of analysis on the company’s website.
So, as with any health-related product, make sure to read, research, get recommendations and ask for advice in order to find the best-quality items when trying to use CBD to soothe whatever ails you.
Originally published in the July, 2019 issue of High Times magazine