Discover the basics of CBD with our CBD 101 blog series. When it comes to buying CBD products, information is power. Understanding CBD makes it easy to choose products that actually work for you and your wellness needs.
When you invest in the right CBD products, you save money, become more self-aware, and supply yourself with the tools you need for accessible, long-term holistic wellness.
What is CBD?
What are the potential benefits of CBD?
History of Hemp and CBD Use
What's the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
What is CBD?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a plant part found in the hemp plant (also known as: Cannabis sativa, cannabis, marijuana, weed). The CBD found in hemp-derived oils is what people who work with plants call a phyto (Latin for “from a plant”) cannabinoid.
Does CBD get you high?
No. CBD actually does the opposite of getting you high. CBD blocks your body’s ability to absorb or soak up THC, the part of the cannabis plant that does get you high.
What’s the difference between CBD and THC?
CBD and THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol) are both plant parts (“phytocannabinoids”) found in the cannabis plant. CBD and THC are the plant parts you hear the most about because cannabis is full of them. CBD and THC act on your body in opposite ways. THC is psychoactive and has a really strong effect on how you process things mentally.
While CBD does affect your mood, CBD’s uplifting feelings are subtle and indirect (if you are dosing properly!), building up over time with regular daily use of CBD. Think of CBD like a vitamin or supplement for your body’s stress management system. CBD alone won’t intoxicate you like alcohol or THC.
What are the benefits of CBD?
The benefits of CBD are many! While research is still ongoing, we’re discovering more with each passing day. There’s a focus on CBD as a potential treatment for anxiety and depression, using CBD to fight sleeplessness and insomnia, and CBD benefits for boosting fitness recovery by getting rid of excess inflammation. Research on the benefits of CBD relief for inflammation is especially exciting because it positions CBD as being able to offer real anti-inflammatory pain relief for people with endometriosis, for those struggling with arthritis, and for others (like cancer patients!) that battle serious pain daily.
Is CBD legal?
Yes! When the Farm Bill was passed in late 2018, CBD and the plant that it comes from, hemp, were both legalized federally in the United States.
How much do we really know about CBD?
Not enough, that’s for sure! CBD research in the scientific community is fairly recent because of the misinformed stigma around cannabis use, the pothead culture, and the War on Drugs. A lot of things have kept this powerful herb and potential medicine out of the hands of those that need it since the early 20th century.
Hemp, or cannabis with 0.3% or less THC (that thing that gets you high), was only just made legal in the US at the end of 2018. The government is still trying to figure out how to regulate the CBD industry, leaving many CBD brands and CBD itself somewhere between “magical herb” and “scientific medicine”.
Human trials with CBD are definitely lacking because scientific research involving humans (and not rats!) are expensive. Because of the government’s uncertainty regarding CBD regulation and all of the misinformed public opinion regarding CBD and the cannabis plant, funding CBD research usually depends on activist fundraising and the donations of wealthy people who have the money to spare.
What’s the history behind CBD use?
It may surprise you to find out that medicinal use of CBD, hemp, and cannabis isn’t anything new. The earliest mention of medicinal hemp use was 5,000 years ago!
- Ancient Chinese Emperor Shennong prescribed hemp (known to the Ancient Chinese as “ma”) and its plant part, CBD, both topically and in tea to treat menstrual pains, gout, rheumatism, malaria, constipation, and even (yes!) absentmindedness.
- Records of this can be found in the Ancient Chinese medical encyclopedia called Pen T’Sao.
Of course, hemp’s use as a sturdy plant fiber for textiles (paper, clothing, rope) dates back more than 10,000 years.
- Even Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew hemp back in the day for clothing and other utility-based purposes.
- The hemp used for CBD oil is very different from the hemp used for textiles, of course, but that is a subject for part two and three of our CBD 101 blog series.
Medicinal hemp use wasn’t only present in Ancient China, either! Indians have long considered cannabis (known to them as “bhang”) a holy herb.
- Wandering holy men called Sadhus have historically smoked cannabis to achieve enlightenment.
- The Vedas, an ancient Indian religious text, directly mentions the positive use of cannabis to relax the body and uplift the mind by Shiva (one of the supreme beings or deities in Hinduism).
- During the Middle Ages, Western soldiers took a swig of whiskey for liquid courage while Indians and other Eastern soldiers consumed cannabis for spiritual empowerment.
As recently as the 1800s, Victorians in England were reading about “haseesh candy” in their local gazette and using it to treat “Nervousness, Weakness, Melancholy, confusion of thoughts, etc.”
Why the stigma surrounding cannabis use today?
It wasn’t until the 1930s and Henry J. Anslinger that we started viewing hemp and cannabis as something very different from what it is.
- Anslinger used cannabis as his poster child for the War on Drugs, establishing the DEA (the Drug Enforcement Agency).
- Anslinger accomplished this by broadcasting straight-up lies about cannabis causing murder and rape and tying it to the influx (and economic threat) of immigrants from Mexico.
One man’s actions made us go back thousands of years. In the process, we lost a lot of knowledge. Today, those who have discovered the benefits of CBD and cannabis are still struggling to erase the stigma of Anslinger’s campaign against cannabis. Unfortunately, Anslinger’s violence against cannabis is still present everywhere and dominates public opinion.
What’s the Endocannabinoid System?
Pictured below: A portion of Gold Leaf's "Endocannabinoid System" print. The red and blue-green dots represent various receptors throughout the body that react to cannabinoids (both those our bodies make and those we ingest from plants). Together these receptors map out a rough outline of our body's Endocannabinoid System.
The Endocannabinoid System, known as the ECS for short, is a crucial biological system that evolved about 500 million years ago and can be found in any animal that has a spine.
- We’re not taught about this system in school thanks to the stigma around cannabis and the lasting legacy of Anslinger’s demonization of this wonderful, medicinal herb.
- The ECS was discovered in 1992 at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. 30 years have passed since then and we still have a lot left to be learned about the ECS.
Unlike other biological systems, the ECS is hard to pinpoint internally. The receptors that activate the functions of your ECS can be found sprinkled throughout the entire body: in your skin, organs, brain, you name it.
How the Health of your Endocannabinoid System Impacts Your Quality of Life
The ECS is your body’s first line of defense against stress and everything stress involves (inflammation, pain, anxiety, depression). While we know that the ECS plays a crucial role in pregnancy and fertility, we are still uncovering the how and why behind ECS's involvement in reproductive functions.
The ECS is what keeps your body, mind, and spirit feeling balanced.
- It’s vital in maintaining your body’s homeostasis (the balance of all your body’s internal functions: physical, mental, and emotional).
- The ECS manages things like memory and learning, sleep, appetite, energy metabolism, pain, inflammation, mood, skin and nerve function, cardiovascular system function, muscle formation, bone remodeling, and so much more.
When our ECS becomes overloaded by things like stress, it prioritizes your body's survival over your body's internal balance. This can be very dangerous for your health, both in the short-term and in the long-term!
When your ECS is out wack, when your work-life balance isn't optimal, your body and mind feel the consequences. That's why it's vital to make maintaining your ECS a priority. Remember: ongoing scientific research strongly suggests that the health of your ECS is directly responsible for your quality of life.
Endocannabinoids and CBD as a Potential Supplement
Our ECS produces things called endo (Latin for “from the interior”) cannabinoids that help all of the body's functions run smoothly. Recent research indicates that a lot of chronic pain conditions may be caused by an endocannabinoid deficiency, or our bodies producing a less-than-ideal amount of our own endocannabinoids.
This is precisely why Alter Native chooses to view CBD and hemp as a supplement or vitamin for the ECS.
As a phyto (“from a plant”) cannabinoid, CBD may give our bodies the cannabinoids it needs if we’re experiencing a deficiency, regardless of whether that deficiency is chronic or caused by our bodies rerouting resources because of things like physical injury or mental stress.
What is hemp and how is it different from the weed that gets me high?
Hemp is cannabis that is grown to have less than 0.3% THC (the legal limit for THC federally). To learn more about the CBD-dominant hemp vs. THC-dominant marijuana, read CBD 101: The Science Behind the Plant!
Disclaimer: This blog post and any recommendations made within this blog post have not been approved by the FDA. This blog post should not be regarded as making any medical claims, offering any medical advice, or as offering criteria for diagnosis.
You should always consult a doctor before incorporating CBD use for daily wellness, especially if you are
- taking other medications;
- are nursing or pregnant;
- have or suspect having a medical condition.
You should never replace medication prescribed to you by a doctor without consulting them first. CBD research is ongoing and any strong statements made within this blog post should be regarded as the opinion of the writer.