CBD has become one of the biggest trends the health and wellness industry has ever witnessed, and the takeover has only just begun.
While CBD was first successfully extracted by American chemist Roger Adams in 1940, it is fair to say that it has only really hit the mainstream in the past few years. This has meant that scientific research is somewhat thin on the ground, but things have also picked up in this regard in recent years.
This increase in research has been a response to the steep rise in consumer interest in recent years. Ultimately, the big winner in this has been the consumer themselves. While initially, anyone hoping to try CBD would have been limited to CBD oil in tincture form – i.e. a small bottle with a dropper, there now exists an abundance of exciting and innovative products. This ranges from dissolvable sublingual wafers, to CBD vapes, to topical CBD patches and given you can now buy CBD online, it could not be easier.
The issue here is that the choice can often be overwhelming, particularly for a first-time user. This article will aim to provide some clarification as to what product may be best for you.
First of all, for the less disposed readers, we must briefly cover what exactly CBD is.
What is CBD?
While there are over 100 different cannabinoids retained within the cannabis plant that can be extracted, for the purpose of this article we focus on just the two most active components. These are cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC.
THC is the key psychoactive component that exists within the cannabis plant. This particular cannabinoid is responsible for the ‘high’ that cannabis induces. This is how cannabis is typically portrayed in popular culture.
CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive. This means that it does not impact the way the user’s brain functions, yet still retains a glut of health benefits. Some recent studies have suggested that CBD actually counteracts the psycho-activity caused by THC.
There are three key types of CBD that everyone should be aware of for good reason:
CBD Isolate – This is essentially as it sounds – isolated CBD. It is the purest form of CBD available and is removed of all other cannabinoids. CBD isolate can usually be bought as a crystalised form or as a powder.Broad Spectrum CBD – Broad spectrum is something of a middle ground. It contains a ncie range of cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes but contains strictly no THC.Full Spectrum CBD – This contains all of the above, as well as including trace amounts of THC. The legal limit of THC products varies by country, but in relation to the UK, this threshold stands at 0.2%.
Now, let us move on to look at the various CBD delivery methods available to the consumer in depth. We will begin with by far the most popular CBD product – CBD oil tincture.
CBD oil stands very much on its own in terms of reputation when it comes to comparing CBD products. It was the first delivery method to be mass marketed to the mainstream and has been readily available, in countries where it was legal, since 2005. It is also the delivery method of choice for the majority of first-time users – largely due to its prominence.
CBD oil typically comes in a small bottle, or vial, with a dropper attached to the bottom of the lid that allows the user to transfer the oil from bottle to mouth. During the manufacturing process, the CBD will be combined with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or. most commonly, MCT oil. This promotes the dissolution of the CBD.
While it may not be the easiest product to actually use and dose accurately, it is undoubtedly effective when used correctly.
The CBD oil must be taken sublingually (under the tongue) in order to retain its efficacy. The reason for this is that our digestive system is very effective at breaking down CBD, with studies placing the percentage that is broken down anywhere between 70-90%. By holding it under the tongue for 60 seconds, where there is a high concentration of capillaries, the CBD can enter the user’s bloodstream with ease.
While largely dependent on your choice of CBD oil, most require 3-4 doses a day. This can be inconvenient for many, particularly when the process of consumption is not straightforward. On the other hand, this can be seen as a blessing as it allows you greater leeway and room for experimentation when it comes to dosage.
Achieving the correct dosage is a challenge for many, as there are a multitude of individual factors that effect this including body mass, lifestyle and metabolism. CBD oil is a fairly agile choice in this regard as you can accurately alter your dosing with ease. This is not the case with more standardised products, such as CBD capsules or CBD patches.
Topical CBD patches are a great option for those who require the least disruption to their routine and don’t have time to mess around with dosing. CBD patches typically last for around 24 hours. Simply place one on your arm in the morning and you won’t need to replace it until the next morning. In the intervening period, you will receive a consistent dose of CBD across the 24 hours.
The science behind CBD patches is incredibly simple. It is no different to that which underpins nicotine patches, which have been available for almost 40 years. They are similar to a standard sized plaster, but simply have CBD formulated into the adhesive.
The micro-needling technology within the patch then provides a concentration gradient that allows the CBD to pass from the adhesive, into the user’s bloodstream. This is then delivered at a consistent rate over 24 hours. The patch can also be removed and then reapplied if required.
CBD patches have a particularly high bioavailability, which means that very little of the CBD gets broken down. This is because the CBD is delivered directly into the bloodstream, rather than passing through the digestive system, as is the case with ingestible CBD products. In fact, a number of studies that assess the CBD level in the user’s blood have assessed that CBD patches have a bioavailability three times greater that of ingestibles.
They are also a great choice of delivery method for those suffering with chronic pain issues. The reason for this is that there is no tapering off period, as there would be with CBD oil or CBD capsules, which must be taken numerous times a day. This will also help the user to achieve a good night of sleep, as there would be no need to wake up in the middle of the night to top up your dose.
CBD patches should be placed on a dry venous area of the body, such as the inner wrist or the outside of the top of the arm. Alternatively, one may apply the patch to the area where the pain is most prominent. This will allow the CBD to reach the required area in less time than if it were placed on the arm or wrist.
Last, but certainly not least, we will cover CBD capsules. While many of you may be left wondering why you would purchase a product with lower bioavailability, we will assess the reasons why they are popular below.
Firstly, CBD capsules are essentially as they sound. Typically, they come in a soft gel capsule, with CBD oil suspended inside and are consumed just like any other supplement. This provides a degree of discretion for many, particularly those working in corporate environments with more regimented routines.
While they are quite slow to work, as they have to pass through the digestive system, they also last a reasonably long period of time. Most CBD capsules are recommended to be consumed twice a day, but this is largely dependent on the milligrams of CBD within each capsule.
Bearing in mind the significant proportion of CBD that is broken down by the digestive system, it is worth slightly overcompensating on your dosage in order to reap the full benefits.
One key advantage that CBD capsules hold over CBD oil is the absence of taste. While that can be an odd thing to read at first, particularly if you have not tried the latter, CBD oil has a notoriously earthy taste to it which turns away many users. CBD capsules have no taste to them and are easy to consume with any drink. This can be particularly helpful if you are battling nausea, or another ailment which makes you slightly queasy.
CBD capsules are also incredibly convenient for those who travel frequently. Not only are they more discreet, but there is also no risk of spillages. Anyone who has spilled a bottle of CBD oil before will know just how disheartening that can be!
One oft-overlooked aspect of CBD is how it is used, and this goes for any delivery method that you may choose.
CBD builds up within the body’s endocannabinoid system over a period of time. Many people use CBD incorrectly, in a similar fashion to paracetamol or ibuprofen, and only take it when they feel discomfort. This couldn’t be more incorrect.
There is no definitive ‘feeling’ when taking CBD, it is in fact more noticeable when you stop taking it and your ailments that it had been helping will resurface. In order to promote proper efficacy, CBD must be taken on a consistent basis for 8-10 weeks.
Finally, be sure to also seek a Certificate of Authenticity from the retailer that you decide to buy the CBD from. This will provide peace of mind that the product is manufactured to a high standard and is also absent of harmful additives including pesticides and heavy metals.