There are over 100 different cannabinoids in cannabis plants. These compounds bind to or influence specific endocannabinoid receptors found in the human body, most notably those in the immune and neurological systems. Cannabinoids are what give us the effects of cannabis, such as relaxation, euphoria, and the “high” associated with marijuana use.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive effects. For this reason, it is the most widely studied. However, as scientists learn more about cannabinoids, they are discovering the benefits of cannabidiol, or CBD, which is non-psychoactive and cannot make users stoned. In fact, CBD is fast becoming the most popular of all cannabinoids for its many medical uses.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, many studies now show CBD combating the psychoactive effects of too much THC, which is why science shows CBD safe for kids, animals, and those who would prefer not to feel the “high” associated with weed use. Near daily now, researchers are uncovering new therapeutic uses for CBD, of which there are many known already.
Back in 1990, almost accidentally, Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli chemist, discovered the endocannabinoid system and its role in regulating most bodily functions, including pain perception, emotions, memory, motor control, immune function, and more. This system contains specific receptors, namely CB1 and CB2, which transports endocannabinoids throughout the brain and body.
Cannabinoids are compatible with the endocannabinoid system, able to attach and manipulate these receptors naturally. THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain, making users “high.” However, CBD influences CB2 receptors in the immune system, reducing inflammation, killing pain, and improving immune response to a horde of physical ailments. It also boosts the immune system itself.
A comprehensive 2012 review of several studies, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, highlights the benefits of CBD oil. Results showed CBD with potent antiemetic, anticonvulsant, anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antidepressant properties. This is why CBD is fast becoming the go-to solution for treating near everything, from pain to seizures, even cancer.
Consuming CBD Oil
There are many ways to consume CBD, but for it to be effective, the body must absorb it. It must find its way from the point of administration to the bloodstream, which then transports it around the body where it can interact with the endocannabinoid receptors, as well as others, including the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A and the vanilloid receptor TRPV-1.
How you consume CBD will make all the difference. Called the route of administration, how you take it will affect the uptake, distribution, and elimination of CBD throughout the body. This information is crucial, since the method you opt for will determine just how effective CBD therapy will be for you, and whether it will help you overcome your health problems.
However, you will need to experiment some with different methods of delivery to find which works best for you. There are tinctures, edibles, topicals, smokable flowers, concentrates, vaping oils. You can even buy hemp oil in capsules. Remember, though, that the body absorbs CBD in various ways, which will greatly influence how it affects you and how long it takes to work.
There are two ways to inhale CBD: Either you can smoke CBD-rich strains low in THC in joints, bongs, pipes, or vaporizers, or you can vape concentrated CBD extract, which is notably more potent. Most prefer to inhale CBD, since this is the fastest route of administration. Your body absorbs it very quickly and effects are almost immediate. This is ideal for those needing relief now and not later.
Inhaling CBD works well because there are few barriers to absorption. You inhale it directly into your lungs. Your alveoli absorb it instantly and send it into the bloodstream within seconds. Additionally, the lungs promise a large surface area for absorption, helping to quicken effects. In comparison to other methods of consumption, inhaling absorbs the most CBD at once and it does so faster, as well.
CBD edibles are becoming increasingly popular, as are CBD oil drops and hemp oil in capsules. They are convenient and easy to dose. However, ingesting CBD, whether in food or drops, is a lengthy process that can take up to two hours to feel. You also lose much of the potency along the way. When swallowed, it must first travel through the digestive tract, into the hepatic portal system, into the portal vein, and finally on to the liver.
Once it reaches the liver, processes become even more complicated. According a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the liver is not particularly effective at metabolizing CBD compounds. Called the “first pass effect,” specific enzymes, namely CYP450 oxidases, break down the CBD, thinning potency significantly before it ever reaches the bloodstream.
Despite the ease and convenience of ingesting CBD, the method is not ideal. It is not particularly efficient at absorbing CBD, which means you need to consume much higher doses, or at providing immediate relief. However, the U.S. National Library of Medicine published another study suggesting that eating fatty acids with CBD could help to bypass the “first pass effect” and boost absorption rates.
There is another way to ingest CBD, and that is sublingually. Swishing CBD oil around inside the mouth and holding it under the tongue for a minute or so will enable absorption via mucus membranes. Effects are much faster than swallowing it, as this method avoids the digestive system and liver entirely. Because CBD does not travel through the stomach or metabolize in the liver, you feel it quicker.
When you apply CBD topically, such as in creams, ointments or bath salts, it will never enter the bloodstream. This method targets a localized area, such as sore muscles or joints. CB1 receptors in the skin provide topical relief, but human skin is not particularly permeable. In fact, it blocks most substances from entering the body, providing much needed protection from external toxins.
Cannabinoids cannot penetrate all the skin layers to reach the bloodstream. Absorption rates are dismal. For this reason, to ensure CBD topicals work, you need to smear them onto your skin very generously, enough to penetrate the top layers at least. This is why you need topicals to contain extremely high levels of CBD, as well, as this will aid in localized absorption.
Transdermal patches rich in CBD are the only topical products able to penetrate the skin barrier and enter the bloodstream. According to the U.S. Library of Medicine, transdermal application of CBD is highly efficient at crossing the skin-blood barrier. By its very definition, transdermal means it is able to penetrate the skin deep enough to find its way into the bloodstream, albeit it rather slowly.
Whether you consume hemp oil in capsules or vaporizers, it will provide relief, either quickly or not. You can administer CBD in other ways too, such as via suppositories or direct injection. Both methods are fast, effective, and efficient, but they are not popular for obvious reasons. The only way to know the best method of consumption for you is to try the various methods and decide which works best for you.