This section was written to help provide a cursory view of the fast emerging and ever changing world of Cannabis. We’re offering this as a quick introduction to help you navigate some of the terms and concepts you may hear. It by no means is exhaustive nor does it represent advice. We encourage you to preform research on your own. The questions & answers below piece can serve as a nice starting point.
What is CBD?
CBD or Cannabidiol is one of the naturally-occurring compounds found in the Cannabis Sativa L. plant. There are over 100 compounds, which are referred to as cannabinoids; the two most popular being CBD and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). CBD is the most prevalent compound in the plant and, unlike THC, doesn’t give you the psychoactive feeling or the “high” feeling people often refer to.
This plant is not a new discovery, but little was known about this compound until the 2014 Farm Bill, which permitted research of CBD. Early research does suggest there may be some benefits to taking CBD. This research shows CBD interacts with our Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and may help our body with anxiety, pain relief, inflammation, seizures, depression, acne, and nerve regeneration. It’s important to note all research is preliminary and ongoing.
Will CBD make me high? How will this impact a drug test?
The short answer is "no". Currently, all CBD-infused products are to contain less than .03% THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). This amount of THC is not enough to make you "high". Someone who uses CBD may experience drowsiness, decreased anxiety, or even relaxation when taking CBD. But, to be clear, you will not become "high" if you choose to use a CBD-infused oil, tincture, edible, or other product.
While you will not become high, it is possible you may generate a false positive on a drug test.
What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
Our bodies are made up of several systems such as the nervous system, and the reproductive system. We also have an endocannabinoid system. Discovered in the 1990s, this system is found in all mammals and is responsible for regulating the body, or keeping it in “homeostasis.” Homeostasis is essential to keeping our internal environment optimal regardless of what’s going on externally. This system continuously monitors functions like your temperature, hormones, and heart rate. If your body is not in homeostasis, the ECS responds.
The ECS uses a series of transmitters and receptors to help maintain homeostasis. The two most widely-known transmitters, anandamide and 2-AG, are found throughout the body. These transmitters connect with receptors, CB1 and CB2. These receptors are found throughout the body, but in general, we see the CB1 receptor in the brain and central nervous system. Activation of CB1 plays a direct role in memory and cognition, emotion, motor control, appetite stimulation, and perception of pain. The CB2 receptor is predominately in the immune system, in tissues and organs. Activating the CB2 receptor, can relax the body, help it repair itself and reduce the sensation of pain.
When the body doesn’t produce enough of these receptors or endocannabinoids to regulate itself, it’s possible to fall out of homeostasis and even to develop longer-term ailments like depression, inflammation, insomnia, autoimmune disorders and chronic pain.
How might CBD help with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
While the research for CBD is evolving, it does suggest CBD may help the Endocannabinoid System. CBD is known to stimulate the ECS and help promote homeostasis in the body. CBD doesn’t bind directly with cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), but instead, it stimulates the endocannabinoid system to produce its own cannabinoids. In addition, it slows their breakdown of these receptors by inhibiting the FAAH enzyme, so the endocannabinoids can stay in your body for longer. This can help give your ECS a little boost in restoring your body back to health. When the right amount of CBD is added to the body, balance begins to return, and the body begins to heal itself.
What are terpenes? And why are they important?
You might have recently come across the word “terpenes” when learning about CBD, but did you know terpenes are actually all around you, spanning way beyond the world of CBD? In fact, these organic compounds are more prevalent than you may think. There are over 20,000 of these organic compounds, and they are responsible for giving plants their smell and flavor. For example, when you are smelling pine trees or biting into an orange, you are smelling and tasting the terpenes that give the pine tree and orange its smell and flavor. Even the smell of lavender is a terpene!
When we think of terpenes and CBD, they’re usually a handful of terpenes commonly referred to:
- Myrcene The most common terpene in cannabis and in hemp. This terpene is usually recognized by its earthy smell. It’s a highly sedating terpene, so be prepared!
- Limonene Common in citrus, it is highly-energetic and a known antidepressant. Next time you’re cleaning, take a look at the back of the label to see if your cleaning agent has this terpenoid!
- Terpinolene A smoky or woody aroma that is slightly sedative, antioxidant, anti-cancer and antibacterial. Terpinolene is used in cleaning agents, as well as fragrances.
- Beta-Caryophyllene Sometimes called BCP, this terpene is found in oils like rosemary and hops, oregano and black pepper. BCP can aid in gastrointestinal system, peripheral nervous system and the immune system.
- Alpha and Beta-Pinene Energetic and therapeutic, this terpene is common in pine needles. This is another terpene that is commonly used in household cleaning products or air fragrances.
- Humulene Much like BCP, Humulene is also abundant in hops, sage, ginger and ginseng. This terpene has an earthy aroma with a musky undertone. It’s known for being a strong anti-inflammatory agent and a hunger suppressant.
In the world of cannabis, and for our discussion, hemp terpenes play a critical role. Terpenes carry their own medical benefit, some of them highlighted above. They also enhance the effects of CBD, which we refer to “The Entourage Effect,” and finally, they deliver natural tastes and smells. This introductory section could just be spent on terpenes alone because, they’re so fascinating.
What is the Entourage Effect?
“The Entourage Effect” is a term that was first used back in 1998 when a group of researchers began to understand the synergistic interactions between cannabinoids and terpenes. The study has involved to not only include cannabinoids and terpenes, but flavonoids and fatty acids. The Entourage Effect refers to the benefit of all these compounds working together, as opposed to one or two of the natural compounds working alone. In the world of CBD, when most people refer to the Entourage effect, they are talking about the interaction of CBD and terpenes.