CBD guide- The Definitive Guide To Cannabidiol
For the uninitiated, Cannabis contains hundreds of chemical compounds, of which two have been researched and studied for decades. Strangely enough, for entirely different reasons.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the more famous, (or should we say infamous) of the two is a psychoactive compound associated with the pleasant ‘high’ that users experience after ingesting or smoking marijuana. If you absolutely cannot do without your weekly or daily dose of marijuana, blame it on this guy.
The other compound is a lot more interesting. It’s called CBD or Cannabidiol and it is a non-psychotropic compound that has shown immense promise in medicinal and therapeutic applications.
Non-Psychotropic means that it does not cause the high that THC does. Instead, it helps the body in many, many other ways. We’ll come to that in a bit.
The results with CBD have been so promising, that several countries have termed CBD products legal to use, acquire, manufacture and sell, with a few caveats thrown in, of course.
The first rule is that CBD must be sourced from Hemp, a different variety of Cannabis Sativa plant.
The second and more important rule is that no CBD product must contain more than a predetermined percentage of THC, which varies from one country to the other.
Does that sound like scientific gobbledygook? Let us explain that in layman’s terms.
What is CBD (cannabidiol) cannabis?
We briefly touched on this earlier. CBD is one of the many cannabinoids found in the Cannabis Sativa plant.
It is non-psychotropic, which means, when ingested into the body, it does not cause the ‘Euphoria’ or high that marijuana users experience.
Instead, it has shown remarkable therapeutic benefits in treating conditions like epilepsy, depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, nausea caused due to chemotherapy, PTSD, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, liver injury and Parkinson’s disease. And that’s not even half the list.
CBD was first isolated from the chemical structure of Cannabis Sativa as early as 1940. However, arcane laws related to Marijuana made research extremely difficult and CBD was always shrouded in mystery.
That is until this clinical CBD trial, conducted in 1974, revealed the ability of CBD in limiting the effects of 9 – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in humans.
Turns out that apart from bestowing upon users, the exhilarating high, THC also sneaks in a few unpleasant symptoms. Like disjointed thoughts or short-term memory impairment and even anxiety. CBD helps to limit these side effects allowing researchers and scientists to use THC purely for its beneficial properties, in doses that would have otherwise been impossible to administer.
Subsequently, CBD has become the blue-eyed baby of the medical research community and numerous clinical trials, such as this, this & more recently, this, were conducted to explore the potential that the compound has in an ever-increasing range of medical applications.
In the past few years, oil extracted from industrial hemp (a version of Cannabis Sativa), with high concentrations of CBD has become quite the rage in the medical and fitness communities.
We know what you are thinking. Isn’t Marijuana also Cannabis Sativa? What’s Hemp then? And what’s the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?
The difference between Hemp and Marijuana
We don’t blame you. It does get confusing, especially when there’s a very thin and blurred line to differentiate between the two.
Hemp and Marijuana both belong to the same species of the plant, Cannabis Sativa.
Hence, the name often gets interchangeably used, especially by laymen who are as far from taxonomy as we are from the moon.
So, Hemp is called Marijuana and Marijuana is called Hemp (mistakenly). And both may be called Cannabis and contain CBD.
Did we lose you?
Here’s a more reasonable explanation.
Hemp or hemp stalk or agricultural hemp is a type of Cannabis Sativa, specifically reared for its industrial applications which include CBD oil, seeds, fiber, paper, and fabric. The plant has extremely low THC levels as compared to Marijuana. It grows taller (almost 20 feet) and has a very distinctive, skinny, bamboo-like appearance. It’s highly adaptable and can be grown in a variety of climates without much care.
Marijuana, on the other hand, is a short, stout bush (not taller than five feet) that has to be carefully grown in a controlled environment. It is grown to source the glands or Trichomes that grow on the leaves and the buds, from which weed or pot or whatever it’s called, is extracted. The most important difference is the chemical makeup. The marijuana plant has significant levels of THC and very sparse CBD content.
- Hemp: Low THC content, 15-20 feet tall skinny plant, reared for its industrial applications and most importantly, CBD oil
- Marijuana: High THC content, 3-5 feet tall, stout bush, reared for its resin-rich glands or aromatic trichomes
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the classification of Hemp-extracted CBD and Marijuana.
While the United States defines Hemp-extracted CBD, as products sourced from Cannabis Sativa, that do not have any psychoactive properties, Canada, defines it as products sourced from Cannabis Sativa that have less than 0.3% THC.
Here in Switzerland, the level of legally permitted THC in CBD products is 1%. Anything more is termed as illegal Marijuana possession. Other countries may have their own classifications and definitions.
So, for now, let’s say that the level of THC and the way the plant is reared will define whether it's legal Hemp or illegal Marijuana that you have.
Effects of CBD - How does CBD affect your body?
The human body produces its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids.
These tiny molecules are nested deep inside cells in different parts of the body and can stimulate specific responses from these cells depending on the signals that they receive from Cannabinoid receptors, another group of cells which are located on the cell surface.
While there are many Cannabinoid receptors in our body, the most studied ones, are CB1 (found mainly in the brain and central nervous system) and CB2 (found in the immune system).
Picture this, like millions of little communication hotspots that are located all over the body waiting for the appropriate signal from within the body itself or from an ingested product, which in this case is THC or CBD.
THC, when ingested into the body interacts with CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain and the central nervous system, thereby altering the cellular response in these systems. This creates the pleasure and the euphoria. And also the notorious mind-altering effects.
CBD, on the other hand, is different altogether.
- Rather than interacting directly with these receptor sites, it stimulates the production of more endocannabinoids in the body. So, you suddenly have more connectivity hotspots with the potential for a variety of cellular responses.
- It influences these two (CB1 & CB2) receptor sites also. But it does it indirectly rather than directly binding to it. Hence it does not cause any mind-altering effects.
- It works on non-cannabinoid receptor sites also. Like Opioid receptor sites which are associated with pain regulation. This might help tremendously in treating addiction to painkillers and opioid drugs like morphine and fentanyl
- It influences dopamine receptors in the brain thereby regulating cognitive behavior among other things
To sum things up, cannabidiol affects a variety of receptor sites and also influences non-cannabinoid receptor sites, the effects of which, are yet to be fully studied.
However, whatever is known so far has tremendous potential in medical applications.
That’s precisely why CBD products such as oil and supplements have become a rage among the general population. From adding a few drops of CBD to their tea and even salads to vaping it and chewing CBD gummies, people are consuming CBD in any and every possible way.
And they have only great experiences to talk about.
CBD Oil 101
CBD concentrate has the distinction of being the first cannabis-based product that’s sold over-the-counter in many countries.
It is extracted from industrial hemp. Well, technically, it can also be extracted from the marijuana plant. But then it wouldn’t classify as CBD oil anymore due to the THC levels.
Pure CBD Oil has high concentrations of cannabidiol but only trace amounts of THC. So, you won’t get stoned if you use it in prescribed doses.
It’s applications currently range from pain relief to epilepsy treatments to helping alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, reducing anxiety symptoms and inducing restful sleep among others.
There’s a large and fast-growing market for CBD. And supplement manufacturers are well aware of this. As a result, there’s a sudden spurt in the number of brands offering their own range of oils.
But be aware. The oil is only as good as the source (raw material) and the extraction process used to manufacture it.
CBD is extracted in many different ways. The process used for the extraction along with the addition of certain filler ingredients may determine the quality of the end product. Many new manufacturers do not mention this on the product label.
If you are considering purchasing some products, then it’s in your best interest to be aware of how its extracted and the origin of the raw material source. Secondly, look for added ingredients on the product label. (MCT or Medium Chain Triglyceride oils like coconut or Olive oil may be added and it does not affect the quality or concentration of CBD in the oil.)
CO2 CBD Extraction
This is one of the best ways to extract pure oil devoid of any harmful additives or even chlorophyll. It is a supercritical method that uses pressurized and heated CO2 for extraction. CO2 is compressed at extremely high pressures (10,000 psi) before being passed through hemp in a closed-loop extractor. This helps to isolate CBD and extract a full-spectrum oil that has a light amber hue to it. However, very few manufacturers use CO2 extraction for CBD because of state-of-the-art machinery required for it. Irrespective of whether its raw CBD oil for ingesting sublingually or even for vaping, CO2 extracted CBD is your best bet.
Ethanol-based CBD Extraction
CBD Oil used in vaping devices are often extracted using grain alcohol of the highest grade. While the extracted oil is safe and potent, the plant waxes are completely destroyed in this method. And some manufacturers and customers prefer retaining the waxes for their purported health benefits. Also, ethanol extracted CBD has a lesser percentage of cannabinoids.
DIY methods like the Rick Simpson method are extremely dangerous and can result in an explosion or a fire. Also, it leaves you exposed to flammable fumes. Why DIY when there are close to a thousand brands of CBD oil to choose from?
Other CBD products
Of late, there have been some very interesting and innovative additions to the products portfolio.
CBD gummies have become wildly popular in recent times due to the sheer convenience associated with them.
You can carry them anywhere and pop one in your mouth without inviting glares and stares from those around you.
They look innocuous, like any gelatin candy and are available in a variety of flavors.
The concentration of in the gummy varies from brand to brand and you might want to consider this before you make a purchase.
Also, there will be a mild high when you consume one of these due to the limited, but potent THC content in it. The CBD will offset most of the mind-altering effects. But you will feel a slight high.
So, ensure that you do not perform any tasks that require you to be attentive after consuming one of these.
Best used for: CBD gummies are ideal when used as pain relievers or for reducing nausea. However, there have been anecdotal reports of CBD gummies being used as a nootropic or non-addictive sleep aid.
Capsules contain hemp derived CBD in a convenient-to-use capsule form. Depending on your needs, you can consume one or two a day easily with a glass of water.
The concentration in these capsules ranges from 5-25% CBD and bottles of varying sizes are available for purchase.
Typically, Hemp oil is mixed with a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil like coconut oil to increase the efficacy of CBD and also to make the capsule appear bulky.
If you are allergic to coconut oil or would rather use a purer form of CBD, then you can consider Isolate capsules. However, there are only a handful of manufacturers who offer it.
Some manufacturers also offer water-soluble CBD capsules. The caveat is that they cost an arm and a leg as compared to normal capsules. Also, there’s a lot of debate about the bioavailability of CBD. Some say that it has excellent bioavailability. Others contradict this. Why don’t you leave the debate to the experts and use more conventional products like oil and normal capsules?
One of the notable differences of capsules from other products, like CBD gummies is that you can select capsules based on the quality of CBD oil used in it.
- There are capsules containing raw hemp oil that’s not processed, decarboxylated or filtered. Raw hemp oil retains most of the phytocannabinoids, minerals, vitamins and cannabidiolic acids in the oil, the levels of which might deplete with processing.
- There are capsules containing minimally processed hemp oil. The CBD in these capsules typically undergoes decarboxylation, a process which filters the oil and amplifies the concentration.
- Lastly, there are capsules that contain decarboxylated and filtered oil. All the phytonutrients of Hemp are removed from this oil and it delivers the most concentrated dose of CBD.
CBD capsules are convenient, require no tedious dosage measurements and allow you to schedule your dosage with ease.
The only caveat is that you cannot use these for topical application.
Best used for: Can be used as an alternative for oil for any therapeutic application that it was prescribed for.
Hate popping pills, vaping or chewing edibles? CBD Topicals allow you to get the benefits of Cannabidiol without the hassles of dosages and schedules. Just apply it like you would apply any normal lotion or ointment.
The advantage? Zero THC. And localized treatment.
If you prefer using CBD without even the slightest trace amounts of THC, then topicals are the way to go.
They are available in the form of lotions, creams, salves, soaps and transdermal patches that you can apply anywhere on the body.
Some might be blended with natural essential oils to mask the slightly musky odor that CBD possesses. So, you might want to check the product label to weed out the possibility of any potential allergens.
Best used for: CBD topicals are best used for skin problems like psoriasis and eczema, as well as localized pain in any part of the body.
Vaping CBD has really taken off in the last year or two. It allows you to inhale a smooth, consistent vapor created by heating full-spectrum oil at extremely low temperatures.
It is lung-friendly and does not irritate your airways, unlike direct smoking does.
CBD vaping pens have gone from large, clunky devices to discreet, modern ones that can easily tuck into your pocket after use.
You can pick from coil-styled vaping pens which uses a more concentrated form of CBD Isolate or a tank styled vape that uses an e-liquid, which is a blend of CBD oil, natural flavorings, Propylene glycol, and glycerin.
If you choose the latter, you can either buy a refillable tank or a disposable one. If you hate greasing your elbows and tinkering with dosages, then a disposable tank is your best bet.
The advantages of vaping CBD are manifold. Anecdotal evidence says that the absorption is faster. You start to feel the effects instantly as opposed to CBD oil or CBD edibles, which take time to get absorbed into the bloodstream.
Vaping creates an odor-free vapor.
So, you can vape legal CBD in public and even in non-smoking zones too.
And since you get pre-dosed, measured canisters, it takes the guesswork out of dosing. You can get a precise dose conveniently at any time of the day.
Best used for: CBD vapes are perfect for just about any condition that demands instant absorption of the oil in your body. For example, anxiety attacks or epilepsy or other conditions that require timed-doses spread throughout the day.
It was only a matter of time before CBD joined the list of exotic, healthy teas. Wasn’t it?
So here we are. CBD tea is an herbal hemp tea that’s often blended with normal tea leaves or flavored tea leaves.
It is one of the fastest growing CBD-based products in the world. Well, the world loves its teas for sure.
Even when unflavored, it has a very pleasant, non-offensive taste. If we were to compare it with any other tea, White tea would be the closest match. And in case the taste bothers you, you can squeeze a lime or add some honey or buy one of the many flavored varieties available.
When prepared the traditional way (soaked in boiling water), it may have a deep green or dark brown color to it, depending on the age of the plant when it was harvested. Most manufacturers claim to harvest the flowers and trims from the plant when the content is at its peak. However, that’s advertising rhetoric at best.
CBD tea, irrespective of whether it looks green or brown is still hemp tea. Don’t fall for gimmicks.
Some people recommend adding a form of fat, like milk or coconut oil, to it to facilitate the faster absorption. But that’s not really required if you are off dairy products or looking to avoid it for some reason.
As is the case with everything CBD, different people have different experiences from using tea. A vast majority of them have reported a soothing and calming effect immediately after drinking. This makes it a great stress buster. If you are feeling pooped or overwhelmed by the email deluge on a Monday, a cup of CBD tea might put things back into perspective.
Best used for: May help reduce anxiety and stress. Most users report a soothing effect after drinking.
Countries like the United States and the UK have been the pioneers of the whole supplement industry and are also largely responsible for putting Hemp-sourced CBD in the global spotlight.
However, when it comes to mixing health with pleasure, it had to be the Swiss.
Switzerland became the first country in the world to manufacture and sell CBD Cigarettes. Yes, now you can smoke CBD. If you have always loved the aroma of marijuana and hate the entire vaping scene, then cigarettes are just what you need.
CBD cigarettes are a blend of hemp and tobacco and contain all the aromatic terpenes that make up for the amazing scent of marijuana smoke.
Make no mistake, this is still hemp that contains less 1% of THC. So, you only derive the aromatic pleasure. Not the high.
But people are flocking to buy these cigarettes in droves and the initial reviews are very positive.
Most users compare it to a marijuana joint in aroma and taste. Some even report a mild, pleasurable high.
The fact that you smoke 50% less tobacco with each cigarette is an added motivation to consider buying one of these.
Each cigarette delivers a whopping 20% dose of CBD. That’s more than enough to create a smooth, mellowing effect in users. That’s also a potent enough dose to bring in the benefits. Like pain relief, soothing frayed nerves and knocking you off to sleep.
As of now, CBD cigarettes are only available in a regular tobacco blend. But a non-nicotine tobacco version may be on the cards soon. With CBD’s proven anti-addiction properties, the non-nicotine version might just be the next best de-addiction tool for chain smokers.
What about smoke and the side effects associated with it then? Unfortunately, those still apply and hence, even CBD cigarettes are sold with the traditional statutory warning. But, cannabidiol is the subject of multiple clinical pieces of research for the treatment of lung cancer. That’s ironical, isn’t it? We can’t help but wonder if CBD might, in fact, negate some of the side effects of tobacco. Only time will tell.
For now, hemp cigarettes are here. Grab one while you are in Switzerland because it might be illegal elsewhere. It’s illegal in the United States for sure.
Best used for: A calm and relaxing experience. Great for distressing, reducing your intake of tobacco.
CBD dosage - What is the right dosage?
All said and done, there’s a lot of hearsay and anecdotal references floating around when it comes to the right dosage.
There are theories from self-proclaimed gurus, forum posts from people who have no credentials or evidence to support their (often exaggerated) claims or manufacturer recommended doses which can at best, be taken with a pinch of salt. Which one do you pick?
It has been proven that in low and acceptable doses, cannabidiol will interact first with the cannabinoid receptors that it most harmonizes with. When you increase the doses, CBD continues to interact with the same receptors until they get saturated. Then, it starts to interact with other receptors, triggering effects that you never expected or wanted. Not side effects mind you. Effects that may be undesirable for your condition.
So, your dosage should always depend on what you are using it for. Also, the route of administration is critical because of the purported poor bioavailability. In simple terms, with oil or cbd drops, lesser might be better. Whereas in Capsules, you might be able to tolerate a much higher dose without any unwanted side effects.
The most common way to take CBD is sublingually in an oil or tincture format. Here’s a general ballpark dosage that you can follow.
- As a supplement for overall well being: 3-15mg daily in one or multiple timed doses.
- For treating chronic pain: 4-20 mg daily in one or multiple timed doses.
- For insomnia or other sleep disorders: 40-160 mg daily in one or multiple timed doses.
- For helping boost appetite in cancer patients: In this case, a blend of THC and CBD works best. Up to 2.5 milligrams of THC and up to 1 mg of CBD daily in one or multiple timed doses for four to six weeks.
- For treating epilepsy: 100-300 mg in one or multiple timed doses. This dosage is for capsules and not for oil.
- For the treatment of schizophrenia: 20-1,200 mg CBD in one or multiple timed doses. You can start with low doses and gradually increase the dose depending on the person’s tolerance to it.
- For the treatment of glaucoma: 10-40 mg in one single dose. Do not increase the dose as it may exert more pressure on the eyes.
Always remember that the right dose of varies from one person to the other. For example, an individual with drug-resistant epilepsy suffering from multiple episodes of grand mal seizures per day might be recommended a dose as high as 400 mg a day. But they may experience great results with just 100 mg. Whereas another person with the exact same condition might not experience results even with 400mg and may be prescribed doses as high as 600 mg.
Here are a few tips to help you determine what’s the exact dosage amount that you need
- Don’t go overboard: As tempted as you might be to gulp that entire bottle of oil down to experience instant results, start with the lowest recommended dose to know how your body reacts to it. If everything goes as planned and there are no unexpected side effects, slowly increase the dose every week until you reach the recommended upper dose limit or experience relief from the condition. Whichever comes first. If you hit a sweet spot, there’s no reason to increase the dose further as it will not speed up the results.
- Size matters: Mesomorphs or people with a larger body size can easily tolerate higher doses without any side effects. But tip number 1 still applies. Start with the lowest dose and gradually increase it.
- Speak to a doctor: That’s not what most people would like to hear. But if you have a medical condition, then speaking to a doctor who understands medical marijuana might be able to suggest you the apt dose and the best way to use CBD.
CBD Swiss law
Switzerland has always been pro-wellness. Apart from sparkly Swiss watches and the snowy white alps, the country was always known for its lenient take on Marijuana. Something that was frowned upon by its immediate neighbors and strategic partners.
Eventually, Switzerland gave in to the pressure after joining the UN and criminalized the use, possession, and sale of Marijuana even in the tiniest of quantities in 2002.
Come 2011, the more stringent punishment was reduced to a small fine for minor possession of Marijuana (Up to 8 grams of cannabis). And Switzerland legalized CBD based products that do not contain more than 1% THC. You can walk into a supermarket and buy your favorite CBD product off the shelf.
However, there is no specific provision that allows the use for medical or therapeutic uses. In fact, doctors rarely go that route for fear of being prosecuted.
What if you are caught with CBD Cannabis?
Well, if you carrying more than 8 grams of Cannabis on your person, then under the law, you are entitled to pay a small fine (approximately 100 Swiss Francs). What will be surprising is that the same fine might apply even if you are caught with to up to 4 kgs. of Marijuana on your person.
We see you smiling.
If you are caught repeatedly, then the fine will increase exponentially.
If you are caught carrying more than 4 kgs, then you are looking at up to 3 years of Jail time. No two ways around it.
Where can you buy authentic Hemp CBD?
As with any new health product, it’s important to do your research and find a company you trust before you buy CBD cannabis or CBD hemp oil. Keeping this in mind, here are a few important things to look for to make sure you are purchasing only safe, high-quality CBD products.
It is estimated that there are 600 new Swiss companies offering CBD products in retail outlets and on the internet. Most of these companies have set up shop in the past six months. Makes it all the more important for a new buyer to do their due diligence before shopping for CBD products.
Here are a few tips to help you pick the right brand and product.
The CBD company background
It’s a nascent industry and most of the companies that manufacture and sell cannabidiol products are new. However, you can dig into the background and try and find one with a proven record in the supplement industry or even with other hemp-based products.
Good quality products are tested by a third-party organization for the concentration of CBD, cannabinoids, the right ratio of Cannabinoids and the presence of contaminants. Some brands test their products multiple times to ensure that every batch is safe and efficacious. Look for third-party testing certifications before you buy.
The quality of a product can be ascertained by looking at the product label, or the lack of it. Labels need to be clear, highlighting critical information such as dosage strength, quality certifications, shelf life, storage methods and added ingredients. Any brand or product that doesn’t list these details is a red flag.
Sourcing of raw materials
Where does the manufacturer source the hemp from? That might be more important than it’s made out to be because the quality of the crop determines the concentration. As of now, hemp grown locally in Europe tops the list in terms of best harvesting and growing practices. If the hemp is grown elsewhere, opt for non-GMO, organic hemp.
The benefits of using oil or CBD isolate are known globally. However, the rules for endorsement and marketing are a little tricky. Since they are categorized as health supplements in most countries, manufacturers are disallowed from using medical benefits in their endorsements.
For this reason, if any manufacturer claims unverified medical benefits that may arise from the use of their products, beware of them.
Also, if you have any queries, then reach out to their customer support team. The phone is the most preferred mode of contact but even online chat or email support will make do. Look for clear and concise answers about the raw material sourcing, extraction process, and presence of unwanted ingredients.
Are CBD products right for you?
There’s only one way to be sure. That’s by trying it out. There are no known side effects yet. There are tons and tons of purported benefits. There are numerous ways in which you can ingest it. What’s stopping you?
But, if you are unsure, then it’s always better to speak to a doctor who has relevant experience with cannabidiol products.