The world of cannabis is certainly complicated for a newbie, with all sorts of variations to experiment with. In this article, our focus will not just be on non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) products, but those that are made from the hemp plant. These are legal in all 50 US states, unlike cannabis-derived CBD products which can only be purchased by the public in states that have enacted recreational legislation.
An introduction to hemp-based CBD
Hemp is a plant from the cannabis family, but it has a markedly different cannabinoid profile to the strains that we are most familiar with. Hemp contains very low concentrations of THC, but more substantial amounts of CBD – products, therefore, only have therapeutic and dietary uses, and cannot be recreationally abused. When the Farm Bill was passed in the United States in 2014, allowing the sale of hemp products with a maximum of 0.3 percent THC, the CBD market was born – and it has since grown tremendously.
Before going further, it should be noted that hemp-based CBD products are unregulated, which makes quality that much more important. The best companies seek to assure customers by having products tested by a third-party laboratory – companies who don’t do this, or claim to carry out testing themselves, should cause alarm. Moreover, products made using the supercritical CO2 extraction method are likely to be safer and of higher quality, as this process more effectively filters heavy metals and toxins from the extract. These unwanted substances build up in the hemp plant as it grows because the plant is a bio-accumulator – they are picked up more quickly than they can be excreted.
Now let’s take a closer look at the most popular hemp-based CBD products, and how they can be used beneficially.
Full-spectrum hemp-based CBD products
These tend to be the most popular hemp-based CBD products as they offer the maximum therapeutic potential possible sans THC. Research from Dr Ethan Russo and others has shown that cannabis is more effective when a full extract is used, rather than isolated cannabinoids. For instance, the psychoactive effects of THC are not as extraordinary when CBD is also taken, as the CBD reduces the strength of the bind that THC makes with the CB1 receptor.
Hemp contains an array of non-psychoactive cannabinoids, in addition to THC, and also some useful terpenes, such as pinene and linalool. Pinene has traditionally been used to treat wounds and infections, while linalool can help to counteract anxiety.
The vape industry is thriving among ex-smokers and also cannabis users, and hemp-based CBD vape oil and e-liquid is very popular. New CBD users are advised to start on the weaker potency bottles, as this helps them to become familiar with the effects, and also to establish how much is necessary to treat a certain ailment. Some conditions require small doses, others require bigger doses. Due to a lack of clinical research on CBD for most illnesses, it can be a case of trial and error.
To avoid confusion, writing a journal on each CBD dose can help with settling on a preferred dosage. Some opt for refillable cartridges, which allow for short and long vapor draws, but those who want an exact dosage could try CBD cartridges. These are designed to only release a specific quantity of CBD with each draw.
Despite full-spectrum CBD products arguably having more therapeutic value, there remains a big market for CBD-isolate products. As the name indicates, these are made to only contain CBD, and none of the other cannabinoids and terpenes found in a full-plant hemp extract.
CBD-isolates are perfect for those who know that they only need CBD to treat their condition, or for those who have concerns about drugs tests at work, or elsewhere. It’s important to note that testers only look for THC and not CBD, but since full-spectrum products may have traces of THC, the amount in the system can accumulate if taking high doses multiple times per day. Thanks to the much-higher amount of CBD entering the body, there still won’t be any psychoactive effects, but in an unfortunate scenario, where the test has a low THC threshold, there is some scope for a failure. This can be enough to encourage users to switch to CBD-isolates to eliminate that risk entirely.
It’s no surprise that CBD concentrates are some of the best-selling CBD-isolate products, as this the fastest way to take a huge dose. Concentrates are usually dabbed but can be mixed into vape oil and even ingested – the effects will be slower but last for longer if ingested.
CBD products infused with terpenes
CBD products are sometimes tagged with a “hybrid,” “sativa” or indica” description – and these aren’t for show. These products are normally CBD-isolates, that have been enhanced with a specific array of terpenes, to encourage a certain reaction.
This can be useful in a few ways. An indica for example, will provide more sedation, which is suitable if using CBD as a sleeping agent. These relaxing terpenes have a soothing influence on the muscles and the mind, promoting rejuvenating sleep. CBD works to regulate the sleep-wake cycle, boosting the amount of deep sleep where the most significant regeneration takes place.
On the other hand, a CBD product with a sativa slant is great in the mornings, or for a mid-afternoon slump. The pick-me-up effect is akin to that of caffeine, without the headache later on. Patients with depression who take CBD for the chemical adjustments which facilitate a mood boost may be benefitted further by the energizing nature of a sativa-dominant CBD product.
Final thoughts on hemp-based CBD
Most cannabis activists rightly call for all components of the plant to be legalized, at least for medicinal use, but the rich list of benefits that can be derived from hemp-based CBD means many have to suffer no longer. If anxiety is holding you back from enjoying your best life, then vaping CBD to release calming GABA neurotransmitters into the brain will break the shackles. If chronic pain is proving troublesome, then vaporizing or applying CBD cream to the most painful spots will deliver much-needed relief.
And researchers have barely scratched the surface. Just recently, a study from the University of British Columbia found that there may be more cannabinoids in cannabis, and therefore hemp, than we originally thought, after discovering 21 compounds that were yet to be identified. This throws up a new set of interactions and possibly new cannabis-based products in the future. It also suggests that the effects of cannabis on the body are even more complex.