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What is CBD?

Like many of us, if you’ve poked your head outside, at least once, in the past few years, you are bound to have heard someone mention CBD in some way, shape, or form. Also, like many of us you’re probably wondering what it really is. By definition CBD (cannabidiol) is the naturally occurring compound found in the resinous flower of cannabis, primarily hemp. Now sure that tells you “what” it is, but it doesn’t tell you WHAT it is. That can be explained in two parts.

CBD was first discovered in 1940 by Dr. Roger Adams at the University of Illinois. However, when the Marijuana Tax Act was deemed unconstitutional in 1969, and later criminalized, CBD research was effectively halted and shifted to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Not until 2015 were researchers able to conduct effective CBD trials after the FDA eased the regulatory requirements. Since then CBD has been continually researched in hopes of finding new and more effective uses.

That takes care of part one, and we know the where and the what, but what about the why and the how? The reason why CBD has been popping up everywhere and why there’s such a strong societal and scientific push to back it. Well that brings us to part two.

CBD is extracted from hemp as an oil by various means such as CO2. It then goes through a process called Winterization which extracts fats, lipids, and other undesirable elements. Once that’s done the mixture is combined with 200 proof alcohol, which helps separate the denser particles, cooled and filtered, and finally heated to boiling to eliminate the alcohol since alcohol has a lower boiling point than oil.

You’re probably reading this saying to yourself, “That didn’t answer any of my questions. Why would they put so much work into something like that?” Well the answer is simple. CBD has the potential for a massive market. Currently, people have been using CBD for a plethora of different reasons. As with most kinds of products, everybody is different, and all our bodies react to things differently, so it is highly encouraged to consult a physician and to do your own research to find out what may and may not work for you.

However, as with most things in this world, wherever there is something positive, there will almost always be a negative, and in this case that negative is copycats. As CBD isn’t regulated by the FDA, it is possible and quite common to buy CBD that is less potent than advertised, and in a few cases to buy products with absolutely zero CBD in it.

Firstly, check to see if it has been third party tested, third party testing should have the testing records readily available as well as a quality assurance stamp. Second, if there are any guarantees like it WILL do something, walk away, as research into CBD is ongoing and still very young there just aren’t any guarantees to be made yet, and finally, check for an expiration date or a batch number, and as obvious as that may sound, a clear stamp is a good indicator to whether or not the company follows good manufacturing practices.

And as we come to a close there is still one major question, what is the difference between CBD and THC? As talked about above CBD is an oil extracted primarily from hemp, and in recent years has been found in various edibles and topicals like tinctures, gummies and lotions. THC is also from a cannabis plant; however, it is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives you the “high” sensation. Primarily smoked, it is also found in edible forms.

From a chemical standpoint they mirror each other perfectly, both containing 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen, and 2 oxygen. They are both chemically similar to receptors in your body called cannabinoid receptors which effect the release of neurotransmitters in your brain which in turn effect how the transmitters relay messages to your body.

Now here come the differences, while both chemical compounds are identical THC binds itself to the receptors in your body which is what gives you the “high” sensation whereas CBD binds very weakly, if it binds at all. It can even interfere with the binding of THC dampening the psychoactive effect.

The legality of both can be kind of tricky since the law for hemp and marijuana is constantly evolving. In states that have legalized recreational marijuana, CBD should be readily available to buy, but since CBD doesn’t need to be made from marijuana, CBD could be purchased in states that legally grow hemp. With the complexity of the laws revolving around hemp and marijuana your best bet is the gather information about your state and go from there.

And the last differences revolve around their potential benefits. Both have been known to possibly help things like overall health and wellness and mental clarity, CBD could be used to help gain a more restful night, while THC could be used to help promote someone’s appetite.

So, there you have it folks, CBD in a nutshell, and if you’d like to help continue the push for legalization, remember you have a voice. Contact your local and state representatives.

Read more: How Does CBD Work?