What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol and is one of more than 60 types of cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. THC is also a cannabinoid. The full name of THC is tetrahydrocannabinol and this substance has a major influence on one’s consciousness. CBD does not have this mind-altering effect but could be of medicinal use according to various scientific sources.
A cannabis plant.
The history of CBD
The very first evidence of mankind using the cannabis plant dates back 5000 years. Ancient Chinese scriptures described the plant as an effective means of fighting malaria, beriberi, constipation, rheumatic pains and menstrual pains. 3000-year-old Ayurvedic texts from India mention the cannabis plant as well. There are even references to hemp in the Old and New Testaments. Many of the old civilizations describe a use for the hemp plant, such as the Sumerians, Egyptians, Romans and Greeks.
The possession and use of cannabis was outlawed in the United States in 1937 and for a long time, people were sceptical of the effects of cannabis. Arguably, you could say a lot of people are sceptical to this very day. A few decades ago, people were particularly interested in the psychotropic effects of THC. For this reason, marijuana plants were cultivated in such a way that the THC percentage was increased. Strains with an extremely high THC content were created, though often at the expense of the CBD content.
Doctor Tod H. Mikuriya published an article in 1972 called "Marijuana Medical Papers 1839-1972" which gave a complete overview of all scientific articles regarding the medicinal properties of cannabis. This article once again fired up the debate over medical use of cannabis. From that moment on, the hemp plant would be examined for its medicinal effects more frequently.
Dutchman Wernard Tanning introduced the term "medical marijuana" in 1994. Tanning would then spend years of his life in order to legalize cannabis oil. He contributed to a radical decision by the Dutch Minister of Health, Els Borst. In 2000, the Dutch government decided that cannabis shouldn’t be exclusively available from coffeeshops, in order to give patients access to controlled medicinal cannabis cultivation, free of contamination.
Following that decision, a government agency was established for medicinal cannabis. This body produced cannabis for scientific purposes and delivered it to pharmacies. Medical cannabis was available in Dutch pharmacies for the very first time in 2003. This cannabis is unfortunately much more expensive than that found in the coffeeshop, so sales were limited.
Research into the beneficial effects of cannabis continued and all cannabinoids were closely examined. Starting from 2000 there has been an increase in publications that emphasize the potentially beneficial effects of CBD oil.
Because THC is an illegal substance in almost all countries, in 2012 Israel started developing a hemp plant that contains mainly CBD and hardly any THC. This plant can be legally grown for the sole purpose of manufacturing medicinal hemp oil, which doesn’t make you feel stoned.
The structure of CBD.
As mentioned earlier, CBD stands for cannabidiol and is one of more than sixty types of cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. The human body also produces certain cannabinoids. These are called endocannabinoids. CBD and THC are similar to endogenous substances. CBD can be administered orally or via inhalation, after which the substance is absorbed by the body and attaches to cannabinoid receptors.
Receptors are points in the body where a substance adheres to, which in turn either sets a biochemical reaction in motion or prevents one from occurring. Think of it as a key that fits into a lock. An agonist is a substance which sets a biochemical reaction in motion, after attaching itself to a receptor. This is like a key sliding into a keyhole and opening a door.
An antagonist is the opposite; it prevents a biochemical reaction from taking place, by merely attaching to the receptor but without causing any further reactions to occur. This is like a key that fits the lock but doesn’t open the door. Essentially the keyhole is now blocked.
Because CBD attaches itself to the cannabinoid receptor without triggering any chemical reaction, it's considered an antagonist. THC also attaches itself to the cannabinoid receptor, but in this case, a reaction takes place; you’ll get high or stoned. THC is an agonist. Based on this, you could assume that THC combined with CBD wouldn’t work very well. CBD prevents THC from triggering the receptors, meaning you wouldn’t feel any effects.
And yet, the opposite is true. CBD actually seems to reinforce the effects of THC. This could be explained by the theory that CBD makes the cannabinoids receptors more sensitive. If the CBD clears, less THC is required to trigger the usual effect, meaning you get high/stoned faster. Exactly how THC and CBD affect one and other is not fully known yet.
How to make your own CBD oil
To make hemp oil yourself, you must soak the CBD-rich cannabis buds in pure alcohol for a few days. This will allow all CBD crystals to dissolve in the alcohol. This process is called extracting. Afterwards, you filter the extract by running the mixture through a coffee filter or nylon stocking. At this point, a green solution remains.
The next step is to heat the mixture to 34°C so the alcohol will evaporate. It’s not recommended to raise the temperature further because high temperatures will destroy the CBD crystals. By slowly evaporating, what remains is pure, good quality hemp oil.
It's recommended to absorb the alcohol vapour, as it can, in fact, be used for multiple extractions. You’ll also save some money because pure alcohol can be rather pricey.
CBD oil effects
CBD oil doesn’t make you feel stoned, but it reportedly does have a calming effect; it puts you at ease. For this reason, some people believe it can be of use for those suffering from social anxieties. This is a stark contrast to THC, which often doesn’t make one more socially inclined.
Some studies suggest that THC can trigger or enhance a psychosis [2, 6]. THC has also been shown to negatively affect the short-term memory. Interestingly, CBD improves cognitive functions [3, 6].
The opposite effects of CBD and THC can also explain why some cannabis users become paranoid from smoking a joint, while they don’t experience this when smoking hashish. Because hash is often made from foreign plants, with a more balanced THC and CBD percentage. Nederwiet (Dutch cannabis) comes from plants that have been cultivated for generations, specifically for a high THC percentage and usually contain very little CBD.
High THC cannabis generally makes one sluggish, less productive and less social. That’s why some prefer foreign hash, which contains enough CBD to counteract the negative effects. This is a prime example of how mankind’s interference with nature doesn’t always lead to better products. Sometimes we break the winning formula!
Combining CBD oil with other substances
Cannabis from Dutch coffeeshops has an imbalance due to breeders primarily looking for high THC content in the past. A few drops of CBD oil helps counteract possible paranoia effects of Dutch cannabis. So CBD oil in combination with a joint has a beneficial effect.
Theoretically, CBD oil can also be of use when tripping on mushrooms or LSD. No research has been done in this area at the time of writing, but considering the properties of CBD, it may help reduce the rough edges of a bad trip.
CBD can be taken in capsules or as oil (waxy or liquid). It’s hard to recommend a set dosage so we recommend users to start slowly, using one capsule or a small drop of oil and then waiting to see what impact it has. If you respond positively to your test, you can slowly increase your dosage and determine which dosage has the desired effect for you.
It’s possible to inhale CBD as well, by using a vaporizer which will heat (but not burn) the oil so a cloud of vapour is released. Please note that not all vaporizers are suited for vaporizing oils, so if you like to try CBD vapour, first check if your vaporizer is capable of handling oils and waxes. The advantage of vaporizing is the fact that the effect is almost immediately noticeable, so you can more easily find the correct dosage.
In the last couple of years, a new way of taking CBD has increased in popularity: ingestion through vaporisation. In this case, CBD is consumed through CBD-containing e-liquids, vaporised in an electronic cigarette or a hybrid vaporizer. Many users prefer this to oral ingestion, first of all, because of the taste. CBD oil often has quite an unpleasant taste (a bit like wheat grass), as opposed to e-liquids, that mostly have really nice (cannabis-) flavours. In addition to that, vaporising CBD is more effective than oral ingestion.
Oral ingestion decreases the bioavailability (the percentage of active component – in this case CBD – that actually ends up in your bloodstream) of the substance down to 15 percent. When you swallow CBD oil or capsules, the CBD passes through the liver. The liver absorbs and breaks down the majority of the CBD before it gets the chance to be released into the bloodstream.
However, vaporised CBD doesn’t have to pass the liver as it goes straight into the lungs. Once it’s inside the lungs, it can directly diffuse into the bloodstream. For this reason, vaporised CBD has a bioavailability of 50 to 60 percent. In some cases, CBD is about four times as effective through vaporisation as it is through ingestion. In addition to that, it has to travel a relatively shorter distance to the lungs. This makes the effects come up 30 to 60 minutes earlier than when you orally ingest it.
Up until now, there’s been no mention of side effects from CBD. When taking extremely high doses one may experience stomach aches, but this isn’t an issue with normal or low doses. Overdosing is difficult to do unless you’re capable of pouring 1 litre of oil down the hatch (in such quantities even olive oil is dangerous). CBD oil can be quite expensive so you’re not likely to get your hands on a sufficiently high amount, nor be able to consume enough to really overdose.
As with every substance, there will be exceptions to the rule. Some people may develop an allergic reaction to the oil. This is why we always recommend starting with a very small amount (1 drop). If adverse effects occur, they should be very minor.
Please note that at the time of writing, CBD oil usage is a relatively new phenomenon and more research is required to fully understand how it works and if there are any long-term risks. As always, be smart and use responsibly. Check our Using Psychedelics Safely guide for more information.
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