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Fundamentals of Cannabis: What Is CBD, and What Does It Do?

Even if you’re new to cannabis, chances are you’ve heard of CBD. One of the major cannabinoids—or “active ingredients”—found in cannabis, it’s hard to miss, appearing in everything from coffee to cocktails to pet treats to granola.

But even if it’s the plant-medicine world’s “new kid on the block,” that doesn’t answer a deceptively simple question: What is CBD? Is it a miracle cure for anxiety and pain, a non-intoxicating way to take advantage of the cannabis plant’s healing potential, or a lot of hot air? We’ll dig through the rumors and tell you what we know about this fascinating all-natural compound.

What Is CBD? Introduction to Cannabinoids

CBD—short for cannabidiol—is a cannabinoid, one of a group of roughly 150 compounds. They’re responsible for imparting many of the plant’s most profound effects on our bodies, including the cannabis plant’s most recognizable hallmark: it’s intoxicating effect.

That euphoric intoxication comes from THC, the most abundant cannabinoid. The second most prevalent cannabinoid is CBD, and while it doesn’t create the same level of intoxication, that’s not to say it isn’t entirely psychoactive. Some people describe a gentle cerebral “buzzing” sensation that’s not too different from caffeine.

CBD, like all the cannabinoids, interacts with a network inside our body called the Endocannabinoid System. It’s one of our most important regulatory systems, and—as you might guess—it’s uniquely suited to work with the cannabinoids in cannabis. That’s a major reason cannabis can impart such powerful medicinal effects; when used carefully and in proper doses, it’s also a uniquely sustainable approach to self-care and wellness.

That tells us a little about where CBD comes from. But what can it do for our bodies? Let’s dive into that question now.

What Is CBD? Latest Clinical Research

CBD is most often suggested as a treatment for anxiety and for certain types of pain. Let’s begin with anxiety, a notably difficult-to-treat condition.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the United States, affecting nearly 20% of Americans each year. And a number of studies support the hypothesis that CBD helps address certain types of anxiety. In one study, a CBD oil successfully treated some of the symptoms of PTSD, including anxiety.

Another experiment leveraged the common fear of public speaking to find that moderate doses of CBD reduced anxiety in test subjects. And still another study found that CBD can act like an antidepressant, counteracting a condition related to anxiety.

Then there’s the topic of chronic pain. Like anxiety, it’s a condition that affects a startling number of Americans. And just as with anxiety, clinical studies demonstrate that CBD can treat pain in a number of ways.

Research has determined that CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory, reducing pain at injury sites by modulating the actions of local signaling and repair cells. CBD also partners with signaling mechanisms in the brain, enhancing the actions of receptor cells and dampening pain signals as they arrive.

What Is CBD? Conclusion and Best Practices

Because CBD has exploded into the marketplace relatively recently, you may be tempted to dismiss it as a fad. However, the research doesn’t lie: The clinical studies we referenced demonstrate CBD’s potential to treat several serious conditions. What’s more, CBD is the active ingredient in the first FDA-approved cannabis medicine, Epidiolex, which is used to treat several types of seizures.

And beyond these clinical studies, there’s a large amount of anecdotal evidence suggesting that a great many of us find real and sustainable relief from pain and anxiety through CBD.

How should you put CBD into practice? Here are some tips that should improve your experience and results:

  • Can you take CBD on its own? Absolutely! While many researchers believe CBD and THC work best in tandem, studies show that CBD is still effective for pain on its own.
  • How much CBD should you take? Because everyone’s bodies are a little bit different, there’s no “recommended dose.” That’s why experts in cannabis medicine recommend you take the minimum amount needed to address your specific symptoms. While it will take a little longer to dial in your “ideal dosage,” once you do, your treatment will be more sustainable (and effective) in the long run.
  • Are there negative side effects to CBD? While it’s usually well-tolerated, CBD can cause side effects such as dry mouth, fatigue, or diarrhea. If you’re concerned, be sure to ask one of our pharmacists for specific guidance.

Do you have other questions about what is CBD (or any other cannabis-derived medication)? Don’t hesitate to reach out anytime; we’re here to help! Ready to get started? Stop by our Green Goods Frederick marijuana dispensary to see what’s in stock.