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CBD: The Complete Guide To Cannabidiol Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

Small Bottle of CBD Oil

You’ve probably heard about the recent nationwide surge of interest in CBD and its effects. Within just the last few years, CBD has gained notoriety for its widespread uses; we’re using it for everything from general use “supplements” to effective seizure prevention medication. 

If you’re curious about what CBD might be able to do for you, you’re not alone. However, don’t forget that CBD oil is a relatively new treatment, and we still need to do much more research on it before we can fully understand what it does in the body. 

In this guide, we’ll attempt to answer the questions you have about CBD – specifically, things such as what it can do for you and implications of use. 

What is CBD (Cannabidiol)?

CBD is one of many cannabinoids found inside marijuana and hemp plants. While THC is the most common cannabinoid – the one we all know to produce a “high” – CBD is the next most abundant. There are many other cannabinoids out there, but none of them are as well-known (or studied) as CBD and THC. 

Closeup shot of hands applying cbd moisturizer

CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it can’t get you high. Instead, CBD is thought to have other distinct effects on the body. While we don’t completely understand everything that CBD does yet, some of the things we’ve seen evidence of include:

  • Seizure relief: CBD has been approved to treat two rare seizure-related disorders
  • Both research and anecdotal evidence suggest that CBD can reduce inflammation and calm nerve pain
  • Scientists think that CBD can affect serotonin levels in the brain, which can calm anxiety levels, relieve symptoms of insomnia, and even help people recover from drug addiction
  •  Known side effects of CBD are nausea, irritability, and fatigue

The Endocannabinoid System

Recent research shows that humans (and some other species, too, such as dogs and even cats) have endocannabinoid systems within their bodies. The ECS ties closely in with your nervous system, and while we still have much more about it to discover, we also believe that it links to fertility, memory, mood, appetite, and more. 

At its simplest level, the ECS contains three things: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. CBD is a cannabinoid, not an endocannabinoid. Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids that your body produces on its own. Receptors bind to cannabinoids and endocannabinoids to activate various bodily responses, and ECS enzymes break down cannabinoids when they’re no longer of use. 

As such, it’s thought that ingesting cannabinoids like CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids can help regulate many of your body’s ECS-related responses by stimulating or halting them. 

Ingesting CBD

There are many ways that you can take a CBD supplement. Of course, the way we’ve done so the longest is through marijuana, but you’ll get a lot of THC this way, too. While THC can also have many benefits on the body through the ECS, it’s not always appropriate to use it. 

Fortunately, it’s incredibly easy to obtain CBD isolates that you can use virtually anytime, anywhere. As CBD grows in popularity, people continue to discover new ways to refine it and use it. We’ll walk you through several of the best options below, but keep in mind that there may be more options out there! 

CBD Oils and Tinctures

CBD oil is one of the most common ways to ingest CBD. You can get CBD oil in varying doses, and nowadays, it’s even available in a wide range of flavors. While some people might find taking CBD oil to be unpleasant, it’s one of the fastest ways to get the supplement’s effects. 

To take CBD oil, place a few drops of it underneath your tongue. Since your mouth has millions of tiny capillaries close to the surface, it will quickly absorb the oil (and the CBD). Since it drops under the tongue, it’s great for people who have trouble swallowing pills, but the oil doesn’t always have the most pleasant taste or texture. 

Alternatively, you can look at CBD tinctures. These work the same way as oils, and they often have other therapeutic ingredients mixed or infused into them. 

CBD Edibles

CBD edibles continue to emerge as one of the most popular ways to take CBD. While your body can’t absorb as much of the cannabidiol this way, it’s quicker, easier, and tastier than using oil or tincture under the tongue. It’s slower than either of those two methods, though, as well. 

The nice thing about CBD edibles is that they give you a delicious, on-demand dose of CBD, and the effects last longer than other forms of CBD, too. Since your body absorbs the supplement slowly as it digests the edible, the result is an extended effect. 

However, CBD edibles may not be a good idea for you if you live with curious children, as treats like CBD gummies and other snacks can be very enticing to them!

While CBD soft gels are not technically “edibles” since you swallow them as you would any other pill (they’re technically just CBD oil contained in a gel capsule, after all), your body processes them the same way as an edible. With a capsule, you absorb the CBD through your stomach’s lining rather than the capillaries under your tongue. 

CBD Topicals and Lotions

Believe it or not, CBD can also be absorbed through the skin quite readily, primarily if you use it to treat skin dryness or irritation. CBD Topicals and lotions are best for treating inflamed or irritated skin, such as that you might get from psoriasis, eczema, rashes, and more. However, you can use hand lotions and other topicals to get your daily CBD dose even if you don’t have skin irritation. 

Don’t stop at CBD lotions, though! You can also absorb your CBD through the skin with other creative delivery systems, such as bath bombs, pain sticks, bath salts, and more (just an FYI – we carry all of those things here at Blossom Co.). 

CBD Vapes

If you need near-instantaneous relief from your symptoms (or you just enjoy vaping in general), you can get your CBD through a vaporizer, as well. A vape is bar-none the fastest way to deliver CBD to your body’s ECS since it’s absorbed quickly into the bloodstream through the capillaries in your lungs. However, this also means the effects will only last a short time. 

If the health of your lungs is compromised, such as from asthma, pneumonia, damage due to smoking, or some other cause, it may be a good idea to stay away from vaping. Taking any product into your lungs, regardless of how harmless it is, can complicate any health issues already present. 

Selecting CBD

Choosing the type of CBD you want to add to your routine isn’t as simple as figuring out its delivery method. CBD itself – or rather, the hemp or cannabis oil that it’s derived from – comes in several different varieties and purities that can affect the final result. 

In this section, we’ll go over many of the things you should consider before buying a CBD product. 

Full-Spectrum, Broad-Spectrum, and Isolates

When the oil from a hemp or cannabis plant goes through a refining process, you can get several different results. For example, pure cannabis oil is simply a distillate of every cannabinoid compound in the cannabis plant. With refined cannabis oil, you’ll get plenty of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. 

Pure hemp oil is much the same as cannabis oil, but it typically has much less THC than cannabis oil. Full-spectrum CBD oil made from hemp, for example, must be less than 0.3% THC by law. 

What are the implications of this? While full-spectrum CBD oil is generally considered “better” for several reasons – among them the interplay between THC and CBD, as well as the other trace cannabinoids present in the oil – there is also a chance that it could give you a positive result on a drug test. While the probability is very low since the THC levels in full-spectrum oil are paltry, it is possible. 

On the other hand, broad-spectrum CBD oil has had all of the THC in it artificially removed. While it still contains many different cannabinoids from the hemp plant, it should not contain any THC. 

CBD isolate is on the far end of the CBD oil spectrum. It should contain only CBD oil itself; no other cannabinoids should be present at all. 

CBD Dosage

Surprisingly, your correct CBD dosage can be tough to pin down. Since we don’t know much about the ECS yet, it’s unclear why low levels of CBD may be sufficient for one person but not for another. 

However, some generalized CBD dosing guidelines do exist. If you can, consult your doctor about which dose might be right for you. Otherwise, follow the advice of the manufacturer or find a trustworthy online resource to use for help.

Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to overdose on CBD (at least, not that we have discovered thus far). So, if you take a dose that’s too high, it won’t hurt you in the long term, but you could experience some unpleasant side effects (such as those we mentioned earlier). 

Essentially, the goal with CBD is to take as little of it as possible to get the results and relief you need. Ideally, you should start with a low dose, then increase the dosage until you reach your preferred level of comfort. However, if you start to feel any adverse effects, it’s always a good idea to start over from a lower dose.

You may find that you have better luck with other administrations of CBD if you have adverse effects, as well. For example, since vaping gives you a concentrated “hit” of CBD all at once, it may feel like too much. However, an edible or capsule that’s absorbed into the body slowly might feel much more tolerable, even at the same dosage.

Dosage Numbers

Unfortunately, there’s no exact science of how many milligrams of CBD are appropriate for one person. It all depends on your tolerances, the results you’re looking for, and how often you imbibe. 

Different CBD products may have varying amounts of CBD in them, as well, even if both products come with the same dosage. Since CBD is not yet well-regulated, you could purchase a product that’s advertised to contain 10 mg CBD per dose, but it might actually contain 11 milligrams, 12 milligrams, or even higher or lower. For this reason, you must always exercise caution when switching from one CBD product to another. 

If you’re new to CBD, it’s best to start with an oil, a tincture, or an edible as a starting point because these products typically have very defined dosages for you to work from (i.e., one milligram of CBD per drop of oil, or 10 milligrams of CBD per edible). Vapes and lotions, on the other hand, are much harder to measure.

Side Effects and Health Risks

While CBD is generally considered a very safe medical supplement, it’s not without its risks. Since CBD as a supplement only burst into popularity recently, we’re still studying many of its long-term effects. One of the places where we’ve noticed some danger is in those with liver problems. 

However, keep in mind that this is just a suggestion and that we still have much to learn about CBD. We won’t know much about the supplement’s long-term health effects for many more years. 

Final Thoughts

While we called this guide the complete guide to cannabidiol, we still have much to learn about the chemical. Even though we learn a little more every year, as long as you use CBD responsibly – as you should with any health supplement, whether it’s a prescription medicine or not – you shouldn’t need to linger over the long-term effects. 

When you get right down to it, though, CBD as we know it has far more potential benefits than downsides, and it definitely warrants more research to see just how much it can help us. 

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