How does Hemp CBD work and what are the benefits?
From gummies to teas, sparkling water, soft gels, oils, balms … and a myriad of other self-care and wellness products, hemp and CBD are EVERYWHERE.
Since the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD from hemp plants has become the new “it” ingredient in the wellness world for its many therapeutic benefits.*
However, exactly how CBD works on the body on a molecular level is still an area of ongoing research.
Keep reading for a breakdown of what we know so far.
Before we get started, we should mention, some of this explanation gets a little technical. So, we’ll try and do our best to keep this less hardcore science journal and more Bill Nye.
First, let’s start with the basics:
What are phytocannabinoids?
Phytocannabinoids are compounds produced in cannabis plants. Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the most well-known phytocannabinoids, but there are many others. Ongoing research suggests many different health benefits associated with them.
These are some other common phytocannabinoids found in products today:
When extracted from the plant, phytocannabinoids can interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system (more on what that is below) resulting in various psychotropic and therapeutic effects. Overall, it’s thought phytocannabinoids can help have a positive impact on whole-body wellness.*
Phytocannabinoid highlight: THC vs CBD
There are some 100+ known cannabinoids in cannabis plants, but THC and CBD are by far the most popular and well researched. So what are they? You can think of CBD and THC like sisters but not twins.
CBD is a compound in cannabis plants that can help you feel more relaxed, balanced and offer other therapeutic benefits without any intoxicating feelings. If you’re looking to lead a more plant-based life, CBD can be a great natural alternative for supporting whole-body wellness.*
Unlike CBD, THC offers more intoxicating, psychoactive effects. The euphoric feeling that people get from smoking joints, spliffs, weed, grass, pot, doobies, reefer, bud, herb, ganja, Mary Jane…(you get the idea) comes from THC.
How people experience THC differs by individual, and some studies suggest it can offer some health benefits too.
What’s the difference between Hemp CBD and Cannabis CBD?
This is where things can get a little confusing. When shopping for CBD, you may see ingredients or products labeled with Hemp CBD or Cannabis CBD. This is because CBD can be derived from different varieties of cannabis plants.
Hemp CBD, like what you’ll find at Forest Remedies, comes from a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that is generally high in CBD. All CBD products sold online and in regular retailers are required to contain less than 0.3% THC under the 2018 Farm Bill.
Cannabis CBD, like what you’ll find for sale in states where medical and recreational cannabis sales are legal, comes from a different variety of the cannabis sativa plant. This variety is naturally higher in THC than CBD. These products can contain different levels of THC and can offer both therapeutic and more intoxicating mind-altering effects.
What are endocannabinoids?
Endocannabinoids are like phytocannabinoids, but they are produced in mammals. Your body naturally produces endocannabinoids (also sometimes referred to cannabinoids), and science suggests they are essential in helping achieve homeostasis.
Homeostasis is the self-regulating process that our bodies use to help maintain stability and adjust to conditions that are the best for our survival.
What is the endocannabinoid system?
You know all the stuff they don’t teach us in biology class? This is one of them. You probably didn’t even know you have something called an endocannabinoid system (ECS). But it’s true - it has been there this whole time.
The ECS is a complex signaling system in the body consisting of three main components - endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes.
While research is still ongoing, science indicates that the ECS plays a role in numerous physiological and cognitive processes including sleep and mood. This system also explains how and why phytocannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.) are able to offer therapeutic benefits.
How does CBD actually work on the body?
In general, we know that phytocannabinoids, like CBD, can help us stay balanced, support overall wellness and have the potential to offer other positive effects.*
However, the exact science behind how phytocannabinoids act in the body on a molecular level is still being researched.
Current studies suggests that while CBD has “little binding affinity,” to either of our two cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), it does have an impact on several other non cannabinoid receptors and ion channels. As a result, it can offer many therapeutic benefits, according to Project CBD.*
Some of those receptors and what they do include:
- Serotonin receptors (aka 5-HT1A hydroxytryptamine) - responsible for a range of biological and neurological processes including anxiety, appetite, sleep and pain perception
- Vanilloid receptors (aka TRPV1) - known to mediate pain perception, inflammation and body temperature
- GPR55 “orphan receptors” - involved in several physiological processes like moderating blood pressure and bone density
- PPARs receptors (aka peroxisome proliferator activated receptors) - regulates genes involved in various metabolic functions including energy homeostasis and insulin sensitivity
When it comes to CBD products, you can find brands touting all sorts of claims, but we always encourage you to be skeptical and do your own research.
While some studies may indicate that CBD can have an impact on more serious health conditions, they may also be testing CBD intakes that far exceed what you typically find in most ingestible products. Just something to keep in mind.
So, how can taking CBD help?
We know our bodies naturally produce cannabinoids to help maintain balance and regulate different bodily functions. So, you may be wondering, why do I need to take something my body already creates on its own?
You can think of it like taking supplements. Your body makes certain nutrients on its own but those amounts can be impacted from internal imbalances and other external stressors that come from everyday life.
Taking hemp-derived CBD as part of your everyday routine can help support some of those imbalances and provide a sense of enhanced wellbeing for your body and mind.* If you’re thinking about trying CBD for the first time, we always recommend consulting with your healthcare provider who can offer advice based on your individual health and wellness goals.