Sure, you’ve heard people talking about CBD, and you’ve seen it in various retail spots in all of its fascinating forms.
But the bottom line is that CBD is still a pretty new market, and it’s only been technically legal for less than a handful of years.
We've discovered so much in regards to hemp over the last few years, but we still have so much to learn about cannabinoids like CBD so we believe only the surface has been scratched!
Therefore, we completely understand that a lot of people exist who have an interest in giving it a try, but don’t know where to begin, and, possibly, don’t even trust that it’s totally safe.
CBD comes in all kinds of forms, can be purchased in a massive range of concentrations, and comes with its own set of terms that are foreign to anyone who hasn’t been studying cannabis for years.
But, at the end of the day, CBD is an incredibly useful thing that has many potential wonders for your wellness routine.
And that’s why we want to offer this fully comprehensive guide to CBD in 2021.
This guide will give you all of the facts that you need to understand CBD and develop a routine that’s catered to your particular needs.
What is CBD?
CBD is the shortened term for cannabidiol, which is the dominant compound in the hemp plant.
This means that in hemp’s chemical composition, there’s more CBD than any other compound.
It’s important to note that hemp is a member of the cannabis sativa-L genus, to which marijuana also belongs.
Hemp is simply a term that was used to differentiate it from cannabis that's high in delta-9 THC, while hemp is any cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% delta-9 THC and is thus federally legal, we will discuss this further below.
Cannabidiol has been studied for decades for its unique properties as they may be useful to the body.
As a result, we have access to an impressive number of studies that have recorded its various effects.
But even with those numerous studies available, we still need further research before any medical claims can even be considered to be made.
Is CBD Safe?
A lot of people such as yourself may worry about whether or not CBD is safe.
We do not blame you at all, as it’s still a pretty new industry, and the FDA has yet to approve it. And of course you should always be cognizant of what you put into your body, especially for potential wellness benefits.
For one thing, CBD is nontoxic. This means that toxicity caused by overdose is not a likelihood.
CBD is also noted for being non-addictive, and one does not seem to develop a tolerance or dependence to it over time. Simply meaning you can give CBD a try and if you want to quit using it you can without worrying about withdrawal symptoms or anything of that sort.
Now, bear in mind that there is no substance in the world that is universally safe for everyone.
Our bodies are unique, and this means that some of us may have some form of an intolerance to this particular compound. But, it’s very rare.
Which is why before you start using CBD products, we highly recommend you first speak with your doctor.
This is even more crucial if you are currently prescribed prescription medications as CBD or other cannabinoids may result in an adverse reaction with that medication.
As for the side effects of CBD, the one that is commonly reported is sleepiness, almost always as a result of taking a particularly large dose.
But, generally speaking, you can take CBD daily, and take it in high doses without major concern.
Please keep this in mind when starting a CBD regimen, as the general of thumb is to start low and gradually increase as needed.
Because not everyone benefits from the same dose, and please make sure to take it consistently for a full 30 days as it can take that long for CBD to build up in your system and begin working with your endocannabinoid system.
Is CBD Legal?
The other question we get asked a lot is whether or not CBD is legal.
And, we really can’t blame anyone for assuming that it’s not, given the extremely complicated legal status of cannabis over the last century in the United States, and the world for that matter.
In the late 1930s, cannabis was criminalized, meaning that all cannabis-derived goods, including hemp and marijuana, were illegal to buy, sell, possess and consume.
The problem is that hemp and marijuana are two very different plants.
The key difference is that marijuana is psychoactive, and hemp isn’t.
Marijuana’s psychoactive properties come from its high level of THC, which is a compound that produces mind-altering effects.
The average strain of marijuana has 16 percent THC. THC is found in hemp as well, but only in a trace amount – about 0.3 percent.
Because it’s so low, hemp and hemp-derived products cannot get you high.
In 2018, the Farm Bill was passed which finally separated hemp from marijuana (THC rich cannabis), although they are both from the cannabis sativa-L genus, allowing hemp to become federally legal.
Under federal law, cannabis still remains a controlled substance, specifically due to it's rich content of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is what gets you high when smoking cannabis.
As we know, some states have legalized cannabis use, because states have the right to make their own laws.
But all 50 states have allowed hemp to remain legal.
In order for CBD products to be legal, they must be derived from hemp rather than marijuana, and contain no more than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC.
CBD and Cannabinoids
We explained what CBD is, but what we didn’t get into is the type of compound that it is.
CBD is a cannabinoid, of which there are over 100 that occur in the cannabis species. Meaning both THC rich cannabis and hemp derived CBD products contain rich profiles of cannabinoids that vary in presence and potency from strain to strain.
Cannabinoids are a unique type of compound derived from cannabis, hence the name.
What makes cannabinoids like CBD so unique is how they work in the human body.
Cannabinoids work with the endocannabinoid system, which is a recently discovered bodily system first given its name in the 1990s.
This system is found in all mammals, and its job is to bring the body to homeostasis through equilibrium of internal bodily systems.
The way in which it does this is by taking cannabinoids and sending them to cannabinoid receptors that exist throughout your body.
Each cannabinoid receptor is tasked with regulating a bodily process, whether it be inflammation levels, cognitive function, sleep cycle or something else that plays a role in our wellbeing.
Cannabinoid receptors can only perform these crucial regulatory actions if they receive cannabinoids, like CBD.
Cannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors, which produces chemical reactions allowing regulation to occur.
One thing worth noting is that the body produces cannabinoids on its own, which are known as endocannabinoids because they are produced within your body. And these are anandamide and 2-AG.
Whereas, plant derived cannabinoids from cannabis are known as phytocannabinoids.
But, supplementing with CBD and other cannabinoids can allow the endocannabinoid system to function to its fullest potential.
CBD vs. Hemp
Now, let’s quickly differentiate between the terms “CBD” and “hemp.”
CBD, as we said, is the leading compound in hemp.
But, these two terms are commonly used interchangeably within the market.
The reason why is because CBD has become something of a buzzword.
But, the bottom line is that many CBD products that you’ll come across contain more hemp compounds than CBD alone.
We will be discussing this further shortly.
Another thing to bear in mind is that cannabinoids like CBD are only found in the flowers of the female hemp plant.
You may see hempseed products on the market, and these do not contain CBD as they come from the seeds, where no cannabinoids are present. We're looking at you Amazon sellers!
So if you see hemp oil, hemp extract, full spectrum hemp oil, full spectrum hemp extract, full spectrum CBD oil, broad spectrum CBD oil, or CBD oil, those are different ways to tell you that you are buying a hemp derived CBD product.
For example, we refer to our CBD isolate tinctures as CBD oil since there is only CBD in there. Where our Wellicy Full Spectrum Hemp & MCT Oil tincture is our full spectrum CBD oil tincture. We refer to it as hemp oil due to the fact that there is more than just CBD present in the formulation.
Of course if you're still hesitant, you can look at the 3rd party test result to ensure the product is a hemp derived CBD product that actually contains cannabinoids like CBD.
If you come across a product labeled as hemp seed oil, this is not the same and hemp seed oil does not contain any cannabinoids.
Hemp Compounds to Know
Now, let’s talk about the other useful compounds in hemp, as cannabinoids are not all that the plant has to offer.
Terpenes occur in all plants, and they largely determine the color, flavor and aroma of a particular species.
They also contain properties that defend the plant against disease, infestation, and other potentially deadly ailments.
Terpenes are useful to humans when they are extracted, as many of these preserving properties can benefit us.
Some terpenes that you’ll find in hemp include myrcene, which is known for its calming properties, and limonene, which may act as a potential pain-relieving agent.
Many terpenes exist in hemp, and each one is fascinating in its own way.
So not only do we need further research to look into the potential medical applications of cannabinoids like CBD, we also need thorough studies looking into the potential use cases and benefits for terpenes as well!
This is a type of plant compound that offers additional potentially useful properties, and also seems to have an effect on the synergistic nature of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Synergistic effects refer to the ability for the presence of multiple compounds to boost the overall bioavailability and effects of the substance.
And, for those who don’t know, bioavailability refers to how effectively compounds can be absorbed into the body, and so higher bioavailability means more effectiveness and potency.
Finally, we have phytonutrients, which are nutrients derived from plants.
Hemp is naturally high in nutrients, including vitamins, omega fatty acids and amino acids, all of which can benefit the body immensely.
Strains of Hemp
Let’s move onto the topic of strains.
Now, you understand the various chemical compounds native to the hemp plant.
But not every hemp plant has the exact same chemical composition.
In nature, you’ll find a variety of strains of hemp, with a strain referring to the unique way in which the compounds are organized.
Crossbreeding techniques have allowed farmers to develop particular strains as they desire or in order to tailor to specific effects.
The strain is largely determined by the terpene profile of the plant, cannabinoids do have a role in this as well, but research is finding that terpenes are heavily involved in the effects experienced.
For instance, some plants have higher levels of linalool, a terpene known for its relaxing properties.
This would make a high-linalool strain desirable to someone who wishes to use hemp for stress related purposes for example.
Strains can belong to one of three categories: Sativa, Indica, or hybrid.
- Sativa: Known for being more uplifting and energizing
- Indica: More calming and sedating
- Hybrid: Crossover of both an Indica and a sativa strain
What determines whether a strain is Indica or sativa is mostly its level of myrcene, one of the most dominant terpenes in the hemp plant.
Plants with more myrcene are often indica strains, while plants with less are more likely to be a sativa.
Different strains can have varying cannabinoid profiles as well.
While CBD will always be the dominant compound, some strains have higher, say, CBN, a cannabinoid known for its potential sedative properties, while others may have less CBN, but more CBG, a cannabinoid that's being studied for pain.
Organic vs. Non-Organic Hemp
Now, we want to take a minute to discuss the difference between organic and non-organic hemp.
You’ll notice that the large majority of reputable hemp companies use organic hemp.
This is because organic hemp is largely considered superior to conventionally grown hemp.
For one thing, organic hemp is less likely to contain impurities, such as heavy metals and pesticides.
Further, organic hemp better retains its compounds’ structural integrity and overall bioavailability.
Therefore, we suggest that whenever you can, you opt for CBD derived from organic hemp plant material.
How CBD and Other Compounds are Extracted
Now you have a good understanding of what CBD is, and what makes the hemp plant so unique.
But how does one turn the hemp plant into a gummy candy, or an oil-based tincture, or into a cream that you rub into your skin?
Well, a hemp extract must be produced.
This means that the plant material, once picked at maturity, is put through an extraction process, which carefully but thoroughly lifts the compounds out of the hemp plant and turns them into an extract.
There are various extraction methods out there, but they do not all yield an equally high-quality product.
The two best/most frequently used methods uses CO2 which is pressurized, as this method does not require the use of solvents that can add impurities to the product, nor does it rely on extreme temperatures which can destabilize the chemical structure, thus making the product less bioavailable overall.
And the other is using a cold ethanol extraction.
It’s always good as a consumer to check to make sure that a company uses the CO2 or cold ethanol extraction methods, because the method used really does make a big difference in terms of how effective the product may be.
Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum vs. CBD Isolate
Now, let’s break down the differences between the three types of hemp products you can buy.
Once the hemp is extracted as detailed above, the remaining concentrate contains all of the compounds that are found in the flowers of the hemp plant.
From there, a manufacturer can decide if they want to leave the chemical composition as is, or isolate particular compounds.
Full Spectrum Hemp
This is an extract that naturally contains the full variety of compounds as they occur in nature.
It has the high CBD level, along with every other compound, including the trace amounts of THC, and flavonoids, terpenes and nutrients that were naturally present in the hemp plant being used.
Many believe that full spectrum is the most desirable of all three, because it can produce the entourage effect, which refers to a powerful synergistic effect that occurs when the plant’s composition is consumed “as nature intended.”
Further, it’s believed that each compound is useful in its own way, and so no single one should be left out.
Although there are only trace amounts of delta-9 THC in a full spectrum CBD, if you are drug tested this can still cause you to fail.
Broad Spectrum Hemp
Now, there are some people who just don’t want to consume any THC but want to enjoy more than just CBD coupled with terpenes, flavonoids and nutrients.
For those people, they can opt for broad spectrum hemp, which contains every compound in hemp except for THC.
And because there is a broad spectrum of cannabinoids, with terpenes, flavonoids and nutrients, you can still experience the entourage effect. Now is it as effective as a full spectrum extract with the trace amounts of THC? Well that's still being researched.
Until we know for sure, we recommend trying to combine as many cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and nutrients together due to the synergistic effects.
Broad spectrum CBD oil is a very popular option for those that want/need all of these compounds together but have to avoid THC, even trace amounts.
This is simply an extract that contains CBD and nothing else.
As a result, its CBD concentration is naturally higher than the other two can offer, as isolate is typically 99%+ pure.
It’s crucial to recognize that ultimately, you’re free to decide which of the three you wanna use.
None of them are going to automatically produce an inferior result, and we think taking at least one cannabinoid is greater than nothing at all, but that's of course up to you to decide for yourself!
Decarboxylation and Cannabinoid Activation
Once a hemp extract has been produced, it must be decarboxylated, which means that a controlled amount of heat must be applied to it.
This allows the compounds to become activated, which means that they can then be more readily absorbed by the endocannabinoid system and thus your body.
If you have ever smoked cannabis, then you know that the product must be heated, or it will be largely ineffective. Otherwise, if you simply ate the raw nug you'd simply be wasting it.
Another example is when you make CBD or THC edibles at home from flower, you must first decarb the material in the oven before adding it into your desired fat medium.
Delivery Methods for CBD
You’ve almost certainly noticed that CBD products are available in a variety of delivery methods.
Let’s break down the most common ones and what they can do for you.
Method #1: CBD Oil Tinctures
First, we have CBD oil tinctures!
It’s simply an oil-based product that comes in a dropper bottle and consists of hemp extract that’s diluted in a carrier oil such as MCT oil, vegetable glycerin, even hempseed oil.
This product is most commonly used as a tincture, which allows it to absorb through the sublingual tissue under the tongue.
It’s held beneath the tongue for about a minute.
But it can also be applied to the skin as a topical or added to an existing product like a food or a skin cream.
When taken as a tincture, it can provide effects somewhere between 15 to 45 minutes after administration, and these effects can last for up to 4-6 hours.
Method #2: CBD Edibles
CBD Edibles are food items that contain hemp extract.
The most popular category of edibles is gummies, which are gummy candies that come in various flavors.
Edibles take up to 2 hours before peaking in the body, because the digestive process can take this long.
Once they take effect, they can last for 6 to 8 hours, and are known for being felt in a fairly subtle but widespread way.
Method #3: CBD Capsules
CBD capsules work a lot like edibles, except they may be felt more potently because they tend to be more bioavailable due to techniques used that aid in cannabinoid absorption into the system during the actual digestive process, rather than after it has been completed.
Capsules can also last for 6 to 8 hours once the compounds peak in the body.
Many beginners like capsules because it’s a delivery method that’s familiar to them, and easy to take consistently.
Method #4: CBD Flower
CBD flower is the same thing as hemp flower.
We said that the female hemp plant’s flowers are where you’ll find those cannabinoids, terpenes and other desirable compounds.
Some people like to buy the raw flower, as it’s the purest form of hemp that’s available.
It’s also available in a wider range of strains that occur in nature, so if you prefer a specific strain, purchasing smokeable CBD flower is an ideal option for you!
CBD flower can come in the form of loose buds or pre-rolls and is most commonly smoked. It can also be vaporized or cooked with.
Method #5: Concentrates
CBD concentrates refer to hemp-based products that are extremely high in concentration thanks to any number of techniques that concentrate the compounds.
Concentrates are also referred to as dabs and are vaped or smoked in combination with flower such as CBD caviar cones.
Common types of concentrates include wax, resin, rosin, shatter, and hash.
Method #6: Vapes
CBD vape oil refers to any CBD oil that is vaporized. CBD oil that can be vaped is called CBD vape oil, e-liquid, e-juice or vape juice.
It’s a formula that has added ingredients that allow the oil to be turned into vapor when heat is applied to it, that is safe to inhale.
Vaping CBD is one of the fastest methods of delivery, because lung absorption works quickly.
Therefore, when you vape CBD, it can take effect within minutes. Its effects are comparatively short-lived but are noted for being felt particularly potently.
CBD vape products come in a number of forms that range in levels of user-friendliness, maintenance and so on.
The easiest, most user-friendly option is a disposable vape, which looks like an e-cig, pre-filled with CBD vape oil and pre-charged.
Then, there are cartridges which are pre-filled, and compatible with vape pens.
There are more advanced products out there as well, which are compatible with CBD vape oil that comes in a bottle such as a mod using an RDA, RTA, or sub-ohm tank/pod.
CBD vape oils can come in a variety of flavors, which adds to their appeal.
Method #7: Topicals
CBD topicals are unique from other methods of delivery because they target one specific area of the body, while all other methods produce widespread effects.
This category simply refers to any product that is massaged into the skin rather than taken internally.
Various topical formulas exist, including balms, salves, creams, lotions, patches, massage oils and more.
CBD bath bombs are also considered a topical due to how the CBD absorbs through the pores of the skin while the user soaks in the tub.
CBD topicals tend to provide quick effects, because cannabinoid receptors in the skin, muscles and joints receive the cannabinoids quickly through transdermal absorption, which is speedy by nature. They can last for a long time, as well.
Method #8: Beauty Products
CBD beauty products are a growing market, and the science behind them is that the regulatory effects of CBD can play a role in the health of the skin and hair follicles, which have their own cannabinoid receptors.
You can find haircare products like shampoos and conditioners, skincare products like serums, creams, masks and cleansers, and other goods like lip balms, cosmetics, and products for the nails.
Method #9: Pet Products
This isn’t a delivery method, but a category of products worth mentioning.
There’s a growing CBD pet market, and the reason why is because all mammals have an endocannabinoid system, and therefore utilize cannabinoids in the same manner.
Pet CBD products include treats, topical sprays and tinctures.
If you’re gonna give your pet CBD, you must speak with a vet, and you must carefully choose a product formulated for your pet’s body weight and breed.
Dosage and Milligram Strength
Once you’ve chosen the right delivery method, you need to have the right idea of how much CBD to take in order to experience its effects.
Knowing the right amount right off the bat isn’t a simple task, because all of our bodies are different, and we all have different needs.
Basically, the more severe your situation is, or the more you weigh, the higher your CBD intake should be to experience the desired results.
But again this can vary from person to person, as dosing is not a one size fits all.
How much we take at a time comes down to two factors: dosage and milligram strength.
Dosage is the amount of product we take. Product labels should have a suggested dosage on them to use as a guide.
Milligram strength reflects the potency of the product.
Because CBD products made with a hemp extract containing other ingredients, the potency level varies based on how diluted the extract is.
The milligram strength tells you how many milligrams you’ll be getting with each dose and is printed on the label of the product.
So, how much should you take?
Well, it comes down to experimenting.
Start with a low-medium milligram strength, and the suggested dosage amount which is typically 1mL of CBD oil.
Over time, you can increase or decrease the amount as you see fit.
Why Daily CBD is Ideal
We also want to point out that it’s widely believed that taking CBD daily is the best way to experience what hemp is capable of.
That’s because daily intake supports the needs of the endocannabinoid system by ensuring that it always has a steady supply, so that it may use each dose fully throughout the day as needed.
It can take up to a month of daily use for the full power of CBD to really kick in, so be patient.
We'd also like to be very transparent here, as there are some people who simply will not benefit from the use of cannabinoids such as CBD.
Now, it’s time to explore what it means to seek out high-quality CBD.
We said earlier that the FDA has not yet approved the market, which means that currently, there’s no major force regulating the industry.
This essentially gives companies permission to produce, market and sell CBD products without strict standards, and, as you can imagine, the result has been a market with varying levels of quality.
Quality is important when it comes to CBD for a multitude of reasons.
One is that low-quality CBD can be low-quality for any number of reasons, whether it be due to the fact that it has too little potency or doesn’t actually contain CBD at all.
Or, it can be made with cheap ingredients that have the potential to be harmful.
It may also be made using inferior extraction methods that yield a less stable product that can lose its potency in a noticeably short period of time, or contain residual solvents and heavy metals that are harmful.
So, how do you know if your product is high in quality or not?
There are three things that you should do.
One is researching a company before purchasing, to see what kind of manufacturing methods they use.
Two is looking for reviews online.
The third thing to do is look for lab reports made available by the manufacturer.
These lab reports indicate that the company has their CBD tested by a licensed third party, and the lab reports give you objective data that relates to the general quality of the product.
These lab reports break down various factors of the hemp extract itself, but they don’t speak for the other ingredients in the formula.
So, always read the list of ingredients in a CBD product before buying it, to make sure that the product doesn’t contain cheap fillers, harmful additives or known allergens that you may be sensitive to.
Speaking with Your Doctor
If you plan to begin a CBD routine, whether you’re dealing with a severe, chronic ailment or just want to boost your wellness, it’s important to have a conversation with your doctor.
One reason is because he or she knows your medical history and can advise you on how to take it based on your unique needs.
Another reason is because your doctor needs to verify that CBD is safe for you if you are currently taking any kind of medication.
Third, because your doctor should always know anything you are taking, so he or she can apply this information to current and future treatments.
Experimentation is Key
Once you’ve gotten into the groove of your CBD routine, you might find that you want to switch things up.
If you’re taking CBD for a particular issue, then you may need to experiment until you find the regimen that really caters to your specific needs.
One way to adjust your routine is to play around with the dosage level, frequency of doses, milligram strength, and even delivery method.
You could even experiment with CBD isolate, broad spectrum CBD oil, and full spectrum CBD oil to see which extract is best for you and your needs.
We said that there’s no objective way to determine how much CBD you should take, as everyone is different.
Therefore, experimenting with different amounts will allow you to figure out what’s right for you.
Remember that CBD is nontoxic, so going with higher concentrations that are available in the market is something that you can freely explore.
You may also want to try a different delivery method, as they all affect the body in different ways.
Another thing that many people do is incorporate a second or third delivery method into their routine.
This is completely fine and can help you zero in on something specific that you want to manage.
As you experiment with your routine, keep your doctor informed.
And, of course, if you have any concerning symptoms after starting or adjusting your regimen, you should seek medical attention.
At the end of the day, how much CBD works for you largely depends on how much you’ve devoted to fine tuning your daily regimen.
Many people who believe that CBD doesn’t work for them simply weren’t willing to try new products, strengths and delivery methods until they found what gave them the best results.
So, before you give up, keep exploring what’s out there and you’ll likely find that CBD can give you the experience you were looking for.
Lastly, keep in mind that not all CBD is created equal!
CBD Has Changed the Wellness Industry Forever
Providing a highly unique type of plant compound that has some seriously impressive potential.
The key to finding success with CBD is understanding as much as possible about what it is, how it works, what it’s capable of and how to take it.