I'm almost certain, you have heard about CBD. CBD Oil, CBD creams, CBD-infused drinks and even CBD snacks. The new "super plant" is everywhere. But what is CBD actually? What do we know about? Is it save and even legal to consume it?
In this post, I'll try to answer all of these questions based on a profound research I conducted over the past weeks. Plus, I'll share my personal CBD experience.
So let's get started - the post is structured as follows:
1. What is CBD?
2. What is the difference between CBD and THC?
3. And what is hemp?
4. What are the potential health benefits of CBD consumption?
5. Is CBD safe (what are potential side effects)?
6. Are CBD products legal?
7. My personal CBD experience
8. Where to buy CBD and what to look for when shopping?
Cannabidiol, widely known as just CBD, is one of over 100 active organic compounds found in the Cannabis plant. Unlike THC, which we will talk about in the next section, CBD is non-psychoactive which means that when consumed, altered perception of reality is NOT one of the effects of CBD. Instead, calmness and relaxation are the expected effects from the consumption.
Cannabidiol is very similar endocannabinoids molecules, which are produced naturally in our body and help to regulate our bodies response to oxidative stress and other negative external influences. The reported feelings of calmness and relaxation after the consumption of CBD are suspected on the basis of these particular molecular similarities between Cannabidiol and endocannabinoids. Though, there’s no definite scientific evidence yet proving the effect mechanisms of CBD.
CBD is usually used in form of oils or edibles and consumed to get feelings of calm and relaxation. CBD oil (sometimes also referred to as Cannabidiol oil) for example, is the most widely know product made from the non-psychoactive CBD within the Cannabis plant.
The Canabis plant has over 100 active compounds. Some of them, such as THC, we've know very well for a long time. However, there is one other active compound in the Cannabis plant in particular which is slowly growing in popularity for a multitude of reasons - CBD. Let's take a quick look at the differences between the two most widely know Canabis components: THC and CBD.
Surely, you’ve heard about THC, the major active ingredient in marijuana (Canabis), and the one responsible for its psychoactive effects. Due to the psychoactive compound THC, Canabis is classified as a mind-altering drug. THC products (>2% THC) have been available as prescription drugs since 2017 in Germany.
CBD as defined in the previous section, is the calming and relaxing counterpart or non-psychoactive part of the Cannabis plant, extracted to make products such as CBD-oils or CBD edibles and consumed to for health enhancement or feelings of calm and relaxation. However, there's no definite scientific evidence yet proving the effect mechanisms of CBD. The hypothetic health benefits of CBD oils and other edible products are yet to be confirmed.
What about Hemp? - Just like Marijuana, Hemp is a type of plant within the cannabis family. Hemp is one of the fastest growing plants on earth what makes the plant highly attractive for many non-food industrial products as well.
Hemp contains low levels of THC and high levels of CBD. While the flowers, leaves and stems of the hemp plant, are rich in CBD, the fibre of the plant is used in a wide variety of commercial products, such as clothing, paper, oils and much more. Hemp oil, for example, is extracted from the fibrous non-psychoactive seeds of the plant benefits are many. It is super nutritious - rich in fiber, protein and may contain cardiovascular protective properties.
Still confused: Think of hemp as the responsible, accomplished commercial cousin Marijuana. They are both part of the same species and both contain the cannabinoids CBD and THC. The only difference is that products of the hemp species are completely non-psychotropic. For the extraction of CBD, the hemp plant is typically preferred over the marijuana plant as its levels of THC tend to be much lower.
The global use of CBD for its health benefits is something relatively new. From female cycle pain relief benefits to calming properties and sleep, anxiety and stress relieving benefits, CBD seems to be the new super plant. Though, not enough studies have been done on the subject, so most of what we know is based on testimonies and a little pool of medical trials. But let's take a look at two very interesting fields of CBD application - CBD as a pain relief and support in mental health.
But remember, everything written in this section should be taken with a grain of salt.
Let’s start with the good news. The FDA has already approved a medication that has CBD, which is used for the treatment of certain kinds of epilepsy. That means that for sure, it can help epileptic patients when prescribed by a doctor.
On the testimonial part, people have talked about the power of CBD as a pain reliever. Allegedly, it could be good for back pain, osteoarthritis, and in some cases, cancer. An article by Harvard Health cites a doctor who said that, seemingly, CBD is better for pain when it is combined with THC, the psychoactive ingredient of Marijuana. Dr. Danesh said that depending on the type of pain, CBD could be just fine for pain relief, but in other cases, CBD and THC need to be combined.
There is a scientific basis for the pain relief properties of CBD, too. Turns out that our nervous system has something called endocannabinoid receptors, and when CBD enters the body, it binds to those receptors, reducing inflammation.
On the properties of CBD combined with THC, it is thought that it can be effective when relieving pain caused by multiple sclerosis and arthritis. Several human studies have found that a combination of CBD and THC is effective in treating pain related to multiple sclerosis and arthritis. There even is an oral spray that combines these two chemicals that are used for the treatment of multiple sclerosis in many countries. A study has been done for the same drug on patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and many of them felt relief from their painful symptoms
It seems to be that CBD oil could help with anxiety. Healthline has cited an article on the subject, in which 57 men took CBD and participated in a simulated public speaking test. The researchers concluded that 300 mg of CBD before the test was effective at reducing anxiety during it. Interestingly enough, in the same study, lower or higher doses of CBD seem to have not had any effect on anxiety for the subjects.
Also, there is a case study by doctors Shannon Scott and Janet Opila-Lehmann in which they found it effective to treat insomnia and anxiety in children with PTSD. These qualities are linked to CBD’s ability to act on the brain’s receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and social behavior.
So let's hope that this seemingly promising supplement gets more relevance for the scientific community and we will soon know for sure what to expect from the super plant!
Many health experts agree that CBD is "safe to try", but just like with all supplements and general medicine, you should always consult your doctor, who can assess you individually by taking a close look at your health history and decide what’s best for you.
But to give you an unbiased, honest view on CBD, there have been people who reported "mild" side effects of CBD. The most frequently reported side effect of people who experimented with CBD were "feelings of an altered state of mind" after the consumption of CBD. Some other side effects of CBD include dry mouth, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, and drowsiness. In very high doses, about 4 times the recommended amount, it can cause liver injury, so, like any drug, one should be careful with the dosage.
Also important to keep in mind: CBD oil is also contraindicated for pregnancy and breastfeeding as low-quality cannabidiol products could be contaminated with substances detrimental to the health of the baby. Patients with liver disease should take CBD oil in lower doses and there even is some research on CBD oil being bad for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease when used in high doses.
The short answer is YES. Whereas many countries worldwide strictly regulate the commercialization and consumption of products containing THC, CBD products derived from the hemp plant can be acquired prescription-free in many countries around the world.
In Germany, for example, CBD products containing a maximum of 0.2% of THC are freely available off- and online. In the US, the limit is currently restricted at a maximum of 0.3% THC.
The very first time I got in touch with CBD was about 2 years ago, when a friend gifted me his CBD pen for a horrible migraine I struggled with. With a classic Karo move - who never took any sort of drug and doesn't even know how to smoke - I didn't feel any "difference". Maybe a tiny improvement I tried to tell myself but I'm almost certain this can be traced back to the all so classic "placebo effect".
Generally super interested in the natural "healing effects" of CBD, I wanted to give the plant another shot. So I tried CBD oil. With the oil, things felt very different from the get go. First, there was no smoking involved - great plus for a non-smoker like me. And second, the times I took the oil - which were all occasions I felt pretty anxious and nervous - I did image a calming effect. And isn't this exactly what to ask for from a natural remedy?
Little side note: When consumed as oral drops, CBD gets directly absorbed through the mucous membranes under our tongue and integrated into our bloodstream - increasing the chances of a notable effect of the active plant compounds immensely.
I may have to add, I grew up in a household with globules - the tiny sugar beads which form the commercial core of alternative medicine. So instead of taking pain killers for injuries, I've always taken plant-based alternatives such as Arnica for injuries and the magic fever weapon Belladonna in case things got more serious. And we ran pretty good with it as a family :)
My point is: Given the medical supervision, I've always preferred to try alternative ways to improve my health before getting into "hard medicine" which is exactly how I see CBD. It may help some, others it may not help at all. In German we say: "Probieren geht über studieren" and this would be my honest recommendation for you if you're struggling with stress, anxiety, female cycle pains and the like.
I personally, will continue to use CBD for the moments I feel I need it, which are and should always stay very rare cases.
CBD is totally on trend and can be purchased subscription-free offline and online. In countries where CBD production is not regulated though, you should be careful where to buy it from. Sometimes non-regulated products can be more potent than what the label says and may contain "bigger amounts" of THC. As mentioned above, the amount of THC in CBD oils is restricted to 0.2% in Germany and 0.3% in the US currently. So always check the label and consult with an expert if you're unsure.
Moreover, just like with any other food or substance we consume, quality is key! In the case of CBD this means, ecologically and sustainably grown hemp that is free from chemicals, pesticides and other harmful substances and genetic modifiers. I therefore highly recommend to only purchase CBD products from a trusted source and company for which quality is paramount.
The CBD I use and which you can see in the images is from a company called the Alquemist. They are a Berlin-based startup which deeply cares about the product quality they offer. Plus, they just have the most beautiful design ever :)
I hope you enjoyed this little beginner's guide to Hemp, Marijuana, CBD and the like. Like always, I'd love to hear your opinion and your experiences with Cannabis products, especially CBD. Therefore, message or tag me on Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube or Facebook. Plus, if you have any personal feedback for me, questions with regards to CBD or if you just want to say "hi", comment below or shoot me a personal message through my contact form.
Love & Plants, Karo
NOTE: This article has not been sponsored by a CBD brand. The research was conducted independently by our Bakd&Raw team. Upon request, the company(ies) mentioned in this article solely provided the products for the photos you see above.
1. Felton (2019): Every Question You Have About CBD - Answered. (28.05.2021)
2. Grinspoon (2018): Cannabidiol (CBD) - What We Know and What We Don't. Harvard Health Blog. (28.05.2021)
3. Kubala (2021): 7 Benefits and Uses of CBD Oil (Plus Side Effects) (28.05.2021)
4. Shannon et al. (2016): Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. The Permanente Journal (28.05.2021)
5. Rabbitt (2020): A Beginner's Guide to CBD: What Is It and How It Works. GH. (28.05.2021)