CBD, short for cannabidiol, has become the buzzword of the day in holistic health circles. Although CBD oil, extracts, and other products are made from cannabis plants, they’re therapeutic agents, not psychoactive drugs. It’s now possible to find an incredible array of products infused with this beneficial compound, and some consumers are touting it as a miracle cure-all.
While CBD certainly isn’t a cure-all, clinical studies are beginning to show its effectiveness at managing certain chronic pain conditions, inflammation, mental health problems, and other ailments. This begs the question: how does it work? Read on to find out what researchers currently know about how CBD works on the mind and body to produce its beneficial effects.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body by regulating sleep-wake cycles, digestion, mood, and cognition. It extends throughout the body and brain and consists primarily of the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2.
Unlike THC, CBD only acts indirectly on endocannabinoid receptors. It helps to slow down the metabolism of natural endocannabinoids like adenosine to help keep this system regulated and prevent the body’s many essential systems from being thrown out of balance.
Where CBD Comes From
Most of the CBD products manufactured in the United States are derived from hemp plants, a form of cannabis known for its low THC concentrations. Farmers grow the plants, then oil, tincture, topical manufacturers extract the CBD or, in some cases, the full array of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytochemicals from the flowers to produce the products today’s consumers have come to know and love. There are many ways to extract CBD and other phytochemicals from hemp flowers, but the best products are made using safe extraction methods that leave behind no toxic residues.
Benefits of Using CBD
CBD is a versatile natural supplement. Its primary use is supporting overall wellness, but many people who struggle with chronic pain, insomnia, inflammation, and anxiety also report that it helps them manage their conditions. Studies show that hemp-based CBD is well-tolerated by almost everyone.
Those who have been paying attention have probably noticed that it’s now possible to buy diverse products infused with CBD. That includes not just products designed for internal use such as oils, tinctures, and edibles, but also skin and hair care products, massage oils, lip balms, and other topicals designed to harness the power of this natural substance to maintain healthy skin.
There are three categories of CBD extracts that can be infused into products: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolates. Isolates contain only CBD and are generally not as effective. Full-spectrum products contain all of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in male cannabis plants, including very small amounts of THC. Broad-spectrum products have had the THC removed but are otherwise similar to full-spectrum alternatives.
All of these products can form integral parts of Americans’ wellness routines, but full-spectrum CBD oil and other products are largely believed to be the most effective since they take advantage of the entourage effect. The entourage effect describes a process by which the phytochemicals found in cannabis plants work in concert to maximize effectiveness and provide optimal results.
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