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Everything You Ever Need To Know About CBD & Hemp

Written by Dr. Leah Zachar

What is CBD and how does it work?

CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol, the most prominent naturally occurring cannabinoid component found in hemp and comprises up to 40% of the hemp plant. According to the US Government, cannabidiol is “…devoid of psychoactive effect.” After THC (9-tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is by far the most studied natural cannabinoid. Additionally, CBD is increasingly the subject of advanced medical research and may be the single most important cannabinoid ever discovered.

What’s this entourage effect I keep hearing about?

The “entourage effect” is a term scientists use to describe the interaction between various compounds in cannabis. It is widely believed that when consumed together, certain cannabinoids and other compounds have more beneficial effect than when consumed independently.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are naturally occurring compounds produced by a variety of plants. Terpenes and terpenoids are responsible for the distinctive scents of pine trees, lavender, citrus fruits and all the varieties of cannabis. The terpene profiles of the various cannabis plants are incredibly diverse and influence the flavor, scent and overall character of each strain.

Is CBD and THC the same thing?

No, they are different compounds. CBD and THC are both cannabinoids, but THC produces psychoactive effects causing a drugged symptom commonly known as a “high”. Although all CBD extractions will contain some THC, CBD hemp plants are selected, cultivated and processed to minimize THC content to trace amounts within regulatory limitations and are devoid of psychoactive effects.

What is the difference between CBD and THC?

CBD and THC both come from different variants of hemp. The term marijuana refers to the variant of hemp rich in THC and therefore to its psychoactive effect. CBD, unlike THC, does not cause the high. CBD is considered an antagonist of THC & is thus able to limit the psychoactive effects as well as the side effects of THC such as anxiety & paranoia.

Unlike THC, CBD can be used to treat psychosis. It has also been shown that CBD has neuroprotective effects, it is effective against the proliferation of cancer cells, prevents osteoporosis, & accelerates fracture healing. New benefits of CBD are being discovered nearly every day.

Is CBD medical cannabis and do I need a doctor’s recommendation?

Because CBD is derived from hemp and is non-psychoactive (due to containing less than 0.3% THC) a doctor’s recommendation is not necessary.

Can I pass a drug test if I use CBD?

YES. Fortunately, the urine drug screen for THC-COOH has negligible cross-reactivity to the other cannabinoids which are not psychoactive. Therefore, if you take any product with CBD (cannabidiol), CBG (cannabigerol), CBN (cannabinol), as long as there is less than 0.3% THC, the drug test will be negative. This is good news for consumers of CBD/hemp oil.

That said, individuals using unusually large doses of a cannabinoid-rich hemp oil product (above 1000-2000 mg of hemp oil daily) could theoretically test positive during the initial urinary screen.

Why do cannabinoid levels vary?

The percentage of both CBD and THC varies depending on the type of plant. CBD rich hemp has virtually no trace of THC, while marijuana grown for recreational use tends to have much higher levels of THC and lower degrees of CBD. Selectively bred hemp contains the highest amount of CBD.

How is hemp different from marijuana? Why grow hemp and not marijuana for CBD?

Scientifically and genetically, industrial hemp and marijuana can be the same plant, with a genus and species name of Cannabis Sativa. Industrial hemp is always a strain of cannabis sativa, while marijuana can be cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, or cannabis ruderalis.
The major difference is how industrial hemp has been bred compared to a marijuana form of cannabis sativa.

Industrial hemp is very fibrous, with long strong stalks, and barely has any flowering buds, while a marijuana strain of cannabis sativa will be smaller, bushier, and full of flowering buds. Marijuana, 99% of the time, has a high amount of THC and only a very low amount of CBD. Hemp, on the other hand, naturally has a very high amount of CBD, and naturally has a low, trace amount of THC.’ Hemp is used for making remedies, food, fiber, rope, paper, bricks, oil, natural plastic, and has an enormous amount of medicinal purposes.
Marijuana is generally used for getting high, but also has some medicinal effects.

Are there side effects to CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD), and other phytochemical constituents of cannabis are generally safe. In hemp’s thousands of years of use there has not been one recorded fatality or major illness due to its use.

Are CBD hemp products legal in the USA?

CBD, when extracted from hemp and not marijuana, is legal in all 50 states. We do advise to be extra diligent and double check with local legislation in your area.
Is CBD from hemp as good as CBD from marijuana?
Yes. CBD is CBD, whether from marijuana or hemp. Most marijuana has a very low cannabidiol profile, so usually the CBD supplied is extracted from hemp because of the naturally large amount of CBD contained within it.

One last note on this topic is that when CBD is taken orally, your body will build up a storage of cannabidiol in the adipose tissue of the body, which is unlike what happens when most chemicals are taken. In contrast, alcohol, is usually absent from the blood stream and body within 24-48 hours after ingestion. Cannabidiol is fat soluble, may remain in the adipose tissue of the body for weeks, providing the opportunity to maintain a “maintenance level” in the bloodstream. This is important to know because after a few weeks of using CBD oil a lesser amount may be required to achieve the same positive effects as compared to the original servings.

[Image Credit: Pixabay]

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  • Interesting article.
    Re: the statement that “CBD … comprises up to 40% of the hemp plant.” Amazing.

About the author

Dr. Leah Zachar

Dr. Leah Zachar, M.D. is a physician who worked for nearly thirty years in Internal Medicine.
She currently is a scientific adviser to CBD Testers. Dr. Zachar believes that there is much that medical cannabis, and cannabidiol in particular can offer to traditional medicine.