What is it?
CBD is short for cannabidiol. This is a lipid. Lipids are one of the four main building blocks of all living things, along with carbohydrates, nucleic acids and proteins. CBD has built up a significant cult following in recent years and is becoming increasingly popular with many groups. Elite athletes, people with chronic illnesses and some medical professionals are some of the sectors of society that have been publicising the effects of this molecule. CBD is not water-soluble and has to be dissolved in an oil or an alcohol to be used.
CBD has numerous reported health benefits. It is being used clinically in Canada under the name Sativex. This is used to treat neuropathic pain in people who suffer from MS, or Multiple Sclerosis. This debilitating disease causes degradation and scarring of many of the nerves in the body and is a great burden to many people worldwide. Research is still ongoing in this field and it may be of use in neuropathic pain in other illnesses that cause them. In another study, rats were given heroin in the laboratory to become addicted.
CBD was then administered to the test rodents in an effort to ameliorate their condition. The CBD was found to break addiction cycles and patterns in the rats and greatly reduced their addiction. A similar effect has been reported anecdotally by human sufferers of the same addiction, where many have reported that using CBD was a key part of their journey away from addiction.
CBD has also been suggested to have a positive effect on those living with addictions to other drugs, such as tobacco and cannabis. Another reported effect of CBD is that it has been shown to reduce the anxiety-related side effects of THC, another medication used in MS treatment in Canada. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties in the human body. This implies that it may be of use as a painkiller. This idea is supported by much anecdotal evidence from people who use it to treat chronic pain issues. A large number of Mixed Martial Arts fighters have endorsed CBD products as having helped them speed up their recovery times, and this is also true of a number of NFA players in the US. Much research is still ongoing about these and the myriad other purported benefits of CBD to human health and nutrition.
Where does it come from?
CBD is produced by plants in the genus Cannabis. These plants are native in the wild to Central Asia, with a range stretching from Turkey in the West to India, Nepal and possibly the South-East Asian peninsula also. The plants’ medicinal properties seem to have been known to many ancient cultures, and so were grown and used by many of these peoples outside of the plant’s original range.
Cannabis sativa was an important herb in ancient Chinese medicine and many treatises and manuals of the time point to it as an essential medicine. It appears to have been used for a wide range of ailments from nervous disorders, falling hair, ulcers, and stopping ‘fluxes’. Parts of the plant were also used as an anaesthetic.
Although ancient cultures had no way of knowing, it was likely to have been the CBD in the hemp plants which provided their medical benefits. Other cultures have been seen to use the plant in the past also. A neolithic grave in The Netherlands, from 4200-4400 years ago, was found to contain numerous Cannabis seeds, along with some material of meadowsweet or Filipendula ulmaria. Meadowsweet is known to have fever-reducing properties, so this find implicates that CBD may have been being used, if inadvertently, at least as early as since people began to farm.
CBD Detected – The 20th Century
CBD itself was first isolated in 1940 in the USA by two chemists, Adams and Todd. It was not until 1963 that the exact structure of CBD was discovered by Mechoulam and his research team at the University of Jerusalem. Mechoulam and his colleagues used NMR – nuclear magnetic resonance, a new technology at the time. This involves the use of an enormous electromagnet that can have a mass of many tonnes and is a costly technique.
From having the absolute structure and knowing exactly what atom fits where on the CBD molecule, researchers have since that time been able to predict possible effects the molecule will have on biological organisms, such as humans and our pet mammals.
How can I use it?
There is a huge diversity of products currently being produced that contain CBD oil. A very common way to use CBD oil is as a tincture. This is CBD diluted in an oil or an alcohol, which can be applied to the inside of the mouth. The tincture will generally come in a small bottle, of glass or plastic. Some tinctures include a dropper so that users can place a certain amount of drops underneath the tongue or behind the gums. Other tinctures have a spray head with which people can spray a fine mist in the inside of their mouths.
Although tinctures are the most commonly seen applicators of CBD oil, some companies have been innovative and produced a number of other ways to use CBD. Transdermal patches are available. These are similar to the nicotine patches used in stopping smoking, where an adhesive side of a square of rubberised plastic is impregnated with CBD instead of nicotine, to be placed on the upper part of a limb. There are ways CBD oil can be applied to the skin: lotions, skin creams, gels, rubs and face masks are just some of the myriad ways to use CBD topically.
With the numerous ways of using CBD oil to improve health, and more benefits being publicised almost daily, there are a great number of options and reasons to use CBD oil.