CBD: Three Letters That Swept the Nation
When Frogsong Farm broke ground in 2016, the Coston-Adams family had only an inkling of how popular CBD was about to become. At the time, hemp could only legally be grown in a few states under industrial hemp pilot research programs (a provision made in the 2014 Farm Bill). CBD’s surge in popularity came as a surprise to the public. In 2017 it grew rapidly from a little-known alternative health product to the subject of major national news headlines. Then, late last year, the 2018 Farm Bill nationally legalized hemp farming in the US. Suddenly, it seemed CBD was everywhere: you could buy it online, choosing from CBD-enriched tinctures, gummy bears, dog treats, even shampoos. Hemp legalization had set the stage for a new generation of farmers, along with a new generation of businesses offering hemp & CBD products to the national market.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant family. It interacts with the endocannabinoid system – a body-wide receptor system which regulates pain, inflammation, and temperature-and promotes homeostasis within the body. Unlike THC, which causes the “high” associated with cannabis, CBD is non-intoxicating. Many CBD users report feeling a sense of calm, along with a “body high” in which pain is reduced and the body simply feels good. CBD is undergoing early researchfor its therapeutic use in the treatment of epilepsy, arthritis, anxiety, and even cancer. Those interested in the science behind CBD can peruse ProjectCBD.org, a non-profit resource which offers scientific studies, educational content, and updates on the hemp industry.
Emma Chasen is a Portland-based cannabis educator and owner of Eminent Consulting. After graduating from Brown University in 2014 with a Biology degree focused on Ethnobotany and Medicinal Plant Research, Emma went on to coordinate Clinical Oncology trials with the Brown University Oncology Research Group. Later sherelocated to Portland, where she is a cannabis advocate and educator. “CBD is quite promiscuous in its physiological mechanisms,” she notes. “It can interact with many diverse sets of receptor families, as well as other enzymes and factors in the body. CBD’s ability to interact with our bodies through many different routes may explain its immense therapeutic potential in managing a variety of symptoms.”
CBD can be used in various ways. The most common methods of consumption are internal (taken as a sublingual tincture or edibles), topical (as a lotion or salve), and inhaled (through vaping or smoking). Most clinical trials use sublingual tinctures for their dosage consistency and diverse range of benefits. CBD is commonly used for managing chronic pain, inflammation, and anxiety.
Choosing and Using Quality CBD
This high level of therapeutic potential also comes with pitfalls, as popularity skyrockets and public misconceptions arise. Due to lack of regulation, the industry is weathering waves of subpar and potentially contaminated CBD products. “CBD has immense therapeutic potential; however, it is not a cure-all,” says Chasen. “And not all CBD products are created equal. It is incredibly important to research CBD companies, ask about their practices, inquire about lab results, and consider sourcing before you purchase a product. Once you have sourced good CBD products (like those offered at Frogsong Farm) then you must begin experimenting with consumption to find your ideal dose. Have realistic expectations and engage with other holistic modalities of healing (change in diet, exercise, mental health regimen, incorporating other medicinal herbs, etc.) as needed to optimize symptom relief.”
Concentration is also key. Many people require at least 10 milligrams of CBD per dose to notice effects. Others use between 25-50 or more milligrams a day. A product should have at least 250 milligrams of CBD per ounce, and should be clearly labeled for easy dosing. Avoid products labeled “hemp extract” as it’s impossible to know what’s really inside.
Premium quality CBD is considered very safe when compared to most medicines. There is no known overdose level. Side effects are rare and mild, such as drowsiness and dry mouth. One important note: CBD can affect the absorption of certain pharmaceutical drugs, so check with your doctor before using CBD if your medications warn against consuming grapefruit (grapefruit is a potentiator in the same fashion as CBD).
Whole Plant CBD Versus Processed
The majority of bargain CBD products are made with CBD isolate, a highly processed form of CBD in which only the CBD molecule has been preserved. This white powder no longer contains the other beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other plant compounds scientists are just beginning to understand.
“You can isolate CBD from hemp or cannabis, or you can synthesize the compound in a lab.” Chasen notes. “The problem with lab-synthesized CBD is that it may not be arranged spatially exactly as CBD isolated from plant material.” This can cause issues with how it is absorbed in the body and can influence the observable effects. Even if CBD is isolated from plant material, it will most likely not be as effective as CBD medicine that has been formulated with full-spectrum processing.
Entourage Effect is a theory popularized by Dr. Ethan Russo. The idea is that all compounds within the cannabis matrix work together synergistically to maximize therapeutic potential of cannabis. When taken together, these terpenes, cannabinoids and flavonoids in the cannabis matrix multiply each other’s individual properties to better facilitate symptom relief and optimal physiological response. In other words, when it comes to cannabis and hemp, the whole is worth more than the sum of its parts.
The two magic words? Full-Spectrum. Full-Spectrum CBD extract is a thick, amber-colored, aromatic oil that is minimally processed and contains all the hemp flowers’ beneficial compounds in the ratios present in nature.
The therapeutic use of CBD is just one of many promising applications for hemp. It has been called a wonder crop, and for good reason: no other crop has the potential to feed, clothe, fuel, and help heal humans. Hemp is a hardy and versatile crop that thrives in a variety of conditions. Hemp seeds are a valuable food source around the globe. Fibers are used for fabric, paper, and building materials. Oil is made into biofuel and bioplastics.The flowers produce cannabinoids and terpenes, chemical compounds which have healing and balancing effects on the body.
All this potential is newly attainable thanks to hemp legalization. With legalization also comes a wave of important questions: How should hemp products be regulated? What can consumers expect from CBD companies and CBD products? What is necessary for a hemp company to ride the waves of a new and emerging industry? How will companies succeed after the hype has worn off? And what’s more: could this new industry benefit American farmland and our environment as they pass hands to a younger generation?
Stay tuned for Part Two of our hemp series online and in Green Living’s Autumn edition.
Credits: Rebecca Recker is the Director of Communications for Frogsong Farm, the hemp industry’s first Certified B Corp. Frogsong Farm employs regenerative growing practices and their products are made using organic, all-natural ingredients and are lab tested to guarantee purity & potency.