“That stuff doesn’t work,” comes the all-too-common complaint from people who’ve tried cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-psychoactive compound found in certain strains of cannabis.
CBD does work: research suggests the compound can relieve pain and inflammation, reduce anxiety, and even fight cancer, and that’s why sales of CBD-infused extracts, tinctures, topicals and edibles are booming. In an article published by Forbes, The Hemp Business Journal estimated that the CBD market will grow to a $2.1 Billion market in consumer sales by 2020, with $450 million of those sales coming from hemp-CBD based sources. That’s a 700% increase from 2016. But for many lesser-educated consumers, cannabidiol is still poorly understood, often because it’s commonly consumed in forms that contain THC, and therefore hard to distinguish from garden variety cannabis.
Is CBD by itself a panacea, or an overhyped placebo? Frogsong Farm, a sustainable hemp farm in Woodburn, Oregon, is one of a handful of cultivators focusing extensively on CBD-only products. We’ve put together a guide for understanding and successfully using CBD.
Here’s the how-to:
In its raw plant form, cannabis contains acidic compounds called THCa and CBDa. These are the precursors to their more bioavailable counterparts, THC (the compound known to produce euphoria, or “head high” commonly associated with marijuana) and CBD (A medicinal cannabinoid found in hemp, marijuana, hops, lichen, and certain evergreen trees). In order for the body to fully access these cannabinoids, they must be decarboxylated. The most common way to “decarb” is by heating. This can be done through cooking, smoking, or vaporizing. Find out if the CBD supplement you’re using is “raw” or “active.” While some medical conditions may improve by using the raw plant form CBDa, most people reap greater benefit from active, bioavailable CBD. This is essential to understand, especially for folks wishing to experiment with homemade CBD products. Raw flowers must be heated correctly for maximum effectiveness.
At Frogsong Farm, we do this step for you. The CBD extract in all our products is already decarboxylated and ready for the body to utilize.
Find Your Dosage
There is no established recommended daily allowance of CBD. There is also no known overdose level. CBD is only approved federally for use as a nutritional supplement. This leaves consumers unsure of how much to take. 10-40 mg per day is a starting point for the average consumer looking for wellness benefits like mental clarity, improved sleep, relief from arthritis and chronic pain, and reduced inflammation. For sleep disorders, 40-160 mg are often used. On the other hand, epilepsy and schizophrenia treatment can range from 200-1,200 mg/day. Body weight, cannabinoid sensitivity, and desired results should all be considered. They key is to experiment.
Start low, go slow. Choose a dose and time(s) of day, and do it consistently for 7-10 days. After that time, the endocannabinoid system will be primed and dosage can be adjusted as needed.
For those wanting to understand their body’s response to CBD, it’s best to isolate it from mind-altering amounts of THC. The psychoactive effects of THC can make it difficult to distinguish CBD’s more subtle effects on mood, relaxation, and stress response. Research has shown a synergistic effect between CBD and THC, leading some consumers to avoid using non-psychoactive or hemp-derived CBD supplements altogether. However, it’s important to know that most whole-plant CBD extracts still contain trace amounts of THC, which, while not enough to get you high, can still complement the body’s response to CBD.
Most medical marijuana experts recommend using whole-plant extracts, which contain a broad array of cannabinoids, terpenes, and phytochemicals working together in what’s known as the “Entourage Effect.” THC and CBD tend to reduce one another’s side effects, resulting in a more effective and pleasant experience overall. But the notion that CBD is ineffective without THC is incorrect.
Frogsong Farm makes broad spectrum, whole-plant CBD extracts, in keeping with our commitment to honoring the earth and its inherent wisdom. Stay tuned for future posts about the Entourage Effect and why broad spectrum is preferable to CBD isolate.
Consider Delivery Method
There are many ways to consume CBD, and the ideal method will depend on an individual’s symptoms. Topical products are best for localized pain management, as in arthritis, nerve pain, muscle tension and athletic injuries. Topical CBD does not enter the bloodstream. Instead, it penetrates into the skin and activates local endo-cannabinoid receptors responsible for mediating pain perception, inflammation, and body temperature. Applying a CBD salve or lotion can relieve pain and stiffness in as little as 5-10 minutes. Products can be reapplied as needed.
Ingesting CBD also has its benefits. Sublingual and edible are the two common ways to use CBD internally. When cannabidiol is eaten, whether in a smoothie, a handful of gummies, or a bottle of kombucha, it enters the digestive system. Please note that up to 60% of CBD can be lost during digestion. This is why we promote sublingual CBD oil: its first points of contact are the highly absorbent blood vessels beneath the tongue and in the throat. From there, the rest can be digested and utilized within the body. Results set in more slowly with internal consumption (as anyone who has experimented with edibles can tell you.) Within 1-2 hours the CBD has entered the bloodstream via the small intestine and is activated throughout the body. For treatment of widespread pain and inflammation, as well as anxiety, depression, neurological disorders and sleep issues, internal use of CBD is recommended. This is the most researched method and considered most effective.
Bottom line: Topical CBD is faster-acting and provides localized relief, while ingestible CBD is slower-acting and offers generalized relief.
Know What To Expect
Our culture is intimately familiar with stimulants and depressants of all types. We know how different substances affect our bodies and brains, and how and when to dose to get the desired effects. Even many herbal remedies have noticeable mind- and body-altering effects. CBD is different. Consider it a reset button. CBD works by promoting homeostasis throughout the brain and body. CBD is a balancer. Those with anxiety may feel calmer. Those with depression may feel lifted. Insomnia is replaced with rest. Mental fog turns into alertness and clarity. Or put another way: CBD removes barriers to wellbeing so the mind and body can find optimal function.
This is an important distinction. CBD will not cause a person to feel unnaturally relaxed, wired, or giddy. At a time when many of us swing from one high to another, CBD provides an opportunity to feel grounded, balanced, and unaltered.
Bonus Tip: Know What You’re Getting
The “Green Rush” has a dark side. Put plainly, there are scores of scammers hoping to cash in on the CBD buzz, especially in the online market. This means the market is flooded with knockoffs, toxic contaminants, and multi-level marketing companies spouting misinformation and half truths. A 2017 study by Penn State found that nearly 70% of all cannabidiol products sold online were mislabeled. This has serious health implications, especially for buyers with health conditions requiring a certain dosage for management of symptoms. Only buy from reputable companies that are willing to provide a certificate of analysis (COA) from third party lab testing. Be sure that the milligrams of CBD per dose, and per container, is clearly labeled and easy to understand.
Choose companies with clear answers, honest customer reviews, easily accessible lab testing, and preferably a trustworthy farmer who you can see face to face! There are too many good CBD options to settle for anything less than excellence.
Still have questions? Let’s connect! Find Frogsong Farm on Facebook, Instagram, or send us an email. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to sign up for our email list (scroll to the bottom of our website) to be notified about future content!
Peace, Love & CBD
Becca Recker & the Frogsong Farm Family
Becca Recker is Director of Communications for Frogsong Farm. With a background in organic farming and permaculture design, Rebecca has been writing about soil health and local food access for nine years. The author of several blogs, she has contributed to articles for Oregon Leaf and Green Living PDX magazines, as well as the following websites: Civilized, Splimm, Miss Grass, and Flowertown. She has been a featured guest on the Periodic Effects and Your Highness podcasts.