There’s no denying it: Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the year’s hottest trend. The non-psychotropic cousin of THC has made its way into everything from aromatherapy to ice cream.
Now that recent federal legislation has declassified hemp as a controlled substance, it’s safe to say the CBD party is just getting started. In fact, a new analysis from the Brightfield Group predicts the market will reach $22 billion by 2022. Even some national retailers, including The Vitamin Shoppe, have begun stocking their shelves with CBD hemp extract.
Thing is, the hype leaves many of us with one very important question: What exactly is CBD? Here, we break down what you need to know.
The CBD Basics
Cannabidiol is one of many compounds known as ‘cannabinoids’ found within the hemp plant.
Another of these cannabinoids: THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is psychoactive and responsible for getting you ‘high.’
So, first and foremost, it’s important to understand that CBD doesn’t have any of the mind-altering effects often associated with THC, says Mary Clifton, M.D., a NYC-based internist licensed to prescribe medical marijuana.
That said, hemp and marijuana do both come from the same cannabis plant family; they’re just bred to contain different levels of the different compounds, depending on what the farmer wants to harvest.
Farmers also harvest different parts of the plant for different uses, Clifton says. (Hemp oil, for example, comes from the seeds.) Under the new federal law, hemp cannot have more than 0.3 percent THC.
The Rise Of CBD
For years, many considered hemp and hemp-derived products exclusive to crowds at Burning Man and natural medicine gurus. But times have certainly changed.
It’s tough to pinpoint an exact moment that CBD went mainstream. However, as with many trends, celebrities helped kick it into the limelight. Mandy Moore, for example, shared that she experimented with CBD oil while prepping for the 2018 Golden Globes, while Olivia Wilde used CBD lotion while performing in 1984 on Broadway.
A-listers aren’t the only reason for CBD’s immense popularity, though.
As the self-care movement grows and consumers continue to seek out natural solutions for supporting their health, plant-powered CBD hemp extract has become more and more appealing. After all, if Mother Nature can help us feel more balanced, why not take her up on it?
The Science Surrounding CBD
Despite CBD’s rise in popularity—and the recent change in federal hemp laws—there are, unfortunately, few large-scale, in-depth studies that analyze its benefits. However, the limited research that is available has already proven promising, says Juli Crockett, director of compliance at MMLG, a California-based cannabis compliance, licensing, and investment consultancy.
Some research suggests CBD supports our endocannabinoid system, which regulates our bodies in a number of ways.
While much of the other research on CBD’s benefits is still developing, it’s become clear that your method of use matters. Some studies have shown that taking CBD orally could be most productive.
For now, consider us patiently waiting for scientists to play catch-up on the CBD trend. Surely, in years to come, we’ll know more about the extent of its benefits.
Shopping For CBD
Benefiting from CBD requires finding a quality product—and using it properly.
Small brands can pop up out of nowhere with little attention paid to how they develop and label products. In fact, one 2017 Journal of the American Medical Association study found that 26 percent of 84 CBD products tested contained less CBD than advertised. What’s more, some also contained up to 6.4 milligrams of THC per milliliter. The researchers suggest this amount “may be sufficient to produce intoxication or impairment.”
Choose any old CBD product in your corner bodega or smoke shop and you may miss out on the benefits you seek. Plus, you may also subject yourself to effects you weren’t looking for in the first place.
If a brand is the real deal, they’ll provide a certificate of analysis, or COA, which confirms that a third-party, independent lab has tested the product. It also shares important details about the product, like:
- total cannabinoids (indicates the product’s potency, which should match the label)
- microbiological testing (confirms that the product is free from contaminants, residual solvents, and pesticides; confirms that the hemp used to make the product was mold-free)
Ultimately, doing your homework and purchasing CBD products from reputable, well-established brands is a must. (Two currently sold at select The Vitamin Shoppe stores: Irwin Naturals and Garden of Life.)
When trying out your product, remember that CBD hemp extract we swallow (think softgels) can take 60 to 90 minutes to be digested and absorbed, says Clifton. (According to Crockett, factors like your diet or how long ago you ate can impact this process, too.) Also keep in mind that CBD hemp extract is not one size fits all. Start out small and consult with an expert for extra guidance.
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