What is CBD?

A cannabis plant has over 480 different compounds. THC and CBD are the two big ones most people know about. THC is the one that gets you high. CBD is the one that doesn’t get you high, but is packed with medical benefits. We refer to them as cannabinoids.

In recent years, the western world has discovered CBD can be used to treat a wide spectrum of ailments, from reducing seizures to fighting cancer. We have the internet to thank for getting information out about CBD.

Suddenly it seems like a niche obsession has exploded into a mainstream phenomenon. Your coffee shop down the street is putting CBD into your morning latte and CBD gummies are everywhere. Coca-Cola is even considering CBD-infused beverages.

Candy edibles, tinctures of oil, vape pens, lotions, bath salts, flower products and even suppositories infused with CBD are hitting store shelves — CBD for pets is a thing too.

All CBD products are not the same. For CBD to really work optimally, it needs to be served with some THC. Some refer to it as the entourage effect. Complimentary CBD and THC work together in the body to maintain a healthy level of cannabinoids. Think of your Endocannabinoid System (ECS) as the maestro or conductor for your body. Receptors in the ECS benefit from CBD and THC working together.

Where does CBD come from?

FLOWER (BUDS) – The highest concentration of CBD, THC or any other compound is usually found in the flower, also known as “buds” or “nugs”.

Flower-based CBD products cannot be shipped over state lines in the U.S. Yet, they are the most effective medical products available to patients. Certain strains are bred to have high levels of CBD with lower levels of THC.

LEAVES – Cannabis plant leaves do contain minor amounts of compounds such as CBD or THC. When making butter or oil, leaves can be used as they are cost effective.

Often times, during harvest the leaves are thrown to the side with little perceived value.

HEMP – The stalk of the plant is where hemp comes from. Large hemp farming operations tend to grow male cannabis plants because they’re flowers are insignificant compared to the female plants. Hemp was recently legalized in the U.S., and while CBD technically exists in the stalk of the plant, it’s not nearly as effective as CBD from the flowers. However, hemp-based CBD products are where the bulk of what is driving popularity and curiosity.

By itself, CBD is not as beneficial. It would be like having a taco shell without the filling. In this analogy, the taco shell is the CBD. The taco filling is the THC. Together, they’re much better than just the shell by itself.

Interest in CBD is growing exponentially, due in part to hemp-based CBD products. Hemp-based products have fewer restrictions, and a lower level of medical benefit.

A bit about ratios

When medicating with CBD, not everyone wants to get high or feel the psychoactive effect. So the challenge becomes how to get the entourage effect without the high.

Ratios help figure out how much of each the patient is comfortable with. Look on the label of most CBD products and often times a ratio such as 20:1 or 10:1 is listed.

20:1 means there’s twenty parts of CBD to one part of THC. A higher ratio means less psychoactive effect. The lower the ratio, the closer the patient gets to unlocking the true medical benefit of CBD. For example, a 2:1 ratio is ideal for patients dealing with pain, however, the patient is likely to feel high due to the high level of THC.

Get to know THCa

Patients will want to get to know THCa. THCa is THC before it becomes psychoactive with heat, known as decarboxylation.

Cannabis companies are starting to offer powerful medical products that achieve idea ratios (such as 2:1 for pain) but with THCa instead of THC.

That means the patients can realize everything they could want out of their medicine with CBD and THCa. But THC, CBD and THCa are just part of the story. There are a number of important cannabinoids identified to have specific medical applications.

Key Cannabinoids

Look for new products hitting the shelves with specific cannabinoids highlighted. Scientists continue to discover new compounds in the cannabis plant (there are over 480!). Without access to medical research, scientists will have to wait until cannabis is either decriminalized at the federal level, or fully legalized. At that moment, the floodgates will open up and let us explore what this plant is capable of.

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