What is CBD?

Although it was first discovered in 1940, it seems as if CBD exploded onto the scene almost overnight, climbing its way from an obscure ingredient with a narrow but devoted fan base to a wellness staple that today appears in many forms, including tinctures, balms, lotions, and even teas. And while CBD is now more popular than ever, it also remains misunderstood, subject to several common misconceptions and an unfortunate gap in public knowledge surrounding its origins and therapeutic effects. Because we believe CBD to be a truly game-changing ingredient, and because there’s ample research to back this up, we thought we’d make a CBD primer for the curious, the uninitiated, and the skeptical. 

Before diving into the more complex stuff, let’s first establish what CBD even stands for. CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of the 100+ active compounds found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. These compounds, known as cannabinoids or phytocannabinoids, all interact differently with our bodies, and more research is being done every day to better understand what they can do for us and how we can most effectively incorporate them into our lives.  

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about CBD is that it works by partnering with our endocannabinoid system, a molecular system that exists in all of our bodies regardless of whether or not we consume cannabis in any form. While you may never have heard of the endocannabinoid system, it turns out that it actually plays a hugely important role in our overall health. The endocannabinoid system is a cell signaling system that essentially helps regulate our immune system, metabolism, cell communication, memory, and more. To put it in non-scientific terms, it controls when and how often our cells are communicating with each other, carefully monitoring all of the back and forth to make sure that our bodies are doing the right thing at the right time and in the right amount. 

So what role does CBD play in all of this? Great question. You can think of CBD as the perfect partner in crime to your body’s endocannabinoid system. It bolsters the health of the various components that make up this system — receptors, enzymes, and ion channels — ensuring that their critical regulatory abilities don’t degrade over time. In other words, CBD acts as an important booster to our health, working in tandem with the endocannabinoid system to better prevent and ease common ailments like inflammation, chronic pain, sleeplessness, and anxiety. 

Another important thing to note about CBD is that no, it won’t get you high. Studies have shown that CBD can be safely consumed, even in very high doses, with zero perception-altering psychoactive effects. Why is this? Certain receptors in our brain are designed to bind to the euphoria-inducing cannabinoids (THC) in the Cannabis Sativa plant, but CBD attaches to entirely different receptors. This means that you can reap all of the benefits of CBD without fear of any wooziness. And because the endocannabinoid system immediately recognizes CBD, it metabolizes quickly, meaning that its effects can be felt and seen quickly compared to other active ingredients. 

The reality is that as much as we know about CBD, there is still a lot to learn about what it can do for us. While it’s important to establish the basics, we believe that it’s equally important to dig deeper, to consider all of the research, and to ask questions about where our CBD comes from, how it was grown, and what its effects are, both internal and external. We’ll be covering all of this in our coming CBD series, and we’re grateful to be able to share this vital knowledge, so stay tuned. 

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