Many people interested in CBD struggle to have their questions answered around this powerful natural health and wellness supplement. Misinformation and sensationalist reporting across the web and in print can make it hard to learn and understand CBD and how it can help you.
We’ve compiled a list of the questions that we get asked most frequently. Our answers are based on the latest scientific findings and published research, giving you a comprehensive, reputable source of CBD information.
What is the difference between CBD and THC?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid found in cannabis (both hemp and marijuana), while THC, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is a different cannabinoid that is only found in very low concentrations in hemp. CBD doesn’t cause the same effects as THC as it interacts differently with the brain’s CB1 and CB2 receptors.
The main difference between CBD and THC is that CBD is not associated with any psychoactive effects, while THC causes the characteristic marijuana high. Both interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
CBD is typically used to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, migraines and inflammation, while THC is more often used for glaucoma and insomnia (as well as for pain and anxiety).
Worldwide, with a few exceptions, marijuana with its high levels of THC is restricted, while CBD is legal in most countries, as long as the level of THC stays below 0.2%.
CBD is safe, even in large quantities, and the only known side effects are as a result of interactions with other medications. THC has few temporary side effects, including dry mouth, red eyes, slower response times, a ‘high’ feeling, decreased coordination and memory loss. There is a risk of developing schizophrenia if the person has a predisposition to the condition, but the likelihood of addiction is low.
How does CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system?
If you’ve done any reading on CBD, you’ve likely heard of its health benefits, including relief for stress and anxiety, reduced inflammation and pain, and improved mood and immunity.
But how does it work?
Through CBD’s interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Only recently discovered, researchers began understanding the endocannabinoid system in the 1960s and 1970s while researching the effects of cannabis on the human body. The body’s endocannabinoid system is sensitive and can easily be thrown out of balance by diet, exercise and stress levels.
Scientists studied the interaction of phytochemicals on the body and discovered a system of receptors, enzymes and pathways that manufacture and use endocannabinoids (natural cannabinoids produced within the body.)
The system is made up of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes responsible for the synthesis and break down of cannabinoids.
In the same way that neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine send messages throughout the nervous system, endocannabinoids are the ECS’s messengers.
Receptors receive the messengers, binding with specific neurotransmitters that then impact mood, sensation, and immunity. Different cell types have different receptors, the most common of which are CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are found in the highest concentrations in the central nervous system but are also found throughout the rest of the body. In the brain, they moderate mood, motor function, memory, and pain perception. Elsewhere in the body, they have a role to play in pregnancy, cardiovascular health, digestion and hormone production.
CB2 receptors are found most commonly in the immune system, helping to moderate inflammation and the body’s immune response to pathogens.
CBD, rather than binding to the receptor, modifies its abilities to bind to other cannabinoids (either those found within the body or phytocannabinoids.)
Enzymes control the production and breakdown of endocannabinoids. The two enzymes that have the most amount of research are FAAH and MAGL. FAAH degrades anandamide which regulates food intake, motivation and pleasure. MAGL which breaks down 2-AG the endocannabinoid that regulates appetite, immune system functions and pain management. Both enzymes are inhibited by CBD, increasing the levels of feel-good anandamide and 2-AG in the body.
Can you get high taking CBD?
The quick, simple answer is no, you can’t. Unlike THC, CBD does not give users a ‘high’. Because of its association with marijuana, there is often the mistaken perception that CBD is psychoactive. While both THC and CBD occur naturally in cannabis plants, hemp-derived CBD contains extremely low levels of THC and has no psychoactive effects.
Both CBD and THC have an impact on CB1 receptors in the brain, but while THC activates the receptors (causing a euphoric high), CBD is actually a CB1 antagonist and blocks any intoxicating impacts. In addition, CBD interacts more with the parts of the brain that reduces inflammation because it has a stronger affinity to CB2 receptors.
What is the recommended dosage for CBD, depending on age, weight etc?
The best place to start is following the recommended dosage on the packaging of the CBD oil that you have purchased. But the right dosage varies from person to person. One option is to speak with a naturopathic doctor who will give you a specific dosage recommendation taking into account your age, weight, and desired results. Other factors that may affect your dosage include your sex, your metabolic rate and the quality of the CBD.
Another option is to work with the serving standard of 25mg of CBD, taken twice a day. If you don’t experience the desired effects, you can slowly increase your dose by 25mg every three or four weeks.
It can be difficult to get the dosage right initially, especially as CBD products are available in a wide range of sizes and concentrations, and you’ll need to have a look at the bottle to determine how many milligrams are in each serving. In general, capsules and gummies will have an exact amount of CBD per serving. But it becomes a bit more difficult if you’re taking CBD in tincture or spray form. This might need a quick calculation… Each drop is 0.05ml, so if you have a 10ml bottle, it will contain 200 drops. If you have a bottle that contains 500ml of CBD, you then need to divide the size of the bottle by the number of drops.
In this example, each drop would contain 2.5mg of CBD (500mg/200 drops), so to take a dosage of 25mg of CBD, you would need to take ten drops.
It’s always important to speak to your doctor about what dose to start with, especially if you have an underlying medical condition or are taking other medication as CBD might interact with your medication.
Can you build a tolerance to CBD?
Research indicates long-term use of CBD doesn’t increase your tolerance. In fact, it’s likely to have the opposite effect. Called ‘reverse tolerance’ it is possible that with repeated CBD use over a long period of time, you can decrease the amount of CBD you take and you will find relief for your symptoms with lower and lower doses.
While THC works to diminish the effectiveness of your ECS receptors with repeated use over a long period of time, CBD promotes an increase in the activity of the receptors. There is no breakdown of the interaction within the ECS, so it stays continually active, and effectiveness is not reduced.
To get a good understanding of the effects that CBD is having on your body, it can be helpful to keep a daily log. Take note of the amount you’re taking, when you take it, and effects that you feel both physically and mentally. Reflecting on the notes, you will be able to see a pattern and decide whether you need to increase or decrease your dosage.
Could CBD be addictive?
There is no research to support the hypothesis that CBD is addictive. It is even being studied as a natural treatment in the rehabilitation of patients with drug addictions and is linked to reducing heroin cravings. Long-term use is not to be confused with addiction. Many people use CBD on a regular basis for years at a time for its physical and mental benefits, but do not develop a physical or psychological addition.
Can you overdose on CBD?
CBD is non-toxic and has no known poisonous effects when ingested by humans, and no deaths have been reported from a CBD overdose. It is, however, possible to consume too much CBD too quickly, and this can cause a range of potential side effects such as nausea and diarrhoea, as well as drowsiness, poor concentration and balance issues.
When taken in excess (more than 20mg per kg per day), CBD may cause liver damage. But such high doses are almost unheard of as a 100kg person would need to take 2000 mg of CBD every day, that’s 800% more than the standard recommended daily dose..
There! That’s a round-up of the questions we get asked most often about CBD. Often the confusion comes in when people mistakenly associate CBD with marijuana. While the higher THC levels found in marijuana can cause a high, CBD cannot. In the UK, broad-spectrum CBD products need to be derived from hemp and are required by law to have a THC level of less than 0.2% according to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. In addition, CBD has been found to be non-addictive, and the likelihood of a hemp-derived CBD overdose from is extremely low.
With the health concerns out the way, it’s helpful to have an understanding of how CBD works with the body’s endocannabinoid system to offer a range of physical and mental health benefits. And the good news is that, unlike many other supplements, CBD is linked to ‘reverse tolerance so, over time, you can experience the same benefits at a lower and lower dose.