CBD, the non-psychoactive chemical found in hemp and marijuana, has gained a lot of recent attention for its potential benefits. It’s also becoming more widely available, sold in numerous forms alongside other popular herbal remedies. With so many choices, capsules, creams, oils and more, how can we know which form of CBD is best?What Is CBD and How Does it Work?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is the second most abundant chemical found in marijuana after tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t get you high, even though it works along the same nerve receptors in the brain. Instead of unlocking the receptors, which is what THC does, it interacts with the chemicals that do and augments the way they work.
CBD influences numerous types of receptors, including those that regulate serotonin. This can affect anxiety levels, appetite and ability to sleep, among other functions. CBD also influences vanilloid receptors, which affect body temperature, inflammation levels and pain perception. Other affected neurotransmitters may reduce Alzheimer’s risks, and some may even protect against seizures and certain types of cancer. So which form is best and how do we find the types we need for our specific conditions or ailments?
CBD capsules are a quick and easy way to get daily CBD. Unlike creams and oils, the dosing is more likely to be exact in capsule form, which may make this method of delivery a good choice for people who want to keep a strict regimen.
Capsules can be a great option for people with chronic conditions, such as fibromyalgia, who want to maintain regular and consistent CBD levels.
One downside is that capsules aren’t the quickest way to feel the effects of CBD. According to Consumer Reports, capsules only start relieving symptoms about 30 minutes after ingestion.
We can also ingest CBD in the form of edibles, like gummy bears. These may be a good alternative for people who have difficulty swallowing capsules. Edibles come in different potencies, so we can raise and lower the dosage as needed for relief. Some edibles even cater to specific needs. For example, some night-time gummies also contain melatonin to make them a more effective sleep aid.
Like capsules, CBD edibles are slow-acting, taking 30 minutes or more to take effect. The other ingredients in the edibles could also affect how the body absorbs the CBD, potentially making it one of the least efficient options.
CBD creams are fast becoming a popular option. Even chain retail stores like CVS are getting on the CBD cream bandwagon, making topical forms of the supplement available all across the states.
CBD rubs are good for localized pain and inflammation, such as arthritis. For those who frequently use a sports rub to spot-relieve symptoms, a CBD cream might be just what they’ve been looking for.
The downside? An effective cream needs to contain a lot of CBD, which can often lead to a hefty price tag.
We can consume CBD oil in two different ways: we can eat it, which may be difficult for those who don't like the taste of the oil, or we can vape it. E-cigarette devices, or “vape pens," work by heating up a small portion of CBD oil until it boils and creates a vapor, which is then inhaled.
According to Leafly, vaping is the fastest and most effective way to get CBD where we want it to go. This is because vaping bypasses the digestive process, which allows us to absorb about four times as much CBD. Inhaled CBD oil hits the bloodstream in 30 seconds or less, according to Consumer Reports.
Be aware that cheaper cartridges can contain solvents that may be damaging to the lungs, so do some homework before purchasing. One particularly dangerous solvent, propylene glycol, can degrade into formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, at high temperatures. Opt for solvent-free oils when choosing vape pens. And know that the jury is still out on vaping, so consider that it may not be healthy to vape with or without considering solvents.
CBD tinctures are taken by mouth via dropper or spray. They’re dissolved with an oil, such as coconut oil, to improve flavor. Tinctures work faster than edibles because they’re administered sublingually (under the tongue), and they have an incredibly long shelf-life.
Tinctures are usually alcohol-based, so these might not be for those trying to avoid alcohol, but may be a great alternative for those seeking the benefits of edibles with a slightly faster response time.
When finding the right CBD dose, keep in mind that less is more. CBD is dose-dependent and setting the dose too high can actually change the therapeutic properties. CBD users should seek out the lowest effective dose and then stick to that.
Moreover, CBD is processed through the liver, which means it may cause liver damage in those who take too much or use it with certain medications. CBD can also affect the levels of other drugs in the body, such as blood thinners, raising them to dangerous levels. Those taking any other medications should talk to a doctor to avoid interactions.
Symptom management with CBD doesn’t need to be complicated, but beginners might need to try a few different delivery methods to find which works best for them. The options are vast, so take some time to explore what’s out there. The benefits may be worth it.
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