“CBD can be used to relieve multiple symptoms,” says Lin. “But you need to know what you are getting.”
In the months since that first hit, I’ve tried out CBD in many forms. I’ve dropped tinctures under my tongue to help me sleep, whipped Whoopi and Maya’s CBD-enhanced raw cacao butter into hot milk to ease cramps (yes, that’s Whoopi as in Goldberg), and massaged Lord Jones’ piney scented CBD lotion into a stiff neck.
“It’s a mixture of CBD, cannabidiol, THC, and the phytochemicals, the terpenoids,” Grinspoon tells High Times. “You need all three of them to get the best therapeutic effect.” For this reason, Grinspoon, Lin, and many others say that the best source for therapeutic CBD is a plant with all of its cannabinoids intact.
How CBD works
CBD products made from industrial hemp, which contains almost no THC (less than 0.3% in the US), are legal in all 50 US states. While many users report benefits of hemp-derived CBD—not the least of which is legality—some experts say a little THC helps CBD work in the body; that cannabis’ chemical compounds work better in tandem than in isolation.
As with marijuana, the modes of consuming CBD are limited only by one’s imagination. Curious gourmands can sip it in a CBD-laced “Stoney Negroni” at the West Hollywood restaurant Gracias Madre, and aesthetes can rub it onto their lips via rose-scented balm. For a more traditional medicinal experience, CBD also comes in soft gel capsules, droppers, and sublingual sprays. (In more than 20 countries outside the US, one such spray is prescribed to multiple sclerosis patients who suffer from muscle spasms and stiffness.) And of course, since CBD is derived from the flowers of cannabis plants, one could just go ahead and smoke a high-CBD strain of marijuana the old-fashioned way, by rolling it into a joint or lighting up a bowl—or the new-fangled way, by vaping distilled cannabinoid oils in a Dosist vape pen that vibrates to alert the user they’ve reached the recommended dose.
This is often called the “entourage effect,” or as Lester Grinspoon, a psychiatrist and professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School calls it, the “ensemble effect.” (Like so much of the research surrounding cannabis, which is heavy on anecdotal evidence and light on hard science due to marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug, the entourage effect is the source of healthy debate.)
CBD is one of the many chemical compounds in a class called “cannabinoids” that naturally occur in cannabis plants. While THC is the most famous of cannabinoids for its ability to get us high, CBD is a rapidly rising star for its capacity to deliver mental and physical benefits without the giggles, paranoia, or couch-lock. Eaze, a marijuana delivery service that operates in California, reported an “exceptionally high” demand for CBD in 2017, which led the company to quadruple its product offerings in the category. Chris Kelly, a representative of Tikun Olam, an Israeli company at the forefront of medical marijuana, calls Avidekel—his employer’s highest-CBD strain—the “golden child” of its offerings. Rolling Stone deemed it one of the five best strains of 2017.
Cannabinoids created outside the body—called exogenous cannabinoids—like CBD and THC from the cannabis plant, can also bind with the CB1 or CB2 (and other) receptors to produce various effects and moderate some physical functions. THC can relieve nausea and increase appetite, and both CBD and THC are effective for pain relief. CBD is an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory, and has proven medically effective in treating certain seizure disorders.
It’s possible that some users feel the presence of any amount of THC when it’s mixed with CBD. That’s the well-known “entourage effect” theory, which basically says cannabinoids combine to create more than the sum of their parts. It’s worth experimenting with different kinds of CBD products to see what feels best to you.
Does CBD get you high?
In addition to CBD-rich flowers, CBD can be consumed in vape juice (e-liquid), CBD oil tinctures, edible products like gummies and drinks, in capsules, and in a wide variety of topical lotions and creams. CBD e-juice can be vaped in a regular vape mod or pen, or taken orally like a tincture. But even if its label calls CBD e-liquid “oil,” it isn’t really oil; e-liquid is made with propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Tinctures are made with actual CBD oil and carrier oils like MCT or coconut oil, and can only be consumed orally, never vaped. Inhaling real oils can be dangerous.
CBD is thought to be helpful in treating anxiety and insomnia. And while the scientific research isn’t absolutely clear, anxiety, stress and sleep problems are the most common reasons consumers use CBD. For many people, CBD is relaxing.
Cannabinoids like CBD and THC are not considered dangerous, because they don’t affect the parts of the brain that regulate vital functions of the body. Unlike opioid receptors, the cannabinoid receptors will never signal your lungs to stop breathing. For this reason, it’s practically impossible to overdose on cannabis.