Are you seeing CBD products everywhere at the moment but feel unsure of what it actually is, whether it really lives up to all the hype, and how it could help you? If so, we’ve written this blog with you in mind. Read on to have all of your questions answered!
CBD – THE BASICS
‘CBD’ stands for cannabidiol.Cannabidiol is one of 100+ compounds which are collectively known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are naturally abundant in species of the plant genus Cannabis, of which Cannabis sativa is the most widely utilised. Interestingly, Cannabis plants have two genders, male and female, and both are quite distinct in their characteristics and usage:
Female type – grown for recreational drug and medical purposes (aka marijuana or medical cannabis).
Male type - grown for their highly nutritious seeds and fibre (aka industrial hemp).
The key difference between them is how much ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (∆9-THC) they contain. ∆9-THC is a cannabinoid with psychoactive properties which is responsible for the physiological effects of cannabis as a drug. The female types have a high content of THC ∆9-THC, while the male types are low in ∆9-THC.
Crucially, the oil extracted from hemp seeds is rich in CBD. In stark contrast to ∆9-THC, CBD does not possess any psychoactive, intoxicating effects. On this basis, it is legal as a food supplement in the UK (and some other countries) as long as the product in question can be demonstrated to contain <0.2% THC.
HOW DOES CBD WORK - THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM
Research into the mode of action of ∆9-THC and CBD led to discovery of a previously unknown biochemical communication network called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is thought to regulate a number of physiological functions including nervous system, mood and cognition, immunity, as well as feeding behaviour.
It is made up of cannabinoid molecules that we make ourselves termed endocannabinoids, which act in a similar way to neurotransmitters, cannabinoid receptors (e.g. CB1, CB2), and the enzymes responsible for making and breaking down endocannabinoids. Cannabinoid receptors are widely expressed throughout our body, particularly in the central nervous system (CNS) and on immune cells,, 
CBD has a wide spectrum of action with multiple beneficial effects on health. Research in this area continues to develop at pace!, 
TOP 3 AREAS SUPPORTED BY CBD
1. NERVOUS SYSTEM RESILIENCE
This is one of the hottest areas of research for CBD at the moment, with a particular focus on mental and neurological health.
Animal studies have highlighted its potential for depression through possible stimulation of the serotonin receptor. Supplementation with straight CBD oil at dosages between 25-600mg,,) may reduce anxiety and sleep complaints. Clinical benefits have also been observed for psychosis, for example at 800mg/day for those with schizophrenia, potentially by normalising activity in certain brain regions.
Even wider potential of CBD for nervous system disorders has been revealed in recent years:
Parkinson’s - may reduce tremor severity, potentially by protecting the dopamine-producing neurons from toxin-induced damage according to in vitro research.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) – may help to improve symptom severity, including mobility. In vitro research indicates that CBD may protect the cells that are involved in the myelination of neurons.
Alzheimer’s disease –maytackle several underlying drivers of this condition, including oxidative stress, inflammation, and plaque formation, according to in vitro research.
2. STRENGTH & BALANCE OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD indicate that it could be a powerful adjunct for the natural management of a wide variety of conditions, given that chronic oxidative stress and inflammation are major drivers of many of the diseases prevalent today, including diabetes and disorders of the cardiovascular system. With regards to the latter, animal research indicates that CBD can protect blood vessels from damage through its ability to combat free radicals and modulate inflammation, and go on to support blood vessel relaxation too.
3. PAIN MANAGEMENT
Another important application is pain management. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 estimated that pain and pain-related diseases are amongst the leading causes of disability and disease burden globally. CBD has reported pain-relieving properties. For instance, a hemp extract providing ~30mg CBD/day has been shown to improve chronic pain, sleep quality, reduce opiod use, and improve quality of life amongst chronic pain patients. The mode of action is thought to involve its ability to modulate inflammation and pain receptor channels. This function highlights the potential utility of CBD for any condition where chronic pain is an issue.
POOR CBD BIOAVAILABILITY – THE MOST PRACTICAL SOLUTION
CBD really is worth all of the hype, but it has a quirk! When occurring naturally in hemp oil, or simply extracted from it, CBD has poor bioavailability in humans, especially when consumed orally due to challenges with absorption in the gut and extensive metabolism by the liver. The dose which reaches general circulation can be as low as 6% of the amount that you consumed,, which is a big issue when supplementing with CBD and wanting to see results!
One solution is to administer large oral dosages to increase the chance that enough will reach circulation to exert a benefit. This is the approach taken by most researchers, as you can see from the research referenced above.
An alternative solution is to administer lower oral dosages of a more bioavailable form of CBD which harnesses the power of cutting-edgeliposomal technology. This type of CBD may be 4x better absorbed than other oils and have an up to 3x longer-lasting effect. The beauty of delivering CBD with superior bioavailability means that a lower daily dosage of CBD can have maximum effect. In fact, if liposomal CBD is around 4x better absorbed than standard, a 10mg daily dosage of liposomal CBD may deliver the biological activity of 40mg straight CBD, so it’s a far smarter way of supplementing CBD. Our view is that this latter solution is the most practical and cost-effective way of supplementing with CBD in a real-life setting.
If you are keen to discuss CBD, we encourage you to call or email our Clinical Nutrition team who are here to support you.
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