CBD 101: An Introduction to Cannabidol And How It Works

Laura Johnston
Apr 16, 2021

Cannabidiol (CBD) is derived from the cannabis plant and is becoming an increasingly popular and widely researched product. Noted as a natural and non-pharmaceutical remedy for treating and aiding a wide range of health factors, CBD products have been praised namely for positive mood-enhancement, easier sleep, reduced anxiety and as an anti-inflammatory.

There is a lot of mystery around what CBD is, how it works and how to introduce it into everyday life, so carry on reading to learn more.

What is CBD?

CBD is a non-psychotropic (doesn't make you high) cannabinoid (compound) found in the cannabis plant (eg: marijuana and hemp).​ There are over 100 cannabinoids in cannabis which are beneficial to your health and well-being, with CBD being the most well-known and researched. THC is another cannabinoid found in cannabis and is the compound that causes mind-altering effects (ie: makes you high). CBD products can be isolate (pure CBD extracted from the plant); full spectrum (all of the cannabinoids (including THC, terpenes and flavonoids); or broad spectrum (all of the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids but excluding THC). 

The benefit of broad spectrum and full spectrum over isolate is that the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids (compounds in cannabis) all work together synergistically to create what is called the ‘entourage effect’ and enhances the healthful effects of CBD. 

How does CBD work?

Within our bodies, there is something called the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system fights to maintain homeostasis (balance) amongst the major systems in our bodies and is comprised of networks throughout the brain, central and peripheral nervous systems. It has a regulatory role in pain, inflammation, memory, emotion, sleep, and metabolic function.

Our bodies create their own cannabinoids, however, plant-based cannabinoids, can help stimulate or increase the functioning of your own endocannabinoid system. As such supplementing with cannabinoids such as CBD can help your endocannabinoid system, giving it a boost where and when needed. 

What is CBD used for?

Although scientific research on the effects of CBD is still limited, increasing anecdotal evidence shows it could help people with a myriad of issues from insomnia, to anxiety, pain and inflammation.

A 2019 Harris Poll surveyed more than 2 000 people in the US about their experience, knowledge, and opinions regarding CBD and found that more than 85% of Americans have heard of CBD, and of those, more than one in five have tried it.

Interestingly, more than half of the CBD-users surveyed said they use it to relax (ie: reduce stress and anxiety) followed by equal proportion of people using it to improve their sleep and relieve pain (including muscle, chronic, and joint pain).

How do I use CBD products?

CBD products are available in many different forms including oils, capsules, topicals, vapes and more. Ingesting CBD results in more of a systematic effect, working throughout your whole body, whereas applying a topical to a specific area for localised relief. 

As a global approach, we recommend, “starting low, going slow” to find your personal preference. In South Africa the daily legal limit is 20mg/day, however, most other countries have much higher daily legal limits (some cancer patients take 100s of mgs per day). In general, however, a moderate dosage of 10-20mg per day should be sufficient. 

When should I take CBD?

How and when you administer your dose of CBD is entirely a matter of preference. Half can be taken in the morning and half in the evening, or all can be taken at once. The dose can also be topped up at any time when necessary to treat an ongoing condition, if it flares up.

For best results, it is recommended that CBD be taken regularly and consistently at the same times each day. The full effect of it being incorporated into your routine can be felt after 7-14 days. CBD can also be used in isolation to treat situational conditions, however, and the effects will still be felt (eg: a topical pain gel for muscle inflammation).

What are the side effects of using CBD?

As with using any product, CBD can cause minor side effects, namely when used in conjunction with other chronic medications (eg: blood thinners, cholesterol medication). If unsure, it is always safest to ask your healthcare provider when introducing CBD products into your daily wellness routine. Be sure to look for high-quality CBD products which are third party tested (to ensure there are no herbicides/pesticides), all-natural, and from a reputable supplier. Also have a look at the strength and dosing format.

In our next 3 blog posts, we will be unpacking how CBD assists with anxiety, sleep and pain in more detail so be sure to check back next week for more information. 

About the Author

Laura Johnston holds a degree in Business Science with Honours in Marketing from the University of Cape Town and is a qualified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Laura has a background in pharmaceuticals, managing a number of portfolios namely, aesthetics, oncology and complementary health supplements. Laura has more than ten year’s experience in the health industry.

In 2019 Laura co-founded Mary’s Muse, a high-quality, proudly African CBD company specializing in the development, sales and distribution of niche, problem-specific CBD products.

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