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Beginners Guide to CBD

Beginners Guide to CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) has exploded in popularity over the past few years. It’s estimated that the CBD market will reach $20 billion by 2024 in the US alone. With its purported wellness benefits for things like pain, anxiety, and sleep, it’s no wonder many people are eager to try it. However, if you’re new to CBD, knowing where to start can seem daunting. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll review the key considerations for those looking to try CBD for the first time.


What is CBD?

First, let’s cover the basics of what CBD actually is. CBD is one of over 100 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant. The two most well-known cannabinoids are CBD and THC. CBD is non-intoxicating, meaning it does not produce any psychoactive effects or is “high” like THC does. From a chemical standpoint, CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, which is involved in regulating various processes like pain, mood, immune function, stress response, and sleep.


Where Does CBD Come From?

CBD can be derived from both marijuana and hemp plants. Marijuana contains higher levels of THC compared to CBD, while hemp has higher concentrations of CBD. Most commercially available CBD products are made from industrial hemp for legal reasons, not marijuana. Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC is removed from Schedule 1 controlled substances under federal law, making it legal in all 50 states. However, some states have stricter laws on CBD from marijuana.


How Does CBD Work?

When introduced into the body, CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system’s receptors located throughout the body, including the central and peripheral nervous systems. CBD binds to these receptors and affects how these receptors respond to the signals sent through the endocannabinoid system. Though more research is still needed, this interaction is thought to affect various biological processes that may play a role in many health conditions.

Should I Talk to My Doctor First?

While generally considered safe, it’s a good idea to discuss taking CBD with your primary care doctor or specialist, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or take any medications. CBD may interact with certain prescription medications, altering their effects and potentially causing side effects. Your doctor can advise you on potential interactions and help you determine an appropriate dosage to start with based on your health profile and needs.


Where Can I Buy CBD?

CBD products can be purchased from physical retail stores or online shops. When selecting a CBD source, look for companies that provide third-party lab test results showing exact levels of CBD, THC, and other compounds in their products. Beware of products making unfounded health claims. High-quality CBD should come from U.S.-grown hemp and be certified organic when possible. Only purchase CBD products from trusted brands that provide adequate product information.


What Forms of CBD Should I Use?

CBD is available in a variety of product types, from tinctures and capsules to edibles and topicals. Tinctures taken under the tongue tend to have faster absorption compared to edibles and capsules which must pass through the digestive system. Topicals are designed for more direct, localized relief. Vaping CBD provides immediate effects but some health officials have raised concerns over vaping-related safety. New users are encouraged to start with tinctures or capsules first to gauge the effects.


What is the Recommended CBD Dosage?

There are no official dosage guidelines for CBD given the lack of human research, but the recommended dosage typically ranges between 1-6 mg per 10 pounds of body weight based on anecdotal evidence. First-time users should start on the low end around 10-20 mg per day split into 2 doses. Give this at least 2 weeks to assess how you respond before increasing the amount if needed. Some people find effectiveness with extremely low 1-2 mg doses, while others may opt for much higher doses around 100 mg per day. Be patient when finding your optimal dose and consult a doctor.


How Long Do CBD Effects Last?

Unlike THC, CBD does not have psychoactive effects, and any noticeable effects are subtle and take time. Most CBD users report feeling effects within 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingesting, and these effects can last 4-6 hours. However, CBD is metabolized quickly in the body, so regular, divided doses are recommended to maintain stable levels. With consistent use, CBD’s effects are cumulative, and more long-lasting effects may be achieved.


What are Possible Side Effects?

According to studies, CBD is very well tolerated in humans even at high doses. Minor side effects have been reported, including drowsiness, dry mouth, nausea, changes in appetite/weight, and diarrhea. These are typically mild and resolve with continued use. However, CBD may interact with certain medications, so be sure to consult your doctor about potential interactions and side effects based on your medical history. Avoid taking CBD before any activities requiring alertness like driving.


Does CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

Pure CBD isolate likely will not cause a positive drug test, but full-spectrum CBD products contain trace amounts of THC that could potentially show up. Legally, hemp-derived CBD products can contain up to 0.3% THC. Factors like frequency of use, dosage, metabolism, and body fat can influence whether THC is detected. Avoid taking CBD close to a drug test. Those subject to regular drug testing may want to take CBD isolate products to be safe.


Start With a Reputable Brand

With the rapid growth of the CBD industry, many fly-by-night brands with subpar products have popped up to capitalize on the hype. When first trying CBD, only purchase from established companies that provide third-party lab test results for their products. Reputable brands are transparent about their sourcing, manufacturing, and lab testing practices. Look for organic hemp-derived CBD extracted without harsh solvents. Quality matters when it comes to seeing results.

Set Realistic Expectations

While early research on CBD is promising for certain conditions, remember that CBD is not a miracle cure-all. Many factors influence its effects, and noticeable benefits often take consistent use over time. Give it at least 2-4 weeks before deciding if CBD is working for you. Proper dosage is also key—too low of a dose may not provide any effects while too high of a dose can exacerbate some symptoms like anxiety. Be patient, start slowly, and adjust as needed.


Is CBD Legal?

Under federal law enacted through the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBD containing less than 0.3% THC is legal. However, some state laws still restrict CBD sales so check your local laws. CBD derived from marijuana plants is still illegal at the federal level and illegal in most states. Only purchase hemp-derived CBD from reputable companies that can validate the THC levels in their products. Laws regarding CBD are evolving quickly as its popularity grows.


Track How You Feel

Keeping notes at the beginning of how CBD affects you at certain doses and times of day can be helpful in dialing in an optimal regimen that provides symptom relief. Be specific about any effects or changes you notice, whether positive or negative. Bring these notes to your doctor to help assess the impact CBD is having on you. Consistent tracking also helps you determine if noticeable benefits are due to a placebo or not.


Integrate it Slowly

Don’t overhaul your wellness routine overnight by adding CBD too extensively too fast. Gradually work it into your regimen to assess its impact. You can substitute your CBD oil for a supplement or medication you currently take, or simply add it as a new step. Integrating CBD slowly allows you to gauge any effects or interactions with other therapies. Find where it fits best for you.


The Bottom Line

When used properly, CBD may provide a variety of potential wellness benefits for both body and mind. As with any new supplement, start slowly, be patient, and consult your healthcare provider. Choosing high-quality CBD from reputable brands is paramount for safety and achieving optimal results. By following the advice in this beginner’s guide, you can navigate the CBD landscape with confidence and find how it fits into a healthy lifestyle!