In this article, we understand what CBD is, how does it work, how to use it, and where/how to buy CBD oil in India.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring chemical compound in the cannabis sativa plant. It belongs to the class of chemical compounds called cannabinoids.
Different plant species contain cannabidiol in different amounts. It is primarily present in the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant.
CBD has therapeutic properties that can provide relief against multiple ailments. More and more scientists and researchers around the globe are confirming its therapeutic properties.
It shares a close relationship to another cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. THC is the cannabinoid that induces euphoric feelings or the high in the body when we smoke marijuana.
THC and CBD are the two most researched cannabinoids. Though they belong to the same class of chemical compounds, both have contrastingly different effects on the human body.
These are two of the 113 identified cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. CBD is non-psychotropic in nature. It is a non-intoxicating compound i.e. it does not cause the high in the body.
Even then, this cannabinoid has a wide variety of potential medical uses which primarily include managing pain and inflammation and reducing anxiety.
Where does CBD come from?
The prime sources of CBD are the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. Different cannabis species contain different amounts of cannabidiol.
For instance, among the two most famous cannabis plants—marijuana and hemp—hemp contains a higher amount of CBD than marijuana.
In fact, hemp is the richest CBD source in the cannabis species family. In a typical hemp plant, it makes up for 40% of the cannabinoid extracts.
CBD is extracted from specific strains of cannabis such as hemp in the form of oil and used for its therapeutic benefits.
CBD oil is now a prime ingredient in products such as edibles, topical creams, and grooming supplements. It is also a standalone product that many people use in their everyday life.
Basics of CBD
Cannabidiol contains 21 atoms of carbon, 30 atoms of Hydrogen, and 2 atoms of Oxygen. Its chemical formula is C21H30O2. CBD is insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents particularly lipids and alcohols. At room temperature, it exists in the form of a colourless crystalline solid.
In the cannabis plant, CBD and THC are present in a mixture of acidic forms which readily de-carboxylate upon heating.
CBD is devoid of the psychoactive activity and displays a range of actions including anticonvulsive, sedative, antipsychotic, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties.
The exact medical applications of CBD are still under research. However, it has shown promise as an:
- Anticonvulsant (treatment of epileptic seizures)
- Analgesic (relieving pain)
- Muscle relaxant
- Anxiolytic (to reduce anxiety)
- Antipsychotic (to treat psychotic disorders)
- Neuroprotective (protect nerve cells against damage, degeneration, and function impairment)
History of CBD
While the earliest known use of medicinal marijuana dates back to around 2800BC, the pharmacological discovery of CBD took place in 1940.
A team from the Illinois University isolated CBD bringing to everyone’s notice the fact that there were active compounds in cannabis without psychoactive qualities. During the early stages of cannabis research, scientists had limited knowledge of the cannabinoid structure with only a partial understanding of the biological composition of the plant.
It was in 1963 that Dr. Raphael Mechoulam made the first breakthrough towards understanding the effects of individual cannabinoids. He successfully identified the stereochemistry of CBD.
A year later, he did the same for THC. This discovery revealed the direct relationship of cannabinoids to the euphoric effects and disassociated it as a mind-altering cannabinoid.
In the 1980s, Dr Mechoulam conducted a study to identify the potential use of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy. Along with his team, he administered daily doses of 300mg of CBD on a group of 8 subjects.
After only 4 months of treatment, half the subjects stopped experiencing seizures. The other half showed a significant decrease in the frequency of their seizures.
However, the stigma around the cannabis plant overshadowed this breakthrough discovery. Then, almost a decade later, studies on the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids led to the discovery of additional cannabinoids. This helped researchers to deepen their understanding of the cannabinoid structure.
And it eventually led to the discovery of the Endocannabinoid System in the human body. As interest and research around cannabinoids and their relation to the human body continued to grow, new doors of cannabinoids’ therapeutic benefits were opened.
How does CBD interact with the human body?
When studying the relationship between the human body and the activity of cannabinoids, scientists discovered the Endocannabinoid System. The discovery was of cannabinoid receptors in the brain that allowed the cannabinoids in cannabis to alter body functions.
Further research showed that the human body also produces chemical compounds similar in structure to the cannabinoids in cannabis. It is primarily this similarity that allows THC and CBD to take effect on the body.
This system of cannabinoids indigenous to the human body was named the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). It is through the ECS that all cannabinoids interact with the human body.
In its entirety, the ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body. That is to say, it ensures the proper functioning of all the physiological and biological processes in the body.
Cannabinoid Receptors in the Human Brain
The ECS maintains homeostasis through cannabinoid receptors. According to research, cannabinoid receptors are the most plentiful in our CNS and help regulate important functions such as immune function, appetite, digestion, mood, sleep, inflammation, fertility, memory, pain, pleasure, and body temperature.
We know of two such receptors:
- CB1: present in the central nervous system, hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, intestines, connective tissues, gonads, and other glands.
The activation of the CB1 receptor helps in relieving depression, lowering intestinal inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and reducing anxiety etc. However, the activation of these receptors also leads to decrease in thyroid hormones and cognitive function and neurological symptoms such as delusions, paranoia, depersonalisation, and attention and memory impairment.
- CB2: present in the peripheral nervous system and the spleen, tonsils, immune cells, and thymus.
A change in the functioning of CB2 receptors affects almost every function in the body. These include cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, psychiatric, autoimmune, and neurodegenerative functions.
The human body produces endogeneous cannabinoids (i.e. neurotransmitters such as anandamide) that bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors and work differently than the more famous neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.
CBD and the ECS
Because cannabinoids in the cannabis plant have a similar structure to the cannabinoids in the human body, they also bind with the CB1 and CB2 receptors and alter body functioning.
Most cannabinoids can bind to both these receptors. This is true for endocannabinoids (cannabinoids in the human body) and phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids in the cannabis plant).
THC, for instance, activates the CB1 receptors. However, this activation is different than that done by the endocannabinoids. Therefore, the functioning of the CB1 receptors on taking THC is altered.
Unlike THC, CBD has little bonding affinity for both the receptors. It does not directly trigger either receptor.
It works the other way around by inhibiting the production of anandamide in CB1. In the case of CB2, it weakens the efficiency of the receptors. So, for instance, it weakens CB2’s ability to cause inflammation and thus has anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
What is CBD used for?
Proponents claim that it is helpful in treating a wide variety of health problems including:
- Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia
- Acne, Psoriasis, and similar skin disorders
- Chronic Pain and Muscle Spasms
- Drug Addiction and Withdrawal
- Parkinson’s Disease
- High Blood Pressure
Some of these claims have better research backup than others. According to the current evidence, this is what we know:
CBD for Anxiety
CBD is primarily a relaxant and thus shows promise in the treatment of anxiety disorders. In a 2015 review of studies in the Neurotherapeutics journal, CBD demonstrates potential anxiolytic effects in animal research.
Another research says that cannabidiol may change the way our brain’s receptors respond to serotonin. In many cases, CBD functions as an agonist i.e. it triggers an opposite response while binding to a receptor.
Among the few human trials that evaluate CBD’s anxiolytic effects is the one published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry in 2019. In this study, 57 men were given either CBD or placebo just before a public speaking event.
The anxiety in each subject was monitored through physiological measures such as blood pressure and heart rate along with a Visual Analog Mood Scale.
According to the investigators, men provided with 300mg of CBD exhibited less anxiety than those given a placebo. However, it is interesting to know that the subjects provided with 100mg or 600mg did not experience the same.
This study suggests that while it is possible for moderate doses of CBD such as 300mg to initiate a calming reaction, very low (100mg) and very high (600mg) doses do not produce the same effects.
It may be because in the former, there is not enough CBD and in the latter, there is too much that it overwhelms the system thus triggering a compensatory action to fight its effects
CBD for Addiction
A 2015 review of 14 published studies in the journal Substance Abuse suggests that CBD can potentially benefit those struggling with drug addiction.
However, CBD’s effects vary according to the type of addiction. For instance, in the same study, CBD appears to be highly effective in minimizing drug-seeking behaviours in cocaine, methamphetamine, and other psychostimulant drugs. However with opioid addiction, CBD shows little effect in minimising the behaviour in the absence of THC.
CBD for Nerve Pain
CBD is quite famous for its anti-inflammatory properties. A 2012 study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, shows that rats injected with inflammatory chemicals experienced less inflammation and neuropathic pain when given an oral dose or spinal injection of CBD.
However, there is a lack of human studies evaluating the effects of CBD in treating chronic pain. The few that exist invariably include THC. This makes it difficult to isolate CBD’s distinct effects.
CBD for Seizures
The research for CBD’s potential to treat epileptic seizures is still in its early days. Outside of Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in children of 2 years and less, we don’t know much about CBD’s effectiveness in treating seizures.
A 2016 study worked with 214 epileptic patients. Each participant added an oral dose of 2 to 5mg of CBD to their existing medication. Over a course of 12 weeks, it was observed that participants had 36.5% fewer seizures per month.
However, severe side effects were also witnessed in 12% of the subjects.
CBD for Heart Health
A 2017 study in JCI Insight suggests that CBD can reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing high blood pressure in certain people.
This study had 9 healthy men taking either 600mg CBD or placebo. According to the researcher, subjects treated with CBD had lower blood pressure before and after exposure to stressful stimuli.
Moreover, the stroke volume also reduced significantly in the participants taking CBD. This research suggests that CBD can be a good complementary therapy for people whose high blood pressure levels get complicated by stress and anxiety.
Types of CBD
Another basic thing that users must know about CBD is the three different ways in which it is extracted from a source plant. CBD, in the form of any product, comes from one of these three types:
Full-spectrum CBD is an extract containing all the compounds naturally present in the source plant. That means the full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils originally present in cannabis or hemp will be present in a full spectrum CBD extract.
Full spectrum extract has CBD along with all the other compounds and cannabinoids including THC.
This extract is usually recommended for severe medical conditions that isolates or broad-spectrum extracts CBD cannot help with.
For the longest time, researchers believed that CBD in its isolated form was more effective. However, in 2005, a study suggested that an extract that contains compounds other than CBD offers better relief than an isolate. This is owing to the entourage effect.
Full-spectrum CBD, therefore, offers the complete benefits of the cannabis plant. Moreover, since the aim here is to extract all the chemical compounds, it undergoes fewer processes. It is, thus, less refined and contains a chemical profile closely similar to the source plant.
Because it also contains other cannabinoids, it may cause some psychoactive and sedative effects. The full chemical profile can also give it a strong natural odour and flavour. The THC-content present in the extract may cause legal implications in some geography and might show up on drug tests.
This is the purest form of CBD which contains only and only cannabidiol and no other cannabinoids and terpenes.
The extraction of CBD isolate removes all the other compounds in the source plant. These include terpenes, other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and plant parts.
An isolate is usually recommended for those who’re specifically looking for high doses of CBD, who have sensitivity to THC or other cannabinoids, who regularly undergo drug screening, who prefer light or zero flavours, and for first-time users.
Isolate is the purest form of CBD. Because it does not contain other cannabinoids and compounds, it poses no risk of psychoactive effects. Also, it does not test positive on drug tests. As opposed to full spectrum, it is odourless and tasteless.
It does not deliver the complete benefits of the cannabis plant. And the presence of just one cannabinoid calls for high doses.
Broad-spectrum CBD contains all the compounds present in the source plant except for THC. That is to say, like a full spectrum extract it will contain all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. But also, like an isolate, it will contain no THC.
This extract is usually recommended for conditions that CBD alone cannot help, for those who have a sensitivity to THC, and for first-time users.
Since it contains a majority of the cannabinoids, it offers complete benefits of the cannabis plant through the entourage effect. And because it does not contain THC, it has no psychoactive effects.
The scientific research supporting the benefits of broad-spectrum CBD is less and not completely accounted for. Also, mislabelling is a big issue with this type of extract. The presence of other cannabinoids and terpenes can give it a strong flavour and odour.
How to use CBD?
There is a wide range of CBD products that enable the consumption of CBD through a number of different ways. This variety caters to the needs and preferences of all kinds.
Almost all the CBD products available in the market today fall broadly in one of these 4 categories.
1. Oil and Tinctures:
Tinctures and oils are the most classic and popular way of taking CBD. Tinctures are typically a concentrated form of CBD and most convenient for those looking for a high-strength dosage.
Typically, tinctures are consumed sublingually. They are placed under the tongue and allowed to be absorbed for 2-3 minutes. This way, CBD directly enters the bloodstream and interacts with the cannabinoid receptors.
Tinctures are made by steeping the hemp plant in alcohol and/or cooking the mixture over low heat for a particular time span.
Tinctures contain CBD in the concentrated form and therefore need to be taken in small doses. Typically, tinctures come with a built-in dropper that helps administer dosages.
The most typical way to intake CBD through tinctures is via placing it under the tongue. This is the sublingual consumption and you may also find tinctures being referred to as sublingual products.
With the help of the in-built dropper, a measured dose of CBD is placed under the tongue and allowed to be absorbed for 2-3 minutes. This way cannabidiol directly reaches the bloodstream and shows visible effects almost immediately.
Another way of using tinctures is to add the same dosage into our everyday diet such as cereals, tea, coffee, and salads etc. Through this type of consumption, CBD takes a little longer than sublingual consumption to show effect because it passes through the digestive tract before reaching the bloodstream.
You will find tinctures to be one from full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate. As discussed above, the effects of each will vary and affect the dosage.
Edibles are consumable products that contain a specific percentage of CBD. This method works well for people who are looking for more comprehensive well-being than a particular relief.
For those looking to steer clear of the task of monitoring their daily CBD dosage, edibles is the best choice. These come with a pre-determined quantity (or dose) of CBD and therefore each piece contains the same amount.
CBD oil is the main ingredient in edibles. It is the concentration of CBD oil that determines the quantity of CBD in each edible. In addition, edibles contain their traditional ingredients.
Edibles come in definitive packaging with a defined quantity of CBD per pack. This total amount defines the quantity in each piece. For instance, if a pack of 10 chocolates contains 50mg of CBD then each piece contains 5mg of CBD.
Edibles are pretty discreet in dosage administration.
Edibles are ready for consumption. They do not require any kind of heat or preparation for intake. Some common edibles are dried fruit, chocolates, gummies, chewing gums, and even beverages such as tea, coffee, and cold drinks.
In case of edibles, it is the type of CBD oil used as the ingredient that you need to look out for. CBD edibles in themselves are not full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate. They contain one of the three types of oil in them.
Topicals are CBD products that have an external application on the skin. Creams, balms, lotions are all topical products. These type of products are best for people who are inhibitive of consuming CBD or are looking to manage localised pain.
These product never enter the bloodstream. After absorption in the skin, they interact with local cannabinoid receptors to produce their effect.
Topical CBD products, like edibles, contain CBD oil as the main ingredient along with traditional ingredients.
Since topicals are not consumed, the concept of dosage does not apply. However, if you would still like to know the quantity, you’ll be looking for the amount of CBD oil present.
In case of topicals too, it is the type of CBD oil used as an ingredient that you’re looking for. Topical products in themselves are not full spectrum, broad spectrum, or isolate. They contain one of the three types of CBD oil in them.
4. Vaping and Smoking
This method is the most traditional way of consuming cannabis. By the process of vaping and/or smoking, you can smoke CBD joints, use vaporizer that has a cartridge full of CBD oil, or directly inhale CBD concentrates with a vape pen.
Just like tinctures, through this process CBD directly enters the bloodstream and takes effect sooner in comparison with edibles and topicals.
Each vape pen, its cartridge, and tank is different and this is what determines the dosage in vapes. Like in edibles, where you divide the total CBD quantity by the number of pieces, you can calculate CBD dosage in each puff by dividing the total quantity in a full tank by the number of puffs you take to empty it.
Smoking cannabis is done in the traditional method and a vape pen is used for vaping.
In case of joints, you should check if it’s a cannabis joint or a high-CBD joint. In case of vaporizers, look for the type of CBD oil present in the package.
What to ask before you buy CBD products in India?
This is a list of some of the most basic questions you should answer before buying a CBD product.
1. Why do I want to use CBD?
It may be for your chronic migraine, anxiety, joint pain, or simply because you’re curious. In either case, it is important to know your reasons for trying CBD products.
What is it that you want to experience? How do you expect it to help you? Have you read enough about it to go ahead with your decision? Have you consulted your physician? In what capacity will it interfere with your current medication?
2. What is my CBD product?
If your research is in place, you’d know the type of product you’re looking for. However, this does not solely depend on your answer to the above question.
It is important that you analyse the pros and cons of each type of product (i.e. tinctures, topical creams, edibles, etc.) and understand how it fits into your life.
Or how will it alter your life? Learn about how the product you’re considering of buying is made. What are its other ingredients? How authentic is it? How has it been processed?
3. What dosage do I want to take?
There is no universal CBD dosage. While everyone recommends that beginners should always start with the lowest possible dosage, there may be variables to this.
For instance, if it is your doctor who has recommended CBD, he might not have given you the lowest dosage but the one that will be most effective for you.
On the other hand, if you’re already on some medication but are trying cannabidiol without your doctor’s knowledge, you would want to know just how much of it is safe enough for you to take. Because it is possible to have too low a CBD amount in your body to notice any visible effects.
You also want to research about the ideal suggested dosage for day and night time. CBD products made specifically for morning and night intake contain different amount of dosages depending on the function they’ll be serving.
4. What kind of CBD is in this product?
Every CBD product will be one of the three types—full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate. Learn the difference between each along with their pros and cons. And then decide on which one you’re willing to try.
The presence or absence of certain chemical compounds can make a lot of difference in the effects that you will experience. You also want to check the labels carefully. For instance, a full-spectrum extract from cannabis and hemp will contain different chemical profiles even though both will be labelled full-spectrum.
5. Can I trust the makers/sellers of this product?
Extend your research to those making your product. Are they using authentic sources and methods? Do they know what they’re doing? Are they willing to invite questions to clear your doubts?
Where to buy CBD in India?
In countries such as USA, Europe, and the UK, it is possible to buy CBD products in retail stores and dispensaries as well as online. In case of India, however, the only safe way to buy CBD oil is online.
There are few dedicated platforms in the country that are working with authentic CBD sellers to bring good quality products to consumers.