With high-speed internet now seemingly everywhere, it’s fair to say that we are in the golden age of information. The never-ending wall of knowledge online is helping many people to take their lives into their own hands and focus on self-improvement through a variety of channels – these include exercise, dietary changes and supplements. Supplementing with CBD is becoming a popular point of discussion as cannabis use becomes more normalized.
Supplementing With CBD
Supplements have grown in popularity considerably over recent years, as people look for ways to enhance themselves, perhaps to increase energy levels or maybe to improve concentration levels to help with studying for exams. The global market for nootropics, so-called ‘smart drugs’, which claim to boost cognitive function, creativity and more, could reach in excess of $6 billion by 2024, according to Credence Research.
However, some research suggests that one of the best supplements for physical and mental improvement could come from the cannabis plant, with cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive derivative of the plant, displaying a wealth of medicinal and general health benefits. CBD is a cannabinoid, and in that sense is similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most abundant and surely notorious compound in cannabis, that causes psychoactive effects, but also has a myriad of medical qualities – for instance, THC is 20-times more potent than the over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug aspirin.
But, back to CBD. The therapeutic qualities of cannabis may have been known to man for thousands of years, but only through the identification of cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) have we been able to ascertain the reasons why the herb can be so powerful. This also enabled us to develop new uses for cannabis and come up with products focussed around specific cannabinoids. The CBD-only market is growing at an astonishing rate, and is predicted to be worth $1.9 billion in 2022, up from $367 million in 2017 – this is a figure compiled of the hemp-derived, marijuana-derived and pharmaceutical CBD industries.
As medical experts have become more acquainted with the ECS, they have learned that CBD is especially important in ensuring its regulation. The ECS holds incredible influence, that was unknown until the early 1990’s when the system was discovered along with anandamide, the most prominent endocannabinoid in the system. Among other factors, the ECS affects appetite, mood, sleep cycles, pain perception and immune system response.
Sometimes, the ECS falls out of balance and is unable to correct itself with the endocannabinoids produced by the body. This is where external help, in the form of cannabinoids (or phytocannabinoids) is welcome. These plant-derived compounds are chemically different to endocannabinoids, but similar enough that they can activate cannabinoid receptors in various ways.
In the case of CBD, the reactions are indirect but no less important. Firstly, CBD boosts endocannabinoid production and signaling to make up for deficiencies in endocannabinoids. While depression and the ECS is not fully understood at this stage, CBD boosts anandamide (by blocking the FAAH enzyme) and then sends it to the brain to link with CB1 receptors – this antidepressant endocannabinoid helps to improve mood and is released in the brain following a period of exercise (this is referred to as the “runner’s high”).
A 2016 study showed that anandamide can reverse depressive behavior, which makes it an exciting possible treatment for a mood disorder that has seen no advancement in medication since selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of antidepressants with debatable effectiveness.
Secondly, CBD can alter the bonds made between neurotransmitters and receptors – and not just, it appears, in the ECS – to either enhance or suppress certain effects.
CBD is a negative allosteric modulator to the CB1 receptor in the ECS, which reduces the euphoria and psychoactive effects after taking THC. But CBD is a positive allosteric modulator of the GABA-A receptor – by making this receptor more receptive to the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, CBD can help to ease anxiety by reducing excitation in the brain.
As we can see, CBD has several medical functions to fulfil in the ECS, but it does so subtly, without disrupting the natural processes of the ECS too much – this may explain why so few side effects are attributed to CBD.
Outside of the cannabis industry, the endocannabinoid system remains largely an unknown quantity, and subsequently, there are few tips for how to manage and balance it. However, to dismiss the ECS would be illogical, given how much of a say it clearly has over our physical and psychological health.
Indeed, there are even suggestions that migraines, fibromyalgia and other obscure conditions are caused by irregularities in the ECS – typically by a deficiency in endocannabinoid production. Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters, and it’s essential for their messages to be transported to the right parts of the body. For example, without enough endocannabinoids, it’s more difficult to instruct the immune system to stop producing inflammation – many illnesses stem from immune system issues.
The body is always seeking homeostasis, a balanced state where there are no health issues. To achieve homeostasis, balance in the body’s complex systems is imperative, and especially so for the overarching ECS.
With this in mind, it makes sense to supplement the body regularly with a compound that is known to regulate the ECS while causing hardly any side effects. In low quantities, CBD can be a stimulant that enhances memory and concentration, while in larger quantities, it produces more sedative effects that are associated with pain relief and improved sleep.
While many people choose to take CBD to treat a specific condition, the cannabinoid can also be taken for general health purposes, just like omega-3 capsules have been consumed for decades.
Popular Ways Of Using CBD
If taking CBD as a supplement, then a conventional consumption method like CBD capsules could be the way to go, especially if you are already consuming a cocktail of supplements daily. Capsules are sold in various strengths; however, a moderate dose should suffice for this purpose. Edibles also offer a slow release of CBD, which might be ideal if you need to avoid any potential sedation.