Is CBD cannabis’ magic molecule or merely a fleeting puff of smoke? There is indeed an important trend towards CBD products on the marijuana market. However, it is also common for users to spend a considerable amount of money, for instance on high-quality CBD oil, hoping for immediate therapeutic effects, but finding that after a few hours they still do not seem to be ‘feeling’ anything. So how can we effectively maximize the effects of this cannabinoid on the human body?
It is too simplistic a view to think that CBD is the only protagonist in the world of medical cannabis. In fact, an active synergy exists between all cannabis compounds, known as the 'entourage effect', and many properties attributed to cannabis can only be enjoyed through the synchronized interaction of all these components (THC, CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids.)
Research studies have proven that CBD alone has a positive effect on inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, spasms, etc. However, most of these complaints are not only treated with CBD but also require a certain level of THC, whose role as a phytotherapeutic compound has already been proven to be beneficial in the treatment of many of these conditions.
The only difference is that CBD acts on different receptors than THC, causing a non-psychoactive effect, i.e. not producing the 'high' associated to THC. But in reality this effect varies depending on the THC:CBD ratio. For instance, a strain with a 1:1 THC:CBD ratio is often more analgesic than a strain with a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio.
This is only an example of how CBD's therapeutic effects can be maximized, as there are other ways to achieve this:
1- The form of administration matters
This is particularly true if you are taking CBD oil orally. It is essential to keep the oil under the tongue for at least 30 seconds before swallowing it. The sublingual area is full of cannabinoid receptors, salivary glands and capillaries, which enable CBD absorption directly into the bloodstream.
Many users simply swallow the oil and then become discouraged when they do not feel any therapeutic effects. What happens in this case is that the oil slides down the esophagus towards the intestine and then moves to the liver, where it is processed before being excreted via the urine.
2- Look for full spectrum CBD products (as opposed to isolated, pure CBD products)
This is an essential piece of advice in order to maximize CBD's effects. Most experts agree that full spectrum tinctures are much more effective than isolated, 100% pure CBD concentrates. So what does 'full spectrum' mean? It simply means that the oil with these characteristics contains all the active compounds found in cannabis, rather than just CBD alone.
3- A certain THC content is always necessary
THC often gets a bad name because it is the compound associated to cannabis' psychoactive properties, but in reality it probably plays a crucial role in all kinds of cannabis-based therapy. THC seems to boost CBD's effects whilst, on the contrary, CBD reduces THC's most unpleasant side effects, such as anxiety and paranoia.
4- Terpenes are just as important
Non-cannabinoid vegetable components, such as terpenes, also work as inhibitors of cannabis' psychoactive effects, thus enhancing THC's therapeutic properties. This 'phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy' increases the potential of cannabis-based medical extracts.
Terpenes also act on cannabinoid receptors and neurotransmitters; they tend to mix or dissolve with lipids or fats; they act as inhibitors of serotonin absorption (similar to antidepressants like Prozac); they increase noradrenaline activity (similar to antidepressants like Elavil); and they also intensify dopamine activity. However, more specific research on this synergy is needed to learn more about the applications of terpenes.
5- Not all CBD is the same
Users should be aware that CBD derived from hemp does not exhibit the same medical properties as CBD from marijuana. Hemp's CBD is clearly a lower-quality product.
Due to the ban on cannabis, most legal CBD oils are based on hemp and their THC content is almost imperceptible (normally below 0.3%). If CBD hemp oil does not help you with your condition, it might be worth trying a cannabis-based product instead, with higher THC levels.
6- CBD: better with fats
It is vital to understand that CBD is fat-soluble rather than water-soluble. During millions of years of evolution human cells have been designed to mainly digest water-based substances. Therefore, when we introduce fat-based substances like CBD in the body, 'unlocking' chemical and nutritional properties may prove more difficult. This is why you always need to allow for some time so that the body can absorb this active compound.
7- Try CBD liposomes
This is a relatively recent concept. Some companies have launched a new product called 'CBD liposomes' to improve CBD's molecular bioavailability. Liposomes have existed in the world of medicine for centuries; they are small fat pills or 'bubbles' that encapsulate lipid-soluble drugs so that the intestine can absorb the chemical components more efficiently.
8- Try to combine it with melatonin
Lastly, this recommendation is for those who have tried CBD to treat insomnia or other sleep disorders. Melatonin is a natural hormone secreted by the pineal gland, which is known to help regulate the sleep-wake cycle, amongst other things. Several well-known companies are now combining cannabidiol with melatonin in products like CBD syrups. Therefore, if you have been trying CBD to help you sleep, but with no success, it might be advisable to combine it with melatonin to achieve the desired effect.