An Introduction to CBD

Updated: May 11

It’s becoming resoundingly clear that CBD oil is more than just another health trend. The popular cannabis byproduct, technically known as cannabidiol, has gained a massive and loyal consumer following that spans many segments of the population—a majority of whom view the product as a go-to item for a number of issues.

Cannabidiol is one of over 100 compounds called cannabinoids, which are found in the cannabis plant. Unlike hempseed oil, which is derived from a plant’s seeds, CBD is extracted from the flower, or bud, of a plant, where resinous trichomes contain the extractable plant component.

CBD is arguably the second most popular cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, after tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or the part of the plant that produces psychoactive “high” effects.

Unlike THC, CBD does not have any psychoactive properties. Instead, it has been widely used as a therapeutic agent, purportedly relieving a variety of health issues.

In addition to CBD, multiple other non-psychoactive cannabinoids have begun to show promise in terms of their therapeutic potential. In particular, cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG) have emerged as promising elements similar to those found in CBD.

When it comes to the efficacy of individual cannabinoid compounds, research appears to indicate that while each possesses its own benefits, cannabinoids tend to work best in conjunction with other compounds. This is sometimes referred to as the entourage effect, a term that refers to the notion that the healing properties contained in cannabinoids, as well as other compounds like terpenes and flavonoids, are most effective when taken together.

While CBD has recently gained mainstream visibility, many proponents of the compound have long known about its apparent benefits. Interestingly, the scientific community has been aware of CBD longer than it has THC.

In 1940, American chemist Roger Adams isolated the CBD and CBN compounds, and became the first denote their analgesic effects in his report. While he also intimated as to the presence of a psychoactive compound, THC was not officially identified until 1964, when Raphael Mechoulam successfully isolated the cannabinoid and subsequently publishing his findings.

Despite federal funding for the research, Adams encountered no small amount of criticism, particularly from Harry Anslinger, the nation’s first drug czar, and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.

This manner of resistance to marijuana research continued throughout the intervening decades, finally beginning to ease with the recent, gradual deregulation of the plant.

Some of these modern-day legislative changes have directly affected both the cannabis and CBD markets. One of the clearest examples is evident in the rise in popularity of CBD oil, which correlates to the release of the 2018 US Farm Bill.

That bill legalized hemp and hemp-derived products and removed cannabis derivatives containing no more than 0.3 percent THC from the definition of marijuana as specified in the Controlled Substance Act.

Since then, the DEA has rescheduled CBD containing up to 0.1 percent from Schedule 1, the highest level, to Schedule 5, it now shares a categorization with cough suppressants.

Meanwhile, the FDA has authorized the use of a cannabis-derived treatment for some severe forms of epilepsy, a drug known as Epidiolex, which represents a first for the administration.

The legalization and rescheduling of CBD at a federal level have cleared the way for the widespread distribution of the substance on a mainstream scale. With this proliferation, people from all walks of life have begun to develop curiosity about its benefits. Because of its versatility, it is marketed to virtually every demographic segment.

Of all age groups, CBD is used most by those aged 34-49, with 31 percent reportedly using, according to a study conducted by HelloMD and Brightfield Group. The same report indicates that the next leading age groups are tied at 22 percent usage: ages 26-34 and ages 50-64.

There are a number of reasons these consumers opt for CBD, with the most popular being pain relief.

According to a 2020 survey, 64 percent of CBD users take CBD for pain and inflammation, with 49 percent using it to treat anxiety or stress. Sleep and insomnia round out the top three motives for CBD use at 42 percent.

Additionally, although research is still ongoing, early data have shown promise with regard to CBD’s potential as a treatment for epilepsy, Alzheimer's and some forms of cancer.

The methods by which people interact with CBD vary, which is perhaps unsurprising given the array of available options. Among the various delivery methods, sublingual tinctures tend to be the most popular, while edibles, topicals and vaping or smoking options follow closely behind. Each method has its own benefits, but the overall reported benefits remain more or less the same across the board.

Another area of interest when it comes to CBD involves how one is able to access it. With its growing prominence, CBD oil has become easier to buy. While CBD stores and dispensaries in Arizona are everywhere, it’s not always possible for everyone to shop in-person.

However, since the beginning of the pandemic, a growing cohort have found an easy workaround in the form of online shopping. In recent years, with more and more companies bringing their CBD stores and brands online, the digital marketplace has experienced immense growth. In 2020 alone, some 52 percent of customers reportedly made the choice to shop for CBD online.

An additional benefit of this burgeoning digital marketplace is the option of CBD delivery, which has increasingly become available through apps like Leafly, Weedmaps and MedMen,. This has been a particularly welcome development among many individuals who suffer from a range of mobility issues, for which CBD represents treatment. Through minimal effort, consumers in service areas can now have CBD delivered, allowing a level of access that was previously unavailable through traditional commerce.

With nearly universal access nationwide, the booming CBD industry shows no indication of slowing down. With projections suggesting it could generate upwards of $16 billion by 2026, the data seems to convey quite the opposite.

Given this forecast, CBD seems to be solidifying its place, not just within the cannabis market, but among the healthcare industry at large. The impact CBD has had on those who continue to use its products has undeniably created a dedicated contingent who are as devoted to the so-called wonder drug as they are vocal in their efforts to share its benefits.

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