8 August 2021

National CBD Day: What is CBD and why is it so trendy right now?

The many success stories from epilepsy patients who have used medical CBD, combined with the growing interest in the marvellous myriad of health benefits CBD can offer, has led to the birth of “National CBD Day.” National CBD Day started in the US but is now an internationally recognised celebration held on the 8th of […]

The many success stories from epilepsy patients who have used medical CBD, combined with the growing interest in the marvellous myriad of health benefits CBD can offer, has led to the birth of “National CBD Day.” National CBD Day started in the US but is now an internationally recognised celebration held on the 8th of August each year. So, what is CBD and how did it get its own national holiday?

Us humans have been exploiting plants and their extracts for their medicinal and therapeutic properties for centuries. This is also true for the now somewhat controversial plant, cannabis, which humans are known to have been using for 2700 years at the very least. CBD, which is short for cannabidiol, is a key cannabinoid and one of the main active ingredients found in cannabis plants. So, while CBD isn’t strictly new to us, new extraction technologies and cannabis plant varieties have allowed us to separate CBD from its intoxicating counterpart THC, and so the CBD industry has emerged as an exciting new platform in the field of plant therapy.

There are hundreds of cannabinoids in cannabis and hemp plants, so why is it that CBD in particular has become so popular? Part of the reason is that CBD is found in high concentrations (up to around 25%) in the plant and so it is easy to find it and extract it. A second key reason for its success is that unlike THC, CBD does not cause a “high,” intoxicating effects or any related addiction or dependency. In this way, CBD can also avoid being labelled as a recreational drug and being made illegal. On top of all these convenient factors, CBD also genuinely has some absolutely fantastic health benefits. However, because cannabis was made illegal back in 1928 in the UK, and throughout the 1900s internationally, it has been made very difficult for researchers to explore the full potential of the cannabis plant and its components.

CBD was first discovered in 1940, and then, as interest in the potential of cannabinoids increased in medical spheres, CBD was eventually found to have an astonishing ability to help people suffering with epilepsy. Both THC and CBD show antiepileptic activity, but CBD has an advantage in that it can be given at very high doses because it has no side effects. Research on the anti-seizure effects of CBD evolved through the 1990s such that today there are a variety of medical cannabis products that contain CBD and are used to very effectively treat epilepsy.

Besides epilepsy, studies have shown that CBD possesses the potential to treat a variety of other issues such as anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain and inflammation, such as that experienced by arthritis sufferers. There is even some evidence that in the future, CBD may eventually be able to be used against cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Over 65 molecular targets for CBD have been identified in the body, and so it is not too surprising that it can have such a range of beneficial effects.

But how do you use CBD, you might ask, if you are new to the wonderous world of cannabinoids. The main way in which the general public can buy CBD is in the form of an oil. CBD is generally extracted from the flowering tops of the cannabis plants using a solvent such as ethanol or supercritical CO2. The resulting oil may be mixed with a carrier oil like jojoba, or with glycerin or alcohol bases. The oil can also be subjected to a heating and stirring process that causes it to crystalize. The CBD powder produced from this process can be used in certain CBD creams and capsules. CBD oil and powder products can be rubbed into the skin, eaten in the form of sweets, capsules or salad dressing, or used in a vape. CBD can even be found in the form of sprays, roll-ons, candles and bath bombs!

While there are so many CBD options available on the market, and some at very affordable prices, there are certain problems with the CBD industry as it stands. The legislation and regulations in the US, UK and Europe have not managed to keep up with the expansion of their respective CBD markets. While there are certain regulations on the maximum amount of CBD that can be sold per packet or bottle, the contents of such CBD products are poorly regulated. Consequently, the CBD market is a minefield of fact and fiction, legitimate products and poor imitations. A BBC investigation found that a disturbingly large proportion of readily available CBD products do not contain the amount of CBD they say they do on the label.

Considering the enormous health benefits and potential that science has found CBD to have, and the proven results in epilepsy sufferers, there are plenty of reasons to be celebrating CBD Day on the 8th of August. However, it will now be an important responsibility of governments to start building trust amongst the public and consumers by enforcing more rigorous and standardized testing for CBD products. It will also be important for researchers to carry out trials to find the safest and best dosages of CBD for different ailments, as these values are currently largely unknown. By ensuring the consumer is actually buying the right amount of CBD, we can start to see the true power of this awesome cannabinoid. Further, with a greater understanding of CBD, the door will open for further research and improved regulations on the other fantastic cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis plants. Eventually, the aim is that National CBD Day will become a day for celebrating the improved health that this entire myriad of active cannabis compounds can provide us with.

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