Like many, the global pandemic altered my life adding mental and emotional stress. I live a privileged life but having two elementary-aged kids at home attempting to learn virtually while my job became more demanding was no joke. A dropperful of the full plant hemp extract (a source of CBD) that I used to need only occasionally became my daily companion to help me stay calm while juggling two full-time jobs. (My other best friend is a Sperti Vitamin D lamp but that's another story). I am not alone and many others have found benefit from CBD and hemp extracts for helping the body respond to times of heightened stress. However, sometimes supplements take a little finesse to get the benefit you want. So what if you've done your research and you know how good CBD is for mental health, inflammation, and more, but your first experience wasn't great? There are common experiences with CBD that are often misinterpreted, especially when people are trying it for the first time. Before I discuss those, here's a little background:
Intro to CBD oil
CBD oil is from the Cannabis sativa plant which is used to produce hemp and marijuana. The resin from the buds and flowers are extracted from the plant and combined with a carrier oil such as MCT oil from coconut. Sometimes olive oil or sunflower oil may be used (which would potentially be inferior to the MCT oil, in my opinion, since they are less stable). The major difference between CBD and marijuana is that CBD does not contain THC, the psychoactive compound that people associate with marijuana. Therefore, one cannot get high from CBD.
How does it work?
CBD works by affecting the body's endocannabinoid system. This system helps the body adjust to stressors. Whereas the body can make endocannabinoids, CBD supplies a phyto-, or plant-based, cannabinoid that provides more than the body might produce. This provides the benefits we experience from CBD.
We have receptors for cannabinoids throughout the body in the immune, nervous, digestive and reproductive systems. Therefore phyto-cannabinoids can provide beneficial outcomes in multiple body systems. They do not heal the underlying issues, generally, but can bring about a reduction in inflammation and improve mitochondrial and metabolic functioning. This means we can reap the following benefits:
*reduction in pain (inhibits transmission of neuron signaling through pain pathways)
*reduction in auto-immune tendencies (reduces pro-inflammatory cytokine production)
*decreases inflammation in the gut and digestive spasms
*relief from anxiety and depression. Cannabinoids can also improve neurotransmitter functioning.
*relief from seizures
*better behavior (for kids)
*better reproductive hormone signaling
What if your first experience wasn't great?
Despite all of the known benefits of CBD, one initial side effect I hear about from clients is that they took it and felt too relaxed, lethargic, or sleepy. I had this initial reaction, too, but this effect wore off after the first few doses. CBD supplies much-needed endocannabinoids to the body systems, however, it will go to whatever body system needs it most. For example, if your nervous system is on over-drive and highest priority, then the endocannabinoids help bring it back into balance. This can feel like driving a car at 60mph and suddenly reducing your speed to 25mph. At first, it feels like you are going too slow, but that relaxation may be exactly what your body needs. As you continue to supply endocannabinoids daily with CBD, and your nervous system is supported, then the effects of the hemp extract are not as extreme or noticeable.
I also sometimes talk with people who took CBD and didn't notice anything. This can be due to dosing too low or because of how the body is applying the endocannabinoids from the supplement. Maybe you want to sleep better, but your digestive system needs the endo-cannabinoids more. In such a case, you wouldn't necessarily feel any improvement initially, and it may take a few months of supplementing to see the effects for sleep. If you are looking to take CBD for relaxation, it can help to take a dose and then inhale for 30-60 seconds lavender essential oil applied on your palms. It is my understanding that the chemicals in the lavender oil can help direct the endocannabinoids into your nervous system better. This technique may help with getting better nervous system benefits from CBD, such as improved sleep.
If you took CBD and didn't notice anything, you may want to increase your dose up to 2000mg or 3000mg daily. Make sure you are buying a quality product. I was very excited that my local organic CSA farm was selling their own CBD so I made a purchase. Everything about their harvest and preparation steps sounded ideal. However, when I took it, I did not see the benefits that I experience with my old standby which is a high quality full hemp extract (discussed below). As disappointing as this was, it reaffirmed the value in the full hemp extract by Enlita Farms that I use and suggest for others.
CBD vs full hemp extract
Generally when choosing between a refined food or a whole food, the whole food provides more benefits and less side effects than the refined one. The same is also true of CBD oil vs whole hemp extract. I have found Enlita Farms hemp extracts to be superior to most CBD oil available. They have among the lowest price per mg for the highest quality CBD oil available. Enlita farms whole hemp extract contains numerous phyto-cannabinoids, including CBD, CBC, CBG, CBG-A, CBC-A, CBN and others. In addition to the cannabinoids naturally present in our industrial hemp extracts, there are also many other types of natural molecules such as amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins (including B1, B2, B6, D), fatty acids (including omega 3 and 6), trace minerals (including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium), beta-carotene, chlorophyll, flavonoids, ketones, nitrogenous compounds, alkanes, glycosides, pigments, water, and terpenes. Especially “CBD isolates” are nothing but CBD and will not provide the nutrition of whole hemp extract.
For more information about full hemp extract such as dosing and getting started, please check out this article.