What is CBD? (The Plant Panda CBD Primer)

So you’ve heard the media hype, but you’re still wondering what exactly CBD is. We’re here to help. We want our customers to be informed about what they’re buying, so consider this your Plant Panda CBD Primer. Let’s start with the big question: “What is CBD?”

What is CBD? 

First, the basics. CBD is a cannabinoid, a naturally occurring type of chemical compound that can be extracted from a cannabis plant.

There are over one hundred cannabinoids that scientists have identified so far, but the most dominant are CBD and THC. Though these two cannabinoids are closely related, CBD differs from THC in that it is non-psychoactive.

That means that CBD won’t make you high.

It may seem like CBD is a new discovery, but scientists have known about it, and even studied it, since the 1940s. Most of the attention of the scientific community focused on THC, though, for the next several decades of the twentieth century. And the years of cannabis prohibition made research on any cannabis compounds difficult.

CBD really only came back into the spotlight in the last decade as cannabis laws began to loosen and research began to reveal CBD’s possibilities.

At that time, word began to go around that CBD-rich cannabis extracts could help with hard-to-treat epilepsy. And it was that grassroots movement that eventually led to an FDA-approved CBD based drug in 2018.

Is CBD Legal?

But, wait...isn’t cannabis...illegal?

Well, yes and no. 

Cannabis is an overarching term that refers to both hemp and marijuana. There are states in the US where both are legal, but only hemp is legal at the federal level. 

According to the 2018 Farm Bill, the legal definition of hemp is a cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC. At Plant Panda, we keep our CBD extracts well below that legal limit.

Since the passing of the Farm Bill, CBD has been removed from the DEA’s drug schedule, opening the doors for scientific research to go ahead in an unprecedented way. And, clearly, the CBD industry has been quick to respond as well.

Different types of CBD 

As you begin to look around at CBD products, you’ll find that there isn’t just one type of CBD oil. This may seem super confusing at first, but we can break it down for you pretty easily:

  • Full Spectrum CBD oil includes all the naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids of the hemp plant. 
  • Broad Spectrum CBD includes many of the naturally occurring plant compounds, but with the THC removed.
  • CBD isolate (sometimes referred to as “pure” CBD) has had all the other plant compounds removed, and is usually 99% pure CBD.

All of these types of CBD oil have their own advantages, but we’ve chosen to use CBD isolate to completely remove the concern that many people have about failing a drug test due to THC.

How Does CBD Work?

We are very much in the early days of cannabis science, but there have already been some interesting findings on how CBD works.

The endocannabinoid system was discovered in the 1990s by the famed cannabis science pioneer, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. You probably didn’t learn about it in Biology class, but we now know that all vertebrates have this system - which is composed of inter-related receptors and chemicals, working as locks and keys.

Broadly speaking, the endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining balance within your body, and it influences everything from mood and sleep to pain regulation and appetite.

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, though it doesn’t bind well with either of the two main receptors. Mostly, it seems to influence the endocannabinoid system by “upregulating” or “down regulating” other chemicals in the endocannabinoid system.

That being said, CBD is a complex molecule and scientists are a long way from totally understanding how it works. In fact, CBD seems to work on multiple levels, interacting with different systems at once.

This complexity means that CBD may be able to deal with more than one problem at once, but it also makes it difficult to isolate certain effects and to understand why exactly they are taking place. 

Because of the last century of prohibition, science is far behind where it should be. CBD was discovered in the 1940s and yet significant research has only begun taking place in the last decade. 

But with the legalization of hemp-extracted CBD, the research is really starting to ramp up.

What Can CBD Do for You?

With all that in mind, it is probably clear why we can’t make any definitive claims about what CBD will do for you. In fact, we’re prohibited from doing so by the FDA and the FTC. 

Suffice it to say that CBD is creating a lot of excitement in the scientific community for a wide range of possible benefits. New studies are getting started all the time, so do your research - you may even be able to participate in a study yourself!

But if you’re looking for a solid source of information on CBD’s possible benefits and the science behind it, we recommend checking out Project CBD.

CBD Safety

One of the great things about CBD is that it’s incredibly safe. The World Health Organization has found, after extensive research, that CBD has a “good safety profile” with no possibility of dependence and few side effects.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that, while CBD on its own is safe, it can interact with other medications - and especially those that are metabolized by your liver. 

Additionally, if you’ve ever experienced liver damage for any reason, CBD may not be for you.

If you’re not sure about either of these things, please do consult with your doctor. They can tell you if CBD is a good option for you, given your specific health history.

What Should I Look for in a High Quality Product?

The CBD industry is unregulated by the government. That means that it’s up to us, as CBD companies, to maintain a high bar of transparency. At Plant Panda, we take that responsibility seriously. 

Here are some things you should absolutely not compromise on as you CBD shop:

  • CBD should be grown from organically grown hemp (you don’t want to be putting pesticides and chemical fertilizers into your body).
  • CBD should be cleanly extracted. We use CO2 extraction, which is one the best, cleanest extraction methods available.
  • Only buy CBD from companies that make third party lab reports available. We are happy to share ours - in fact, we post them on our website!
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