You see wellness bloggers raving about it, you see it as an add-in at your coffee shop, but you just don’t even know what to think. Is it safe? Is it real? Does it actually do anything?
I get it.
I had all those questions myself when I started researching CBD 2 years ago. I asked all the questions and did all the research. Including CBD in my routine has been a game-changer for my inflammation, my anxiety and stress, my sleep, and my overall autoimmune condition. I’m a big fan. So instead of just tell you you should try it, I’m sharing with you why.
So I polled the Bright Life Tribe on what questions you have about CBD, and answered them here! Let’s get after it:
Q: What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol—a naturally occurring essential oil extracted from the hemp plant. It is one of 60 compounds found in cannabis, up until recently much lesser known than THC, the compound that makes cannabis famous for its intoxicating effect.
Q: How does CBD work?
CBD functions as a ligand. If it’s been years since you took chemistry (or you didn’t have the pleasure I did of suffering through organic chem), ligands are simply ions that bind to another molecule to serve a biological purpose. In CBD’s case, it binds to proteins and modulates a receptor’s behavior.
It works by modulating what’s called our endocannabinoid system. In fact, our bodies create our own cannabinoids which interact with the receptors, enzymes, and biochemical pathways of this system to regulate things like pain, mood, energy, sensation, metabolism, inflammation, stress response, muscle control, and thermoregulation. Think: what neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine are to the nervous system, endocannabinoids are to the endocannabinoid system.
And like receptors in our nervous system, we have receptors for our endocannabinoid system.
CB1 receptors are found throughout the whole body but are concentrated in the brain. Depending on what region of the brain they are on, they modulate different actions. Ex: CB1 receptors on the cerebral cortex modulate decision making and emotional behavior. CB1 receptors on the amygdala modulate anxiety, stress, fear, and pain.
And CB2 receptors are concentrated on the cells of our immune system. They modulate inflammation and immune response.
CBD works by simply functioning the way our body was created to and modulating these systems to have positive effects on mood, anxiety, depression, sleep, inflammation, gut health, etc.
Q: What are the benefits? Why did you decide to take it? What do you use it for?
CBD has such a wide range of benefits, it almost seems like a miracle drug that’s too good to be true. It’s said to relieve pain, reduce anxiety and depression, reduce acne, benefit heart health, reduce insomnia, even stop seizures in epileptic patients and treat Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
It seems crazy, but it makes a lot of sense. Because of the way it interacts with our endocannabinoid system, which is connected in every single part of the body, it makes sense that it can have a wide range of effects.
As an autoimmune warrior, I take CBD for its anti-inflammatory effects, which for me really means: for my thyroid health, my hormone regulation, my crazy periods, and my gut health. It’s helped to overall reduce my inflammation and keep my flare-ups from being as intense. And I have absolutely noticed a difference in my anxiety and depression since taking it.
My hubs has some serious insomnia and CBD has really been one of the few things that has helped him actually fall asleep and stay asleep.
And my mom has autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis and she’s noticed a big difference in her pain and joint inflammation.
Q: Do you get high? Does it contain THC? Does anything show up on a drug test?
The answer is, it depends which CBD you buy. Some products on the market do contain THC in a range of doses, and those can test positive for THC on a drug test as well as produce a high effect because THC is the component in cannabis that makes you high.
But, if you purchase from a brand that uses quality extraction methods and performs third-party testing to ensure their CBD is THC free: No, it does not contain THC, it cannot get you high, and it, therefore, won’t show up on a drug test.
Q: Does it have side effects?
The beauty of CBD is it has very few adverse side effects, therefore is considered a safe and effective option. Possible side effects could be drowsiness, dizziness, diarrhea, and changes in mood, although these are not experienced in most cases.
The other item to watch out for is CBD has been found to alter CYP 450 isoenzymes, so it may have an effect on our body’s ability to process and metabolize certain pharmaceutical drugs. If you take any medications, make sure to consult your health care provider on the interaction.
Q: Is there a lack of regulation?
Yes, unfortunately, there is definitely a lack of regulation.
That’s why it’s SO important to purchase from a brand you trust. Hence the next question:
Q: What should I look for in a product? How do I know what CBD brand to trust?
Because there is a great lack of regulation, you as the consumer need to be even more diligent to look for a brand and product you can trust. Here’s what you should look for when choosing a CBD product:
Dosing // Keep in mind, especially as you’re comparing prices, to look for the dosing included in the product. Some products seem more affordable than others, but they really only have a few mg of CBD in the whole bottle.
Hemp sourcing // The cannabis plant is highly absorbent of any pesticides, heavy metals or other chemicals present in the soil it’s grown in, so you really want to look for a brand that sources hemp grown with organic farming practices and frequent testing of the quality of their soil.
Third-party testing // You want a brand that uses third-party labs to test the quality and efficacy of their product.
For all these reasons, I trust Beam as my CBD brand. Over the last couple of years, I’ve tried at least half a dozen different brands and researched even more. Some were decent, but none knocked my socks off until I tried Beam. I love that their core values of transparency, honesty, compassion, and quality come through in everything they do. They source hemp that is grown in farm bill compliant facilities, they test both in-house and third-party to ensure their products are completely THC-free, and they use a CO2 extraction method that maintains both a quality CBD as well as the accompanying botanical products that help the CBD in its efficacy in our bodies. And I really love that they create functional blends for even higher absorption and power. Ex: the Dream, which contains nano CBD along with magnesium, melatonin, reishi and l-theanine makes me sleep so well.
If you want to give Beam a try, you can use code “MOLLIE15” for 15% off all your purchases!
PS — This post is not sponsored, but I am a Beam partner because I am so wildly obsessed so I do make a small commission if you purchase through this link. Think of it as a thank you for introducing you to the life-changing magic of Beam. It’s an easy way to support this blog and help me continue to show up and share valuable content for y’all! Thanks for your support!
Q: How do you take it? And how frequently?
This is where the fun begins; there are so many options! The most basic is a tincture of pure CBD oil that you can add to a hot drink or simply drop under your tongue. Then your options expand into functional products like drink mixes to muscle relief balms to capsules.
I have and use both options. I like to take The One daily under my tongue to make sure I’m getting my baseline dose, but then I use The Fixer on my shoulders when they’re really tight or lately on my heels as I’m healing plantar fasciitis. And I love using Dream when I know I just really need a super deep, amazing night’s sleep. (The powder is yummy for a drink, but if you prefer the ease of the capsules, that’s usually my go-to.)
If you’re just starting out, I definitely recommend starting with a product like The One where you can control your dosing and starting small and working your way up to a higher dose as needed.
Most of the research I’ve found shows CBD to have the most efficacy when you take it consistently (daily), but I also think you can use it as needed. And just remember: it’s your body and its needed, be a student of your body and how it responds and you’ll know what dosage and timing suits you best.
Q: Does it taste bad?
Again, it depends. In my sampling of many different products, I’ve experienced a range of pleasant to unpleasant. The CBD itself doesn’t have the flavor, it’s which carrier oil they use and if they use any flavoring additives. I tried one that tasted pretty good because it was in coconut oil and had a berry flavor and lots of stevia, but I didn’t like it for those same reasons: I just want a quality no-nonsense product.
But even the “bad” tasting ones are in my opinion very tolerable as they just taste earthy.
Q: Does it make birth control ineffective?
I loved that one of y’all asked this because I actually hadn’t heard anything about this prior.
It appears that, just like I mentioned above as a possible side effect, CBD can affect the CYP 450 isoenzyme which therefore could affect the way the pill is metabolized. But, I also found articles like this one that say there is no evidence of CBD decreasing your birth control’s effectiveness.
So short answer: it’s not been fully proven on either side yet. Look, I’m always learning with y’all!
There you have it! All the answers to your CBD questions! If you’re ready to give it a try, don’t forget to check out my trusted Beam products and use MOLLIE15 for 15% off! (Specifically, you’ve gotta try the Dream capsules. I’ve never had better sleep in my life than with this magic). You won’t regret it.