A Beginner’s Guide to Common CBD Terms and What They Mean
If you believe every advertisement you read, CBD can do everything from chilling you out, to soothing your skin, to revving your engines (see that lube again), and with the CBD industry as a whole on track to hit an estimated $22 billion dollar business in the next few years, it would seem that most people not only do rely on marketing, but that advertising works. But what exactly is CBD?
According to the scientists beginning to dive into CBD research, it's not what the advertising and marketing claims of most CBD products, most of which do not match any existing research (which is still very preliminary — though promising) would have you believe. Even the FDA is still looking into establishing guidance on the safety and/or efficacy of CBD products but has not shared any information as of yet, leaving the marketplace a wild west of claims and assurances with little foundation. Just because CBD might not be able to live up to every company's current claim (and frankly, what could), doesn't mean to write it off or stop watching the space. And many of the oils, gummies, vapes, and chocolates currently on the market can be tantalizing. Here, we break down a few common terms to help parse what you are actually buying.
This compound, known as CBD, is derived from the cannabis plant. CBD has been shown to help shield the body from oxidative stress (which can cause cell damage and disease). Anecdotally, some claim it’s anti-inflammatory and can help relieve anxiety and pain. But CBD is not regulated by the FDA, except for one prescription medication to treat severe childhood epilepsy, says Dustin Lee, an assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University. "Most of the research is preclinical. We need controlled studies before we can advise the public on how CBD can be used efficaciously."
When a CBD product contains more than .3 percent of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), it is considered mind-altering. Seeing “psychoactive” (or “THC”) on a label means you might get high. Be careful of how much you’re ingesting.
Refers to a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant and the fibers it contains, which were originally used to make fabrics. Hemp is now bred with higher amounts of CBD and is legal in more states than marijuana. Slightly confusing fact: CBD derived from hemp and marijuana is identical. Unless the product contains THC, it is not psychoactive.
The word cannabinoid refers to every chemical substance, regardless of structure or origin, that joins the cannabinoid receptors of the body and brain and that have similar effects to those produced by the Cannabis Sativa plant. 1 The three types of cannabinoids that people use are recreational, medicinal and synthetic.
Research has found that the cannabis plant produces between 80 and 100 cannabinoids and about 300 non-cannabinoid chemicals. 1 The two main cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The most commonly known of the two is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the chemical that is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis. 2
The main difference between the two cannabinoids is that THC has strong psychoactive effects, meaning it makes a person ‘high’, whereas CBD is thought to have an anti-psychoactive effect that controls or moderates the ‘high’ caused by the THC. CBD is also thought to reduce some of the other negative effects that people can experience from THC, such as anxiety. 3
Commonly used cannabinoids
- Butane hash oil
- Medicinal cannabis
- Synthetic cannabinoids
Explore cannabinoids on the Drug Wheel
The endocannabinoid system
The endocannabinoid system is a unique communications system found in the brain and body that affects many important functions. 5 It is made up of natural molecules known as cannabinoids, and the pathways they interact with. Together, these parts work to regulate a number of activities, including mood, memory, sleep and appetite. 3
What do cannabinoids do?
Similar to opioids, cannabinoids produce their effects by interacting with specific receptors, located within different parts of the central nervous system. Simply put, cannabinoids regulate how cells communicate – how they send, receive, or process messages. 4
Types of cannabinoids
– the dried leaves and flowers (buds) of the cannabis plant that are smoked in a joint or a bong. This is the most common form.
- Hemp – the fibre of the cannabis plant, extracted from the stem and used to make rope, strong fabrics, fibreboard, and paper. including pharmaceutical cannabis products that are approved by an organisation such as the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), including nabiximols (Sativex®) and synthetic cannabinoids such as Dronabinol®. 5
- HU-210 – a synthetic analogue of THC, first synthesised in Israel in 1988 and considered to have a potency of at least 100 times that of THC. 5
- UR-144 – similar effects to THC, though slightly less potent than THC. 6
- JWH – a series of synthetic cannabinoids created in 1994 by Dr John W. Huffman for studies of the cannabinoid receptors. 7
- 5F-ADB – a synthetic cannabinoid that was first identified in late 2014 from post-mortem samples taken from an individual who had died after using a product containing this substance. 8
- CUMYL-PEGACLONE emerged in late 2016 on the German drug market. 9 Anecdotal reports suggest that there are a number of adverse effects associated with CUML-PEGACLONE.
How are they used?
Illicit and synthetic cannabinoids are usually smoked, vaporised or eaten. Pharmaceutical or medicinal cannabinoids come in a variety of products including raw (botanical) cannabis which may be vaporised for medicinal purposes, as well as oils, liquids and oral sprays. Gels have also been developed for direct application to the skin. 5
Effects of cannabinoids
The effects of cannabis may be felt immediately if smoked or vaporised, or within an hour or two if eaten. General effects may include:
- feelings of well being
- spontaneous laughter and excitement
- increased appetite
- dry mouth
- quiet and reflective mood. 10
What are synthetic cannabinoids?
Over the years a number of synthetic cannabinoid products have been produced. They are similar to those of natural cannabis, yet, these drugs can be more potent and have been associated with a number of adverse effects.
Synthetic cannabinoids are molecules designed to mimic the effects of THC. Like THC, these synthetic cannabinoids target the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R) in the brain, which is responsible for the psychoactive effects of THC in cannabis. 11
Many of these substances have developed to the extent that they no longer fit with the traditional cannabinoid classification system.
Cannabinoids and other drugs
The effects of mixing cannabis with other drugs, including alcohol, prescription medications and over-the-counter medicines, are often unpredictable.
Using alcohol and cannabis at the same time can increase the unpleasant effects, including nausea, vomiting and feelings of panic, anxiety and paranoia.
Some people use cannabinoids to ‘come down’ from stimulants such as amphetamines and ecstasy. The mixing of cannabis and ecstasy has been linked to reduced motivation, impaired memory and mental health problems. 12,13
Health and safety
Use of cannabinoids is likely to be more dangerous when:
- taken in combination with alcohol or other drugs, particularly stimulants such as crystal methamphetamine (‘ice’) or ecstasy
- driving or operating heavy machinery
- judgement or motor coordination is required
- alone (in case medical assistance is required)
- the person has a mental health problem
- the person has an existing heart problem. 14
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
Dependence and tolerance
Regular cannabinoid use, particularly when started in adolescence, is associated with dependence and lasting cognitive impairment (e.g. lower IQ), poor educational outcome, diminished life satisfaction and achievement, and an increased risk of psychotic disorders. 15
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The Ultimate CBD Glossary: The Terms You Need to Know
We think everybody should know as much as possible about their CBD products: what they are, how they work, and how they’re made.
CBD and its related terms are some of the buzziest buzzwords out there. And for good reason: CBD products have gained a lot of attention recently for their overall health and wellness benefits.
And to be a smart CBD shopper, you’ve gotta know the lingo. So whether you’re new to the world of CBD or just looking for a refresher course, we’ve got you covered on the vocab to empower you as you shop.
The most abundant endocannabinoid found in the body, 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) is a member of a group of molecules that play a complex and important role in various bodily processes including immunity and inflammation. Like anandamide, 2-AG is thought to help regulate appetite, immune system function, and pain management by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system receptors.
A major endocannabinoid naturally found in the body. Like 2-AG, anandamide is part of the body’s endocannabinoid system and alters functions like cognition, learning, memory, mood, other higher intellectual functions, and certain motor functions. THC is thought to produce psychoactive effects and alter these same functions in the body because it mimics the way anandamide interacts with the endocannabinoid system.
This term refers to the degree and rate at which a drug is absorbed by the body’s circulatory system. It’s an important measurement tool because it determines the correct dosage for non-intravenously administered drugs. For drugs, supplements, and herbs administered non-intravenously (such as through consumption, inhalation, or topical application) bioavailability designates the fraction of the ingested dose that eventually gets absorbed.
Products labeled “broad spectrum” fall somewhere between full-spectrum and isolate formulations. Because they contain terpenes and other beneficial cannabinoids, broad-spectrum products offer some of the benefits of the entourage effect — without any THC. For those who can’t have or don’t want to have any traces of THC in their system, broad-spectrum products can be a better choice than isolates. But they’re not as effective as full-spectrum products.
Also known as CBD, cannabidiol is one of the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. It’s the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis, accounting for up to 40% of the plant’s extract. CBD does not produce psychoactive effects. Cannabidiol interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), part of the nervous system that’s thought to play a regulatory role in all kinds of bodily functions, including mood, sleep, and appetite. According to a 2017 report from the World Health Organization, there is evidence that CBD is an effective treatment for epilepsy.
Not to be confused with cannabidiol (cannabidiol is a cannabinoid, but not all cannabinoids are cannabidiol), a cannabinoid is one of the diverse chemical compounds that acts on the endocannabinoid system receptors found throughout the body. These molecules include the endocannabinoids produced naturally in the body and phytocannabinoids from cannabis. The two most notable cannabinoids are THC and CBD.
Indigenous to eastern Asia, this flowering herbaceous plant has been farmed throughout recorded human history. It is farmed for marijuana as well as the industrial hemp used in CBD products. In addition, hemp fiber, hemp seed oil, and food products are also derived and harvested from different parts of the plant.
A delivery method for CBD oils and extracts that’s easy to swallow (literally). Capsule products resemble the gel pills you’re used to seeing at your local pharmacy.