WTF is CBD anyway?
First things first, I bloody love CBD and love is not a word I use lightly. This magical substance has made such a difference to both my physical and mental wellbeing to the point where I don't actually know how I managed without it.
So, onto the key question: WTF is CBD anyway? I will warn you that I'm about to put my teacher hat on but I have good intentions to getting educational, I promise.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is a natural compound that comes from the family of cannabis plants. There are loads of different strains and varieties of cannabis but essentially they separate into two main categories: hemp (cannabis sativa) and marijuana (cannabis indica). Whilst CBD is found in all cannabis varieties, it has the highest concentration in hemp plants (Grinspoon, 2018).
I should also add that there is a misconception that using CBD will get you high but that's not true. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound and it is a completely separate cannabidiol to THC. THC is the compound that gives you the high and is found in high concentrations in marijuana plants whereas in hemp plants it's no more than 0.3% (Arthritis Foundation, 2020). So I repeat, taking CBD will not get you high (Nelson et al. 2020).
So how can using CBD help with endometriosis and other chronic and/or invisible illnesses?
What's amazing about CBD is that it's similar to the chemicals we have within our body called endocannaboids. These endocannaboids are a network of chemicals and receptors which keeps our internal functions (such as our organs and immune system) working smoothly (VanDolah, Bauer & Mauck, 2019), (Chye et al. 2019). CBD influences and activates the receptors of this system which can bring a variety of health benefits such as reducing aches and pains, inflammation (Wright, Duncan & Sharkey, 2009), bloating, anxiety (Skelley et al. 2020) and nausea.
CBD products are separated into three main categories: CBD isolate, full spectrum and broad spectrum.
CBD isolate is exactly what it sounds like; it's when all the all other compounds of the plant are removed, leaving just the CBD making this is a good choice if you live somewhere with zero tolerance for THC.
Full spectrum CBD is when all the naturally occurring plant compounds are kept in the extract such as essential oils and terpenes (these are aromatic oils which have distinctive flavours and have different benefits such as relaxing you or making you feel upbeat). By keeping these compounds in the extract it can cause an entourage effect; this is when the compounds work together to create unique effects which you wouldn't benefit from if they were removed (Russo & Marcu, 2019).
Finally, broad spectrum CBD is a combination of both CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD (Lazarou, 2020).
In addition to this, CBD is available in many different forms and different strengths. I will add the disclaimer that each product will have it's own instructions for dosing/instructions so always double check! Generally speaking, the normal advice is to start at a low dose and then work your way up to what is best for you.
Bearing that in mind, CBD is available in capsules, tincture oils, bath bombs, bath salts, vape cartridges, muscle rub/balm, lube, suppositories, gummies... For the most part this is a matter of preference but I will say that certain methods are quicker to kick in and more effective at reaching your bloodstream.
The most common and effective way to take CBD is sublingually (under the tongue) via a tincture and will usually start to kick in within 15 to 20 minutes and can stay in your system for up to 8 hours. Vaping will get it into your bloodstream the quickest (within 10-20 minutes) but will only stay in your system for a maximum of 2 hours and applying it topically means it is localised to the area of application but can take up to 45 minutes to work. Of all the methods, ingesting it takes the longest (up to 2 hours) and has the lowest uptake in your bloodstream (Devitt-Lee, 2020).
But to be honest, it's a matter of preference and is dependant on your needs and the desired benefits you want to achieve.
Personally, I take an oil tincture twice daily which has dramatically reduced the severity and frequency of my endo flares. If I'm having a particularly horrid flare I will vape it or if I have localised pain such as back ache, I will use a CBD muscle balm.
Ultimately it's about finding what works for you but I hope this post has given you a clearer insight as to what CBD is and how it can be helpful when living with endometriosis.
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