CBD is a pretty hot topic. And it also happens to be one that we’ve covered a few times, taking a deep dive into the ABCs of it all. But even though we’ve been convinced to add it to our smoothies (hello Cannabis in a Cup!) and drop it under our tongues before we go to sleep, we’re still not sure we really get it. So to understand it all a little bit better, we sat down with medical doctor and cannabis expert Dr. Julie Moltke-Huitfeldt to get the lowdown on our favourite health hero, CBD.
Hi Dr. Moltke-Huitlfeldt! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us on this fascinating topic. First and foremost, what the heck is CBD?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is an organic compound and the second most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. CBD comes from the cannabis plant, either from hemp or marijuana. There are more than 500 organic compounds in the cannabis plant, and CBD is one of them.
Ok, got it. So it’s not the same as cannabis, right?
CBD comes from the cannabis plant, but you can say that it differs from it by being a lone ranger, a single molecule derived from the cannabis plant family. The difference between hemp and marijuana is the amount of THC, the most abundant cannabinoid, known for its psychoactive properties (it gets you high when smoked). Hemp is classified as having less than 0.2% hemp in it, while marijuana has more than 0.2%, with very potent strains having more than 20%. To clarify, hemp and marijuana are different strains of cannabis, and CBD is one of the 144 cannabinoids found in cannabis. When you are talking about CBD oil, it often comes from hemp but can also come from marijuana where the THC has been removed.
We think we’re finally starting to get the hang of this CBD stuff! We’ve started to see CBD in everything from lotion to brownies to smoothies. Is it beneficial in all forms? What is the most beneficial form?
You are right. There are now hundreds of ways in which you can use CBD, from bath bombs to pillow mists. I would say that the most traditional are tinctures, vapes, topicals and soft gels. In Europe, tinctures and vaping are the most common. Tinctures consist of a carrier oil containing CBD either as an isolate or as a broad or full spectrum (CBD with other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids).
If you go to the US, you will find CBD in all of its forms, and many of them – like mints, gummies and teas – are entering the European scene.
I would probably recommend the more traditional forms like tinctures, topicals or soft gels. Most important is to make sure that you find a trustworthy brand that has quality control and third-party testing, as the application method you use will also depend on the reason behind taking CBD.
So we guess there’s sort of a CBD product for every occasion. Alright, we know you’re the editor in chief of Dosage. Could you tell us a bit more about it?
I started Dosage early this year as I believe that knowledge empowers us all. Dosage is an online publication with a team of 10 contributors writing about cannabis science and general health and wellness. The family of contributing writers ranges from doctors and researchers to life coaches and nutritionists. As a medical doctor, I see so much misinformation out there, and our goal with Dosage it to be a reliable source for evidence-based information in a jungle of wild claims.
That’s incredibly important because it’s so easy to take in and digest incorrect information that can actually harm your health, rather than help it. How did you end up in the world of CBD and cannabis?
My interest in natural therapy forms like mindfulness and yoga was awoken several years ago, and I started to look into the research and evidence supporting what I saw and felt myself. I kind of stumbled over CBD and cannabis on this journey, during a dinner where a close friend of mine told me about his CBD start-up. At first, I was pretty sceptical about the whole panacea idea, so I decided to look into the issue a bit more. That was the early start of Dosage. Another contributing factor was the Danish cannabis scheme initiated in January of 2018. I am educated as a doctor in Denmark, and I have been following the development of the pilot and am now getting involved in this side of the cannabis palate as well.
Amazing. It’s really encouraging to see doctors educated in a more Western-style of medicine embracing alternative therapies. Do you think people have jumped the gun in claiming that CBD can cure a wide range of maladies?
I am always very careful when it comes to CBD as a panacea. To be honest, I think that there are only a few things that cannabis can cure, if any. However, I do think CBD and cannabis are great tools in the toolbox to treat and reduce the intensity of certain kinds of ailments. These include anxiety, stress and PTSD, certain kinds of chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and period pains and cramps to name a few. There is also great hope that CBD can be a sleep aid and help reduce stress. We are still waiting for the gold standard clinical research to prove these associations in a systematic way, but there are already millions of people who are using CBD the alleviate symptoms from the above illnesses.
And that’s often the way things work: anecdotal evidence encourages researches to explore a topic more deeply to find scientific evidence to support what the laymen are already claiming. What would you recommend to people who are just starting to get curious about CBD?
My greatest advice is to do a bit of research beforehand. There are a lot of great sources out there, but make sure that you find an independent one that is not trying to sell you something at the same time. You can start by reading a bit about the properties of CBD and the different application methods. If you wish to try CBD for the first time, I recommend starting with the old adage start low and go slow, meaning you start with a small dose and then you gradually increase it from 5-10 mg of CBD to up to 100 mg CBD per day.
It can also be great to clarify why you wish to try CBD so that you can choose your product. People with strong anxiety often tend to like vapes that kick in fast but for a short period of time, while others might prefer an oil that takes a bit longer before it works but last for much longer.
Noted. And we’ll definitely check out those links! Now does THC make CBD more or less effective?
CBD and THC works in different ways and on different parts of our nervous system. You can say that CBD can attenuate the effects of THC in terms of the paranoia and dissociative feeling that is often associated with THC. I do not think that THC makes CBD more or less effective, but a small percentage of THC can definitely add some great properties to a product. CBD with a small amount of THC is a much better sleep aid that pure CBD, and it is widely accepted that THC is a strong and potent anti-inflammatory and works better for pain than CBD.
Oh that is so interesting, as we kind of assumed that it could negate the positive effects. Doing your research is important clearly! How do you like to use CBD?
I like to use CBD as a general food supplement to take the edge off in stressful periods. Sometimes, if I feel I need to unwind before sleep, I also take 50 mg of Yuyo Botanics Evening Mix with other essential oils like Roman Chamomile. I also like to take CBD for the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, something that’s just what I need living in a stressful and busy city like London.
Amsterdam may not be as big as London, but we think everyone could use some help with stress. Alright, we’ve got one more question for you. What’s one thing most people don’t know about CBD?
Most people say that CBD is not psychoactive, but this is actually not true. CBD works on several different receptors in the brain and is therefore, by dentition, psychoactive. However, CBD will not make you high like its famous big brother THC (which is behind the intoxicating effect of smoking weed).