Cannabinoids are a core part of the RM toolkit because they are such powerful natural molecules for creating change in so many different aspects of wellbeing, health and resilience as well as helping enhance life experience for many people. The reason cannabinoids are so helpful is because they work within our natural endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short. The ECS function is so crucial to our brain and body balance, or homeostasis.
Our endocannabinoid system controls some of the most critical systems in our body, from movement, pain control and immune system to our gut, mental health and sleep. It does this by controlling homeostasis, which is the overall balance of our brain and body. Endocannabinoids are chemicals made by our bodies similar to CBD, THC and other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant.
Like breathing, the endocannabinoid system takes care of itself, working away in the background without us thinking about it. However, research tells us that many diseases and symptoms may be related to or involve something going wrong with the endocannabinoid system- like chronic pain, anxiety and depression and IBS. This is why it can be helpful to add cannabinoids from the cannabis plant to help restore balance and reduce symptoms with very few side effects.
If you are well already, many people find cannabinoids can be used to enhance mental and physical wellbeing and life enjoyment and are healthier alternatives to alcohol for many people.
In herbal medicine, there are some plants which we can think of as ‘power plants.’ These are plants that have very potent powerful properties and are active in our brain and body even at small doses. Cannabis sativa, where CBD comes from, is one of these plants and because of its wide ranging impact on our ECS in both the brain, body and immune system, it has a variety of wellness uses.
Why FSHCBD is good for (mostly) everyone to start with
Generally, the best way to start incorporating cannabinoids for wellbeing for most people is with a long acting full spectrum hemp cbd product. Full spectrum hemp cbd contains a very small microdose of THC, but still below the 0.2% allowable limit, which makes it safe from causing impairment and will never make you feel ‘high’ but tends to contribute to the beneficial effects and make the CBD work better for many different things. CBD full spectrum products are still made from strains of the cannabis plant that fall under ‘hemp’ category but they still contain other cannabinoids and terpenes, so carry the advantage of having at least some level of the entourage effect where the plant chemicals all work together to act to a greater effect on our endocannabinoid system and other body systems than CBD alone, producing better effects at lower doses. A study done in mice looking at the difference between full spectrum cbd vs. cbd isolate revealed the same: CBD full spectrum was superior to CBD isolate at reducing pain and inflammation and a wealth of anecdotal evidence (i.e. individual experience data) in people supports this too. Full spectrum hemp CBD products also have the anti-inflammatory neuroprotective qualities that are compounded from having minor cannabinoids, terpenoids as well as the CBD due to herbal synergy, or the entourage effect as it is known in the cannabinoid world. If you choose to add on more THC, the base of long acting full spectrum CBD can also help buffer potential THC side effects or downsides (eg. if you use more THC for issues such as pain or sleep where legal).
Some of the other ‘minor’ cannabinoids found in a full-spectrum CBD product may include:
- Cannabidiol acid (CBDA)
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
In addition the most prominent terpenes in the oil should be listed on the product, although the exact amounts are often not reported, just shown as ‘rich in X terpenes’ such as:
- Beta caryophyllene
The other cannabinoids are normally found in much smaller amounts than CBD or THC Right now, the research on most of these are still in the animal and test tube phase, although some preliminary human studies are coming out. But the initial research so far is very promising for a whole host of uses for these compounds too, especially combined with CBD such as in full spectrum hemp cbd or medical cannabis products.
Selected Minor cannabinoids and properties (mostly in cell model or animal model phase so far):
- Anti-tumour effects
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Antibacterial qualities
- Pain relieving
- For psoriasis skin topically
- Anticonvulsant effects
- Some anti-cancer effects (in vitro studies & animal models)
This is very low in fresh cannabis, and is a breakdown product of THC.
- Sleep promoting
- Topically for psoriasis and burns
- Anti-tumour effects (in vitro studies & animal models)
- Analgesia (pain relieving) on own and may enhance THC pain relieving effects when combined
- Have a positive effect on bone growth
- May play a role in reducing plaques in Alzheimer’s disease
- Appetite suppressant
- Analgesia (pain relieving)
- Anticonvulsant properties
- May reduce intestinal (gut) inflammation
The aromas of plants are from a group of plant chemicals we call terpenes. They are the essential oils of all plants, including cannabis and also found in trees, fruits flowers etc etc. The cannabis plant has so many different combinations of terpenes depending on the strain, and at least 140 (probably closer to 200) exist in the cannabis plant, creating scents that can range from pungent and earthy to citrusy and fresh. Although terpenes are in relatively small amounts (show some typical sample labels here for a few different strains), they seem to have an effect on our brains and bodies even at these very low concentrations. Terpenes that are at levels of only 0.05% or higher are considered significant. (2011 Russo Taming THC, Adams &Taylor 2010 p. 193) In animal studies, terpenes changed the behavior significantly even when the blood terpene levels were very low to barely detectable (Russo & Marcu, 2017, Buchbauer, Jirovetz, Jager, Plank & Dietrich, 1993). Because they are fat soluble they can cross the blood brain barrier and affect the brain directly.
In addition to creating the smell, terpenes plus the cbd:THC ratio in a strain come together to create the different ‘strain specific’ effects of cannabis. Terpenes are also thought to contribute to the overall enhancement of the CBD and THC effects.
Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes in the cannabis plant
Aromas: ‘hoppy, musky, cloves, Herbal, Citrus
Effects: Sedating, Relaxing, may enhances THC’s effects
Also found in: Hops, eucalyptus,Mango, Thyme, Citrus, Lemongrass, Bay Leaves
Properties: Antiseptic, Analgesic, Hepatoprotective, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Anti-Inflammatory, may be a gastro-protectant (against stomach ulcers)
Aromas: Peppery, spicy, Woody
Effects: may work together with THC to protect the stomach lining and with CBD to enhance anti-inflammatory effects.
Also found in: Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Hops, Basil, Oregano
Properties: Anti-inflammatory, Analgesic, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Anti-tumour, kidney protectant (neuroprotectant)
Aromas: Floral, Citrus, Spice
Effects: Sedating, Calming, mood balancing
Also found in: Lavender, Citrus, Laurel, Birch, Rosewood
Properties: Local anesthetic properties (good for topicals as a pain salve), sleep aid, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, immune regulating properties, analgesic, anti-convulsant, anti-acne
Effects: Enhances Memory Retention & Alertness
Also found in: Pine Needles, Conifer trees
Properties: Antiinflammatory, Antibiotic, antiviral, Anti-tumour, buffers THC short term memory effects, Asthma (Bronchodilator),
Humulene suppresses appetite, whereas many high THC strains can tend to stimulate appetite.
Boiling point: 198°C (388°F)
Aromas: Woody, Earthy
Effects: Suppresses Appetite
Also found in: Hops, Coriander
Properties: Anti-Inflammatory, Antibacterial, Pain
D-limonene is known to be a mood elevator, so choosing strains higher in this are good for depression and low moods.
Boiling points: 176°C (349°F)
Aromas: Citrus, Lemon, Orange
Effects: Elevated Mood, Stress Relief
Also found in: Citrus Rinds, Juniper, Peppermint
Properties: Anti-Depression, Anti-Anxiety, Gastric Reflux, Antifungal
For hemp CBD wellness products, these will rarely be labelled as ‘Sativa’ or ‘Indica’ normally just as ‘full spectrum hemp CBD’ and can generally be used for day or night without worry. Cannabis flowers and Cannabis oils and products that contain THC, such as for medical cannabis in the UK, on the other hand, are often labelled as either ‘sativa’ or ‘indica’ or a ‘hybrid’ mix of the two. Indica and Sativa are technically no longer accurate ways to describe strains due to so much crossbreeding, however it is still a good place to start when assessing whether a product is good for daytime vs. evening or bedtime use, since this is still the convention on most labels. If it is labelled as a hybrid, it is likely fine for day or night. Some companies will also tell you what strains of their flower are likely best for daytime vs. night on the label, and these are often good guides although not always 100% true for every person as there is also individual variation in someone’s response to a strain.
Time of Day
Some products are best for the daytime, because the strain used has an uplifting or energizing effect. These products are often labelled as ‘sativas’ although they are in reality more likely hybrids with chemovars that people find more uplifting/energizing based on user data often over many years for some strains. Other products are more calming, sedating and can make you feel sleepy or sluggish, so best used for the evening to unwind, relax and for sleep. These products are often labelled as ‘indicas’ and may be rich in myrcene too.
Forms & Dosing of CBD & Cannabinoids
Cannabis sativa can be used in so many ways: inhaled, topically for the skin, taken in a pill form or as an oil by mouth or in a tincture ‘sublingually’ under the tongue, transdermally in a patch absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, and even rectal or vaginal uses in some cases.
The most common way to take it is in an oral oil or capsule by mouth, but many people also find vaporizing cannabis, where legal, is effective for them for faster acting effects but also wearing off much quicker. In general, oral products (eg. oils, tinctures etc) are dosed 3 times a day for best results and are longer acting than vaporizing inhaled cbd/cannabis flower. The longest acting form which is becoming more available is transdermal, where a patch is applied to the skin and the cannabinoids absorb through the skin into the bloodstream and give a more consistent dose of CBD over 1-3 days depending on the patch. Often people use a combination of these methods to find their best fit.