While CBD has been growing in popularity in recent years, the information available concerning the therapeutic and medicinal benefits of CBD can be overwhelming for anyone who is yet to understand the concept.
If you’re interested in trying CBD products for the first time, you probably have a lot of questions starting with: What is CBD? Which product is best for me? or How much to take? In this Beginner’s Guide to CBD, we break down many of the common questions about CBD.

What is CBD?

CBD (short for cannabidiol) is a natural compound produced by the cannabis plant. It is safe, non-addictive, non-intoxicating, and therapeutically potent. Generally speaking, it is widely used as a natural solution for relieving pain, anxiety, and inflammation.

CBD is a cannabinoid molecule, which means that it can directly interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Think of the endocannabinoid system as a biological messaging system that helps your body maintain homeostasis – or balance – on a cellular level.

All mammals produce cannabinoids naturally. These are called endocannabinoids. Have you ever felt a “runner’s high” after a rigorous workout? Then you’ve experienced anandamide, a specific endocannabinoid known as the “bliss molecule.”

Technically, CBD is a plant cannabinoid, or phytocannabinoid. There are currently 85 known phytocannabinoids found in cannabis, with CBD and THC being the most prominent.

How does CBD work in the body?

Phytocannabinoids like CBD and THC both have well-documented therapeutic benefits. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t produce a “high” – this is because CBD engages with your brain and body differently than THC.

One of the main ways CBD engages with your body is through the endocannabinoid system. Simply put, CBD can imitate, adjust, and engage your body’s on a molecular level in many different ways.

So, how does this all work? Let’s take a closer look at the endocannabinoid system to find out.

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The endocannabinoid system is located throughout the brain, nervous system, and immune system. It regulates the release of neurotransmitters throughout the body, and in turn it helps your body maintain vital body functions that affect your daily experience.

The endocannabinoid system influences how you feel pain, stress, and hunger. It also influences your mood, energy levels, sleep, memory, immunity, motor control, and other cognitive functions.

Simply put, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) has three main components:

  1. Endocannabinoid molecules
  2. Cannabinoid receptors that bind with these molecules
  3. Enzymes that create or degrade these molecules

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CBD produces its many effects by interacting with these ECS components in different ways. For example, scientists have found that CBD delays the breakdown and reabsorption – or reuptake – of the endocannabinoid anandamide. As a result, it raises levels of anandamide in the brain.

Our body creates anandamide on-demand as a response to stress and inflammation. A 2015 study found that when the brain has high-levels of anandamide, it enhances our mood and reduces fear and anxiety. Other studies found that anandamide is also linked to neural regeneration and protection.

Discoveries like these led scientists to explore CBD as a natural treatment for seizures, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. In fact, the FDA has now approved CBD to reduce seizures in severe, rare types of epilepsy.

This is just one way that CBD has proven to balance the body through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system.Since the ECS has receptors throughout the body, CBD research has illuminated a wide range of other therapeutic effects and applications.

What are the scientifically proven benefits of CBD?

Since its discovery in 1988, scientists now understand the endocannabinoid system (ECS) as one of the most important body systems for regulating human health. By deeply researching how the ECS works, scientists have identified more ways that CBD can target and engage with the body on a molecular level.

CBD’s therapeutic benefits are researched extensively. In fact, much of this research was sponsored by the U.S. government. These benefits run the gamut, with evidence supporting its use as a promising anti-depressant to a powerful pain reliever.

Some of CBD’s most well-known and well-researched benefits include:

  • Immunity Support
  • Pain Relief & Anti-inflammation
  • Improving Sleep
  • Reducing Anxiety and Depression
  • Treating Skin Issues like Eczema, Psoriasis, and Acne
  • Managing Appetite and Diabetes

Benefit #1: Immunity Support

One well-documented effect of CBD is its ability to increase endocannabinoid levels in the body. In turn, this activates your endocannabinoid system and maintains healthy immune responses to stress, toxins, and disease.

CBD inhibits certain fatty-acid enzymes called FAAH. These rapidly dissolve endocannabinoid molecules after they’re released into the body. When FAAHs are inhibited, endocannabinoid levels increase. In turn, these endocannabinoids help our body maintain a finely-tuned immune system by activating our CB2 cannabinoid receptors.

CB2 receptors are found abundantly throughout the immune system. Scientists have linked CB2 receptors to immune function and inflammation response. Specifically, CB2 receptors activate the immune cells responsible for recognizing, destroying, and processing toxins and foreign substances.

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Image Caption: The human body has 2 types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. Scientists have found CB2 receptors abundantly throughout the immune system, specifically in immune cells, the spleen, tonsils, and thymus glands.

Benefit #2: Pain Relief and Anti-inflammation

CBD is well known for its pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, the mechanisms that support CBD’s immunity benefits also address pain and inflammation. For example, inhibiting the fatty-acid FAAH also reduces pain and inflammation by increasing levels of feel-good endocannabinoids like anandamide (the “bliss” molecule) and adenosine.

Some of CBD’s most powerful pain relieving effects occur after it activates the TRPV1 neurotransmitter receptor. Essentially, TRPV1 receptors regulate inflammation response and how our body experiences pain. Today, many scientists are convinced that TRPV1 activation explains some of CBD’s most powerful anti-epileptic, anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects.

CBD also affect glycine receptors, which are located in the spine and regulate motor control and pain perception. Studies have shown that when locally injected, CBD significantly suppressed chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain.

For those who suffer from chronic inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis, CBD’s activation of TRPV1 receptors can provide relief from inflammation and pain.

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Benefit #3: Improved Sleep and Alertness

In a 2014 study, researchers found that about 50% of long-term cannabis consumers use it as a sleep aid. Even so, CBD’s specific involvement with the sleep/wake cycle is still being explored.

Curiously, CBD has been shown to have different effects on sleep depending upon the dose. Low-dose studies found that CBD is associated with increased wakefulness and shows great promise for treating excessive daytime sleepiness and narcolepsy. Alternatively, an insomnia study found that high-doses of CBD (160 mgs) decreased nighttime interruptions and increased sleep time.

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Benefit #4: Reducing Anxiety and Depression

One of the most popular uses of CBD is for combating anxiety and depression. Scientists have identified several ways CBD provides relief by engaging directly with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and other neurological receptors.

As previously illustrated, there is a clear relationship between the fatty-acid enzyme FAAH, endocannabinoid levels, and ECS function. In fact, studies have found that chronic stress can impair our endocannabinoid system by increasing levels of FAAH. One study in particular showed a clear relationship between anandamide deficiency and anxiety severity in women with depression. By inhibiting FAAH, CBD restores endocannabinoid signaling and in turn, produces the effects of conventional antidepressants.

CBD also interacts with 5-HT1A neurotransmitter receptors. These receptors influence brain development and moodand are conventional targets for anti-anxiety medication. In one study, not only did CBD reduce anxiety levels, but it also reduced heart rate and blood pressure.

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Benefit #5: Treating Skin Issues like Eczema, Psoriasis, and Acne

Our skin is a complex organ comprised of three layers and many different cells. All of these cells work together to promote healthy skin renewal and barrier function, and they maintain this delicate balance through the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

CBD is effective for healing skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne because of its inflammation-soothing and ECS stimulating properties. Scientists have found that the ECS regulates cell death, sebum production, and skin sensitivity. Furthermore, a recent report by German scientists concluded that 1) ECS dysregulation could delay wound healing and 2) depleted endocannabinoids levels enhanced contact allergic inflammation. 

You might wonder if CBD’s skin benefits only exist on the surface, but several reports have found that CBD’s effects go deeper. In a 2004 paper, researchers found that CBD is 10x more permeable than THC when applied topically.

This is good news for those who experience arthritis, as another report found that a topical CBD gel significantly reduced arthritis pain and inflammation.

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Benefit #6: Managing Appetite and Diabetes

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Scientists have learned that CBD can directly influence digestive function, metabolism, appetite, and insulin production by activating cannabinoid receptors. This connection between cannabinoids and insulin regulation leads scientists to believe that CBD may hold major breakthroughs for preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes.

In 2006, CBD showed the ability to lower the incidence of diabetes. In 2015, stage 2 trials from an Israeli-American biopharmaceutical collective studied CBD’s ability to treat diabetes by helping the body convert fat and promote normal insulin production and sugar metabolism.

CBD has also been shown to decrease levels of resistin (a hormone associated with obesity).  and increase glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (the hormone responsible for insulin secretion).

Related to its anti-anxiety effects, CBD research also suggests that CBD interferes with cortisol secretion. In a 1993 double-blind study, researchers found that human cortisol levels decreased significantly after taking 300mg of CBD. Cortisol is a well-known “stress hormone” that helps regulate blood sugar levels, metabolism, inflammation, and blood pressure.

How do I use CBD?

As you can see, CBD has many scientifically proven applications. Since CBD activates the endocannabinoid system and many other neurotransmitter pathways, it has tremendous pain relieving, anxiety relieving, and inflammation reducing effects that translate to many different treatment options.

There are so many CBD products on the market that have varying potencies and chemical profiles and attempting to generalize their use and recommend doses doesn’t really make sense.

A Word on CBD Dosage

For people and pets, CBD dosage is different for everyone. Factors that can affect your personal experience include your overall health and endocannabinoid levels, and things like diet, exercise, sleep patterns, daily stress levels, and genetics all have an influence.

Remember, CBD is non-intoxicating and completely safe. So, if you’re new to using CBD products, you don’t have to worry about overdoing it! As a general rule, when trying a new CBD product, we recommend starting “low and slow” and progressively increasing dosage until you achieve your desired results.

To provide you with the most accurate and actionable information possible, we focus this section on the available CBD product options at Golden Apple Cannabis Co.

Using CBD Tinctures

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  • Usage: Drop under the tongue (sublingually) and hold for 1-2 minutes before swallowing.
  • Dose: Start with .25 ml (~5mg) of CBD and increase dosage by .25 ml until you achieve relief.
  • Onset: 15-60 minutes
  • Duration: 6-8 hours

CBD oil and tinctures can provide fast-acting, systemic benefits like relieving anxiety relief, chronic pain, internal inflammation, and encouraging sleep. By placing drops under the tongue, this allows for direct and rapid absorption into your mouth’s blood vessels.

This is why holding the drops for 1-2 minutes is so important. After CBD is swallow, your body will process it differently (through the liver), which may cause a weaker effect with longer onset.

Using CBD Powder

Using CBD Powder

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  • Usage: Mix into beverages and liquid foods that do not require heat for consumption.
  • Dose: Start with 1 scoop (~12mg) of CBD powder. Increase by 1 scoop until you achieve relief.
  • Onset: 20-60 minutes
  • Duration: 6-12 hours

When CBD powder is ingested, it’s absorbed through the intestines and then sent to the liver. Because of this, it interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the gut, so its effect on digestive systems will be more direct.

Typically, ingested CBD provides milder effects with longer onset. At Golden Apple, that’s why we utilize nano emulsification technology in our CBD powder. This brings more potency per gram and up to 10x better absorption in the gut.

The longer-lasting effects of digested CBD makes it ideal for chronic conditions. In fact, studies indicate that prolonged low dose treatment may be ideal for managing chronic symptoms.