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What is CBD?

Is there anybody who hasn’t heard of CBD by now? The wellness wonder has well and truly taken the world by storm, and more and more people are eager to explore the benefits. And thanks to the overwhelming public enthusiasm, it’s never been easier to bring it into your life. Nowadays, you can find CBD in coffee, bath salts, lip balms, and even in more luxurious forms like our range of gin and rum.

Given its popularity, there are some things you probably already know about the prominent product—that it derives from cannabis and has been associated with a number of health benefits. However, there’s still a lot of confusion over what CBD actually is and what it can do for those who use it. We’re here to answer any questions you may have before trying CBD for yourself.


What does CBD stand for?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in cannabis plants. One of the 108 different kinds of cannabinoids that scientists have isolated from cannabis, CBD has gained significant popularity in recent times thanks to its therapeutic potential.


What is the history of CBD?

The health benefits of cannabis have been taken advantage of for thousands of years. According to CBD Origin, Chinese Emperor Sheng Nung was the first person to use cannabis for medicinal purposes, in the form of cannabis-infused tea in 2737 BC. Researchers started to take the medical properties of cannabis seriously in 1839, after Irish physician and medical researcher William B. O’Shaughnessy published a study outlining its rudimentary effects and possible medical applications. Over a century later, British chemist Robert S. Cahn discovered the first individual cannabinoid: cannabidiol, or CBN. Then, in 1942, American chemist Roger Adams was able to successfully isolate it.

Going forward, scientists found it challenging to identify which cannabis molecules were responsible for specific effects like relaxation and pain relief. However, the first breakthrough was made by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam in 1963, when he successfully determined the stereochemistry— the arrangement of atoms and molecules and its impact on chemical reactions—of CBD. He went on to lead a 1980 study into the potential application of CBD for epilepsy treatment, which found that seizures would either stop or become less frequent after four months of use.

However, the discovery was not considered a breakthrough at the time, due to the stigma surrounding cannabis. As research progressed, medical marijuana began to be legalised in a number of U.S. states, starting with California in 1996. Today, as public feelings towards cannabis shifts, more people have started to embrace the benefits CBD offers.


How does CBD work?

The human body includes a biological system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is composed of endocannabinoids naturally produced by the body itself. This system is thought to help maintain homeostasis—steady internal physical and chemical conditions—and regulates a number of functions including sleep, mood, and memory. While scientists aren’t exactly sure how the compound affects the body, it’s now thought that CBD encourages the natural production of more endocannabinoids in order to boost the ECS.


What is CBD good for?

The rising popularity of CBD has largely come from personal anecdotes by those who have enjoyed positive experiences and shared their stories with the world. Through simple word of mouth, CBD has been attributed with treating the following conditions:

  • Physical pain and inflammation: The use of CBD oil has been reportedly beneficial for joint pain or stiffness resulting from conditions like arthritis. A CBD-based medicine called Nabiximols (Sativex) is licensed for those suffering from multiple-sclerosis muscle spasticity if other treatments haven’t helped. However, it has limited availability on the NHS and it is not considered cost-effective.
  • Anxiety disorders: Studies have suggested that CBD has positive impacts on those suffering from their mental health, including post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
  • Substance abuse: Some research has shown the positive impacts of CBD on smokers trying to quit, while it may also alleviate symptoms of drug withdrawal.
  • Acne: A 2014 study found that the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD may lower the production of sebum which, when overproduced, causes acne.
  • Epilepsy: Epilepsy can be legally treated using CBD in the UK. In September 2019, Epidiolex was approved for seizures associated with two severe forms of childhood epilepsy.

Some studies have also claimed that CBD could prevent Alzheimer’s and diabetes, fight cancer, and promotes a healthy heart.


How do you use CBD?

With so many people keen to reap its benefits, CBD is now available in many different forms. Everyone is free to enjoy its effects in the way best suited to them:

  • Edibles: These are CBD-infused products you can eat or drink—perfect for those keen to try delicious flavours.
  • Oils: These concentrated forms of CBD are absorbed using either a pipette or dropper, which is used to administer the oil under the tongue or mixed into drinks.
  • Pills: Like normal capsules, these are ingested orally and will usually contain CBD oil or isolate, the purest form of CBD.
  • Vapes: Using an e-cigarette, a vaporised liquid containing CBD is inhaled. This is usually done without nicotine.
  • Topicals: You can take CBD through a cream, lotion, or paste by simply rubbing it directly into the skin, hair, or nails.

The form in which you choose to take CBD will depend on your own needs and preferences. For instance, vapes act quickly but the effect doesn’t last as long, whereas you will be waiting longer for edibles to work but feel the impact for four to five hours.


Is CBD psychoactive?

All forms of cannabis contain CBD, which is distinct from the psychoactive component called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The cannabis most people are familiar with contains 3%-20% THC, which is why those who consume it will typically experience a high. However, CBD is derived from hemp, which is another strain of the cannabis plant and has significantly lower concentrations of THC—a maximum of 0.3% by dry weight.

Unlike cannabis, CBD has no psychotropic effects and will not make you high or stoned. The World Health Organization has reported that “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.” However, some scientists claim CBD is technically psychoactive in the sense that it can change mood and perception—as demonstrated by its ability to moderate anxiety, psychosis, depression, and other mental conditions. Therefore, CBD has mood-boosting properties you can experience without any of the negative effects associated with cannabis.


Is CBD legal?

It is perfectly legal to use CBD in the UK, as long the products contain no more than 0.2% THC, and the THC cannot be easily separated from the hemp used. Here at Top, we use twice tested THC FREE CBD within all of our products.

By Nick Pullen & Saf Ali