The nutritious benefits of hemp have been recognized for quite a while, with hemp seeds often added to salads as a rich source of omega-3. Hemp seed oil is also a popular supplement. However, the hemp plant, which is technically a strain of cannabis, also contains a fascinating compound that has a myriad of therapeutic properties: CBD.
CBD is a non-intoxicating substance and doesn’t produce the psychoactive high that cannabis with high levels of THC does, and therefore can be added to food with no problems at all – and that’s exactly what’s happening! People all over the world are embracing the potential of CBD not just as a medicine, but as an ingredient.
In this post, we’ll outline the most prominent qualities of CBD and identify why it may be crucial to helping us stay mentally and physically balanced and offer some advice on how to cook with it.
Key facts about CBD
CBD functions in the endocannabinoid system, which could just be the most important regulatory network in the entire body – it influences our immune system, appetite, mood, hormones, perception to pain and sleep patterns, to state just a few. The endocannabinoid system’s wide influence means that it has a key role to play in keeping the body in equilibrium, or homeostasis.
However, scientists knew nothing about the endocannabinoid system until the 1990s, when the neurotransmitter and endocannabinoid anandamide was found by Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam. Anandamide has similar effects to THC, the most-abundant cannabinoid in cannabis which was also first isolated by Mechoulam.
Indeed, we would never have known about anandamide had it not been for THC, as Mechoulam’s research efforts following the discovery of THC focussed on whether the body produced a similar compound.
Discovering anandamide has helped uncover the true complexity of the endocannabinoid system, which we now know can be regulated by CBD. Therefore, CBD can also affect our mood, appetite, hormones and the rest. CBD’s interactions with the endocannabinoid system are also complex, but we understand it best as an inhibitor of the FAAH enzyme, which degrades anandamide. This suggests CBD keeps the endocannabinoid system regulated by ensuring endocannabinoids are present in suitable concentrations.
Is it safe to take CBD?
Yes. In December 2017, the World Health Organization clarified its position on the substance, finding it to have no abuse potential or potential for addiction, as part of a review of several compounds. Being non-psychoactive, CBD has distinguished itself from the rest of the cannabis plant, and there is an entire market for CBD-only products, typically made using extractions from hemp. These include CBD edibles and CBD oils.
Using CBD for the first time
If you’re unfamiliar with CBD, then the prospect of using a cannabis component in a recipe – even if is non-psychoactive – may be a little daunting. In large doses, some find CBD to have a sedative effect, and since initially your tolerance to the compound will be very low, it may be best to begin with small quantities, and then use more if required. Regular CBD users quickly work out the effect that low, mid-range and high doses have on them, and zone in on what suits them best.
Best CBD products to use in cooking
There are CBD e-liquids, CBD concentrates, CBD creams and CBD pills, but CBD oils perhaps provide the most control when cooking with cannabidiol. When using oil, you can decide exactly how much you want to add in and mixing it in is easy. You don’t have to break anything down or cut anything up, simply stir in the oil as if it was a spice.
CBD tinctures nearly always come with a pipette which can hold a certain amount of oil (as stated on the bottle). This helps to ensure you get the right dosage every time.
Infusing CBD into butter
One great thing about using CBD in cooking is that the cannabinoid fits well in both sweet and savoury foodstuffs. Some choose to add it in while cooking, but it’s also possible to infuse CBD into butter or oil.
In some countries, you’ll be able to find pre-made CBD-infused butter and oil, but it’s easily possible to make it yourself. It’s just important to only mix in CBD oil with butter at low temperatures, as CBD has a fairly low evaporation point – around 180°C. Use around 10ml of CBD oil for every 300 grams of butter for edibles that are potent in this non-intoxicating compound.
Heat up the CBD, butter and around three cups of water in a saucepan at low heat for around four hours. Stir once every half an hour – as time goes on, the mixture will thicken. It can then be poured into the container and solidified in the refrigerator – this process usually takes a minimum of two hours.
CBD has a strong flavor, that tends to be quite earthy. Not everybody gets on with this, so perhaps experiment with the taste of the oil yourself before adding it to your favorite recipe. With this in mind, it’s probably best not to use CBD in light recipes, as it could overpower the rest of the flavors.
If you want to use CBD in a recipe that involves cooking at higher temperatures, it’s advised to cook at the hotter temperatures first and then add the CBD in near the end when you can use lower heat settings.
How to store food containing CBD
Research has shown that in some states, CBD may be light-sensitive, meaning you’ll need to store it carefully if you want to protect the therapeutic properties in your recipe for any length of time. We recommend using an air-tight container if possible and keeping your CBD-infused food in the fridge, where it can be kept cool and in the dark.
Cooking with CBD and cannabis in general is likely to become more popular as the plant comes back into mainstream society. The therapeutic and nutritious properties are exciting from both a medicinal and general health perspective.
CBD and the law
Most countries are now taking a more liberal approach to CBD products, if not yet the entire cannabis plant. In the United States, CBD extracted from hemp is legal across the United States. Furthermore, across the Atlantic in the United Kingdom, CBD is now considered a medicine.
While CBD is not yet legal in Singapore, the government-funded National Research Foundation is currently researching the medicinal potential of CBD, through the development of synthetic compounds.
Before using CBD, ensure that it is legal in your region and if you have any doubts, consult a doctor that can provide informed, medical advice about the compound and determine whether it may have any impact on any other medication that you’re taking. The general advice on CBD, from the World Health Organization, is that it’s safe to use, but individual circumstances could vary.