The non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) compound in the cannabis plant has not only stirred interest for its medicinal properties, but for its potential as a dietary supplement, too. There is now evidence that CBD can have a positive effect on overall physical and psychological wellbeing by regulating the body’s endocannabinoid system and keeping the body in homeostasis.
People have turned to cannabis for thousands of years to remedy their ailments – the herb is a staple in traditional Chinese medicine and has also been mentioned in Ayurvedic medicine texts. Some have suggested that the reason why cannabinoids work so well with the endocannabinoid system – and hence have significant medicinal value – is because we have evolved with cannabis.
Nowadays, scientists can isolate cannabinoids from the rest of the plant and study their effects. This has been essential for the advancement of medical cannabis, as the option is now there for people to benefit from its therapeutic properties without getting high if they don’t want to. CBD is the best-known non-psychoactive cannabinoid, but cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN) are also beneficial.
The endocannabinoid system
Before we go further, let’s look at just what the endocannabinoid system (ECS) has control over.
The ECS can affect inflammation, the perception of pain, appetite, stress levels, mood, sleep patterns and memory. Since cannabinoids – or phytocannabinoids – in cannabis are similar to the endocannabinoids created by the body, cannabinoids can mimic the effects of these and therefore influence the ECS.
An estimated 20 to 30 percent of the US population (according to Dr Richard W. Noble, MD) are thought to suffer from a condition called clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD), which is – as the name suggests – a deficiency in endocannabinoids. Those with CECD may not be able to produce the required endocannabinoids (such as anandamide and 2-AG) to keep the body in full working order. CECD has been linked to fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and migraines. Stress, poor diet, and a lack of sleep and exercise are thought to contribute to CECD.
An inefficient endocannabinoid system can also cause increased anxiety, OCD, auto-immune disorders and worsen arthritis symptoms.
The cannabinoid receptors which endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids bind to can be found all over the body, including the brain, immune system, central nervous system, pancreas, liver and bones. This means that the possible healing qualities of cannabis and cannabinoids are wide-ranging. Studies have shown that CBD helps to reduce pain by calming nerve cells to stop excessive firing.
CBD products derived from the hemp plant are now extremely popular, since they are not subject to the restrictive laws that most countries have on cannabis because they don’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the famous high-inducing cannabinoid.
Instead of directly binding with cannabinoid receptors, CBD helps to promote the release of endocannabinoids in the body to restore working order to the ECS.
Using CBD in recipes
It’s important to note that there is a difference between hemp seed oil and CBD hemp oil. The former, although derived from the hemp plant, is only made using the seeds which do not contain CBD. While hemp seed oil does have some health benefits, for the full effect you need a product infused with CBD.
Some prefer to incorporate CBD oil into their meals, rather than just take it like a medicine. This oral intake means that the effects are like taking an edible – they take longer to kick in but can last for twice as long than if you’ve smoked or vaped your CBD or consumed it sublingually.
When choosing a CBD oil to use in your recipes, you may find that a full-spectrum product which contains other non-psychoactive cannabinoids for additional benefits.
CBD-infused salad dressing
The CBD oil can be added to a salad dressing without having to make any changes to it. The oil itself is often quite earthy, which can be unpleasant, so be sure to include plenty of herbs to cover the flavor. Around one teaspoon of CBD oil is recommended for each serving – if you’re making a dressing for six people, add six teaspoons of oil. This is a great way to make your salad even healthier, and you may wish to sprinkle some hemp seeds on your salad as well.
What better to add to your soup than some CBD oil? To increase the effectiveness of the oil, mix it in with some beneficial fats – coconut milk is a superb choice – as this improves absorption into the lymphatic system which in turn helps to strengthen the immune system.
Again, because of the pungent flavor of the CBD oil, make sure that you have a plethora of other ingredients to go in your smoothie. While we all love fruit smoothies, it’s important to intake a good variety of vegetables too, and this is an efficient way of doing so. Spinach and kale are packed with vital nutrients, and you could use apples as the base for your smoothie if you want an element of sweetness.
It’s worth noting that some are even adding raw cannabis flower to their smoothies, to get the medicinal benefits of THC without the high. In its raw form, the CBD and THC cannabinoids are in a pre-activated acidic state. While this doesn’t make much difference to CBD users, THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is non-psychoactive. For those averse to getting high, this is a handy trick.
Most people who know about CBD still only consider it as a medicinal compound, and not a substance that can boost your general health. This, sadly, is due to the lack of awareness on the endocannabinoid system. But hopefully that will change as mainstream doctors and nutritionists become more familiar with it.
This is far from an extensive list – as you can imagine, CBD oil can be added to almost anything! Some products tend to taste better than others, so some experimentation may be needed if you do struggle with the taste. If you have any doubts about using CBD as a health supplement, consult a cannabis-friendly expert who can offer personalized advice.