An introduction to CBD edibles
For many people, edibles are their first experience of the effects of cannabis. Pot brownies, cookies and all kinds of sugary snacks are popular with recreational weed users. However, those taking cannabis-based products for medicinal reasons are also becoming more familiar with edibles, and non-psychoactive treats in particular. CBD gummy bears, chocolate bars, lollipops and more are all in high demand.
But what makes CBD edibles different from standard cannabis edibles, and indeed, what makes edibles in general unique over cannabis flower, oil and vape juice? That’s what we’ll explore in this post.
Understanding CBD’s effects
CBD (or cannabidiol) is one of 113 cannabinoids discovered so far. These compounds are rare, in that they are found almost entirely in various cannabis plants, and function with receptors that are part of the obscure endocannabinoid system.
CBD produces a range of therapeutic effects that encourage balance in this system and homeostasis throughout the body, without inducing the mind-altering effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hence, there’s no risk of short-term cognitive impairment or triggering mental illness with CBD, as is sometimes reported in those predisposed to schizophrenia and psychosis who have consumed high quantities of THC.
The cannabinoid is useful in treating physical complaints such as pain, and also for reducing the symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. More research is definitely required, but it appears that CBD takes effect more quickly than SSRI drugs, and that it doesn’t induce drowsiness, dizziness, insomnia nausea or other unwanted side effects.
Some experience great results by using CBD as a standalone treatment and have been able to cut down their intake of other drugs thanks to it. Others use CBD in conjunction with other pharmaceutical drugs (there are rarely issues with doing this, although consult a cannabis-informed doctor if you have concerns).
CBD is also a potent anti-inflammatory and has the unusual ability to control immune system response, by initiating reactions via CB2 receptors situated on white blood cells.
Why take CBD edibles?
Most forms of CBD will help with most illnesses, bar some exceptions (e.g. a CBD cream won’t help with depression, as the cannabinoids need to be active in the brain). In comparison to vape juices and sublingually-absorbed oils, CBD edibles are several times slower to take effect. This is a drawback for acute illnesses, but the upside of having more gradual benefits is that they last for much longer.
For instance, patients suffering from insomnia – which may be due to irregularities in the body’s circadian rhythm – the all-night effects of CBD can be very helpful. Moreover, CBD is not addictive, as some find sleeping pills to be. Sleep apnea, a fatigue-inducing condition that causes people to wake up during sleep due to disrupted breathing may also be manageable with CBD.
Edibles are also a good option for those with conditions that have lingering symptoms. It may be more cost efficient to treat these with edibles over e-liquids, as with the latter the patient has to re-dose every two to three hours. There is no set time for how long it takes edibles to become active after consumption, but it’s typically between 30 minutes and two hours. Metabolism speed can impact the onset of effects.
CBD takes longer with edibles over other methods as the cannabinoids cannot be immediately absorbed into the bloodstream – with vaping, CBD passes through tissues in the lungs, and with oil the cannabinoids are absorbed via blood vessels in the mouth. However, with edibles, the CBD goes through the gut and liver prior to absorption through the stomach, a process commonly known as the “first-pass metabolism.”
CBD edibles, and indeed any type of edible, is more discreet than smoking or even vaporizing. With this in mind, it’s easy to medicate with edibles in public or at work, without drawing attention. CBD-isolate edibles will have no cannabis aroma, although full-spectrum products may have a detectable smell because of the terpenes – these compounds, which change from strain to strain, also have therapeutic properties.
CBD capsules are very similar to edibles in terms of effects – the capsule is digested and then the infused CBD oil is released. Patients who want a treatment comparable to traditional medicine are well-suited to these.
Natural cannabis and hemp flower are a classic way of medicating, but since the cannabinoids are not spread evenly throughout the bud, there may be inconsistency with the effects. This rarely fazes an experienced user, but CBD newbies often prefer a more regimented treatment plan with precise doses. Thankfully, this is very easy with edibles, as each gummy bear or square of chocolate will contain a certain quantity of CBD, as specified on the packaging.
Another advantage of this is that it becomes easier to gauge the effects of various dosages, giving users a better understanding of how much they need to take. Some like to keep a diary of how they respond to a dose, and having that awareness makes it easier to tweak their plan accordingly.
How CBD-isolate and CBD full-spectrum edibles differ
Let’s take a more detailed look at what distinguishes CBD-isolate from full-spectrum CBD edibles.
CBD-isolate edibles are made with just a single compound from the cannabis extract – the CBD. The absence of other cannabinoids and terpenes that would come from a full extract means there’s no chance for synergy, which can enhance the overall effects. However, these products contain no THC whatsoever – for patients who take very large doses of CBD often, this can be better than a product that has a maximum of 0.3 percent THC. While still a very small amount, THC takes a long time to completely exit the body. Knowing that there’s no THC at all brings total peace of mind regarding drug tests.
However, full-spectrum edibles do consist of terpenes, cannabinoids and other obscure plant compounds that are present in cannabis. Many of these have not been extensively researched, but there are indications that their presence increases the overall medicinal value of all the compounds, through a series of interactions which make up the “entourage effect.”
This concept has not been conclusively proven, although many cannabis advocates favor natural, plant-based products over more manipulated products for this very reason.
Full-spectrum edibles available in the United States will never exceed the 0.3 percent THC limit placed on hemp products by the 2014 Farm Bill. While some states have legalized cannabis, the only CBD products that are federally legal are made from hemp, which is less restricted because of the consistently low concentrations of THC. Reputable companies have their products tested to ensure they conform.