Recent studies show nothing but positive results when it comes to the healing potential of cannabidiol, also known as CBD. As a result, you can now find a wide range of CBD-infused products in the market, from topicals to vapes and smoothies.
Although CBD has caused a lot of excitement amongst patients who now have access to an alternative form of medicine, it has also brought some confusion. We get a lot of questions with regards to whether or not our patients should include CBD as part of their treatment regimen.
Read below to find out more.
In recent years, CBD has been consistently on the news, and for good reason. This prolific* plant has shown great potential in the treatment of a wide range of conditions. As a result, the demand for CBD has skyrocketed, so much so that it has created a whole industry.
Although the CBD market is independent from the marijuana industry, it still gets affected by the ill* reputation of THC, the compound that gets people high. Therefore, a lot of people, especially beginners, find it confusing and complicated to traverse the physiological and legal terrain of CBD. To get rid of the confusion, we have broken down the subtle yet significant differences between hemp and marijuana below.
Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana
First, it is important to note that both hemp and marijuana belong to the same species of plant called Cannabis Sativa L*.
What is Hemp?
“Hemp” is the term used to describe strains of Cannabis that have 0.3% or less THC composition by dry weight. 0.3% is the maximum amount of THC that will not cause psychotropic effects.
There is evidence showing that humans started cultivating this plant as early as 10,000 years ago, leading some to believe that it was the first plant to ever be cultivated.
Hemp is coveted* for its capability to produce a wide range of crucial resources such as food, clothing, paper, rope, housing material, just to name a few. What is marijuana?
In comparison to hemp, marijuana is the term used to describe Cannabis strains containing more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. Like CBD, THC is also a cannabinoid that is famous for its psychotropic or euphoric effects on the user. The confusion between hemp and marijuana
As you can see, the main defining factor between hemp and marijuana is the THC content, or rather, whether it gets the user high or not. Nonetheless, looking at the intoxicating properties of a Cannabis plant alone gives a rather incomplete picture of the plant.
Main Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana
Hemp and marijuana belong to the same plant species, therefore, they are strikingly similar to the untrained eye. However, with the contrasting legal regulations, varying effects and usages, you cannot afford to confuse the two.
Here are Five differences between hemp and marijuana:
1. Physical Characteristics
Hemp and marijuana plants can be told apart from their appearance. First, hemp plants feature slender and long leaves that are more concentrated at the top. The branches are also concentrated at the top. On the contrary, marijuana plants have broad leaves with a tight bud that looks like a nugget with hairs projecting out.
When observed from afar, hemp plants are skinny and can grow up to 20 feet tall while marijuana plants look like thick short bushes.
2. Chemical Composition
Hemp and marijuana share much of their chemical makeup. Both plants can produce high amounts of CBD but they vary widely in terms of the amount of THC they produce.
While hemp does not contain more than 0.3% THC, marijuana strains normally contain between 5-20% THC. This number can go past 30% when grown under heavily regulated conditions
3. Legal Status
Due to their varying levels of THC, hemp and marijuana are not treated the same legally. Previously, hemp was categorized in the same group as THC and other compounds found in Cannabis as per the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. In 2018, however, hemp was declassified as an illegal substance after President Trump signed the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 into law. On the contrary, marijuana is still taken as a controlled substance and is federally illegal.
4. Growth Environment
Marijuana is normally cultivated for its psychoactive properties. As a result, the fibers and stalks are not considered in the harvesting process since most THC is found in the buds of the female flowers.
To achieve higher THC concentration, marijuana growers often pay close attention to the plants at every stage of development, regulating temperature, lighting, humidity and soil conditions.
On the other hand, hemp is grown for a wide range of uses and growers typically put much focus on the size and yield. To achieve this, hemp is grown outside, on huge tracts of land with the plants close together since they flourish even under natural conditions.
Hemp and marijuana each offer several usages thanks to their difference in chemical composition and physical properties.
First, THC is a powerful psychoactive agent that binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, inducing euphoric or mind-altering effects. Consequently, marijuana is widely applied for recreational purposes, although it has shown potential in a wide range of therapeutic uses.
In contrast, hemp is cultivated commercially for its stalks and seeds which are used to produce a wide range of products, for example:
- Food products such as cooking oil, hemp oil and hemp seed-based products
- Medicine such as CBD oil
- Industrial products such as paper, textiles, building materials, biofuels etc.
Difference Between CBD Derived from Hemp and CBD from Marijuana
As you know by now, CBD can be derived from either the marijuana or hemp plant. Even though the two plants have a different chemical structure, the CBD from hemp or marijuana is exactly the same. CBD Basics
CBD belongs to a class of compounds that occur naturally in plants, known as cannabinoids. The other famous cannabinoid from the same family is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, unlike THC, CBD does not get you high. Moreover, CBD is extracted from the hemp plant unlike THC, which is extracted from the marijuana plant.
There are a wide range of studies both in and outside the United States currently trying to analyze the full range of effects of CBD. Nonetheless, CBD already has a solid reputation as a prolific molecule due to its many health benefits. These include:
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease
- Mood disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Digestive issues
CBD is able to affect so many seemingly unrelated conditions due to its mechanism of action. It influences a newly-discovered system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a massive network of cannabinoid neurotransmitters and receptors that are responsible for maintaining homeostasis (biological balance) in the body. The ECS is so widespread that is thought to control most if not all physiological systems and cognitive processes.
Dosing on CBD
We find a lot of patients who are already trying CBD for various conditions but are not sure about the dosage. Finding information on how to dose CBD can be challenging since the many various brands are not regulated by the FDA.
Nonetheless, there is an easy method known as the Stepwise Dosing Procedure that you can use to gauge how much CBD you should take.
The Stepwise Dosing Procedure
Establish Your Minimum Baseline Dose
First, you want to establish the minimum amount of CBD you should be taking. A lot of people report great results with CBD even at dosages as low as 2-5mg. Therefore, we recommend that you start with between 2-5mg two to three times per day.
Take Bote of How CBD Affects Your Body for the Next 7 Days.
In case you do not feel any benefits after the first week of taking the minimum dose, increase your dose by 1-2mg every three days. When you starte recognizing the results, you have reached your optimum dose. After step 3, you may want to decrease the dose by 1 step to see if the benefits will still be felt.
Note: Many people start consuming CBD for a particular condition just to realize other unforeseen health benefit. Therefore, be observant of all the changes going on in your body when taking CBD.
Dosage by Weight
If you need a higher dosage, it may be more suitable to establish your baseline dosage using weight. The following chart acts as a starter guide. However, do not replace it with the advice of a qualified medical practitioner.
Bioavailability and Route of Administration of CBD
CBD can be ingested as an oil, it can be absorbed sublingually(under the tongue), inhaled via a vape pen or applied topically. The amount and rate of absorption of CBD is highly dependent on its method of administration.
Therefore, the way you take your CBD can have significant effects on how CBD works in your body.
What is Bioavailability and Why Should You Care?
Bioavailability is simply the rate and degree at which chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream. Besides concentration and amount of substance taken, bioavailability also determines just how much of a substance will be circulating in your body.
Consuming CBD orally
Consuming CBD orally leads to a more than 80% loss of the substance according to various studies. This is a very low bioavailability relative to other administration methods.
Sublingual administration of CBD
The sublingual gland lies just under the tongue and interestingly, it can absorb some chemical substances directly. This is called sublingual administration and has been reported to have between 12-35% bioavailability, which is quite high.
CBD can also be absorbed through the lungs using vape pens. Although vaping comes with its own health risks, this administration methods achieves a bioavailability of between 34-45%. Some reports report even higher levels of around 56% bioavailability.
CBD can be infused into topical products including lip balms, salves and lotions. CBD has shown potential benefits to skin care. Just to mention a few, CBD can help reduce inflammation, psoriasis, pain acne and even act as an anti-aging cream.
Applying CBD on the skin is, however, uncommon and also results to the lowest bioavailability levels.
If you need guidance in how CBD can be beneficial for you and your family's health and well-being you can book a consultation with us by clicking on the button below.