By Sara Belcher

Cannabidiol, or “CBD” for short, is one of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that work with the endocannabinoid system in your body, but CBD is found in both marijuana and industrial hemp plants.

The difference between THC and CBD is that THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol) is the cannabinoid that causes a hallucinogenic effect, while CBD does not. Both are derived from the hemp plant — the levels of CBD vary between hemp plants raised for CBD and hemp plants raised for fiber and seed.

The CBD cannabinoid is derived from the female hemp plant, with the highest concentration of the cannabinoid found in the flower of the plant. Through an extraction process, CBD is pulled from the plant and turned into more digestible formats, like oils, tinctures, and topicals. 

How does CBD work in the body?

The human body has an endocannabinoid system of its own — similar to other body systems like the immune and nervous system. The endocannabinoid system reacts specifically to cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, in the body. But, cannabinoids aren’t just found in cannabis (even though CBD is just one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis) — cannabinoids can also be found in some foods, and your body produces cannabinoids, like 2-AG and anandamide

The cannabinoid anandamide is naturally produced to regulate things like appetite, hormone balance, and pleasure. Anandamide can also be found in foods like chocolate — which explains why many find joy in eating it. It’s thought that if your body is deficient in its production of anandamide, you’ll find you feel more pleasure from eating certain foods. 2-AG, like anandamide, is also produced to help regulate appetite, while assisting in pain management and supporting the immune system.

Anandamide, 2-AG, and other cannabinoids respond to the cannabinoid receptors in your body. There are two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2; they sit on top of the other cells in your body and communicate to the cells they’re sitting on about the conditions outside of that cell. These receptors relay the information to the cells to initiate different reactions. Specifically, they help all of your other systems stay in balance by encouraging your cells to react with the right timing, assisting homeostasis. CB1 receptors are largely attached to the nervous system and are the primary reactors to THC, creating that “high” feeling, while CBD reacts to the CB2 receptors, which are located in the various systems in your body.

People can be deficient in cannabinoids, just like you can be iron or serotonin-deficient, which is why products like CBD can be used to supplement your body’s current deficiency. The studies behind the effects of CBD are wide and varying, and since cannabis is classified as a controlled substance, medical uses of CBD are not yet approved by the FDA — which is why your doctor won’t prescribe you CBD as a treatment. Some claim CBD can aid relaxation and help maintain normal stress levels, while also maintaining a variety of mental and physical health qualities. Others find CBD supports their skin health or assists in maintaining the body’s resistance to certain pathogens, while others feel it promotes mental well-being more than physical well-being. CBD works differently for everyone and can have varying benefits depending on how it’s used and in what dosage.

The endocannabinoid system isn’t widely talked about because it wasn’t discovered until the late 1900s. Doctors and researchers are still studying the system’s specific functions and reactions in the body, which is part of the reason there’s conflicting evidence of CBD’s effects on the body.

From hemp to CBD — how it’s used

The extraction process to create CBD oil involves soaking the hemp flower and leaves. Head & Heal soaks the leaves and flowers in an organic-certified cane sugar ethanol. This process strips the plant of its cannabinoids, creating a CBD/ethanol mixture. Once the plants are done soaking, the ethanol is boiled off, leaving you with full-spectrum CBD oil.

From here, the full-spectrum oil can be used in a variety of methods. You’ve probably seen trendy products that tout their CBD content — everything from makeup to lattes to brownies. CBD oil can be added directly to some of these products. More efficient methods of consuming CBD include oral tinctures and topicals. At Head & Heal, our full-spectrum oil is diluted with organic-certified MCT oil to create tinctures, which can be taken orally by placing it under your tongue. We believe tinctures are the most efficient way to consume CBD, as they provide a more direct source of consumption. If you’re looking for a topical application, our salves are mixed with MCT oil, coconut oil, and beeswax, while the lotions have a base of shea butter and cocoa butter.

Like most other substances, your body and mind will react differently from others, meaning when you take CBD for the first time, take it slow to see how your body reacts. Your body responds to CBD in a bell-curve fashion — if you don’t take enough, you won’t feel anything, and if you take too much, you’re wasting the oil. With Head & Heal products, we recommend starting with 20 mg to see how your body reacts, upping your dosage by 20 mg each week if you feel you need more. Take it low and slow to see how your body responds before increasing your dosage. 

Beyond oral consumption and topicals, CBD can also be consumed through patches or smoking. However, certain states have regulations on smoking CBD; New York state does not allow the manufacturing of smoking products containing CBD, meaning any smoking products sold in non-smoking states were likely produced out of state. It’s best to check your state’s regulations before purchasing or consuming CBD products.

So wait — does CBD show up on drug tests?

The short answer: yes, it can. Let’s explain.

Almost all Head & Heal products contain THC (expect our THC-Free 600mg); a hemp product can be legally sold with less than .3% THC in New York state (again, it’s different for every state, so check your state’s laws before purchasing). There are certain products that have the “THC removed,” meaning the THC content is extracted from the product before it’s sold, giving it an undetectable amount of THC. But since CBD and THC are derived from the same plants, they’re usually found in the same products.

Certain drug tests, like urine tests, don’t differ between the cannabinoids, meaning even if you’re consuming within the legal limit in your state, your drug test may still come up positive for marijuana. In some instances, prolonged use of CBD products can yield a positive result for marijuana in a drug test.

Head & Heal’s products all provide a specific measurement of the THC content for each product. When you receive your product, check the batch-test number on our lab results page to see how much THC is in your product.

More about Head & Heal and our products

At Head & Heal, we manufacture our CBD products from seed to sale, meaning we grow the hemp plants, extract the CBD, and bottle the products, all at our plant in Cortland, NY. The hemp farm is owned by the people making your CBD products, so it eliminates the middlemen in the creation process. As of this year, Head & Heal will be one of the first CBD farms in the country to be completely USDA certified organic — in every step of the process.

Head & Heal also ensures that our products are batch-tested through a third-party testing company and provides you with results for your specific product. There’s a number listed on each product that corresponds with lab results.

For all of our products, check out our shop, or visit our FAQ page to learn more about CBD and our products.