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CBD is technically an unregulated substance in the United States and therefore it ought to be used with caution. This is especially important for those taking additional medications and/or those with ongoing medical issues. That said, preliminary research on CBD and its benefits are promising in relation to helping with mild to moderate health concerns and it is generally considered a safe substance. Health professionals do not consider CBD a cure-all for serious medical issues, including cancer.

CBD—the abbreviation for cannabidiol, a substance that’s generally derived from the hemp plant—has skyrocketed in popularity over the last five years. In fact, according to some research, “CBD” as a Google search term remained stable from 2004 to 2014 but has since ballooned by up to 605%.

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

CBD Is Still an Unregulated Substance

“Since discovering the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body in the 1990s, CBD has been researched more extensively. The ECS is a central regulatory system restoring normal balance and homeostasis in a range of human physiologic systems throughout the body and brain and has cannabinoid receptors and chemicals in its function,” explains Dr. Matharu-Daley.

CBD benefits include the following:

Also known as “cotton mouth,” CBD can potentially cause your mouth and eyes to feel very dry, notes Dr. Brent A. Bauer via Mayo Clinic. Though this side effect is more likely to occur with THC, it can happen with CBD, as well.

CBD is one of the many chemical compounds that is found in the cannabis plant—referred to as cannabis sativa. There are two primary parts of the plant that humans use. One is THC, or Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, and the other is CBD. Though they’re from the same plant, THC and CBD are quite different from each other.

Making it more complicated: Some states have restricted CBD sales, so even if your product was derived from federally legal hemp, it’s legality where you live does vary by state. There’s a chance, Capano says, that you might run into law enforcement who’s not up-to-date on the bill and arrest you for possessing it—but it’s unlikely.

The good news: You likely aren’t taking a high enough dose of CBD that it will cause an adverse reaction with any other medications you might be taking. To lower your risk even more, make sure the CBD you’re using is a full-spectrum product rather than an isolate, so you can get the same benefits at a lower dose. Also, opt for a product that’s not oral, as capsules involve a first pass through the liver that tinctures and other products don’t.

How do I use CBD?

You can even use it in place of hand sanitizer in a pinch. CBD is naturally antimicrobial and can help kill some nasty germs. Ananda Hemp’s oil has shown 99.9 percent antimicrobial effectiveness against staph and MRSA in tests. How well a CBD product kills germs does depend on how concentrated it is, so check with the manufacturer before relying on it. Also, keep in mind that CBD has only been shown to protect against gram positive bacteria, such as staph and strep—not against gram negative bacteria, like E. coli, notes Capano. So you shouldn’t rely on it for keeping you totally bug-free. “It’s better than nothing, but CBD isn’t a substitute for hand soap,” she says.

Your ideal dosage also varies based on how you’re taking it—you’ll need less from a tincture than a capsule, for instance, because tinctures have a greater bioavailability (meaning more gets into your bloodstream and causes an effect).

Nixing your nerves is one of the top reasons people are turning to CBD products (along with lessening pain and help sleeping). There’s still research to be done on how exactly it works to calm anxiety, but one thing we do know is that it blocks an enzyme called FAAH, which works to lower a fatty-acid neurotransmitter called anandamide, explains Capano.

For those who are hoping to feel the effects of CBD as quickly as possible, Shcharansky recommends taking a tincture sublingually, meaning dropping it under your tongue, waiting a few seconds, and then swallowing.

CBD oil is the top trendy ingredient on the market right now. It's so popular, in fact, that revenue from products made with CBD are projected to grow to $20 billion by 2024.

The reason CBD is so compelling to consumers is due to a laundry list of promising purported health benefits, from reduced muscle pain and anxiety to help with nausea, insomnia, and inflammation. We're still waiting for clearance from the FDA (and more robust research on the proven perks of the ingredient), but in the meantime, many Americans are eager to test out the positive potential of CBD.

Ingestible forms of CBD

For ingestible products, like tinctures, capsules, gummies, and the like, the results are different. When kept under the tongue, tinctures typically absorb within 30 seconds and effects are felt within 15 minutes. When ingesting CBD (i.e., swallowing it or consuming a food that contains CBD), you can expect to feel the effects within about 45 minutes to two hours.

CBD topical products, like balm, ointments, and lotions, should take effect pretty immediately. Once you apply these products to your body, you should start feeling relief within about 15 minutes.

One question we often hear regarding trying CBD for the first time is how long it will take to have an effect on your body. According to Boris Shcharansky, the chief operating officer at Papa & Barkley, the length of time depends largely on the dosing method. Here’s a simple breakdown.

In case you’re wondering what is CBD, exactly?, here’s a quick refresher: CBD is a naturally occurring compound present in the flowers and leaves of cannabis plants. There's no THC in it, which means it can’t get you high, no matter how much you take.