There has been soaring demand for cannabidiol (CBD) products in the natural health market over recent years, and science is slowly but surely confirming the medicinal benefits of this non-psychotropic cannabis derivative. Scientific studies have proven CBD to be effective against intractable epilepsy, anxiety, nausea and more.
As cannabis goes further into the mainstream, expect to see even more revelations about the properties of compounds in the plant, as researchers learn more about the endocannabinoid system and its mechanisms.
CBD is especially important to the endocannabinoid system, as it can influence the production and signalling of endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters, and also the receptors that these chemicals bind to.
The industry has come up with a multitude of ways to enjoy the therapeutic properties of CBD. It can be consumed in an edible, or with a sublingually-administered tincture oil for quicker absorption into the bloodstream. The antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal qualities of CBD are being harnessed by cosmetic companies to fight aging, manage skin conditions and generally boost skin quality.
However, perhaps unsurprisingly considering how popular it has been with smokers, vaping has emerged as a leading way to take CBD. The benefits of vaping are numerous, but the lightning fast pain relief and ability to take hundreds of milligrams of CBD in one sitting are among the most common reasons for vaping. CBD users have the luxury of knowing that the compound is not possible to abuse, according to the World Health Organization, and that extremely large doses – such as 1,000mg in a 24-hour period – can be easily handled by the body. Even in copious amounts, CBD will not cause any psychoactive, mind-altering side effects, although it may induce tiredness.
The science behind CBD vaping
But just why do cannabis and CBD users find that inhaling the smoke or vapor from the herb or CBD e-liquid is the best way of medicating, given the possible risk that it could pose to the lungs? Firstly, it’s important to note that the United Kingdom’s National Health Service released a high-quality study into the long-term effects of vaping in 2017, with researchers finding it to be 95 percent safer than smoking. The annual, government-funded stop-smoking campaign Stoptober even advocated the use of e-cigarettes during the 2017 campaign.
Now that the health concerns are cleared up, let’s focus on the advantages of inhalation as a way of consuming CBD. When a patient takes CBD, the goal is to relieve some kind of mental or physical discomfort, ideally as quickly as possible. With CBD, this is achieved by getting molecules into the bloodstream, where they can start to regulate the endocannabinoid system.
CBD capsules and edibles must be swallowed, and therefore taken orally, meaning cannabinoids cannot immediately pass into the bloodstream. Subsequently, CBD cannot immediately become active, and some of the potency is lost when the CBD passes through the gut and liver, where “first-pass metabolism” occurs.
However, vaping allows CBD to bypass these organs, and take a speedier route through the lungs. Inhaling CBD vapor takes these cannabinoids deep into the lungs, where the vapor fills tiny air sacs called alveoli. The CBD is then absorbed through the alveoli and into the blood. Once in the blood, CBD can be taken to the parts of the body where it can have the most benefit.
For example, if somebody with depression takes CBD, the cannabinoid will redirect anandamide to the brain, where it can enhance mood by locking to CB1 receptors. CBD will attempt to correct neuropathic pain by interacting with CB1 receptors in the central nervous system. If the problem is inflammation, CBD will start to regulate the immune system by working with CB2 receptors.
Difference between a low dose and a high dose
CBD is considered a biphasic drug, as it produces quite different effects depending on whether a low or high dose is administered. In low doses, some people find that CBD acts as a cognitive enhancer, stimulating concentration and focus which could be beneficial if trying to boost productivity. It’s possible that the enhanced focus that comes from taking CBD is thanks to the reduced stress and anxiety the compound promotes – fewer thoughts and worries helps people to stay present and zoned in on the task at hand.
However, in bigger doses, CBD’s effects are decidedly more sedative, especially physically – many find that CBD makes them feel drowsy and tired. Mentally, a large dose may significantly improve mood, but cognitive function will remain unimpaired. With these sedative properties in mind, a heavy CBD vape session is perhaps best saved for the evening, where it can be used to help wind down after a long day. The quick hit of sedation helps with relaxation and getting into sleep mode.
CBD promotes healthy sleep that can have a neuroprotective effect by encouraging deep sleep. This phase of sleep and is necessary to heal the brain each night and also to improve physical health. During deep sleep, the body boosts tissue growth and muscle repair by releasing growth hormones via the pituitary gland.
How to vape CBD
Some people choose to vape their CBD like cannabis, by getting a strain of hemp or high-CBD cannabis, grinding it up and heating it in a dry herb vaporizer. This works perfectly fine, although for medicinal users, CBD e-liquid and vape oil is generally preferred.
There are a couple of reasons for this. Unlike CBD e-liquid where the exact potency is known, and the CBD is spread evenly throughout the e-liquid, dry herb is natural, meaning there will be some variance. For some, taking a little less than recommended one day and then a bit over the next is not an issue, but others like knowing the precise dose.
It’s also possible to vape CBD concentrates, either on their own or combined in a CBD e-liquid – CBD crystals will dissolve into a vape juice to strengthen the mix. Concentrates aren’t usually required for the average CBD user, but those managing serious pain may find them more efficient.