About Cannabidiol (CBD)
The meteoric rise of CBD–and its appearance in a staggering variety of products from soft drinks to shampoos–has sparked both intrigue and questions from people who wonder: is the hype real? What medical evidence is there to suggest we can expect any benefits from CBD? Are the claims that it can address such seemingly unrelated ailments as pain, skin concerns, and anxiety even remotely legit?
If your curiosity has been piqued, you’ve come to the right place. Our research team at Impact Naturals has spent years in the lab working to answer these questions and more (and we can show our work; see below for links to our research papers and blog posts for more in-depth info). We love sharing our knowledge along with the products that we created from our scientific perspective.
What is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, and it is one of many active compounds derived from the cannabis plant. Over 100 such compounds, called cannabinoids, have been discovered to date, and their unique properties are being revealed through ongoing research, to which we proudly contribute.
The medicinal use of cannabis has a long and fascinating history that spans centuries and cultures. In various forms, the plant has been used in efforts to ease pain, provide comfort or emotional support, calm seizures, and aid sleep, among other uses. In the mid-1960s, scientists started to take this folk medicine seriously, identifying the first cannabinoids and beginning the work to isolate their individual profiles and possible effects.
You may already have heard of the two most ‘famous’ cannabinoids: THC and CBD. THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for producing a ‘high’ or euphoric effect in many people. CBD, on the contrary, is not intoxicating and is associated with anti-inflammatory and calming effects.
It’s important to note that when we discuss CBD and related cannabinoids that are currently legal in all 50 US states, we’re referring to cannabinoids that meet the requirements of the 2018 Farm Bill. This bill stipulates that CBD be sourced from the hemp plant (a very low-THC variant of cannabis), and contain no more than 0.3% THC, which is legal only in certain states. All Impact Naturals products are THC-free (under 0.02% THC, which is 10 times lower than the legal limit and as low as we can measure). To learn more about cannabis law or the 2018 Farm Bill, you can visit the US Department of Agriculture website at https://www.usda.gov/topics/hemp
How does CBD work?
CBD as a compound doesn’t just exist in a plant: we humans have it inside us already. Cannabinoids are naturally produced inside the human body, as part of what’s known as the endocannabinoid system. Among other things, the endocannabinoid system helps regulate how the body stays in a state of balance called homeostasis, and how well its other systems communicate with each other (you can have an in-depth look at the endocannabinoid system here).
By interacting with different receptors, proteins, and chemicals in the brain, CBD helps the endocannabinoid system function better, downshifting or upshifting the body’s various responses to trauma, stress, pain, or other stimuli as needed. Put simply, this is why many people experiencing the effects of stress, pain, anxiety, or related concerns may experience relief from those symptoms with regular CBD usage—it’s an ingredient the body already uses to regulate its healing and coping responses.
And CBD isn’t the only promising cannabinoid we know of. Other minor cannabinoids—such as cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN)—are showing some specialized benefit to humans, especially when combined with CBD. (In short, CBG may boost the efficacy of CBD, and CBN is associated with sleep and rest. Follow our blog for more updates as research continues—it’s an exciting time in cannabis research!)
Are all forms/formulations of CBD the same?
Across brands and products, approaches to sourcing and formulating CBD can vary widely. Pure, isolated CBD, as it turns out, can be made synthetically in a lab as well as harvested from the plant––with no chemical difference between the two. Some products rely only on isolated CBD, while others feature broad-spectrum CBD, which is characterized by the presence of other naturally-occurring minor cannabinoids. A phenomenon called the 'entourage effect' describes how these minor cannabinoids can actually work alongside the CBD to amplify its benefits.
Guided by our research, we've developed what we call 'defined-spectrum' CBD. We start with naturally-derived broad-spectrum CBD, and then boost the levels of minor cannabinoids that have been found to have particularly powerful entourage effects (specifically CBG and CBN). Elevated to higher levels than occur naturally in the plant, these minor cannabinoids allow the CBD to have a greater impact in the body.
Are all CBD delivery methods equally effective?
When we seek to measure the ‘effectiveness’ of a substance for humans, we need to define our criteria. Impact Naturals products are unique for their superior bioavailability—how much of an ingested substance your body can actually use (as opposed to ‘process out’ and excrete).
Typical CBD capsules are formulated with MCT (or medium-chain triglyceride) carrier oils. Commonly extracted from coconuts, MCT oil has skyrocketed in popularity thanks to the Keto diet. Whatever its health merits may be, however, MCT oil is not in fact ideal when it comes to efficiently carrying CBD to where it is needed in the body. Because of the way medium-chain triglycerides get digested, they and their accompanying CBD get dumped via the portal vein into the bloodstream, where they are at the mercy of the liver. The liver then filters out and eliminates the majority of the CBD––up to 80% in some cases––meaning significantly less CBD is available for use by the body than the amount stated on the product's label.
By contrast, our capsules are formulated with patented CHYLOSOMA™ technology that relies on long-chain triglycerides. Once this formula is broken down into its essential lipid components in the GI tract, it can enter the lining of the small intestine, rapidly assemble into molecules called chylomicrons, and hitch a ride in the lymph channels that comprise the body’s lipid transport system. This system actually bypasses the liver to shuttle the cannabinoids all over the body––to tissues, organs, the blood and the brain––with minimal elimination by the liver. This means most of our CBD gets to where it is ultimately needed.
Added sugar is another important factor to consider, especially considering the ubiquity of gummies on the CBD market. Gummies are indeed fun––who doesn't love candy?––but when CBD is taken for a variety of health-focused reasons, added sugar can present a barrier to those with certain conditions, dietary needs, or taste preferences (even if you love 'em, gummies first thing in the morning can be a little jarring). By designing capsules that are easy to take and free of taste, we've opted to make them as accessible as possible.
Ease of dosage should also be considered when choosing a CBD format, particularly if a consistent outcome is desired. Tinctures of CBD dissolved in oil are usually administered via dropper under the tongue and held there for minutes at a time to allow the tiny blood vessels of the mouth to absorb a sufficient quantity. The numerous variables present in this process––from the strength of the tincture, to the number of drops administered, to the amount of time held under the tongue––tend to compound, introducing what can amount to significant inconsistency between doses. Add to this the liver's immediate elimination of a majority of the CBD taken in this way, and you get a process that's anything but precise. Our CHYLOSOMA™ capsules present a simple and convenient alternative; take one (or two) at the same time each day. No measuring, math, or guesswork required.
All cannabinoids used by Impact Naturals are legal in the United States under the 2018 Farm Bill. We urge everyone, always, to seek medical attention and advice from your healthcare provider for your best care.