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CBD Oil: A New High for Holistic Health?

At some point during conversations on wellness routines, particularly when the topic swerves to non-pharmaceutical management for things like anxiety or inflammation, I share that adding CBD oil to my regimen has personally done wonders for my overall well being.

The responses I get usually range from a subtle nod of agreement to “CB. who now?!” or “Oh no, that’s pot and I don’t want to get stoned” followed by “Well, if you’re not getting high. what’s the point?”

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is an active cannabinoid, and like it’s more famous cousin THC, is found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, however, CBD does not produce the same psychoactive sensations or typical “high”- think Cheech and Chong vibes when consumed. In this writer’s opinion, the experience of ingesting CBD oil is like an long exhale right before savasana in a yoga class. The effects of CBD are subtle and I’m far more aware with the sensations I don’t feel (negative emotion, anxious thoughts, sometimes nausea, inflamed aches or pains) than what I do feel.

You may have noticed over recent years that CBD oil — sometimes referred to as hemp oil — has surged in popularity in wellness circles, touted for its wide array of therapeutic benefits. And all the while, research around the benefits of CBD have ballooned. From insomnia to depression and anxiety to gastrointestinal (GI) distress to general pain relief and inflammation reduction, CBD products are becoming a plant-derived go-to for what feels like (almost) everything that ails you.

Ok. But what is it?

Heather Jackon, CEO of cannabinoid research nonprofit Realm of Caring, in a recent interview with MindBodyGreen, described CBD as “[a] “smart” molecule, an adaptogen, a regulator, and a modulator. CBD acts in a comprehensive and dynamic fashion, depending on the situation and location in the brain or body.

There is a plethora of physiological benefits. CBD will generally act to promote homeostasis (i.e., balance), situationally reducing inflammation, decreasing blood pressure (if it is too high), and “killing” cancer cells through various apoptotic and anti-angiogenic mechanisms, to offer a few examples. So CBD is like the yoga and meditation of the molecular world, trying to pull you back to center to cultivate more balance from within depending on what it is your body and mind need.

Ok. Ok. That all sounds nice but how does it work?

It almost sounds too good to be true. How could one plant-derived compound be effective in such a wide array of disorders and ailments? The answer lies in endogenous cannabinoid or endocannabinoid system (ECS) which plays a regulatory role by interacting with other bodily systems like the GI tract, the autoimmune system, and the inflammatory response affecting our physiology and even our mood.

Endocannabinoid receptors are found throughout the brain and body that respond to endogenous cannabinoids produced naturally in our bodies. It’s been shown that ECS plays a role, in some way or another, in many different disease states.

The two primary receptors in the ECS are CB1 and CB2, and rather than fully binding to them (like THC does with the CB1 receptor), CBD stimulates activity at both of the receptors but does not actually bind to them. Since these receptors are found throughout the brain and body, CBD is able to modulate various processes in our internal system.

But wait there’s more: According to research aggregated by Project CBD, a Cali-based non-profit, CBD is also able to interact with a number of different receptors. For example the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor which plays a role anxiety (and appetite and sleep and pain and nausea) is directly activated by CBD. *shout out to alternative, plant-derived anxiety management!*

Also CBD interacts with TRPV1 receptors that play a role in inflammation (one of the biggest buzzwords in the wellness world), pain perception, and regulating body temperature. This dynamic compound also has anti-cancer effects that come from CBD’s ability to activate PPARs, which when activated has an anti-proliferative effect and can induce tumor regression.

How do I do it?

Similar to the multitude of benefits, CBD can be added to your wellness routine in various ways. One of the most common and simple ways is taking and ingesting CBD oil orally. There are also CBD tinctures meant to be dropped underneath the tongue that are said to speed up delivery of CBD into your system. If you’re looking for a tastier form of CBD, edibles, like gummies, gums, or candies are available. And, of course, with the rise of “vaping,” there are CBD only cartridges meant to fit standard threaded “vape-pen” bases.

If internally ingesting is not up your alley, the options for topical CBD products feels endless — lotions, salves, ointments, body oils, and bath salts.

And as always, as with any new product or wellness regimen you have to find what works for you as an individual. You know what they say, different tokes for different folks. (Sorry not sorry! I made it so far without terrible marijuana puns.)

Photos by Christin Hume, Alexandre Chambon, Esteban Lopez

Shortly after earning her BA in neuroscience at Oberlin College in Ohio, Adriana began practicing and studying yoga in 2011 after taking her first Bhakti Flow class in Oakland, CA. An athlete growing up, she was first drawn to the physical challenge of the practice but quickly delighted in the equanimity it brought to her mind and spirit. Adriana believes life is a conversation and is constantly surprised and inspired by the answers found on her mat — and the questions which come from those answers.

After moving to Philadelphia, Adriana completed the 200 hour teacher training at DIG Yoga in alignment-based hatha yoga, with her teachers Sue Elkind, Naime Jezzeny, Nikki Robinson and, mentor, Mariel Freeman. Adriana’s relaxed, conversational teaching style invites students to honor and relish the present moment in whatever form it takes, be it effort or ease. Through clear alignment cues and thoughtful sequencing, she encourages, supports, and empowers students to cultivate a deeper connection with their breath and body, creating a sustainable yoga practice to carry throughout life. Follow her on IG @adrianaadele.

CBD Oil: A New High for Holistic Health? At some point during conversations on wellness routines, particularly when the topic swerves to non-pharmaceutical management for things like anxiety or