what is cbd?

CBD has quickly risen to stardom, leading to an excess of beneficial products to choose from. Today’s market ranges vastly from deeply therapeutic tinctures and topicals to snacks and novelty products. CBD is everywhere and this is only the beginning.

So what is CBD? To put it simply, CBD is just one of more than 400 compounds produced by the cannabis plant. These are called cannabinoids. Although there was once an attached stigma, CBD is not intoxicating, meaning you can add it to your daily self-care routine without the worry of experiencing a high.

The fact that CBD is helping cannabis lose its stigma is incredible! Unfortunately, this has caused a ton of companies solely interested in making quick money to jump into the market —most of which are leaving the structural integrity of the molecule behind. With new companies flooding into the industry and claiming superiority, it’s becoming more difficult than ever for the intrigued and potential CBD customer to navigate this lucrative market. 

Here, we unravel the intricacies of this molecule, how the craze began, and how to differentiate between quality.

hemp vs. marijuana

Before diving into the characteristics of CBD it’s important to gain an understanding of the hemp plant that produces the compound. Hemp and marijuana are commonly mistaken for one another. However, they are vastly different plants. Although hemp and marijuana are both varieties of cannabis, what distinguishes them is not something that you can see  —it’s in their chemical makeup. The biggest difference is in THC levels, the compound responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana. By federal law, a hemp plant must contain a significantly lower level of THC than marijuana. To be exact, it must contain 0.3% THC or less. This is what all Pachamama products are made from! On the other hand, a cannabis plant with more 0.3% THC is automatically classified as marijuana.

A brief history of cannabis

Early 20th-century propaganda stigmatized both types of cannabis plants for nearly a century. It may come as a surprise that prior to the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 —which made cannabis federally illegal— medicinal preparations of cannabis were available in American pharmacies in the 1850s. In fact, the hemp plant was one of the first crops grown on colonial land and cannabis cultivation was a pivotal part of the formation of the United States. Even a few of our founding fathers grew this versatile crop for textiles, paper and more. Unfortunately, we knew nothing about the properties of hemp back then, let alone how it works in our body. It wasn’t until 1964 that we began to unearth the therapeutic characteristics of the hemp plant, such as CBD. 

why cbd is the prized jewel

The reason that this craze seemingly came out of nowhere is thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill that decriminalized the farming and use of hemp products. Since decriminalization, researchers have been able to access hemp to conduct more studies that uncover its potential. CBD is being used for a diverse range of reasons like maintaining overall joint and digestive health as well as supporting immune and cognitive function. The reason why it’s such a versatile compound lies in its interaction with our body’s primary mechanism of balance. The endocannabinoid system.

… and how it interacts with your body

The way CBD works in the body – and why it has the potential to aid in various aspects of health – is because of the interaction it shares with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). 

The ECS is an intrinsic network consisting of receptors with a primary purpose of promoting balance within the body by regulating all of its systems. CBD’s job is to act indirectly on the ECS, communicating with receptors to ensure that every network has the ability to operate at peak performance. This is part of how CBD works to maintain health in so many different areas of the body. Learn more about your body’s endocannabinoid system through our blog post here.