The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) detected that the consumption of foods with cannabidiol (CBD), a compound present in the hemp plant, is becoming fashionable, and has included these products in its list of emerging risks.
The scene is recurrent in the beer section of well-stocked establishments. Someone sees a label with the drawing of a Cannabis leaf and has no time to put that bottle in the car, feeling like an anti-system and anticipating the accomplice smile of the clerk when going through the checkout. He feels like a revolutionary, more than the Viking who entered the Capitol with his face painted and his grandmother’s mink stolen on his head.
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Not everything in cannabis is for getting high
To begin with, the terminology is a mess, as the WHO itself reflects. Cannabis is used to refer to any of the psychoactive substances of the cannabis Sativa plant, but also to describe parts of the plant or, specifically, the dried flowers of female plants. Marijuana is a mixture of dry leaves and flowering tops—commonly known as buds—and hashish is the resin obtained from the buds: we already have the basics clear.
What is special about this plant?
Its cannabinoids: the compounds that exert a pharmacological action, by binding to and stimulating specific receptors that we have distributed throughout the central nervous system (CB1 receptors) and in organs and cells of the immune system (CB2 receptors). The effects are varied: euphoria, sedation, relaxation, changes in temporal perception and recent memory, pain reduction, and increased hunger or muscle weakness, among others.
THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the one that has the greatest psychotropic effect, but in the plant, it is in small proportions. Its precursors -delta-9-THCA-A and delta-9THCA-B- do appear in greater quantities in crops and quickly transform into THC as soon as a little heat is applied: they are responsible for the fact that there are so many gardeners’ hobbyists growing plants in the cupboard at home. Its psychoactive properties have made it famous, but THC is just one of many compounds found in Cannabis sativa.
Can foods with cannabinoids be sold?
There are no mass-selling products, but if you look with care in the supermarket you can find everything from cookies with hemp, to alcoholic beverages with large leaves in a characteristic shape on the front of the bottle.
But how does dietary CBD work on the body?
Dietary consumption of CBD is different from using an oil sublingually or applying a cannabidiol cream topically. Indeed, eating or drinking CBD implies that you will first digest it before feeling its virtues.
So what does it change?
The absorption of CBD is much longer when taken orally, but its effects prove to be more effective and last longer. Consuming CBD during the meal would indeed increase its relaxing properties tenfold.
Once absorbed by the body, CBD plays its role as a catalyst. As with other modes of administration, it interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. It is then able to optimize the natural response to pain and stress or to act on other ailments.
Is edible CBD effective?
Edible CBD is just as effective as other cannabidiol products. As with the latter, it is the dosage and the quality of the CBD that are important!
It makes sense, cooking recipes made with a good dose of CBD oil and a low-enriched chocolate bar will not have the same effects. Similarly, a water-based CBD infusion, with no added fat, will not have the same impact as an olive oil dressing. Finally, cooking CBD can cause its active components to disappear.
Good to know: CBD is fat-soluble, so it is better assimilated by the cells when it is accompanied by fats (butter, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.).
For CBD to be effective, it is therefore important to ensure several points:
- The quality of the CBD – its extraction (supercritical CO2) and cultivation (organic) methods can be good indicators;
- The way to cook it (cooking, adding fat, etc.);
- The recommended dosage.
- The concentration of CBD contained in the ready-made products that you buy is also important.
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