Author: Jason Beverly
The use of cannabis for purposes besides getting high is becoming more common. This is reflected by the fact that as of this writing, a total of 33 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have approved medical marijuana/cannabis programs.
In addition to treating certain symptoms of chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, several forms of epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, and cancer chemotherapy, research shows there are ascertainable benefits to using cannabidiol (CBD) to treat mental disorders—including anxiety. The following article explains how CBD can benefit your yoga and meditation experiences.
Marijuana vs. Hemp
While they are actually the same species of cannabis (Cannabis sativa), marijuana and hemp—the major varieties of cannabis—have significantly different cannabinoid profiles, resulting from different cultivars. For instance, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive substance, and CBD, the primary non-psychoactive substance, are just two of many cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant. In addition to being the basis on which marijuana and hemp are defined (in part), THC profile is the determining factor of cannabis product legality. Marijuana and hemp are distinct in several other regards, reported by the Congressional Research Service as follows.
In U.S. law, the current definition of hemp was originally given by Section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946: “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis”. Hemp consists of the fiber, seed, and flower parts of the cannabis plant.
Meanwhile, the current lawful definition of marijuana was originally given by 21 U.S.C. §802(16): “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin. Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination”. Marijuana only consists of the flower parts of the cannabis plant.
Both marijuana and hemp are overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (part of the FDA), but hemp is also overseen by the USDA, while marijuana is also overseen by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (part of the DOJ). Marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug by the Controlled Substances Act, while hemp (and any THC in hemp) is no longer included in the Act.
Hemp generally has low levels of delta-9 THC and high levels of CBD. The level of delta-9 THC in marijuana (which is, by definition, any cannabis that exceeds 0.3% delta-9 THC concentration) is generally much higher and is reportedly increasing steadily.
Production Practices and Use
The only part of the hemp crop from which resin (CBD, other cannabinoids) is extracted is the flower. The flower is also used for nutraceuticals and wellness products. In addition, the stalks are harvested for fiber to be used in paper, insulation, fiberboard, and the like. The seeds/grains are harvested and dried to produce food and body products, shelled seed, and oil and seed cake.
In contrast, the only use for marijuana is drug production. Only the flowers of the plant are harvested and processed into “buds” or resins.
What’s the Big Deal?
Knowing this information makes you a responsible consumer and will ultimately help you find a CBD product that has been produced according to lawful regulations. There are only 10 states where cannabis (both marijuana and hemp) is legal for both medicinal and recreational use. 47 states have approved marijuana-derived CBD for medicinal use only, but marijuana is still a Schedule I drug on a federal level, so marijuana-derived CBD is federally illegal. Marijuana-derived CBD will only be found in medicinal or recreational dispensaries, depending on your state of residence. Meanwhile, all hemp-derived CBD produced in accordance with the regulations set by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, P.L. 115-334 are federally legal—which is convenient for those seeking to purchase CBD products online!
There are a few different forms of CBD, but the majority of CBD products you will find are full spectrum CBD oil tinctures. Also called whole-plant extract, full-spectrum CBD is CBD that contains all the same cannabinoids and compounds found in the original hemp plant material from which it was extracted. Full-spectrum CBD differs from CBD isolate in that CBD isolate purely contains CBD (and none of the other cannabinoids, terpenes, or fatty acids present in whole-plant extract). The complete absence of THC means that CBD isolate won’t induce THC-psychotropic effects whatsoever. However, it’s not likely that full spectrum CBD will induce THC-psychotropic effects, either, as it’s generally held that 1% THC content is the baseline level for such effects to take place. Another form is broad-spectrum CBD, which contains many of the compounds found within the original plant (similar to full-spectrum CBD) but is free of THC (like CBD isolate).
Because there is no recommended dose, it is possible to ‘overdose’ yourself with too large a dose—but there is absolutely no threat of fatality or illness as a result. You’ll probably just fall asleep! The proper dose depends on non-universal variables like body weight, metabolism, diet, and consistency of dosage. The situation or purpose for which you’re dosing with CBD also determines the proper dose—for example, a higher dose may be necessary if using CBD as a sleep aid or to treat epilepsy, as compared to using CBD for increasing appetite in HIV/AIDS patients.
Like previously mentioned, according to the Institute of Medicine, there is scientific data indicating the psychological effects of cannabinoid drugs have potential therapeutic value to reduce anxiety, which may be beneficial in certain situations—during yoga or meditation, for instance. The effects come down to the way CBD works with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is composed of receptors and neurotransmitters located throughout the body. Its role is to regulate bodily functions, including memory, appetite, energy metabolism, stress, immune response, reproduction, sleep, pain transmission, and thermoregulation, to maintain homeostasis.
The ECS is regulated by two chemicals (endocannabinoids) produced by the body: anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG). Also involved are two receptors: CB1, concentrated in the brain and spinal cord, and CB2, concentrated in blood and immune cells. Most of the health benefits of CBD are a result of CBD interaction with CB2 receptors.
Simply put, CBD modulates CB1 and CB2 receptors by increasing their sensitivity to anandamide, which chemically increases hypoactivity and decreases hyperactivity. CBD also activates vanilloid and opioid receptors which reduce pain signal transmission from the body to the brain.
Ultimately, CBD can help to reduce anxiety, depression, inflammation, pain, and insomnia, as well as managing the symptoms of some chronic diseases/conditions. Additionally, the newer and increasingly common practice of combining physical therapeutic activities, such as yoga and meditation, with the therapeutic properties of CBD can help reduce anxiety effectively.
Generally speaking, meditation is the practice of using a technique (e.g. mindfulness or focusing on a certain object/thought/activity) to edify one’s attention and awareness. However, for some, pain or anxiety can be a barrier to such practice. CBD can function as the tool to break down that barrier. An individual who has trouble focusing due to pain or anxiety may find themselves slipping into a state of tranquility more easily using the proper dosage of CBD. After establishing a meditation practice, the CBD dosage can be gradually reduced. In this way, CBD and meditation together can reduce stress and promote relaxation.
The benefits of yoga, a physical form of meditation using stretching, posing, and breathing techniques to elevate one’s attention and awareness, can also be elevated by use of CBD. The relaxing effects of CBD may enable an individual to better settle into a stretch or pose, or improve balance by increasing body awareness.
CBD can be found in a variety of forms. Modern extraction processes have enabled the use of CBD in ingestible forms like oils (in tinctures, drops, or capsules), sprays/spritzers, gummies, edibles, and dissolvable crystalline powders. CBD is also available in smokable forms like vaping liquids and dabs (which are concentrated CBD similar to marijuana dabs). For yoga or meditation applications, any ingestible will be sufficient for the desired effects—it’s the dosage, not the form, that counts.
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