For years, decades even, the general perception of cannabis has conjured up images of hazy stoners, lazing around, enjoying the high life. But while this is one side of what the plant can offer, there is a lot more to it. In the past few years, people have started to wake up to the true therapeutic potential of cannabis, and this is how it started getting a healthy makeover.
Over the decades in the Western world, ‘cannabis culture’ and the act of getting hight has taken different forms in accordance with the zeitgeist of the time. In the 1950s and 1960s, the beatniks and hippies were avid cannabis smokers and its influence can be seen in literature and music from this era, this was transported into the rock and roll scene in the 1970s. By the 90s ‘cannabis culture’ had become its own entity. Instead of smoking up being a part of a wider scene, the act of getting high defined its own culture. This is widely associated with stoners; stoner music, and in particular stoner films which are inspired by the use of cannabis - which becomes the main theme of the film.
However, the cannabis we’re getting to know nowadays has far different usages effects. While in the past it was seen as a recreational drug that people took for psychoactive and mind-altering effects, cannabis today is often used for quite the opposite. Nowadays sports stars and medical professionals advocate for the use of cannabis. But how can this be? What has changed?
Cannabis is not actually one specific plant, but rather a family of plants
There are many variations of cannabis, with different chemical components
Well, the great secret to all of this is that nothing has actually changed. All along, tracing back centuries, people were aware of the medicinal benefits of cannabis. However, with the criminalisation of cannabis in the 1970s, these were erased, and people began to view it as an illicit drug.
You might be confused about how a psychoactive substance has become one of the leading health and wellness supplements, which is where we need some crucial explanation.
Cannabis is not actually one specific plant, but rather a family of plants. This means that there are many variations of cannabis, with different chemical components. The cannabis that is smoked or taken for a ‘high’ effect is extracted from a strain called cannabis indica. Meanwhile, CBD-based products (cannabidiol) - which are leading the wellness industry - are extracted from cannabis sativa, also known as hemp.
The notable difference that lies between these two strains of cannabis is their cannabinoid content. Cannabinoids, or sometimes referred to as phytocannabinoids when they originate in a plant, and naturally occurring compounds that interact with the body in numerous ways via sets of receptors which make up the endocannabinoid system. This may seem like a lot of new terms to take in all at once, but bear with us for the full story!
The high effect which is associated with taking cannabis, as a drug, comes as a consequence of the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the psychoactive component found in cannabis indica, it interacts with receptors in the brain to induce mind-altering effects.
Meanwhile, hemp has incredibly low THC content. The cannabinoid which is championed and becoming increasingly popular for its therapeutic benefits is CBD (cannabidiol). And while the function of these two cannabinoids differs, this can also be the causal factor that determines a cannabis product’s legality. CBD is widely legal across the US and the EU, but this is more often than not contingent on the THC content being less than 0.2% (meaning you will never experience any psychoactive effects).
As a phytocannabinoids, CBD also interacts with the body through the receptors which make up the endocannabinoid system. However, unlike the mind-altering effects which are signaled through receptors in the brain as a result of taking THC, the effects of CBD are far more therapeutic. The phytocannabinoid’s properties include anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and analgesic. Due to these far-reaching effects, CBD has been used to treat a wide range of conditions and ailments such as managing chronic pain, managing stress, improving sleep quality, and muscle relaxation, as well as a host of dermatological reasons like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Additionally, due to its ability to boost the immune system, many CBD users simply take the supplement to protect their health - rather than to treat a specific issue.
Because CBD has so many different uses, it comes in many different forms. Whereas the image of cannabis was previously associated with images of smoking or drug-taking, CBD products have given this image a complete overhaul.
The product which kicked off the CBD boom was CBD oil. This oil remains largely popular due to its simplicity, purity, and versatility. There should only be two ingredients in CBD oil, the CBD extract and a natural carrier oil. This is taken sublingually, so all you need to do is pop a few drops under your tongue and the effects will be felt within around an hour. Some people like to get creative with their CBD oil by adding it to food and beverages, you may have seen that adding ‘a shot of CBD’ has become increasingly in coffee shops!
CBD capsules bring all the benefits of CBD oil in convenient premeasured capsules. This is great for people who are keen to incorporate CBD into their lives but want to keep things as easy as possible. If you’re living a life on the go, simply carry these in your bag, your car, or your luggage to keep well at all times.
Some call this ‘CBD in its purest form’. Raw hemp extract is a paste-like substance which is the CBD product which is the closest iteration of the hemp plant, complete with a full-bodied, earthy flavour.
You may have seen or heard sports stars and professional athletes championing the incorporation of CBD into their training and recovery programmes. (Ten years ago it would have been hard to imagine a golf professional advocating the use of cannabis). With its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD is a great aid for sore and strained muscles. Often when people work out they exert themselves, which is a good thing but only up to a certain degree. We talk about ‘feeling the burn’, but when you do that over and over again, you are actually at risk of damaging your muscles by causing a serious sprain or tear. To minimise the risk of this happening, recovery time is crucial, and the soothing effects of CBD muscle relief gel will help speed along this process - so you can get back to doing what you love, safely.
Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties have also boosted CBD’s position in the skincare and cosmetics industry. Inflammation is a side effect of most skin conditions. Every time you break out, or an irritated red patch appears - this is inflammation. Using an anti-inflammatory will help calm the skin, treating the irritation and boosting your confidence. People with acne, psoriasis, and eczema have praised the use of CBD products on their skin. Meanwhile, the antioxidant properties of this naturally occurring supplement fight harmful free radicals which we come into contact with unavoidably every day, through factors such as pollution and diet. By counteracting this damage, it slows down the skin’s aging process, leaving you looking and feeling youthful and radiant.
When CBD is ingested via vape, it enters the bloodstream much quicker compared to when it is ingested sublingually. For those who want to address sudden onset afflictions, such as headaches and social anxiety, a CBD e-liquid can be a favourable solution as the effects are felt almost immediately.
As exemplified through its uses across many industries, and the many accessible forms that it comes in, cannabis has certainly had a makeover. CBD transcends cannabis’ previous trappings in ‘cannabis culture’. People used to make assumptions about who did and didn’t use cannabis, but now we can see that there are cannabis products which could benefit almost every person. Today, the demographic of CBD users is all-encompassing, from millennials managing stress and anxiety to elderly people treating chronic pain. Cannabis is no longer a recreational drug, but a natural supplement.