Heroic Hemp: A Guide To Everything CBD
Welcome to the GARA Hemp Guide, an in-depth exploration of all things cannabis. We have done our best to provide the most up-to-date information in a clear and concise manner. It is important to understand how cannabinoids work in the body to use them safely and effectively. If you have additional questions, you can visit our FAQ page.
This plant sparks conversations on so many levels. From health and wellness to environmental applications, it’s potential is largely untapped. It sparks a dialogue within oneself, to check in with the physical body. Everyone metabolizes cannabinoids differently which means there aren’t any hard and fast rules for dosing or methods of ingestion. Instead, she invites you to feel into your body and mind, to become your own healer in a sense.
A cannabinoid is a chemical compound that occurs naturally in the human body, an endocannabinoid, and in the cannabis plant, a phytocannabinoid. These compounds stimulate a biological regulatory system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is primarily housed in the central nervous and immune systems.
There are two different types of cannabinoids:
(1) Endocannabinoids – produced endogenously, in the body
Anandamide (AEA - the “bliss molecule”) is a “key” molecule which is produced endogenously in the brain. AEA binds equally with CB1 and CB2 receptors. It enhances pleasure, destroys numerous types of cancers and assists in a myriad of other functions. Aptly named after ananda, the Sanskrit word for “joy, bliss, or happiness,” this endocannabinoid has also been associated with the “runner’s high.”
2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) is an “on demand” endogenous cannabinoid which has a greater affinity for the CB2 receptors. is the most abundant endocannabinoid in the body and like Anandamide, has been associated with pain relief, suppression of vomiting and stimulation of appetite and the inhibition of tumor growth.
(2) Phytocannabinoids – naturally occurring in the cannabis plant such as cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG)
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of more than 100 phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. This cannabinoid is the second most-prominent cannabinoid in the plant and is generally not psychoactive. CBD can be derived from all cannabis species but is primarily derived from hemp or Cannabis sativa. CBD has been shown in numerous studies to have significant health benefits.
Pain and Inflammation
Anxiety and Stress
What is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the principal psychoactive cannabinoid found in all species of cannabis. This compound works primarily by mimicking the effects of anandamide (an endocannabinoid) which helps to modulate sleep/wake cycles, pain, enhance pleasure, and assists in a myriad of other bodily functions. It binds relatively equally with CB1 and CB2 as does anandamide.
How do cannabinoids work?
All mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is involved in a number of crucial life functions, including initiating a host of physiological and psychological changes needed to adjust to our ever-changing internal and external environments. The ECS regulates nearly all other systems in the body and is stimulated by both forms of cannabinoids.
Dubbed as the “master regulator,” the ECS is a body’s largest regulatory mechanism and operates much like a lock and key. When an endocannabinoid (in the body) or a phytocannabinoid (from the plant) binds to, or unlocks, a receptor found in the body, a chain of events throughout the body attempts to achieve homeostasis.
The ECS is made up of a vast network of receptor sites, endocannabinoids and enzymes which help to metabolize and recycle either endo- or phytocannabinoids. Two specific receptor sites have been identified: CB1 and CB2
CB1 receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system, throughout the brain and spinal cord, in the thyroid, lungs, liver, adrenals, ovaries, uterus, testes, and prostate.
CB2 receptors are primarily found in the immune system and in the eyes, heart, stomach, pancreas, digestive tract, bones, and skin.
CB1 and CB2 receptors are present in the cells of the lymphatic and immune systems, the spleen, blood vessels, and tonsils.
Researchers have discovered three other endocannabinoids produced in the body and over 100 other phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant and much of the clinical research about the ECS is fairly recent.
The quality and potency of CBD and hemp extracts can vary greatly. It is important to know where the hemp was grown and how it was processed. All cannabis species are bioaccumulators, meaning they tend to absorb heavy metals and other substances from the soil around them. It is important to have clean, healthy soil to produce pure extracts.
We only use hemp that is grown organically in the United States. We have worked with cultivators in Colorado, California and Oregon and perform third-party testing before and after formulation. You can view our Certificate of Analysis here. We also know each one of our farmers, personally. We believe this direct connection to our cultivator is essential. We share the same values and intentions for creating truly powerful medicine. All of our cultivators go beyond organic growing practices, and all of the plants we use are 100% sun grown.
Solvents are used to extract the cannabinoids and other compounds from the plant. Solvents can greatly impact the overall efficacy and purity of the extract so it is important to understand why and how they are used.
- Ethanol – Alcohol is generally regarded as the safest solvent for extraction for human consumption. There are very few solvents that can extract both cannabinoids and terpenes without losing quality, and alcohol is one of them.
- Supercritical CO2 – This extraction method requires a significant amount of expertise and equipment. Though the extraction can yield a full-spectrum, high cannabinoid extract, it requires a significant amount of purging to remove all of the solvent from the extract. Supercritical extraction, if done properly, yields a very high quality and potency extract.
- Butane/Hexane – These solvents are toxic for human consumption. Although extracts are made with Butane and Hexane, be aware that purging the residual solvents from these extracts is nearly impossible. These solvents are often used because they are easy to obtain and inexpensive.
- Water – Water can be used to extract terpenes (essential oils) from the plant. Cannabinoids are lithophilic meaning they are not easily extracted with water. When we use a water process, we are only extracting for flavonoids and terpenes.
- Oil – Cannabinoids love oils and can be extracted fairly easily using vegetable oils. This method is slow and varied, but is an excellent way to preserve the more delicate compounds found in the plant. We use infused oil as a base, not as our CBD extract.
Different Kinds of Extracts
- Full-spectrum – contains a myriad of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids with less than 0.3% THC
- Isolate – “pure CBD” – this if a highly refined extract of CBD only. It is generally in a powder or crystal form.
- Broad-spectrum – similar to full-spectrum as it contains cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, but it does not contain any THC
Why does the kind of extract matter?
Potency and purity play a big role in the overall efficacy of a CBD product, but more importantly, the other compounds from the plant also influence how it is metabolized by the body like terpenes, for example.
What is a terpene?
Terpenes are aromatic compounds that are produced in many plants. Cannabis produces several terpenes which act as natural pesticides and encourage healthy pollination. Terpenes are what make up essential oils and through the study of Aromatherapy have been shown to have numerous health benefits.
Common Terpenes Found in Cannabis:
Terpenes contribute to the overall effect and absorption of cannabinoids as shown by both Kevin Spelman and Ethan Russo. This is called the “entourage effect.”
The Entourage Effect
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” as Aristotle once said.
There are nearly 500 compounds found in each strain of cannabis, including cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, all which interact to produce a wide range of effects. Some compounds amplify the euphoric effects of cannabinoids while others help to reduce or slow their absorption. Terpenes help to enhance the overall medicinal properties of the plant while mitigating some of the psychoactive effects. All of these compounds are key players in the overall effect and efficacy of the extract.
It makes sense that all of the compounds in this plant have medicinal potential, not just a few cannabinoids. This plant stimulates the endocannabinoid system which is a vast and intricate network of receptors woven throughout the entire body. This is the backbone of wholistic healing, using the plant as a whole rather than singling out individual compounds. It’s no different in this case.
Sublingual: oils or tinctures
Delivery: Enter the bloodstream via glands under the tongue
Fast-acting, generally 10-30 minutes
Effects last 3-6 hours
Oral: edibles, capsules, beverages
Delivery: Processed through intestinal metabolism
Longer onset time, generally 30-90 minutes
Effects last 4-8 hours
Topical: creams, salves, serums
Delivery: Absorbed through the skin for localized effects
Onset time varies by product, generally 20-40 minutes
Effects last 2-4 hours+
Transdermal: patches, transdermal creams
Delivery: Absorbed through the skin directly into the bloodstream
Fast-acting, generally 10-20 minutes
Effects last 4-8 hours
Delivery: Inhaled for direct delivery to the bloodstream
Effects last 30-60 minutes
Each person is unique. As cannabinoids stimulate the body’s natural ECS, it’s important to remember that dosing isn’t the same for everyone. Here are some basic guidelines:
- Tune in. Listen to your body. It can be helpful to take a personal inventory each morning, how do I feel physically? How do I feel mentally? How did I sleep?
- Slowly increase. Over the course of a week or so, increase your dose slightly each day. Once you find the dose that’s right for you, you’ll know.
- Consistency is key. Once you find the right dose, create a 30-day protocol. Like many other herbs, effects of CBD are enhanced when you use daily.
- If you’re unsure, consult with your healthcare provider. It is always wise to consult with your doctor about supplements and herbs.
A Brief History
The oldest recorded historical use of hemp cords in pottery were discovered near Taiwan, dating back to 8000 BC. In 6000 BC, the seeds and oil were being used as food and the fiber was used to make textiles in China. By 4000 BC, it was farmed as a major food crop and was regarded as one of the five staple grains in China.
The earliest recorded use of cannabis as medicine dates back to 2700 BC by Emperor Shen Neng of China who recognized its treatment properties for over 100 ailments such as gout, rheumatism, and malaria.
By 2000 BC, a mixture of dried leaves, seeds and stems called Bhang, is mentioned in the Hindu sacred text Atharvaveda (Science of Charms) as "Sacred Grass". This herb is one of the five sacred plants of India and is used by medicinally and ritually as an offering to Shiva.
From 2000 – 1000 BC, it was also used in Ayruvedic Medicine. The plant was used as a religious sacrament, which allowed for exploration of its medical benefits. During this time, it was also used to care for a variety of ailments such as epilepsy, rabies, anxiety, and bronchitis.
In 1550 BC, the Egyptian medical papyrus of medical knowledge notes that cannabis can be used to calm inflammation. The pollen was recovered from the mummy of Ramesses II, the Egyptian pharaoh who was mummified after his death in 1213 BC.
By 900 BC, it was used extensively in the middle east by the Assyrians who used it for its psychotropic effects. They explored both recreational and medicinal use of the plant.
The famous physician Dioscorides prescribed cannabis for toothaches and earaches. Another Greek physician, Claudius Galen, noted it was widely used throughout the empire. Women of the Roman elite also used the plant to alleviate labor pains and menstrual cramps.
In 207 AD, Hua T’o was the first physician to describe cannabis as an analgesic. He recorded its use and prescribed a mixture of the flowers and wine to anesthetize patients before surgery.
It was in 1000 AD, when Arabic scholars al-Mayusi and al-Badri describe cannabis as an effective treatment for epilepsy.
Just a few decades later, 1025 AD, the Persian medical writer, Avicenna, publishes “Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine.” In this text, he states that it is an effective treatment for gout, edema, infectious wounds, and severe headaches. His work was widely accepted and studied for centuries after his death. Avicenna’s work had a lasting impact on Western medicine.
By 1300 AD, the plant was cultivated on many continents for both food and medicine. Arab traders bring seeds from India to East Africa, where it takes root and is makes its way inland. It was regarded as an effective treatment for malaria, asthma, fever and dysentery.
It was the Spanish who brought the hemp plant to the Americas in 1500 AD to be used for rope and cloth. It was years later before it was used medicinally or recreationally.
Hemp was essential to the founding of the United States. In the 1620s, Jamestown mandated that all farmers to grow hemp seed. It eventually became legal tender and taxes were often paid with hemp. Between the 17th and 18th centuries, it was illegal NOT to grow crops in some areas.
Thomas Jefferson received the first United States patent; A hemp threshing machine. He also wrote about the advantages of hemp over tobacco as a recreational pastime.
Benjamin Franklin owned one of the first paper mills that processed hemp into parchment. The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense”, the Federalist (and Anti-Federalist) Papers, the Articles of Confederation, and of course the United States Constitution are all written on hemp paper.
It was in the 1839, when the Irish doctor William O’Shaughnessy introduced cannabis to the world of Western medicine. He performed and recorded much of its medicinal use and concluded it had no negative medicinal effects. He also found that flower extracts could help lessen stomach pain and vomiting in people suffering from cholera. His sole contribution to its medicinal use sparked interest in physicians and pharmacologists in the west. The use of this plant as a pharmaceutical medicine rose rapidly after O’Shaughnessy’s work.
By 1853, cannabis is officially added to the US Pharmacopeia, and widely used until earth 20th century.
The pharmaceutical use of this plant comes to a halt in 1915 with the passing of the Harrison Act, which defined the use of “marijuana” as a crime, followed by sweeping state by state prohibition. First California, then Texas (1919), Louisiana (1924) and so on.
By 1936, Reefer Madness had set in with the help of Harry Anslinger, which laid the groundwork for the Marijuana Tax Act which was passed in 1937.
*It is important to note that the term “marijuana” hadn’t been used in reference to cannabis until 1910. The exact origins of the term are unknown but seemingly coincides with the rise of prohibition. As this term has been used in a derogatory manor, we will use its botanical name of cannabis. It’s also important to note that there are significant differences in the genius, but we’ll get to that later.
In 1941, after nearly 100 years of use, cannabis is removed from the US Pharmocopiea and its medicinal use is no longer recognized in the United States. The rise and fall of this plant for both medicine and fiber were not only happening in the US, but also abroad. Countries such as Britan and Greece banned the use of cannabis around 1927 while Lebanon and Chinese Turkestan ban the production of hashish.
In 1969, the chemical compound Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was isolated by Raphael Mechoulam and Yeichiel Gaoni at the Weismann Institute of Science in Israel. This discovery sparked new interest and international research but did not gain much recognition in the US.
President Richard Nixon signed into law the Controlled Sunstances act of 1970. Nixon repealed the Marijuana Tax Act and listed “marijuana” as a Schedule 1 drug – stating it has no medicinal use and poses a high potential for abuse. This sparked the creation of anti-drug programs such as D.A.R.E. which touted cannabis as a “gateway drug.” And so, began the “war on drugs.”
In 1972, the Shafer commission urges congress to reevaluate legalization. They publish a report titled: “Marijuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding,” which argues for “partial prohibition.”
By 1977, President Carter once again pushed for de-criminalization with the president himself asking Congress to abolish federal criminal penalties for those caught with less than one ounce of “marijuana”.
In 1992 in Jerusalem, Dr. Lumir Hanus and American researcher Dr. William Devane discovered the endocannabinoid anandamide – a cannabinoid similar to THC produced in the human body. They later uncovered a second-major endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and went on to identify the less known endocannabinoids; homo-gamma-lineleoul ethanolamide, docosatetraenoul ethanolamide (DEA), and noladin ether (2-AGE). This eventually led us to the identification and study of the endocannabinoid system – named after the cannabinoids found in both the cannabis plant and in the human body.
It is not until 1996, when California passed the Compassionate Use Act, that cannabis prohibition slowly began to crumble. California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana for use by people with severe or chronic illnesses.
Significant strides have also been made in the legalization of hemp cultivation in the US over the last 10 years. Agricultural hemp cultivation was allowed on an experimental basis by the federal government though the passing of the Agricultural Act of 2014.
Since then, its provisions were incorporated in the 2018 United States farm bill that became law on December 20, 2018. Hemp cultivation is once again legal in the United States!
Today, 12 states have recreational use laws, 33 states have medical cannabis laws and 47 out of 50 states all some form of legal hemp laws.