What Is CBD, Exactly?
More Pressing Question: Is It Marijuana?
By Carrie Law
Marijuana is new to precisely no one—we all (at the very least!) have some conception of what the cannabis product does and where you might find it: namely, in private places. But another cannabis product is throwing many people for a loop, popping up not at the end of a party, discretely, but proudly out and about in the grocery store, on smoothie menus, in cookbook recipes, even glossed over celebrities’ feet.
It’s CBD, one of 113 biochemical compounds that scientists have identified in cannabis plants. One of these 113 is the most famous: THC, the compound that’s responsible for making people feel high. But at least some of the other compounds also work on the human body—in ways, medical researchers are finding, that have nothing to do with getting stoned. In fact, as biochemist Sumner Burstein, told The New York Times, “You don’t get a high from CBD no matter how much you take.”
Despite that fact, CBD has been legally entangled with illicit cannabis products, which has made it harder for scientists to study the substance. Legislation on the federal and local levels is quickly changing, lurching both forward and backward when it comes to CBD. We’ll spare you the details, but a quick search for “CBD legislation” pulls up a dizzying array of contradictory regulations from the FDA, a new Farm Bill, and local legislation, some of which has given manufacturers the latitude to add CBD to their products in certain states. (Even Harvard doesn’t get it. According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, “The government’s position on CBD is confusing.”)
Why Do People Take CBD?
So, if scientists don’t fully know what the benefits of CBD are, why the enthusiasm to integrate CBD into products? And why should you consider taking CBD?
It’s a combination of anecdotal evidence and one piece of powerful scientific evidence tied to two rare medical conditions. In numerous studies, CBD was found to treat seizures experienced by children who have what the same Harvard Medical article calls “some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes”: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. In June 2018, the FDA approved the use of CBD as a medicine to treat these disorders, under the name Epidiolex—the first cannabis-derived medicine in the United States.
So: we know that CBD can have a powerful effect on the brain, at least under certain circumstances. So why is Melissa McCarthy using it on her feet? That’s where the anecdotal evidence and personal experience come in. Used often as an oil but increasingly ingested via consumer products, “CBD is probably the single biggest wellness trend” in the field, says Monique Blake, Red Door’s National Director for Body. It’s thought to be effective in five key areas: to improve sleep, boost mood, reduce anxiety, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain (including the discomfort of toe-crimping red-carpet heels). Definitive research on the possibilities of CBD will take years, and each person’s reaction to it may vary. Some people may not feel effects at all; others may find Ah-ha-moment relief.
How to Use CBD
Starting in April, you’ll be able to experiment with CBD yourself at Red Door by incorporating CBD into a massage, manicure, or pedicure. Ask your clinician to use either CBD oil or cream—both contain the same potency of CBD and are selected as the highest-quality CBD products available in the industry. (We’ll share details about Red Door’s sourcing odyssey to find the best possible CBD—and dodge dodgy CBD—in an upcoming post.)
Added to a massage, CBD cream or oil would replace the standard massage oil or cream that the clinician would normally use. If added to the Mini massage (25 minutes), CBD will be applied just to the back, shoulders, and neck, but with the Essential (50 minutes) or Escape (80 minutes) massages, you have the option of applying CBD throughout your treatment—CBD can be used almost anywhere. (Monique is excited about its potential for facial treatments, which will be rolled out, along with a full range of CBD products and services, later this year.)
No matter how you choose to incorporate CBD, pay attention to how your body responds to the treatment. Effects could be instantaneous or take time to accrue. Notice also if you sleep better the night of your treatment—or sleep differently. Some CBD users report sensing a distinct, warm, cocoonlike sensation, which naturally results in deeper sleep. One of the most interesting things about CBD is that it affects everyone differently. Take note of what it does for you.
Products containing CBD should not be used directly on cuts, lesions, or open wounds. The Red Door does not offer CBD services for our pregnant guests. We do not offer CBD services or retail to minors under 18. The Red Door does not assume any responsibility for the improper use of CBD. If you have any concerns about the safety of CBD or conflicts with medicine you may be taking, ask your doctor prior to your spa visit.