Reading time - 16 minutes
When the Hubei Province went into a full-scale lockdown on the 23rd of January 2020, the idea of government-imposed isolation still felt distant and surreal to many of us. As the months passed, however, the majority of us have felt the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and have experienced first-hand what it means to be cut off from friends, family and work. It has been a startling and stressful time that has shaken up our routines and truly transformed our lives.
Isolation specifically introduces a huge list of new challenges to overcome. Beyond the worry for the health and wellbeing of loved ones and their risk of infection, isolation presented us with worries like sourcing food safely, the prospect and hurdles associated with remote working, families facing difficult child care situations, economic struggles, job uncertainty, and much, much more. Although many European countries are gradually emerging from severe lockdown restrictions, social distancing measures are expected to be sustained for much longer periods of time, and so it’s more crucial than ever that we get used to this ‘new normal’.
The high levels of stress, anxiety, tension, fear and worry that many of us have experienced during this global pandemic are critical to consider. At a time when our immune system and physical health is in the spotlight more than ever, it is important not to lose sight of how crucial it is to manage and sustain good mental health and to focus on our wellbeing overall. Some of us have also found ourselves with more time at home and perhaps have had a moment to self-reflect and decided to take time to focus on self-improvement. As a result many have thrown themselves into new activities and routines, whether in the form of finally taking time to try out meditation, dusting off the yoga mat and actually doing some exercise, or attempting to bake sourdough bread as part of a quest to avoid processed foods.
One thing all our isolation activities have in common is an underlying desire to find something that will help us cope and make us happier and healthier in the long run. With that in mind, we’re going to present to you the benefits of CBD and Vaping, which are both currently very trendy, and how we think these could fit into and improve your new isolation routine.
What is CBD and how can it help me?
CBD stands for cannabidiol and is one of many cannabinoids found naturally in the cannabis plant. CBD does not have the intoxicating effects that the cannabis plant is historically associated with, which are caused by another cannabinoid, THC; and is instead associated with the potential to relieve anxiety, stress and pain and improve sleep, among others. Reading that list of benefits of CBD use, you’re probably no longer wondering why we’re suggesting this as an addition to a wellness routine.
For the curious or biologically-minded among you, CBD has the potential to affect your body in this way through its interactions with the endocannabinoid system, also known as the ECS. The ECS is composed of receptors and neurotransmitters that are involved in processes of immune system regulation, metabolism and much more. By interacting with ECS receptors, CBD is able to modulate these processes and in this way achieves its highly sought-after effects.
Research into CBD use, exactly how it interacts with our bodily systems and what benefits we could derive from it, is still in relatively early stages and has a great way to go. Nevertheless, a not insignificant body of research already exists, and the findings are illuminating in demonstrating where CBD has the potential to improve our health and wellbeing.
CBD is perhaps most commonly associated with pain relief and has especially been highlighted as a possible treatment for those suffering from chronic pain conditions who often struggle to find effective management methods. Studies to date have shown that CBD has analgesic (pain-relieving) properties, as well as being anti-inflammatory through their interactions with the ECS. As inflammation is often involved in, and sometimes even the cause of, pain and chronic pain conditions, CBD is therefore thought to have the capacity both to reduce the pain symptoms whilst also potentially helping to alleviate the cause of the pain itself. Another benefit of CBD over more traditionally prescribed medications for chronic pain, such as opioids, is that it doesn’t have such addictive properties, and you don’t see the development of tolerance (where tolerance is when the body no longer responds to the same doses of a drug as a result of repeated use, requiring increasing doses to achieve the same effect). Because of this, studies are being carried out into the prospect that CBD, as well as medicinal cannabis, could replace other chronic pain medications, specifically opioids.
Beyond pain, research probing into the anxiety-relieving effects of CBD has found that it has significant potential in relieving such symptoms of fear, worry and stress, particularly in clinical populations suffering from more severe anxiety disorders. Given the successes that have been seen in these clinical populations, it is by no means a stretch of the imagination to say that it is likely that CBD would be highly effective in treating milder cases of anxiety and stress that individuals experience in their day-to-day lives.
In addition to this, CBD has also been tested and has shown promise for alleviating insomnia and aiding patients with other sleep-related disorders, such as sleep apnea where breathing gets repeatedly disrupted and which can have a severe impact on health. The COVID-19 pandemic and time spent in isolation have not been good for our sleep cycles, and increased levels of insomnia and sleep difficulties during this stressful and uncertain time have been noticed by many. It is estimated that between 30 and 35% of people suffer from some form of insomnia normally; with more of us struggling with our sleep, particularly in isolation where our normal sleep patterns and rhythms of life are disrupted, it is critical to take measures to improve our sleep habits. The basic steps for healthy sleep are building up a regular sleep pattern and making sure to get enough light during the day which helps your body regulate your circadian rhythms. Isolation and remote-working can make sticking to a schedule more difficult but is really important especially as the additional pandemic-related worries make getting good sleep harder. CBD can then be used to supplement other healthy sleep habits, helping you to get rid of anxiety and improve your sleep quality even further.
Added research will help to build on the understanding of how CBD has these effects, specifically in treating disorders and illnesses. As our understanding of its potential to alleviate symptoms develop, its potential for use against more minor and mild conditions will also be clarified. Importantly, a focus on determining effective doses of CBD is crucial, as this is something that is currently not yet very well understood. Most importantly, however, CBD has been shown to be well tolerated in humans with minimal side effects, so finding a good quality product from a brand you trust is all that’s standing in the way of you using CBD to improve your wellness!
For those of you looking to try it out, we encourage you to make sure that you are purchasing from reputable brands who carry out lab testing and have certificates to confirm the safety of their products. If you suffer from any health conditions or are currently taking other medication, please consult a medical professional before trying.
How can I take CBD?
As our knowledge and the available body of literature on the uses and potential benefits of CBD grow, the commercial CBD industry has been growing alongside it. Not only are a great deal of CBD producers emerging, but the range of different formats and formulations of CBD products is also continually growing and expanding.
To give you an overview, there are three different types of CBD extract that you will find on the market. Firstly, you have full-spectrum products, where CBD and all the other constituents of the hemp plant are extracted, and which can, therefore, also contain low levels of THC. Add a purification step, and you get the next type, broad-spectrum. Broad-spectrum CBD products also contain the full range of cannabinoid components of the hemp plant but have undergone treatment to ensure the removal of any THC, the intoxicating compound in hemp and cannabis. Last but not least, CBD isolates contain only purified CBD and none of the other cannabinoids. The benefits of each form of CBD is a hotly debated topic, and many have suggested that there is a so-called ‘entourage effect’ where cannabinoids as well as other terpenes present in the hemp plant act more effectively together to enhance CBD’s beneficial properties. Whether or not this is indeed the case is yet to be determined, and with each individual using CBD products for very different reasons and in different ways, whether full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or isolates are your best option is likely to be very personal to you.
So, those are the different isolates and forms of CBD that you are likely to find in your products. But what types of products are there available for you to try? The answer is, there’s plenty. There are oils, edibles, drinks, cosmetics and topicals, tinctures, pills, vape oils, you name it, it probably exists. The sheer number of different types, let alone all the different brands that sell the same format of product, can be hugely overwhelming. To help you out, we’re going to give you a quick whistle-stop tour of some of the most popular products out there.
If you’ve heard of only one type of CBD product it’s likely to be this one - CBD oil. Quite simply, it’s a CBD extract in oil format, you can either stick to the basics and consume it orally or can add it to foods drinks or even apply it directly to your skin. Some CBD oils include other ingredients, such as essential oils for example, which have their own associated benefits or can enhance the taste or quality of your CBD experience. CBD oil is one of the more versatile CBD products out there, so is a great way to start out if you’re not sure what your favourite format is yet.
Edibles and drinks
A great option for those constantly on-the-go or who are looking for a tastier option, CBD edibles come in all shapes and sizes but tend to be slightly lower in CBD content. Important to note with these options is that as you are digesting them more slowly, they are usually associated with longer, more slow-release effects.
Cosmetics and topicals
This category caters more specifically for those looking for CBD to help with skin conditions or for targeted pain relief due to muscle aches or injuries. Most often found in balms and creams, new cosmetic CBD products are also emerging, such as CBD face masks for example!
CBD tinctures are taken similarly to oils, however in tinctures, the CBD is not suspended in oil but in alcohol instead. Final tincture mixtures often include oils too, as well as often being supplemented with other ingredients just as for CBD oils.
This isn’t rocket science - pills are, well..pills. A CBD concentrate that can be taken along with your other supplements, pills are easy to take and perfect if the taste of CBD oil just isn’t your favourite. However, it’s important to note that pills do also have a slightly lower bioavailability than other products due to the way that they are absorbed.
And in fact, you can even combine with another hot trend, vaping. Specialised vape oils that contain CBD are a great way for the vapers amongst us to get their CBD fix.
There you have it, some of the different forms of CBD products that are out there for you to try. There’s clearly something for everyone when it comes to CBD, let’s now delve a little deeper into vaping CBD and why this might be perfect for improving your wellbeing in isolation.
Vaporisers and Electronic cigarettes (or E-cigarettes) have exploded in popularity over recent years, with an estimated 41 million users in 2018 being classified as so-called ‘vapers’. Essentially, an e-cigarette works by heating liquid from a cartridge or pod to a high temperature where the liquid is vaporised, and the vapour that is produced is then inhaled by the user through a mouthpiece. The liquid, which is also called an e-liquid or e-juice, can contain different flavours, some do contain nicotine, and, as we’ve heard, CBD vape oils are now also available.
Given the origins of vaping from smoking, many have hailed it as a tool to help people quit. It is also clear that in the absence of the long list of known harmful and carcinogenic substances that are found in cigarettes, vaping is thought to pose nowhere near as high a risk of illness as smoking. It’s important to note that we are still severely lacking detailed and robust research into vaping and its potential effects on the body. However, as mentioned, the severity of respiratory illness associated with smoking and the lack of disease associations found, as yet, with vaping, means that it remains a recommended way for smokers to quit.
We know that current global events have been a stressful experience for many of us and that smoking or vaping is often largely a habit that is associated with stress-relief. It’s super important for us all to take time out for things that improve our feelings of wellbeing and mental health and relieve negative emotions like stress and anxiety, but it’s also important to think about our physical health and how our habits might impact those. So, here’s what we know.
Smoking has been long demonstrated to be strongly and irrefutably linked to respiratory disease and cancer. If smoking is a coping mechanism for you, quitting is the recommended course of action, and there are a variety of products out there that can help you quit, including vapes and e-cigarettes. Vaping is arguably a much more gentle way to quit smoking, allowing you to ditch the cigarettes without parting ways with ingrained routines and habits, but still allow for you to gradually decrease your nicotine consumption should you wish to do so. Smoking is known to be associated with a significantly increased risk of contracting viral respiratory infections, so in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to quit if you haven’t already. Once again, vaping might just be the way to do so. Unfortunately, evidence on if or how vaping could affect COVID-19 as a disease has not yet been gathered, but again, should there be a risk, it is likely to be significantly lower than any risks associated with smoking.
If you are vaping currently, make sure to do so safely and follow all social distancing restrictions and recommendations. If possible, we would encourage you to vape only in your household, balcony or garden, to minimise risks to others, as exhaling large amounts of vapour presents a high-risk of transmission. Don’t share your vape with anyone, and ensure that you clean your mouthpiece regularly. If you do find yourself in a situation where your only option is to vape in a public space, heed social distancing rules and keep a safe distance from other people. We know that vaping might be an important part of your wellbeing routine, but always consider people around you and be safe.
Why Vape CBD?
It’s clear why vaping has appeal as an alternative to smoking, but why specifically vape CBD? If you think about it a little, it actually makes a lot of sense. Smoking is often associated with a relaxing effect, which is thought to be your body’s response to nicotine which is present in cigarettes and some vape oils. You’ve probably at this point already put two-and-two together, because CBD, of course, also has immense potential to alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress, as has been shown in a variety of studies including in patient populations with anxiety disorders. In this way, CBD is a perfect addition to a vape oil, and could even replace substances like nicotine whilst ensuring that the attractive anti-anxiety and stress-relieving properties are retained. Additionally, CBD is not addictive, in fact, quite the opposite is the case as there has in fact been research indicating that CBD has potential in treatingdrug addiction. There has even been an investigation into the effects of CBD in ameliorating symptoms in individuals suffering from tobacco withdrawal. This was a randomised, double-blind cross-over study, which found that although CBD did not reduce cravings or withdrawal symptoms of tobacco users, that it was able to reduce the ‘salience and pleasantness of cigarette cues’ when comparing those receiving CBD and those taking the placebo. In essence, CBD reduced the appeal of cigarettes, even though the participants of the study felt the same cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
This research is just a first step into determining whether CBD could be used in treating addiction. Still, this, coupled with the other outlined attributes of CBD, demonstrates the significant potential that CBD has for improving our health and treating disorders. It’s also clear that CBD has many qualities that make it perfectly suited to being combined with vaping, especially for those looking to quit smoking whilst still sticking to old habits and getting that much-needed stress-release.
Vaping CBD also has benefits over other forms of CBD products. First and foremost, vaporising and inhaling CBD is a much quicker and more efficient way to deliver CBD into the bloodstream, where it is transported through the body and will ultimately interact with the ECS, triggering the desired effects of anxiety relief, pain relief, and supporting sleep mechanisms. Once again, more research is needed to determine precisely how much more bioavailable CBD is when inhaled as a vapour over other methods of consumption or application, but there is definitely an increase. If it’s your first time vaping CBD, or even your first time trying CBD products generally, just make sure that you start low and slow to optimise your user experience, which, in turn, will help you most effectively achieve your health and wellness goals.
Of course, there’s a huge benefit of vaping CBD, over other CBD forms like oils or edibles, if you already vape! All you need in that case is to find yourself some CBD vape oils and you’re good to go. In this way, it’s quick and simple to try out CBD without too much effort, and it will be sure to enhance your vaping experience and let you bolster your wellbeing, even while in isolation.
So, if you’re feeling stressed or anxious, need to support your sleep cycle or if you finally want to quit smoking, get yourself some CBD Vape oil, find a quiet spot and vape away, and let CBD vaping help you feel good in isolation!
Written by | Infused Amphora Team
The Infused Amphora Team is dedicated to creating resources to educate and engage consumers on the growing evidence of CBD benefits and the extensive health and wellness properties of CBD oil.
Contributors | Angus Taylor + Dr Gaylord Wardell
IPI is a pharmaceutical ingredient company that cultivates cannabis strains curated to extract specific cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids for the formulation of effects-based health and wellness products. Angus is an experienced public speaker, engaging stakeholders, governments and media. Angus was the co-founder of NewLeaf Cannabis, Canada’s most successful retail brand to date, and has been established as a well-known and recognized expert in the field.
Dr Wardell is a practising physician with over 40 years of clinical and educational experience in pain management, medical practices and education. Dr Wardell is past President of the Pain Society of Alberta, and current President of the Alberta Medical Association, section of Pain. He is a popular public speaker, an active blogger on medical and pain-related issues, and proponent for scientific validation for patients experiencing pain.
Infused Amphora “Learn” is intended for informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.