Over the past few years CBD has gone mainstream with many using this amazing natural compound as a safe and natural alternative to synthetic pharmaceutical drugs, to treat many different conditions such as chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, stress, side effects from chemotherapy and many more. CBD products now come in many forms such as capsules, tincture oils, vape oils, edibles and topical creams.
But recently, especially here in the UK, people have been turning to another type of CBD product - CBD buds, or CBD flower (hemp flower). In this article we will look at what CBD buds are, what the benefits of using CBD flower are, and why they are becoming so popular.
What is CBD Hemp Flower?
CBD buds are the flowers from industrial hemp. Although from the same family of plant, hemp is different to cannabis. Industrial hemp has been used by mankind for thousands of years for things such as textiles, foods, paper, body care and building materials. In fact hemp is the strongest natural fibre in the world.
But what differentiates cannabis from hemp is the THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) content. (THC is the psychoactive compound which is responsible for providing the stoned / high effect.) Cannabis buds contain a THC level of around 12% - 20%, however CBD hemp flower contains a THC level of 0.2% and below. This means that CBD flower is non-psychoactive, so they will not get the user high.
What are the Benefits?
CBD hemp flower sales have exploded in the UK over the past year. Many people are now using CBD buds instead of oil tinctures and other products for a variety of reasons. First of all the best CBD oils on the market are extracted from the flowers of the hemp plant, so by using CBD flower you are getting CBD (Cannabidiol) direct from the source and in its most natural and unadulterated form.
All CBD oil products are extracted via CO2 or ethanol and are then mixed with various carrier oils. The CBD market in the UK is currently unregulated so the consumer never really knows what is in the product, but with CBD flower this concern is eradicated as the user is obtaining the CBD in its natural form.
Another group who are now using CBD hemp flower are people who have always smoked high THC cannabis. Cannabis can have some undesired effects like anxiety and paranoia. CBD can provide the amazing relaxing effect without the negative effects of THC, so its a great alternative. CBD buds can also be used alongside high THC cannabis to reduce anxiety and paranoia.
The most important benefit of using CBD hemp flower is the entourage effect. CBD buds contain an array of other cannabinoids including THC, CBC, CBG, THCV and many others. The entourage effect happens when all these different cannabinoids work together in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body to provide the most amazing therapeutic benefits. The diagram below explains what some of these compounds do.
How to Use CBD Hemp Flower and Determining Dose
There are 3 main ways to use CBD hemp flower...
- 1. Vape
- 2. Smoking
- 3. Edibles
Vape - With recent technological advancements vaping has become very popular in recent years and there are now a wide selection of some very impressive vaping devices on the market, with some of our favourites being the Dynavap and the Mighty.
Vaping is the process of heating the CBD flower to a temperature of around 190 - 200 degrees C and inhaling the hot air which contains the CBD and other cannabinoids. With vaping there is no direct contact between a flame and the buds. It is more like an oven effect and is a healthy, convenient, fast and effective way of consuming CBD flower.
Smoking - Smoking is a more traditional method which usually involves rolling the ground CBD buds into a spliff / joint or smoked through a pipe / bong. This method involves a direct contact between a flame and the buds, so although it's still fast and effective it's a far more unhealthy method than vaping as there is combustion involved. Combustion creates smoke which contains carcinogens.
Edibles - Making edibles is a good option for those who don't enjoy smoking or vaping, but this method involves a bit more time and effort. Edibles are made by infusing the CBD from the flower into food or drinks. By far the most common way of doing this is by making CBD infused butter (canna butter) and then using the butter to make things like desserts, pasta dishes or even spread on toast.
Basically anything that can be made with butter can be substituted with canna butter. Once made these can provide a very convenient way of consuming CBD, however, edibles are far less bioavailable than smoking or vaping. This means that it takes longer (sometimes up to two hours) for the CBD and other cannabinoids to reach the blood stream as it first has to pass through and be processed by the liver.
Dosage - An in depth study was carried out in 2017 by the US National Institute of Health which can be found here. They found that there is no universal dosage of CBD that is suitable for everybody and that there are many dynamic factors that can determine the best dose which include weight, age, metabolism, individual body chemistry and the condition which is being treated.
However recent studies have also shown that a good starting point is between 25mg twice per day, so a total of 50mg per day. It is then recommend to increase the dosage every 3-4 weeks by another 25mg per day until symptom relief is obtained. So if we apply this to CBD flower; if the flower has a CBD content of 10% then every gram contains 100mg of CBD, which means a good starting point will be 1/2 gram per day.
Most of the CBD hemp flower found in the UK is either grown in Switzerland, Italy or Spain. The quality is usually determined by the environment the plants are grown in; indoor, greenhouse or outdoor.
As you can see from the images above the indoor grown buds are more dense than the outdoor grown with the greenhouse being in-between. This is because the indoor grown buds receive more energy than the other two due to the powerful lights which are used, whereas the greenhouse buds are grown under a mixture of light and natural sunlight and the outdoor just sunlight. Outdoor plants are usually planted in April / May and harvested in September / October.
Price - In the UK the best quality buds will cost around £10 / gram
You may also enjoy this article - The Amazing Benefits of CBD Oil
What Are Terpenes?
Another very important compound found in the hemp and cannabis plants are terpenes. These can be found in the same place where cannabinoids form, in the trichomes. (resin glands).
Terpenes are also found in most other plants and fruit and are directly responsible for determining taste and smell. For example, the citrus taste and smell in an orange is caused by terpenes. The same goes with CBD hemp flower. If a CBD bud smells more on the citrus side it will contain the terpene Limonene, whereas if it smells more sweet and earthy it will contain the terpenes Linalool and Myrcene. Terpenes are competently different to cannabinoids, however they work together in synergy with cannabinoids to provide some amazing therapeutic benefits.
The diagram below shows some of the most prominent terpenes found in CBD hemp buds and what effects and medical benefits they can provide.
Unlike Its THC counterpart CBD hemp flower is now legal in many parts of the world. In the U.S Donald Trump signed n $867 billion Farm Bill in 2018 which makes growing hemp federally legal. This also makes hemp buds federally legal as long as the THC content is below 0.3%. Although there are a couple of exceptions where some states still require a medical license to purchase CBD buds
In the EU hemp flower is legal as long as the THC content is below 0.2% and is grown from an EIHA licensed strain. The most common of these strains are Cannabis Sativa L, Finola and Kompolti. In Switzerland the laws are so relaxed you can buy hemp buds in shops like LIDl as a safe and healthier alternative to smoking tobacco.