It's the new trend in all things natural and therapeutic: CBD oil.
But what exactly is CBD and does it really live up to the hype?
First of all, CBD is nothing new. We've known about this compound for decades (since 1940, in fact).
However, since CBD primarily comes from the cannabis plant, the legalities of growing, selling, and using CBD have been murky.
Even just plain scary.
However, due to recent, exciting federal law changes, such as the Farm Bill of 2018, CBD is now — more or less — legal throughout the entire United States.
Not only does this make the compound easier to find, but it's also provided countless opportunities for experimental uses to see the light of day.
Yet, despite the newfound legality and growing popularity of CBD, many people have no idea what this compound actually is or how it works. If that description applies to you, we're here to change that!
What Is CBD Oil?
Before we can delve deeper into this question, we need to mention CBD's full name: cannabidiol.
Cannabidiol is a type of cannabinoid. But that begs a new question...
What is a cannabinoid?
Let's break that down:
All plants produce chemicals to aid in making energy, protecting against threats, and even communicating with surrounding plants. While these chemicals exist to benefit the plant itself, many are also extremely useful for the human body, as well.
In the cannabis plant, these chemicals are called phytocannabinoids. Or cannabinoids for short.
But that's only part of the cannabinoid equation.
How does cannabidiol affect the body?
The human body contains countless chemicals and transmitters that release and absorb these chemicals. From the brain to the stomach, these chemicals and their related systems are responsible for pretty much everything the body does.
Seriously, check it out, that includes how we think, experience pain, and regulate our appetites.
One of these systems is called the endocannabinoid system. This system is made up of free-floating cannabinoids — which trigger different bodily functions — and cannabinoid receptors.
The endocannabinoid system helps regulate the endocrine system, also known as our hormonal system, hence the endo- prefix.
Yes, that's right, the human body makes its very own cannabinoids. And it all happens whether that person has ever consumed cannabis products or not.
So why add more cannabinoids to your body with CBD oil?
Just like some people's bodies produce too little dopamine or serotonin (leading to conditions like ADHD, anxiety, depression, and more), many people don't produce as many of these natural cannabinoid chemicals as they should.
Supplementing with CBD isn't a miracle cure-all. But it can help the body better regulate things like pain, mood, sleep, and nausea.
Then, there is the big question...
Does CBD get you “high?"
Of course, when most people think of cannabis (specifically, marijuana) they think of feeling high or "stoned." So, it's not surprising that many new CBD users wonder if the compound will make them feel high.
First, let's clarify why marijuana produces a high at all. While CBD is one form of cannabinoid found in cannabis, there are over 100 other known cannabinoids. One of these cannabinoids is THC.
DID YOU KNOW?
The average THC content of cannabis plants has almost tripled since 1990.
Like CBD, THC interacts with the body's endocannabinoid receptors, supplementing our naturally produced cannabinoids.
Lets break that down a bit.
However, since THC has a different chemical structure than CBD or any other cannabinoid, it also triggers different responses from the body. The most notable of THC's effects is the mental intoxication that takes place when THC enters the brain's endocannabinoid receptors.
So will CBD produce a high, as well?
No, because it does not trigger this response from the body's endocannabinoid receptors.
While CBD can help ease anxiety or depression in some individuals (more on that later) it does not mentally impair or otherwise make the user high.
So here's the good news:
Those on CBD can safely drive, perform their work duties, and complete any other day-to-day activity.
Where does CBD Oil Come From?
As we mentioned already, CBD oil is extracted from the cannabis plant. But not all cannabis plants are created equal.
Let's define a few things first:
A genus of plants
The two primary plant species in the Cannabis genus
Cannabis sativa /
The dried flower of a female Cannabis plant
A specific variety of Cannabis sativa
When it comes to CBD oil, this product can be extracted from any member of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica species. However, especially in states without legal recreational marijuana, most CBD comes from the hemp variety of Cannabis sativa.
Why? Because hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC. This is why many areas without legal marijuana have still pushed to legalize hemp.
Despite their close relation to marijuana-producing plants, it's just not possible to use hemp to get high.
DID YOU KNOW?
Cannabis ruderalis is a low-THC cannabis variety native to Asia and parts of Europe.
On the other hand, marijuana-producing cannabis contains THC levels up to 15 to 40 percent.
While hemp might contain a tiny amount of this chemical, it's nothing compared to marijuana!
But it all comes from a plant with THC, so the next big question is:
Does CBD oil contain THC?
Okay, we know that CBD itself doesn't get you high. However, can CBD oil extracted from a cannabis plant also contain THC?
Yes, especially if the CBD is extracted from non-hemp cannabis.
But, as long as you purchase from reliable sources and read all labels, you won't accidentally dose yourself with THC anytime soon!
How to avoid CBD products with THC:
If you live in a state with legal recreational marijuana, check CBD product labels if you want to avoid THC.
If you live in a state without legal recreational marijuana, any CBD product you can legally buy will contain no notable THC.
In areas where recreational marijuana is legal, many CBD products do contain small amounts of THC. In most cases, these amounts are so small that users won't even feel a high.
But the chemical is still present. If you are a person that can not have THC in their system, it's important to know that.
Actually, THC has also shown promising therapeutic benefits. But, with products containing THC being illegal according to federal law, there's no way of knowing if or when these products will become widely available
Is CBD Oil Truly Legal?
With the current legal climate surrounding marijuana and THC, it's really no surprise that many people are confused by CBD and its legal status. And it certainly doesn't help that these laws vary from the federal to the local level.
Let's break this down:
So can you safely purchase, possess, and take CBD products without risk of legal repercussions?
The Farm Bill of 2018 officially legalized hemp plants across the United States. Since hemp has a large concentration of CBD, this made it possible to grow and harvest the cannabinoid legally.
But, what does that really mean?
At least in states where recreational marijuana is illegal, commercial CBD is legal because it comes from the hemp plant (which, as we know, contains negligible amounts of THC).
In states where recreational marijuana is legal, CBD can technically come from either a hemp or non-hemp cannabis plant. But hemp is still the most common source of CBD.
Ok, so now that we know more about federal laws, let's get closer to home.
Unfortunately, the legality of CBD is not as cut-and-dry as these new federal laws would suggest. In many areas, local laws make CBD's legality questionable at best.
Yes. The most newsworthy case of this is New York City's crackdown on local restaurants, bakeries, and other establishments adding CBD to their goods. However, areas of California, Maine, and other states have also followed suit.
But, there is more to the story!
Fortunately, these local regulations typically only apply to edible goods, like coffee, pastries, and more, that contain CBD products. And the reason for these restrictions in the first place has to do with the Food & Drug Administration's (or FDA's) lack of approval.
As of May 2019, the FDA will begin hearings on CBD and the legality of its use in food and drinks.
So, here's what you need to know:
Right now, CBD oils and other supplements are not regulated by the FDA or another governing body. This means that, technically, CBD products and their distributors are largely unregulated.
However, the FDA has full jurisdiction of food products and the ingredients used within. And this includes CBD.
So, how does that affect you?
While the average CBD user isn't affected by the FDA's ban of CBD products, this restriction has affected business owners who wish to create CBD-infused drinks and edible goods.
As of now, we have no way of knowing which direction the FDA's hearing will go. But...
based on the growing acceptance of CBD and other cannabis-derived products, it will be interesting to see what CBD's future holds. Especially in the realms of food and drinks, and transportation.
Transporting CBD products
Since the laws surrounding hemp and CBD-based products are rapidly changing, it can be hard to understand and keep up with the various regulations surrounding these products.
One of the most confusing areas of regulation is transportation across state lines.
Let's dig into that:
On the one hand, CBD hemp has been removed from the federal controlled substances list. This means that interstate transportation of these products should be legal for both consumers and commercial distributors.
On the other hand, though, the FDA still considers CBD to be a controlled substance under their jurisdiction. And this means that, according to the FDA, interstate commerce is still illegal.
Confusing? Here's the important question:
Will you face charges for selling or transporting CBD products across state lines?
The answer? Probably not. But the laws are still incredibly murky.
Now, what about if you mail it?
Mailing CBD products
Technically, the USPS allows the mailing of CBD products across state lines. However, distributors must hold the proper licenses and submit a sworn statement.
Also, the THC content of these products must remain under 0.3 percent.
This might seem straightforward, but the complication comes with obtaining the proper license.
Why? The USPS requires that distributors hold licenses from the state where the CBD is harvested.
For distributors who receive hemp from other states, this can bring the legality of shipping their products into question.
Now, you know what you need to know about shipping and transporting, what about safety?
The Safe Use of CBD Oil
If you were worried about CBD oil sending you into a marijuana-fueled stupor, you can rest easy knowing that's just not the case. But you might still be wondering if CBD is 100 percent safe and risk-free.
As far as therapeutic chemicals go, CBD is practically harmless. As with anything we ingest, though, you should still be aware that there are some potential side effects.
Here's what you need to know:
Who can take CBD oil?
CBD oil and other CBD-containing products are a great option for almost anybody. No matter your age or gender, CBD can be a great, drug-free solution to all types of aches, stresses, and other day-to-day concerns.
There's more to it:
As with any supplement or medication, we strongly recommend speaking with your doctor if you plan to make CBD a regular part of your routine.
Side effects and other risks are rare, but it's better to be safe than sorry. If you're already using CBD on a regular basis, let your doctor know at your next visit so that they can safely prescribe medication and other treatment in the future.
Ok, now, the question of gestation:
Is CBD safe for pregnant women?
In the case of pregnant or breastfeeding women, most experts currently recommend abstaining from CBD. However, this recommendation could change as more research emerges.
Here's what we know:
Marijuana during pregnancy has shown serious side effects. But since these studies only look at marijuana and all of its chemicals as a whole, no one really knows how CBD alone affects pregnant women.
If you believe CBD might be a safer alternative to other medications you currently take, please reach out to your doctor to discuss your options. Again, CBD hasn't been proven harmful to pregnant women or their children.
But there also is no proof that it is 100 percent safe.
Will CBD show up on a drug test?
If you're required to submit to drug testing for employment or for any other reason, you won't need to worry about CBD showing up on the results...
As long as the product you use doesn't contain notable amounts of THC!
Standard drug tests only test for THC. So not only will CBD not be an issue on your drug test, but no one will even know you take it.
Now, for those on medications, an important question:
Does CBD oil interact with medication?
In general, CBD has shown little interaction with prescription or over-the-counter medications.
But there is one exception.
Since CBD oil has a slight blood thinning properties, it can cause issues for those with existing blood or cardiac concerns. If you are being treated for poor blood pressure, clotting, heart problems, or any type of similar issue, discuss CBD usage with your doctor before using these products.
What about side effects?
Are there side effects associated with CBD oil?
Unfortunately, CBD oil usage isn't always sunshine and rainbows.
But the few side effects that CBD can cause are fairly harmless and short-lived.
Common side effects of CBD consumption include:
These side effects can be unpleasant in the moment, but once the CBD is out of your system these effects will also dissipate.
But keep this in mind:
The presence of these side effects doesn't necessarily mean that the CBD oil isn't benefiting you.
Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about whether or not CBD oil is right for you.
CBD Oil as Medicine
Now that you know a bit about the science and safe usage of CBD oil and other products, it's time to get into the really important stuff. After all, CBD hasn't become hugely popular for nothing.
It's for very good reasons.
As more and more research emerges, it's becoming clear that CBD has incredible benefits when it comes to treating mental disorders, chronic pain, seizures, chemotherapy side effects, and even addiction withdrawals.
So what can this seemingly magical chemical help treat? And is there real science to back up these claims?
Since the endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating these neurotransmitters, supplementing with CBD can have therapeutic effects.
Here's what we found:
In theory, taking CBD can improve the brain's ability to produce and uptake serotonin and similar neurotransmitters. While this treatment won't work for every patient suffering from depression, anxiety, or PTSD, many people have found some relief through CBD products.
Patients with sleep disorders may also benefit from CBD therapy.
That's not even close to all the benefits...
CBD oil is a promising therapy for many mental disorders.
However, it can be difficult to measure effectiveness in a clinical setting. Fortunately, since CBD doesn't have the same addictive properties or side effects as many popular prescription medications, there is little risk associated with at least trying this treatment option.
You need to know this:
Of course, CBD is not a guaranteed solution and should not be relied on for serious mental disorders. We recommend speaking with your doctor about trying CBD oil or supplementing your current medication regimen with CBD before making any changes.
When most people think of concussions, they think of the delirium, headache, and other short-term symptoms that can follow. But for severe concussions, the reality can be much more severe and long-lasting.
What can CBD do here?
On the bright side, early research shows that CBD can help treat these long-term symptoms, including pain and depression. In addition to relieving symptoms on the surface, CBD might even help improve neuropathic healing and overall recovery.
Especially with the lack of options.
Since concussion recovery is largely approached with a "do nothing" attitude, CBD oil might be the only therapy a patient can use. Because of this, there is little risk in choosing CBD oil as a treatment option.
However, like always, we still suggest speaking with your doctor.
Although pain is a very real thing for those experiencing it, all pain technically starts as a chemical response within the body. Just like CBD oil can help manage how your neurotransmitters respond to serotonin, it can also influence how your body responds to pain-inducing chemicals.
But pain is a complex thing to treat. Not all types of pain respond to the same treatments, and not all patients experience the same level of relief.
There is good news:
Based on current research, CBD therapy shows the most promise in treating joint pain and neuropathic pain.
With joint pain, CBD's pain-relieving properties combine with anti-inflammatory compounds. This makes CBD extremely effective for treating arthritis and similar pain conditions.
What is neuropathic pain?
Neuropathic pain refers to pain caused by damage to part of the body's nervous system.
The exact reason why CBD is useful in treating this pain it isn't entirely known, but likely has to do with the close relationship between the nervous and endocannabinoid systems.
One thing to note:
While research shows that CBD can treat pain to some degree, much of the same research shows that THC offers even more pain-relieving benefits.
Yes, THC's psychoactive properties make it difficult to use therapeutically.
But we can't ignore this compound and its benefits when discussing the relationship between cannabinoids and pain management.
Before CBD was legal across most of the United States, it had already gained popularity for the treatment of seizures.
Today, Epidiolex (a seizure medication) is the first prescription medication to contain CBD as an active ingredient.
In clinical studies, CBD has been shown to lower the number of seizures in a range of patients. Including those with different seizure-causing disorders.
So, what does the future look like?
With hard evidence showing that CBD can help improve the lives of seizure patients, these disorders might become the forefront for nationwide cannabis policies in the future.
Many cancer patients have a difficult choice to make: allow their cancer to continue unchecked or undergo chemotherapy and live with the symptoms. These chemotherapy symptoms can be so severe that patients will opt out of the treatment altogether.
But there is hope:
Many have found some relief for these symptoms with CBD and THC usage.
In fact, there's enough clinical and anecdotal evidence of these benefits that CBD and other cannabinoids have found their way into FDA-approved medications. These include Dronabinol, containing THC, and Nabilone, containing a synthetic cannabinoid.
And there are more of them...
Although it hasn't yet made its way into the United States, Nabiximols is a CBD- and THC-based medication used in Canada and parts of Europe. Since this drug is currently undergoing clinical tests in the U.S., we may see it hit the market soon.
We should be clear about one thing:
While CBD can help lessen negative side effects of chemotherapy, it does not offer any known anti-carcinogenic effects. It is just alleviating the symptoms of cancer treatment. Not treating the cancer itself.
In preliminary research, CBD aids recovering alcohol and opioid addicts. As opioids and other prescription drugs continue to be a major issue in parts of the United States, these findings are great news for many people.
The use of CBD for addiction recovery may be two fold.
On the one hand, CBD oil can help relieve generalized withdrawal symptoms. But if the addiction stems from insufficient pain management, CBD's pain-relieving properties can also help provide an alternative to opioids and other drugs.
Pretty amazing for a plant extract.
Of course, addiction is an extremely complicated issue. And CBD is not a magical remedy for this national crisis.
But if CBD products can help alleviate the pain and stress of recovery, even a little bit, we consider that a step in the right direction.
Choosing the Right CBD Oil for You
Are you interested in trying CBD oil for yourself? Or do you think these products could help a loved one struggling with mental, physical, or addiction-related issues? If so, it's crucial that you understand the current CBD market and the products contained within.
As we mentioned above, the FDA does not regulate CBD supplements at this time (with the exception of prescription medications containing the cannabinoid). Instead, finding safe, reliable, and effective products rests entirely on the consumers.
Types of CBD products
One of the first things you need to decide when adding CBD to your routine is how you want to ingest this compound. As the CBD market continues to flourish, more and more options continue to emerge.
Here are some of the most popular CBD products currently available to consumers:
Smoking and vaping
Just like you can smoke tobacco, you can also smoke CBD-containing hemp. While CBD cigarettes are available, they are probably one of the least popular ways to consume the compound (likely because they contain many of the same health risks as any other type of smoking).
Instead, vaping is an extremely popular option for therapeutic CBD consumption. Not only is a vape pen easy to carry around, but vaping itself offers one of the quickest absorptions of any method.
When you vape any cannabis product, including CBD, your lungs absorb the compound within minutes. After that, the compound gradually spreads throughout your entire body. This offers reliable and quick therapeutic benefits for both mental and physical concerns.
The one downside to smoking or vaping CBD is that the effects subside after only one or two hours. For those using CBD for pain relief or other concerns, this means continually ingesting more CBD to keep the benefits going.
In most cases, you'll find CBD edibles in the form of gummy candies or lozenges. You can also find CBD in gel capsules, which you take just like over-the-counter pain relievers or cold and flu medicine.
When consumed, these products are absorbed through the gut and liver. From there, CBD slowly spread throughout the entire body.
Since edibles hit the gut first, these products are the best option for those looking to treat conditions like nausea, appetite loss, and IBS.
Although edible CBD products do take a bit longer to kick in — about one or two hours — the effects can last up to 12 hours.
Oils and tinctures
Finally, many CBD users opt for oils and tinctures. These products work best when applied under the tongue, where the CBD can absorb directly into the bloodstream.
Once the CBD has entered the bloodstream, it then quickly and evenly spread throughout the entire body.
One of the best things about these products is that they typically offer an easy-to-use dropper. This allows you to consume precise doses as needed.
Oils and tinctures kick in after about 15 minutes to an hour. After which you can expect the effects to continue for up to 8 hours.
While not the most popular CBD product, topicals can be extremely effective for certain users.
These products normally come in the form of a lotion or cream, which can be easily applied anywhere on the body.
Unlike other CBD products, topicals only penetrate partway through the body. In most cases, these products will not reach your bloodstream or spread throughout the body.
This makes CBD topicals a great option for treating muscle pains, arthritis aches, and menstrual cramps, among other things.
Another thing to consider, if you live in an area with legal marijuana, is the presence of THC in these products. Unlike other consumables, the THC in a topical cannot reach the bloodstream. Therefore it does not produce a psychoactive high in the brain.
If you can legally purchase them, topicals with THC and CBD are highly effective for many surface-level conditions.
Which dose should you start with?
After selecting the type of CBD product you wish to try, you must then determine the appropriate dose.
This can be overwhelming if you walk into a CBD retailer with little knowledge or experience. But with a little research, it's far less intimidating.
First, you need to know how CBD products label their dosages.
In most cases, whether looking at a vape oil, edibles, or tincture, you'll see one large number on the front of the packaging (typically in mg). This number represents the total CBD within the entire product.
For instance: a bottle of 30 gummies might be labeled with 3,000mg CBD. This means each gummy contains 100mg CBD.
Next, you need to understand how much CBD you should personally consume. This number depends on a variety of factors.
One of the easiest dosing systems uses your body weight:
Or, you can go by trial-and-error. If you choose this route, we recommend starting low and adding as needed. This will help save product and determine your lowest effective dose.
If you currently or have previously used cannabis products, then you might have a built-up tolerance. Don't be surprised if you need to increase your dosage above these recommendations.
Why is choosing the right dose so important?
- It helps avoid negative side effects
- It helps save money
If you take more CBD than is necessary for the desired results, then you are ultimately just wasting the product. Since CBD can cost over 15 cents per mg, saving product is often a great way to save a good chunk of money!
Where to buy CBD oil
Finally, where is the best place to buy high-quality CBD? As this cannabinoid becomes more accepted in mainstream culture, this list continues to grow.
The most obvious place to purchase CBD products is your local smoke or vape shop. In fact, many of these retailers advertise their CBD products heavily, including the brands they carry.
Another option, especially if you're uncomfortable going into one of these retailers, is your local health or natural food store. However, keep in mind that these stores might have a much smaller selection than a vape or smoke shop.
Lastly, for the most options with the highest level of convenience, you can order CBD products online.
These CBD retailers offer a wide variety of products and concentrations to choose from. Plus, since everything is right in front of you, you can easily compare and contrast products to find the best one for you.
The Future of CBD and Other Cannabis Byproducts
With the passing of the Farm Bill and numerous states legalizing recreational marijuana, the future of CBD and other cannabis products looks increasingly bright.
However, we are still far from understanding the potential benefits (and risks) of these products in a therapeutic setting.
Thankfully, now that more researchers are able to legally obtain cannabis plants and their byproducts, a variety of clinical studies are likely just on the horizon. With time, the medical community will have a much greater understanding of CBD, THC, and cannabis' other chemical compounds.
For the time being, though, much of our CBD usage is purely experimental. While many people report life-changing benefits from these products, others remain skeptical at best.
However, the fact remains that CBD is changing lives, and that is pretty wonderful!
Have you tried CBD products in the past, let us know your personal experiences in the comment section below!