By now, you have heard of Cannabidiol, or more commonly referred to as CBD oil. It seems to be popping up everywhere from social media to billboards and is even endorsed by famous athletes and celebrities. Many people talk about their experience of reducing pain, sleeping better, reducing anxiety and more.
With such hype and popularity, you may be wondering if you should try it out as well. It’s always a good idea to do your own research before trying natural health remedies. Here is what you need to know about CBD products.
Because CBD is derived from the same plant as THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana, it is often assumed that it is psychoactive. In fact, CBD actually has antipsychotic effects. This means that those who choose to use CBD will not experience euphoria, altered feelings, or sedation.
Many believe there are endless uses and benefits with the Cannabis Sativa plant and that by using it, they can experience those without the psychoactive effects. Additionally, it appears that it does not have the same addictive properties as THC, again, making it a more popular option among consumers.
Just like some people react strongly to over-the-counter medications like Tylenol or Advil, CBD has been known to cause strong reactions in about 5% of users. Some of these users do experience that feeling of euphoria or being in an altered state. While there is no explanation as to why some users react this way and others don’t, it’s best to have someone monitor your condition when trying CBD products for the first time.
While more research is needed, CBD has been shown to stop the breakdown of the chemical in the brain which contributes to pain, mental ability, and mood. Without the breakdown of this chemical, levels increase in the blood and therefore reduce psychotic symptoms.
Not only has this helped in the treatment of mental disorders, like schizophrenia, but has helped reduce pain and anxiety. It is also commonly used to treat epilepsy, dystonia, a muscle disorder, Crohn’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
You may not realize this, but the human body actually makes cannabinoids, which have an anti-inflammatory effect. The body contains receptors for these called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors can be found throughout the body, but primarily in the brain. CB2 receptors, however, are most commonly found within the immune system.
When a person consumes marijuana, the THC attaches to the CB1 receptor, affecting coordination, movement, mood, pain, thinking ability, appetite, memories, and emotions. It was once believed that CBD attached to CB2 receptors; however, it has been found that it actually attaches to neither. Instead, it is now believed that CBD encourages the body to create more cannabinoids of its own.
So we already know that CBD is derived primarily from the hemp portion of the Cannabis Sativa plant. However, you may be wondering how it goes from the plant to become the oil or other products you find. That primarily occurs through a process of extraction and there are a few different kinds.
Every cannabis grower is unique and may use different methods for growing their plants. Because of this, CBD oils can vary in color and even contain contaminants. This is one reason consumers should be selective when choosing a company to source their CBD oil and products.
With this method, also known as “full spectrum,” it is exactly as it sounds, the oil is derived from the entire plant. Because the entire plant is used, not only will the oil contain CBD, but it will have levels of THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenes, which are also anti-inflammatory agents. This is a popular option and some believe it to be more effective than just isolated CBD oil.
The exact opposite of the Whole-Plant Extraction method is the Isolate Method of extraction. This method isolates the CBD from the rest of the plant and produces a final product of just CBD, foregoing the fatty acids, cannabinoids, or terpenes. Those who are cautious and leary of having THC in their system will typically choose producers that use this method, however, some argue that it is less effective.
To actually make the oil, there are two different methods that are commonly used, Ethanol Extraction and CO2 Extraction. Ethanol Extraction is the most common and uses ethanol as a solvent to obtain CBD from the Cannabis Sativa plant. This method is fast and requires inexpensive equipment and less power; however, ethanol is extremely flammable making extra precautions necessary.
On the other hand, CO2 Extraction gives the purest form of CBD extraction, but it is expensive. This form of extraction requires a lot of power and uses fluid CO2 to act as a solvent. It’s also a common extraction method in the food industry because it does not use harsh chemicals.
As previously mentioned, CBD oil may come in a variety of colors. This can be a result of how the plant was grown, extracted, or purified. Color options you may come across include:
Apart from the many uses and benefits of CBD, one of the reasons there is such fascination with CBD products is because CBD is a cousin of the infamous, and illegal in most states, THC. Having such a close relationship with THC is where the legality of CBD products can get a little sticky. In 2018, the Farm Bill was passed into Federal Law which allows for the sale of hemp and its extracts as long as they contain no more than 0.3% of THC.
While that seems simple enough, if your CBD manufacturer does not check the purity of your CBD and you have a greater THC percentage than 0.3%, then you have illegally purchased that product. Additionally, some states have further restrictions on consumers. For example, Virginia residents can only buy and carry CBD products if they have a prescription. This may seem unnerving, but regulating bodies tend to be more interested in pursuing large-scale operations, rather than individual consumers.
For the sellers, things tend to be a little more complicated. With the passage of the Farm Bill of 2018, the DEA, or Drug Enforcement Agency, has taken a step back and now allows the FDA, or the Federal Drug Administration, to call the shots. That is because it is illegal for sellers to make health claims, but CBD in unapproved health products, food, or dietary supplements.
The FDA can go after companies touting claims or selling these products; however, their enforcement staff is quite limited. As of recently, the most they have done is sent warnings to sellers; however, they have indicated a desire to work with federal and local officials for greater enforcement. To this point, local law enforcers in Texas, Iowa, and Ohio have raided CBD stores just this year.
When starting to research CBD oil and where to buy it from, one area you should pay special attention to is the testing. If the company sourcing the CBD is upfront about how they are testing their CBD oil, it offers some reassurance that the product being purchased is a quality product. There are five different tests your CBD provider should be performing.
Terpenes are produced by the Cannabis Sativa’s trichomes and are what give the plant its own aroma. Terpenes work to enhance the effects of CBD and have even been known to promote healing and relaxation as well. If you are looking for terpenes in your CBD, go with a company that performs whole-plant extraction.
As mentioned previously, in order to extract cannabinoids and other compounds from the Cannabis Sativa plant, solvents are often used. Therefore, one test you are going to want to ensure is performed on your CBD oil is a Residual Solvents Test.
If the company behind the product runs this test, it’s a good indication that they are concerned about having good manufacturing practices. This test is an indicator of just how good their practices are. Without it, CBD products are often contaminated with solvents that the majority of consumers likely don’t want to ingest.
With a potency test, samples of the CBD oil will be taken to create a cannabinoid profile that measures active cannabinoids. This test is the primary way to see purity and potency. With a potency test, testers are primarily looking for the levels of THC and CBD, with a desire for THC to fall under 0.3% to legally sell it.
Additional cannabinoids can be seen in this test as well, but are not usually the primary concern. However, other cannabinoids are starting to grow in popularity, including CBG (cannabigerol) and THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid).
Like some other plants, Cannabis Sativa has roots that will absorb whatever they come into contact with while in soil. Unfortunately, this could mean certain contaminants like arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead. Make sure that the CBD oil you are sourcing has strict heavy metals testing and follows guidelines similar to California’s Proposition 65.
Similarly, a residual pesticide test will show contamination from pesticides that reside in the hemp. While regulations on pesticides are not set by the FDA, there are regulations that are set within each state. Therefore, sellers in all states or even just several states will need to be sure that they are complying with each state’s regulations on pesticides.
While the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, still contemplate the “regulatory framework” that may apply to cannabis products, other organizations have stepped up. Seeing the need for some structure and regulation, the following organizations have begun creating standards to ensure the legitimacy and safety of the cannabis industry:
This group was the first to recognize the need for set standards with cannabis products, so they set up a committee more than eight years ago. They have helped early producers with white papers, or government reports and proposals, the navigation of Prop 65, as well as, lab operations, and correct labeling.
U.S. Hemp Authority, while newer to the industry, is a group looking to establish best practices for both growers and producers of CBD products. Through U.S. Hemp Authority, producers can earn a seal that shows consumers that their product was tested and certified from initial growth in the field, to production, and bottling.
Two other groups that have been looking to regulate and improve the cannabis industry are the AOAC, Association of Official Analytical Chemists, and the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. These groups are discovering the best testing methods for all cannabis products. By establishing set testing practices, purity standards will be defined and regulated, eliminating variance in testing results depending on the lab used.
By now, you have heard of a least one benefit or use of CBD whether in the form of an oil or another product. Consumers are raving about the changes CBD has made in their lives and it’s likely you know someone who either uses it or sells it. So just what are the uses and benefits of CBD products?
Because of a desire to find a more natural way to relieve pain and inflammation, many people are turning to CBD rather than over-the-counter medication. Some studies have shown that CBD reduces chronic inflammation, as well as pain, in mice and rats. In human studies, a combination of CBD and THC have effectively managed pain experienced by those with arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Because CBD has been shown to affect the way the brain regulates behavior and mood, many are starting to use it to treat anxiety and depression. Standard medication has significant side effects, including insomnia, drowsiness, sexual dysfunction, agitation, and headaches. Additionally, they are highly addictive and can create an unhealthy dependence.
However, with a natural approach like CBD, users are able to treat their condition without the risks. Studies have been encouraging on both humans and animals. When put in a stressful situation, those taking CBD had fewer issues with cognitive discomfort and less anxiety compared to the placebo group.
CBD has been known to be extremely effective in treating epilepsy. It’s so effective that in 2018 the FDA approved the use of CBD in the medication Epidiolex for two conditions known to have epileptic seizures. As of now, this is the only FDA-approved CBD medication.
The two rare conditions are:
These two conditions have not been able to be controlled with any other medications. As of now, the FDA has not approved it for children under two years.
Recently, there have been studies that lead many to believe that CBD can help in the fight against cancer. Specifically, CBD prevents the spread, growth, and even supports the destruction of cancerous cells. Because it is naturally derived, it also has lower levels of toxicity and less of an impact on the body when compared to chemotherapy and radiation; however, more research is necessary.
With type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas, causing inflammation. Since CBD is known to treat inflammation, some have started to use it in the treatment of this condition. So far, research has found that not only does it reduce the inflammation of the pancreas, but it may even prevent or delay the onset of type 1 diabetes.
Use of CBD has also been linked to helping people quit smoking. One study found that individuals that used an inhaler with CBD not only smoked fewer cigarettes, but they lost their nicotine cravings. Additionally, those going through withdrawal from drugs such as opioids experienced fewer symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and pain when using CBD.
While more studies are necessary, some early research has shown that CBD was able to stop the development of social recognition deficits. This could indicate an ability to help those with Alzheimer’s maintain the ability to recognize people they know and ultimately slow the progression of the disease.
Another area that CBD is showing great promise is in that of skincare, specifically in the treatment of acne. Acne is partly caused by sebaceous glands that are overworked and inflamed. Therefore, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties are able to lessen the production of sebum and clear up acne caused by too much of this oily substance.
When you’ve decided you are ready to jump on the band-wagon and try CBD, apart from finding a quality seller, you will want to figure out which form of CBD is right for you. We’ve mentioned oil, but there are several other forms and ways to use CBD. Below are the most common CBD products.
If you are someone who can’t stand to take a pill, an oil or tincture may be the best route for you. In addition to CBD itself, the oil will contain a carrier oil, and possibly vinegar, ethanol, artificial flavoring, or vegetable glycerin alcohol. Simply put a few drops under your tongue and feel the effects within 20-40 minutes.
If you are experiencing inflammation, muscle soreness, or pain from arthritis, a CBD cream or lotion may be a great option. These are applied directly to the affected area and are absorbed by the skin rather than going into the bloodstream. They may take an hour to go into effect, but relief can last up to five hours.
Another way to ingest CBD is by taking a capsule or pill, which provides easy transport and a predetermined dosage. Epidiolex, the first CBD drug approved by the FDA, also comes in capsule form. While convenient, this form of CBD can take a while for the effect to kick in.
With vapes growing in popularity along with CBD, it’s no surprise that you can actually vape CBD. CBD for vaping is in a concentrated form, that when heated can be inhaled. Because it is absorbed right into the lungs, it has an immediate effect; however, it doesn’t last as long as other methods, so vaping may need to be done frequently.
Another way to ingest CBD is through edibles. Some sellers may produce food with CBD in it, or the consumer themselves can add the CBD oil to drinks and food, such as coffee, smoothies, and baked goods.
One popular edible is gummy bears. Not only are they discrete, but they offer a set dosage. Because these have to be absorbed through the stomach, they may take up to two hours to go into effect.
No matter which form you decide to use to obtain CBD, start out slow. You never know how your body will react, so monitor how you feel and stop usage if side effects start to occur. Additionally, CBD products are not regulated; therefore, one brand you try may have a higher potency than another causing different reactions.
Do your research and find a source that values a high purity, and the removal of contaminants and pesticides. Only take the recommended dosage on the packaging, unless your doctor advises otherwise.
While many people rave about the benefits of CBD oil, it’s important to know that there are side effects. And while many use CBD oil with no issues, it’s helpful to know and be aware of them before considering it. Some of the common side effects include:
Additionally, because CBD has just recently risen to popularity, there are no studies on long-term side effects and how they affect hormones or the body in general. Many believe that CBD oil can cause interference with an enzyme known as cytochrome P450 complex, liver damage, depression, and suicidal thoughts. As always, consult your doctor prior to taking CBD products, especially if you are currently on medication.
Studies that have been performed with CBD oil have been performed on adults. Therefore, it is not recommended for use on children. One of the major concerns is that it can affect a child’s brain as it is developing, but there is currently no evidence of that. The only CBD product that has been approved for children is Epidiolex, and that is for those with rare forms of epilepsy.
With CBD products on the rise, it seems like everyone wants a piece of the action. It has been reported that by 2020, CBD products will be a $2.2 billion industry. With growing popularity, the potential to make a lot of money, and an industry not regulated by the FDA, it seems that anyone can jump in the game and produce CBD products.
Because of this, it is vital that you do your research prior to purchasing CBD products. Ask the seller questions regarding how the plants are grown, how the oil is extracted, and ways that it is tested. Look for seals of approval from regulating bodies and investigate the health claims.
For those that are experiencing medical issues, it’s best to exhaust all of your options in the medical field prior to using CBD. As this is yet to be a medically-regulated drug, it’s hard to say how it could affect your condition or your body in the long-term. For example, though some may claim that CBD can help cure cancer, it should never take the place of chemotherapy or conventional medical treatments.
As always, talk with your doctor and get his or her opinion on your condition and the possible use of CBD oil for relief. Some studies have shown great success with using CBD oil and other products, but research is in its infancy and long-term studies have yet to be performed. If you do proceed with CBD products, start slowly, listen to your body, and stop using it if there are signs of negative effects.