CBD oil has soared in popularity recently as it has become legal to purchase and use in many states. CBD is arguably the fastest growing natural health product on the market today, and it may offer benefits for a variety of health problems. But what is CBD oil, and is it right for you?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a natural plant extract found in the cannabis plant — a family of plants that includes marijuana and hemp. CBD oil is usually extracted from the hemp plant and then added to a carrier oil such as hemp seed oil or coconut oil, so that it can be used as a health remedy.
CBD oil is not psychoactive and is not the same as using marijuana. It does not alter the mind or make a person feel high. In fact, as you’ll see, it’s virtually impossible to get high from using CBD. The benefits of CBD oil come from its ability to work with the body’s natural systems to improve certain health issues. Research shows that this ingredient holds promise in treating many different health conditions.
Is CBD oil the same as medical marijuana?
Don’t confuse CBD oil with medical marijuana. Though they do share some of the same legal guidelines (states that allow medical marijuana generally allow CBD oil sales), they are far from the same product.
Hemp and marijuana plants both belong to the cannabis family, but the two plants are quite different. While marijuana is considered to be psychoactive cannabis (which can cause a high), hemp is non-psychoactive cannabis.
Cannabis plants contain more than 80 biologically active chemical compounds. The two best-known compounds are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD. THC is the chemical that causes mind-altering effects and the feeling of a “high” that people get when they use marijuana.
THC is found in high amounts in marijuana plants, but very low — almost undetectable — amounts in hemp plants. In addition, hemp plants are naturally richer in CBD than marijuana. This makes hemp the logical choice for CBD products: there’s very little THC to filter out, and its CBD content is already plentiful.
Hemp is also easier to grow, tolerating a variety of climates in large multi-acre farms designed for it. It doesn’t need to be grown indoors or in specialized areas like we’ve seen with marijuana farms.
In fact, many state governments recognize this, as CBD oil is legal in some states where medical marijuana is not. When a person takes true CBD oil, they are not using a substance that causes euphoria or changes in mood. It also doesn’t cause food cravings or other changes in normal behavior.
Is CBD oil legal?
The Farm Bill, which was passed in 2018, stated that cannabis-related products, including CBD oil, could be legally cultivated and transported as long as they contained .3% or less THC.
So on a federal level, it is legal. But state governments can override the federal law and decide whether CBD is legal for their state. In most — but not all — states, CBD oil is now legal with .3% or less THC.
In July 2019, the state of Florida is expected to pass a bill stating that CBD products that come from hemp are not controlled substances. This will make hemp-based products, including CBD oil derived from hemp, legal in Florida.
Benefits of CBD oil
So why would someone use CBD oil? Why has it become so popular? Medical research has shown that CBD oil can have a powerful effect on a variety of health problems with little to no unpleasant side effects.
The human body naturally contains an endocannabinoid system. This system has special receptors in the brain that respond to endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that the body naturally produces. That’s right, the body makes its own form of cannabinoids and then uses them, which are helpful for pain relief, relaxation, and other functions.
CBD is a phytocannabinoid, which means it comes from a plant. Phytocannabinoids can work with the endocannabinoid system, helping it to accomplish its important work.
Chronic pain has a tremendous negative impact on a person’s quality of life. Many people who are undergoing treatment for cancer experience ongoing pain that may not respond to medication. Studies have found that cannabinoids, including CBD, can help relieve chronic pain related to cancer.
Non-cancer-related pain may benefit from CBD as well. A systematic review found that cannabinoids may be effective in relieving neuropathic pain with little to no adverse effects. This included pain from fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and other forms of chronic pain not related to cancer.
This pain-relieving effect may be at least partially due to the well-documented anti-inflammatory power of CBD. Another study found a cannabinoid product had a “significant analgesic effect” for people who had rheumatoid arthritis. Even more evidence shows that CBD could significantly reduce chronic neuropathic pain from inflammation.
Protection for the brain and neurological system
Perhaps one of CBD’s best known effects is related to seizure prevention. You may have heard that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug made from CBD to treat epilepsy. This approval comes on the heels of research that has shown that CBD helps prevent seizures and has little to no adverse effects.
Obviously, a person who is having seizures needs to see a doctor and should not try taking CBD at home to relieve their symptoms. Epilepsy and seizure disorders require medical care, and the CBD product should be used under the guidance of a doctor.
But, this does raise some interesting points about how CBD can help protect the brain and neurological system. Some evidence suggests that CBD could have the potential to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, a major health problem facing our society today. A study on mice found that those that received CBD treatment experienced less cognitive decline.
CBD may also be helpful for people who have Parkinson’s Disease, as some research shows it can help improve sleep disorders that are often caused by Parkinson’s.
In addition, studies have found cannabinoids to be helpful for people who have multiple sclerosis (MS). In one study, people who had seizures related to MS found relief with cannabinoids when other medications did not work.
Antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting more than 40 million adults, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. And, many people who have anxiety also have depression.
Knowing that cannabinoids benefit the neurological system by helping prevent seizures, it should not be surprising that they can also help with brain-related conditions like depression and anxiety. In fact, recent studies have shown that CBD is beneficial for people who have social anxiety or trouble with public speaking.
In studies with children, CBD has also been shown to help relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a significant mental health issue that can have a tremendous negative effect on a person’s life.
And, with depression becoming a major public health crisis in the United States, CBD oil holds promise as an effective antidepressant without many of the side effects common with prescription medications. Studies on mice found that CBD treatment was comparable to results from an antidepressant. Another study on rats found that CBD had an antidepressant effect because it is believed to activate some of the body’s natural endocannabinoid receptors.
Preventing nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting is a common occurrence for people taking certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs for cancer. Nausea and vomiting can also be caused by motion sickness, vertigo, migraine headaches, and a variety of illnesses.
CBD may have an antiemetic ability, which means it helps prevent feelings of nausea and the urge to vomit. Studies have shown that cannabinoids suppress vomiting and may be particularly beneficial to people who are undergoing chemotherapy.
Other studies have found similar results, stating that CBD has the power to work with endocannabinoids in the body that create an antiemetic effect.
Remember that not all vomiting is harmful, though it is unpleasant. The body uses the vomiting reflex to get rid of toxic or unwanted substances, such as in the case of food poisoning or a stomach virus. In these cases, suppressing the vomiting reflex is not recommended.
But often, people will experience nausea and vomiting when it’s not biologically necessary (a chemotherapy side effect is a good example of this). In these cases, nausea interferes with their quality of life. CBD could be an effective way to put an end to this miserable symptom.
Acne is a common skin condition that can cause embarrassment, pain, physical scarring, and emotional damage. To date, there is no cure for acne. But some research suggests that CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory power could help treat this skin condition.
Acne is a complex disease, but two of its main causes are overactive oil glands and inflammation. One study found that CBD could alter the function of the skin’s oil glands and exerted strong anti-inflammatory action. The authors state that CBD holds promise as an effective treatment for acne. Another study came to similar conclusions, stating that CBD had complex anti-acne effects.
Full-spectrum CBD vs. CBD isolate
When shopping for a CBD oil product, you may come across two main types: full-spectrum CBD and CBD oil isolate. While both should contain the specified amount of CBD oil, the difference lies in its other ingredients — or lack thereof.
Like any natural product, the hemp plant contains a number of different natural components. It’s a complex system that cannot be recreated in a lab. Think of why experts tell you to eat an orange rather than simply take a pill with vitamin C. The natural, whole fruit contains hundreds of compounds and substances that provide other health benefits that we may not yet understand. They also work together with the main active ingredient
In some ways, CBD oil is no different. Full-spectrum CBD contains plant compounds that naturally occur in the hemp plant. Some of these compounds may work together with CBD to help it do its job. More research needs to be done to fully understand how these other plant compounds work.
On the other hand, CBD oil isolate contains almost all CBD oil without these other plant ingredients. It may be labeled with a high percentage of CBD, such as 99 percent or more. CBD isolate is usually created to contain just the CBD molecule by itself.
Think of the orange and vitamin C comparison again. While an orange has a complex set of ingredients beyond vitamin C, that doesn’t mean that a vitamin C supplement has no benefit. A high-dose vitamin C supplement may be just what someone needs if they are deficient in the nutrient or need a strong therapeutic effect quickly.
This could be the same with CBD. If a person is trying to use CBD for a strong therapeutic benefit, they may find that a pure CBD isolate does the job for them.
How to use CBD
CBD oil is usually taken by mouth in the form of capsules, mouth sprays, or tinctures. It’s important to know what you’re getting and the dosage you should take based on your health needs. Some CBD oil contains lower amounts of the active ingredient and more carrier oil, while other products are more concentrated.
The dosage should be listed on the bottle or package of your CBD product.
Choosing the right CBD product
When shopping for a CBD product, you may be confused by the number of different options available. With different strengths and types of CBD oil sold in a variety of shops and online stores, it can be difficult to choose the right product. The CBD industry isn’t regulated, which means that product quality and manufacturing processes can vary greatly.
Start by purchasing your CBD from a reputable source, such as a medical practitioner’s office. There, the staff may be able to give you guidelines on how to use the product effectively based on your health concerns. Avoid purchasing products of unknown origin or those that don’t list exactly what the product contains.
Follow the instructions on the bottle for usage unless your health care provider tells you otherwise. More is not always better. While CBD oil is largely well-tolerated, don’t use excessive amounts of it to try and get faster results. This may cause unwanted side effects.
Please note: CBD can interact with other medications, so be sure to talk to your doctor before using it.
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