CBD or Cannabidiol is one of over a hundred active chemical compounds found in marijuana. Unlike THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) – another compound found in marijuana and used for another variety of purposes – CBD is not psychoactive.
These are the two main cannabis ingredients with central nervous system activity. CBD is made by extracting Cannabidiol from thecannabis plant, then coalescing it with a ‘carrier’ oil like coconut, hemp seed or olive oil.
Accessibility is usually not an issue, but there is a stigma that surrounds its connection to its mind-altering cousin. CBD oils, on the contrary, help deal with the psychoactive side effects of THC gone wrong (paranoia, memory loss, and anxiety, etc.).
CBD oils are available on online stores and are not regulated by most governmental institutions. That’s as long as there is no THC component in the oil, and it isn’t derived from the marijuana plant. CBD oils made from hemp, whether industrial or homegrown, are preferred (and legal).
In June 2018, the United States’ FDA (Food and Drug Administration) permitted the use of Epidiolex, a refined type of CBD oil which can be prescribed to treat two types of epilepsy.
The most common questions that people often ask me, whether to do with cosmetic properties or medicinal value are:
What should you look for in a CBD Oil?
What is the best CBD oil for me? How does it work?
What are its different potencies?
And what reliable information is there about its perceived benefits?
You might find that there are more interesting tangents to this, like ‘where is marijuana situated on a commercial scale?’ and ‘why is it usually targeted by governments and umbrella institutions when its ‘gateway drug’ reputation only holds up by a fraction?’ etc.
But here we like to keep it simple.
I’ve scoured various sources for comprehensive information on CBD usage and explored the different aspects to consider when looking to set up a health or skincare regimen. Here, I have tried to answer those questions succinctly.
What Should You Look for In a CBD Oil?
Identifying what you need it for is the first and most obvious step.
With its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD has been known to treat chronic pain, whether external or neuropathic, as well as skin conditions like acne and eczema.
Specific uses include aiding the treatment of insomnia, epilepsy, multiple-sclerosis induced spasticity, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and even fibromyalgia. Its potential as a treatment for autism is being researched.
There is also evidence that suggests the usefulness of CBD Oil in gaining relief from smoking or drug addiction. Addictive Behaviors published a pilot study that found a correlation between smokers who used CBD-infused inhalers and a decline in their rate of smoking cigarettes without further yearning for nicotine, or withdrawal symptoms.
Similarly, a research paper published in Neurotherapeutics uncovered that CBD might be a valuable tool with which to tackle opioid addiction disorders.
Most of these researchers recorded that, by extension, CBD also countered some behavioral and psychological symptoms accompanying excessive substance use (for example, anxiety, insomnia, mood-imbalances, and pain).
The FDA-approved Epidiolex can be prescribed by doctors to treat two types of epilepsy:
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which develops between the ages of 3 and 5 involving different kinds of seizures, and
Dravet syndrome, the result of a rare genetic defect that makes itself known within the first year of life and comprises frequent, fever-fueled seizures.
But there are further implications – findings suggest that CBD may also have the potential to treat many difficulties related to epilepsy, the likes of which include ‘neurodegeneration, neuronal injury, and psychiatric diseases’.
A study in 2017 found that “a single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study”.
While the study does not claim to have established whether CBD may or may not be effective in treating cardiovascular disorders (like high blood pressure, etc.), the results seen using a healthy person’s response to stress show potential for more research in the area.
Lastly, CBD also displays potential for breakthroughs in Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition where your immune system destroys the beta cells in your pancreas that make insulin. The real condition is the inflammation that takes place after this.
In 2016, a research paper published in Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation and presented in Lisbon, Portugal found that CBD may allay this inflammation in the pancreas. This is a start toward finding more concrete areas of use in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes.
However, the real answer to CBD’s effectiveness lies in the body’s own ‘endogenous cannabinoid system’ – which leads us to the next section.
How Does CBD Work?
A research article by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) says “The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a widespread neuromodulatory system”.
We learn from this context that the ECS has a significant role to play in central nervous system development, management of the synaptic activity, and in controlling the body’s response to endogenous and environmental stimuli.
The article also goes on to say “perturbations of the ECS are involved in several psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia.”, which seemingly opens up many doors to using CBD as an adjunctive treatment for psychosis.
Over the 25 years that this knowledge has been available, many studies have been set up, and most results, if not positive, show fewer adverse effects than its alternatives.
In a more straightforward understanding:
Certain cannabinoids are already present and being continually produced in the human body. All cannabinoids, CBD included, attach themselves with particular receptors in order to take effect in the body. The human body has two such cannabinoid receptors. They are known as CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are present all through the body, but most of them are in your brain. These receptors in the brain assist with coordination, movement, pain-sensitivity, emotion and mood processing, appetite, thinking, and memory, among other tasks. THC ties up with these receptors.
The main space that CB2 receptors occupy is in the immune system, along with other systems, organs, and tissues. They predominantly affect pain and inflammation.
It seems like a fairly straightforward correlation to make, and it is what researchers once believed: that CBD attached to these CB2 receptors.
New findings, however, suggests that CBD does not interact directly with either receptor. It would rather encourage the body to use its cannabinoids. The best CBD oils enhance this function. The below image helps you understand the more about CB1 and CB2’s presence.
CBD vs. Hemp Seed Oil – What’s the Big Deal?
The process of narrowing down on what to buy can be a long, winding road filled with forking paths. Or it can be a literal one-stop-shop.
Hemp and marijuana are both sources of CBD. However, marijuana naturally has more THC than CBD. In hemp, on the other hand, CBD is a major characteristic of the plant. This is part of the reason CBD oils extracted from the marijuana plant are not yet legal; the THC by-product is still an issue.
CBD and hemp seed oil are often interchangeably labeled due to both originating from the strain of cannabis. Although mistaking one for the other won’t necessarily harm you, there’s always a chance you’re not getting your money’s worth. Here’s a helpful table.
The Hemp seed oil has been around for way longer than CBD oils and is relatively cheaper to buy. It’s important to note that hemp seed oil does not contain any cannabinoids. They are structurally different, and the reason to pay heed is that CBD has many known benefits that far exceed that of plain hemp seed oil.
Both are rich in antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties, and in terms of skincare work closely with your pores. But the cannabinoids have been known to specifically reduce lipid product from sebaceous glands; mitigating the overproduction of sebum which in turn mitigates acne. CBD oil also acts as a direct analgesic, which adds to a list of attributes lacked by hemp seed oil.
Speaking of oils, it’s time to:
Choose the Best Carrier Oil.
The most popular, and arguably the best CBD carrier oil in the game is MCT (Medium-chain triglyceride) oil. MCT oils can be drawn from organic palm or coconut oils.
Contrasted with coconut oil, the process through which palm oil is made, however, is unsustainable verging on Earth-murder-via-asphyxiation. These oils are extremely absorbent (and therefore, efficient), hold essential fatty acids, and are composed of various antibacterial properties.
Extra-virgin olive oil, a long-chain triglyceride (LCT), holds a large number of monounsaturated fats along with the fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, and E. It is considered one of the most well-tolerated and safe oils available.
Hemp seed oil comes a close second. As discussed above, its benefits put it in the superfoods group. It is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory properties. It is best used or produced in the form of balms and pastes; just like black cumin seed oil, which in turn is known for its exceptional antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral qualities.
This next one is the bane of a millennial trying to break out of a stereotype; it’s avocado oil’s time to shine. With high contents of Oleic acid, Lutein, and Vitamins A, B, C, and D, avocado oil doesn’t mess around. Oleic acid is a healthy fat while lutein, also known as the ‘Eye Vitamin’, is a carotenoid otherwise found in green leafy vegetables.
Arnica oil principally targets pain relief. It is derived from the Arnica flower, which has properties known to help in treating aches, sprains, bruises, sore muscles, and even insect bites. However beneficial and powerful this base oil is, it is also potent to a cautionary degree. Highly concentrated doses might be toxic.
Last but not least, organic sunflower oil is filled to the brim with wholesome constituents. With omega-6 (linoleic) fatty acid, vitamin E, minerals, and antioxidants sunflower oil might as well be an eco-friendly cocktail labeled ‘Good Health’.
Now you can combine knowledge about your carrier oil with an understanding about the affliction you need CBD’s help with to know your best blend for your version of the ‘best CBD oil’. There are dozens of other carrier oils with great ‘carrying capabilities’ that I haven’t touched upon, so don’t refrain from exploring all your options.
There are a couple of ways to extract the CBD compound from the hemp plant. Each method has different yields and procedures.
This is the most commonly used, safe and ‘pure’ method. Pressurized carbon dioxide is used to extricate CBD and other phytochemicals from the plant. However, this process can be expensive and involves the use of sophisticated equipment.
Under CO2 extraction, there are supercritical and subcritical methods. From a production and distribution point of view, supercritical extractions produce a higher yield and also take higher pressure and temperatures, while subcritical extractions take longer.
Olive Oil Extraction
A different, simpler method is the olive oil extraction methodthat can be done at home. The yield is significantly lower and it is perishable, but it is also inexpensive, easy, and perfectly safe. It just involves heating the plant, adding the plant material to the oil, and heating it once more.
Dry Ice Extraction
Dry ice extraction gives a greater yield than oil extractions. There’s a list of equipment required, but they are inexpensive and the steps are easy to follow with minimal mess. The hold up with this method is that dry ice isn’t always easily available, and there is a risk of substantially ruining the quality if a step isn’t followed through properly.
Potential Side Effects and What They Mean
CBD oils are not usually prone to an intolerable disposition and neither do they administer adverse side effects. However, there are some areas one can exercise carefulness to get only the best out of its usage.
Many studies undertaken have also tracked a few cases with side effects like tiredness, diarrhea, and appetite/weight change. Research has also pointed toward the fact that CBD, when slated against these other drugs with more to take than they have to offer, has a “better side effect profile.“
This is important as CBD is also known to react to and interfere with several other medications. Ensure you visit your healthcare provider/family doctor before starting a dosage or using a product.
Although adults can usually withstand the extremities of these side effects, there isn’t adequate information about how a child’s body might react. In this case, caution is not only advised but necessary.
For example, doctors cannot prescribe Epidiolex for children younger than two years, and the dosage has to be considered based on weight.
Feelings of irritability, insomnia, constant dizziness, fatigue, somnolence, and a lethargic disposition, which are symptoms associated with the central nervous system
Infections, both viral and bacterial. Like pneumonia, sepsis and Tracheobronchitis.
Sensitivity issues like rashes
Decreased urine output
Potential for anemia with a tiny but relevant decrease in hemoglobin.
Based on information collected through leaflet notes from patients show that there is a danger of growing depressive or suicidal thoughts. It is vital to supervise anyone who uses this drug for signs of drastic mood change.
A person is, however, unlikely to develop a dependency on the product.
How to Navigate the CBD Brands Online
Okay, maybe all this was too technical and you just want to know where to point your mouse/finger and click.
The recent and rapid infusion of CBD within the wellness market has led to the creation of its moniker – the “green boom”. With products varying in shape, size, and purpose now hoisting the CBD flag, here’s how you discern between the genuine and the phony.
Know the Brand
Look into the brands you are researching to try and understand how transparent and well-researched they are. Have they taken the effort to learn about and make a product that gives you the best of what CBD oils have to offer? As a customer, you need to be able to feel in charge of the “farm-to-shelf” process.
Certificate of Analysis
It’s important to check all labels and tables; this is also where information about the differences between hemp seed oil and CBD comes in handy. But to be able to trust a brand, there is a way to test it. A certificate of analysis or COA is a document provided by the company that consists of a report outlining the testing done by an unbiased, third-party laboratory.
You have to request the COA of a batch number and check “total cannabinoids” or “total CBD” for potency, and the “microbiological testing” portion for mold or bacteria in the hemp used. Clarify that you would like to test for contaminants, pesticides, residual solvents, toxins or heavy metals.
Lastly, check for other quality inspections; those made by regulatory authorities like the FDA and third-party GMP certifications are a good place to start.
Read the Labels!
This might be the most basic yet flabbergasting activity, especially with CBD and its whole host of vague terms flying around. Thankfully, the FDA has been picking up the pace, placing stricter regulations on terminology. Learn the difference between terms like full-spectrum and broad-spectrum, an isolate and an extract. Be wise to the percent of CBD you need.
Understand what would best suit your needs, and don’t get drawn in by misleading wordplay.
CBD Oil for Your Pets?
A lot of preliminary research involved lab mice and saw a significant improvement in different conditions. But what about a household pet? Is it safe to administer CBD oils to relieve their pain?
There are many differences between our species, and there isn’t enough research to tell us how a cat or a dog’s brains work or the amounts and areas in which their CBD receptors exist.
Most experts and research scientists concur that there isunidentified potential for the treatment of arthritis, epilepsy, and even anxiety among dogs (and by extension, most other pets) using CBD.
They also agree that without the same rigorous and extensive research (in whatever capacity) as is undertaken in human health, CBD should not be incorporated into ongoing treatment for one’s pet.
With a wide variety of uses, CBD oils remain an efficient and natural alternative to other front-line medicine used for the same purposes. However, usage must be well-researched so that it can be perfectly tailored to your needs, as well as guided by a well-informed authority.
As research opens up new doors and breaks new ground, there will hopefully be more clarity on the full extent of its uses.