- Dr. Ajay Rajesh, MD
- Knowledge Base
Cannabidiol (CBD) — Here’s Everything You Need To Know
You’ve definitely heard of CBD, but you may not know what it is other than three letters at the beginning of the alphabet. CBD oil is one of the more misunderstood dietary supplements on the market due to its close association with marijuana. Even if you know the difference between CBD and THC, the details of what it does are still murky. Hailed as a miracle drug by some, many are skeptical or just plain unaware of the true health benefits it can bring to their lives. The real question is does it deserve all the attention and popularity its been enjoying as of late?
What Is CBD?
Here’s our CBD definition. Firstly, what does CBD stand for?
CBD stands for cannabidiol (isn’t CBD much better?), a type of chemical compound found in hemp and marijuana which are both varieties of the cannabis plant (1). There are over 85 of these compounds, known as cannabinoids (or phytocannabinoids), and CBD is one of the most well-known.
The other is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound that causes people to feel high (and snack a lot).
Is CBD Oil Legal?
The biggest question: is CBD legal?
CBD oil can be made by using either hemp or marijuana plants, however, the final product of each has different levels of THC.
CBD oil that contains more than 0.3% of THC is considered a medical marijuana product and you’ll find these products have much stricter federal and state laws.
Oil with THC levels under 0.3% are hemp products. In the United States, CBD oil derived from hemp plants is 100% government approved, and considered a food supplement. These oils are legal to buy and sell throughout the country and will not provide psychoactive effects in any way (2). So if you’ve ever asked the question, “does CBD get you high?” – the answer is no.
In other markets, such as the United Kingdom, CBD is 100% legal as long as the product contains THC levels under 0.2% and is sold as a health/food supplement.
If you’re looking for a CBD company that puts your results first, we highly recommend cbdMD. They produce high-quality CBD oil that has shown to help with pain relief, anxiety, stress and more.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about how CBD oil actually works.
How Does CBD Oil Work?
Your body has an amazing system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that regulates your mood, sleep patterns, immune system and pain (3). It does this by managing the cannabinoids your body naturally produces.
Bet you didn’t know your body produced cannabinoids, did you? And what does CBD oil do?
When CBD is introduced into your body, instead of attaching directly to cannabinoid receptors like THC does, it encourages your body to use its natural cannabinoids better. In other words, CBD activates or inhibits cannabinoids in your ECS to impact, for instance, the level of anxiety or pain you feel.
Though it’s good to know how it works, feeling the effects of CBD is much better.
The Benefits Of CBD
To say CBD oil is helpful is an understatement.
Effective and natural, there’s no risk of dependency, overdosing or serious side effects.
Some people have had such positive results with CBD oil that they have been able to phase out their traditional medicine altogether.
The way you use it will come down to your personal preference. It can be used as a supplement to promote overall health or used to manage the symptoms of health issues you’re dealing with. Some of the most common issues CBD oil can benefit are:
- Sleep disorders
- Mood management
- Chronic pain
The list goes on. Click here to read more CBD benefits.
CBD offers a vast number of benefits due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-seizure properties. Today, as its use expands, the various mental, physical and medical conditions it helps continue to grow.
How Is CBD Oil Made?
Though CBD oil is a wonderful supplement that can help people in many ways, it goes without saying that some oils are better than others.
Depending on how the CBD is extracted from the hemp plant, you can get a weak oil full of chemicals or a pure, high-quality oil that is safe to consume.
It all starts with the hemp.
If there is one thing to remember it’s this: clean hemp makes for better CBD oil.
Hemp naturally absorbs the toxins – both good and bad – from the soil, air, and water it comes in contact with. Organically grown hemp will result in hemp that is free of pesticides and other chemicals that can harm you if digested.
If possible, hemp that is grown and tracked to a US location would be even better. You’ll be able to understand the conditions it was grown in. One of the best locations to grow hemp is Colorado.
How Is CBD Extracted?
The method a company uses to extract CBD from hemp plants can be pretty telling.
Toxic chemicals, like butane and propane, are used by some manufacturers. Others use ethanol, a safer alternative, to get the job done.
Any company worthy of your hard-earned money, however, will use the supercritical CO2 method to process the hemp. It is by far the safest, cleanest method and produces the purest, most effective CBD oil.
If you haven’t guessed, the safer the extraction method, the more expensive and difficult the method also tends to be. Companies that go the cheap, easy route using toxic materials, sell some of the cheapest oils you’ll come across.
Types Of CBD Oil
Two types of CBD oil can be produced from the hemp plant: full-spectrum CBD and isolate CBD. Each one offers its own set of unique benefits.
Isolate CBD is the cannabinoid in its purest form. The hemp is processed in such a way that CBD, and only CBD, is extracted from the plant. The end result is a white powder that is about 99% CBD.
Versatile, it is effective for pain and sleep disorders, among other things, and can be added to tinctures, drinks or sublingually.
Isolate CBD typically has little to no detectable levels of THC present, giving peace of mind to those that experience drug tests regularly as a part of their careers. It is flavorless and can be added to food and drink without changing the taste. It is also, more often than not, cheaper than full-spectrum CBD products.
Full-spectrum CBD makes use of the entire hemp plant, meaning other cannabinoids, like CBG, CBN and CBC, are present in the resulting CBD oil (4).
Because you’re getting the entire plant, full-spectrum oils are higher in price than isolates. A few of the other compounds found in full-spectrum CBD are:
- Terpenes: Chemicals that work with CBD to heal your body. Stress relief, memory improvement, anti-inflammatory properties, pain relief and sedative effects for depression and insomnia and pain relief are some of the benefits different kinds of terpenes offer.
- Vitamins & Minerals: Vitamins A, C, E and complex Bs (thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin) are in found in full spectrum oil along with iron, calcium, potassium and zinc.
- Protein & Essential Fats: 20 amino acids, 9 of which are essential, are also in full-spectrum CBD. Omega 3 and 6 promote heart health are included. Hemp oil also happens to be full of protein which repairs and builds tissue.
The Entourage Effect
Most of the compounds in full-spectrum CBD have therapeutic effects on their own, leading to the greatest advantage of full-spectrum oil: the entourage effect (5).
The entourage effect is the combined synergy of all the compounds found in the hemp plant; hundreds of plant components working together to magnify the benefits and effectiveness of the others.
Alone, CBD and any other hemp compounds are effective, but together you get a far better result than any single one could provide you on its own.
Known health conditions improved by the entourage effect are:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Neurological Disorders
- Gastrointestinal Disorders
Full spectrum may have trace amounts of THC, but it will always be under the legal limit of 0.3% and never alter your state of mind. However, if you’re afraid that it may show up in a drug test, opt for isolate CBD products instead.
Once CBD oil is extracted, additional ingredients are added in order to make it taste better, increase its versatility or improve absorption rates.
For flavoring additives, vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO ingredients are the healthiest and keep the product natural. Natural flavoring is often used, but for edibles expect synthetic ingredients to pop up more often on the labeling.
Vegetable glycerin is mixed with CBD oil which allows it to work for you in two ways: you can take it orally or you can fill up a cartridge and vape it.
MCT coconut oil and regular coconut oil are mixed into CBD oil to help it absorb into your body better for quicker relief and longer lasting effects.
CBD Oil Products
The versatility and use of CBD oil allows it to be taken in many different ways and with new companies entering the industry all the time, innovative products are never too far from being available to CBD consumers.
Found in a variety of flavors, concentrations, and forms, you’ll easily find the perfect CBD product to improve your quality of life (if you’re stuck, browse through our CBD oil reviews).
A few of the most common ones are:
This is the fancy name for CBD oil in a bottle, the most common form and is often used as a food additive (6). Tinctures (also referred to as droppers) are sublingual, needing to be placed under the tongue and held for a certain amount of time, which varies by manufacturer, before it is swallowed.
Referred to as vapes or vape juice, CBD oil is heated, then inhaled using an e-cigarette or vaporizer pen.
For those who hate the taste of natural hemp oil, edibles are any product that can be eaten. Think CBD gummies, cookies, brownies and infused honey.
Not to be ingested, these are for external use only and typically used in localized areas on the body. Topicals include moisturizers, lotions and beauty products (7).
Seriously, there is no shortage of options. CBD oil, once only for humans, now has a wide range of CBD products for pets that have exploded in popularity.
CBD Oil: Buyer’s Checklist
An informed customer is much happier than one who simply trusts what a company claims. Don’t be fooled by companies who want your money but don’t want to take the time to make a good product that benefits you.
You’re an adult and you can do what you want, but it is highly suggested that you look for these features (in addition to extraction methods) before hitting the confirmation button.
Third Party Lab Testing
CBD companies often submit their products to labs to ensure the safety of the product, and to also confirm that it has met quality standards. These labs are not affiliated with the company or have any overlapping personnel who may interfere with non-biased testing.
If nothing is mentioned about third-party testing, close the tab and keep it moving.
This is the fine print that backs up a company’s third-party testing claims. Lab results will tell you the levels of CBD, THC, solvents and ingredients inside each batch. While it’s true you may not understand every single piece of information of the report, this comes down to trust.
Companies that have nothing to hide do not hide. Those without lab results posted or that make a fuss about handing them over seem sketchy. In an industry that is not strictly regulated, transparency is a must (8).
- Oil Concentration: Select the right product for you based on the strength you need. In general, CBD tinctures and vapors are more concentrated than other products, while sprays and topical lotions and balms have lower concentrations.
Keep in mind that a higher concentration does not mean higher quality, only stronger effects.
- Bodyweight: This is important, especially for those just starting out. Your weight will determine how much oil you should take and will also affect the way you experience the dosages.
Start with a lower dosage and give your body time to adjust first before increasing it.
Natural, safe and non-habit forming, CBD oil has too many benefits to be misunderstood.
CBD has been holding its own when compared to traditional, Western medicine for decades, effectively providing relief to adults, children, the elderly and even 4-legged household members.
If you’ve been considering trying it, there are more products than ever to choose from and the industry’s transparency is only improving.
CBD oil absolutely deserves your attention.