Megan Solga January 21, 2019
As much as CBD oil has hit the mainstream, there remains a lingering stigma surrounding its use and lingering confusion about what it really is. Here, our primer on all things CBD — at least the questions you want to be answered but haven’t known who to ask.
CBD stands for cannabidiol — one of about 100 known cannabinoids found within the cannabis family of plants including cannabis Sativa and indica–and has proven benefits for numerous health issues and symptoms when used as a standalone treatment or with its equally valuable counterpart, THC or tetrahydrocannabinol.
CBD is a relatively new addition to the alternative health market and interest in CBD is growing rapidly, both within the scientific community and mainstream population. Still, most people know relatively little about it. Since cannabis is now legalized in 33 states for medical purposes, and for recreational purposes in 10 states, medical studies are being carried out more frequently, and the results show positive implications for many diseases and conditions. In addition, the fairly recent discovery in the 90s of the human body’s endocannabinoid system may account for growing interest in cannabis as a health remedy.
Nascent research suggests that CBD can help treat a host of medical conditions and diseases, from depression and PTSD to epilepsy and eczema. Some of the benefits that CBD can provide the body and brain include:
CBD has a lot of promise for other health care areas as well and, because of its neuroprotective properties, is being studied as a potential treatment for cancer, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and a slew of other neurodegenerative disorders.
In addition to these advantages, CBD can help boost the benefits of THC — some of which are exactly the opposite of those found in CBD — while also reducing its psychoactive effects, meaning these two cannabinoids working together can treat a broader range of health issues with little to no adverse effects. While further research is needed for us to understand the full potential of CBD, the evidence that currently exists suggests a promising future.
Many studies have examined the safety and efficacy of CBD and so far those studies have shown that CBD doesn’t cause any major side effects — especially when compared to the serious side effects of pharmaceuticals, like opioids — and this is true regardless of how the CBD is administered, be it orally, topically, or by vaping, though you should always aim for proper dosage. One notable aspect is how THC, which can be found in trace amounts of “pure CBD” oil–can affect our body’s interaction with hormones, such as altering the function of hormonal birth control, so further study is necessary to give us conclusive evidence on this issue. While it’s always better to be careful when trying new CBD treatments, science confirms that CBD is non-toxic, non-fatal, and can be tolerated in high doses.
The short answer is no. Even though they come from the same cannabis plant, CBD and THC are very different molecules. They share some traits like anti-inflammatory or analgesic properties but, again, these can differ between them. For certain conditions, patients may find THC or CBD alone can treat their issues: for example, CBD has shown to calm anxiety whereas THC increases it, or in cases of insomnia, THC can induce sleep while CBD increases alertness.
When it comes to side effects, the main difference between these two cannabinoids is that CBD has few minor side effects like tiredness or changes in appetite, whereas THC is psychoactive and can impair memory and motor skills.
The endocannabinoid system is a relatively recent discovery in the human body with receptors that are found in the majority of our cells, tissues, and organs, and these can interact with cannabinoids like CBD and THC to help regulate our biological systems and promote health. In other words, CBD and THC stimulate this system which then sends signals to our brain to reduce pain, stabilize mood, or calm stress, among other effects. These results are encouraging further research of the endocannabinoid system and what other benefits it may hold to improve our health and help treat various conditions because, according to the Journal of Young Investigators, “it could change the way we approach medicine”.
Like a rose is a variation of flower, a cannabis strain is a specific variation of the cannabis plant depending on its profile and origin. Different strains of cannabis are intended for different purposes. Strains help us identify how much of certain compounds, like THC or CBD, a certain variety has, yet recent research says that strains are no longer a reliable indicator of benefits or effects. Instead of relying on a strain’s name, like “Purple Kush” for example, we need to examine what’s actually contained in the molecules themselves.
CBD oil is a concentrate made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant and processing it into a purified form, which is then infused into oils, creams, tinctures, or edible products like honey or chocolate. Since it’s the non-psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, CBD has a broad spectrum of uses from minor ailments like headaches to severe symptoms of conditions like PTSD.
Anecdotes about people cooking with CBD oil are on the rise, which raises questions about whether or not this can offer health benefits. At this point, there isn’t any scientific evidence specifically about cooking with THC, but studies on taking CBD oil orally may provide insight into its benefits.
A 2017 study found that varying CBD doses were effective when taken orally, yet the report warned about negative interactions with other drugs or enzymes in the body when CBD is digested.. If you choose to try cooking with CBD oil, find a pure product without any agents that might become harmful when heated, and get your CBD oil from trusted sources who have their product independently tested in a laboratory for purity.
Acquiring CBD oil might seem like an easy task considering how widespread CBD products have become, but this is still a tricky topic because CBD still isn’t legal in all US states despite what many CBD advocates or retailers claim. For those with access to medicinal or recreational cannabis, CBD oil can often be found in health food shops or at your local dispensary, where you should consider consulting employees about purity and ingredients of CBD oil treatments you’re interested in trying. In addition, ask yourself these important questions when choosing CBD oil:
If you don’t live in a state where CBD oil is legal, we don’t recommend sourcing CBD oil illegally since these products may be impure, have unknown amounts of CBD (or even THC), or contain other ingredients that could be harmful if consumed, like oil-thinning agents that can turn into formaldehyde when vaped.
Considering that CBD oil manufacturers are required to have a special registration to make their products, making your own CBD oil at home is not recommended. Because some of the extraction methods for CBD oil involve solvents or other potentially harmful chemicals, the process itself could be risky or your finished product could contain contaminants — ultimately, you won’t know for sure if it’s pure or how much CBD is actually in it. After talking to your doctor about CBD oil treatment, we recommend finding a trustworthy source of pure CBD oil treatments with knowledgeable health care staff who can answer your questions.
The content on cannabisMD is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.