This post is for educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice from a personal physician. Readers are recommended to speak with their private health practitioners regarding specific health questions. The publisher of the following content cannot be held responsible for the possible health consequences of individuals who choose to implement information discussed in the following educational article. All readers of this content should consult their health provider before implementing any diet, supplement, or lifestyle changes.
Post updated August 2020
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a sizzling hot topic. Appears everyone can find some way to harness its benefits for mental and physical health, and for relaxation.
Science of cannabis has only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this astonishingly potent plant; the more research is conducted on CBD, the more impressive it becomes. Since CBD is everywhere, let’s go ahead and take a look.
Update 2020: We use and recommend 43 CBD – A Local Colorado Company and are an affiliate for the company. The two products I use most commonly are the salve for aches and pains and the CBD for Pets for our Corgi who has a little anxiety.
What is CBD Oil
The Cannabis Sativa Plant and cannabis Indica plants have been used throughout history. CBD oil comes from both plants. (CBD stands for cannabidiol.)
The active ingredient is cannabidiol. The properties of cbd are quite complex. “Cannabis contains over 120 biologically active chemical compounds, including the two best-known compounds, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).”
“CBD comes from hemp and marijuana and are, taxonomically speaking, the same plant; they are different names for the same genus (Cannabis) and species.” (1) They look and smell the same, but marijuana contains 5-20% THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol – the psychoactive component) whereas the hemp plants contain less than 0.3% of THC.
This is why the majority of CBD products use CBD from hemp, not marijuana. Marijuana has a higher concentration of THC, making it a poor choice for producing CBD products, since using marijuana plants would entail removing some of the THC to make CBD within the legal limits of less than 0.3%.
Because marijuana contains high amounts of THC and lower amounts of CBD, whereas hemp contains more CBD and minimal THC, a person will not get “high” from the hemp plant or CBD oil. The receptors in the human body that are affected by THC are different from the ones affected by CBD.
Hemp oil comes from the plants seeds while CBD oil comes from the leaves, stalk, and flowers. Both hemp and CBD provide health benefits but have different uses.
Is CBD legal?
I felt like Alice in Wonderland going through the rabbit hole as I researched this section. Reading dockets from government hearings, articles by newspapers with strong opinions, companies who want to sell CBD. One can definitely get lost in a sea of information. If you’re not interested in whether or not CBD is legal, please skip down to the next section: How Does CBD work.
CBD with zero THC is legal in every state in the United States. Although there is still some confusion over what is legal and what is not. Remember, THC is the compound that is typically associated with the recreational use of marijuana and hemp is legal, but if it contains more than 0.3% THC, it is “technically” a marijuana plant and becomes illegal. Confused?
June 19, 2019, The FDA published: What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD. So that is an excellent place to start if for those who are concerned about sticking to the letter of the law. (1)
The most recent Farm Bill by the USDA basically outlines and ensures that any cannabinoid that is derived from hemp is deemed legal when produced by a licensed grower according to the regulations.
Is it legal to sell food and drink containing CBD?
“CBD products have surged in popularity despite confusion around their legal status. Now U.S. regulators are exploring ways to officially allow the hemp ingredient in food, drinks, and dietary supplements…For now, the FDA has said CBD is not allowed in food, drinks, and supplements but that it was exploring ways that might allow its use. Adding to the confusion, some states like Colorado allow it in food and drinks. In New York City, where officials have warned it’s not allowed in food and drinks, restaurants and stores have continued selling products.”
“In order to inform the regulatory path forward, FDA held a public hearing on May 31, 2019, for stakeholders to share their experiences and challenges with products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, including information and views related to the safety of such products, as well as to solicit input relevant to the agency’s regulatory strategy related to existing products. As part of that hearing, the FDA opened a docket for the public to submit comments through July 16, 2019.” 1
At the May 31, 2019 hearing, the “FDA quickly made it clear to companies that while hemp was legal, CBD extract remained under government regulation.” (5) “Although the law says that the FDA can issue regulations to create new exceptions to these statutory provisions, the FDA has never issued a regulation like that for any substance.” 2a
The sale of cannabidiol-infused food and drink is still against the law, even as entrepreneurs flout those restrictions across the country. Some states have recently implemented a BAN on the addition of CBD to food products, much to the chagrin of retailers. That’s right: CBD-infused food and beverages are still illegal under U.S. law. So why are they everywhere?
Are all CBD products the same quality?
Not all CBD products are created equal—the quality, ingredients, CBD concentration, and integrity vary from company to company. The FDA will still crackdown on dishonest CBD brands. 3
“The major takeaway from this hearing is that everyone wants to see more data.” 3
But before we leave the subject of the legality of Hemp and CBD, let’s look at marijuana. As of this publication, eleven states have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. In June, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana, with the law taking effect on January 1, 2020.
Illinois follows California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, Alaska, Vermont, Michigan, and the District of Columbia in having legalized some form recreational marijuana. This article explains why one in three adults in America believe marijuana should be legalized.
How does CBD work?
“CBD interacts with the body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS). First studied in the late 1980s, the endocannabinoid system regulates the body’s homeostasis – or general state of balance – impacting functions such as mood, sleep, appetite, hormone regulation, and pain and immune response.” 4
It’s clear that the endocannabinoid system is one of the most essential regulatory systems in the human body, but most people do very little to support the health of this system. Cannabinoids are often neglected as a way to regulate the ECS system.
CBD works based on the endocannabinoid system, which exists in every human and is a necessary part of our neuro-immuno-endocrine network. Scientists discovered the human endocannabinoid system in the 80s.
This endocannabinoid system is a network of neurons and synapses throughout the human body and brain that emit and respond favorably to cannabinoids; the same as produced by the hemp plant.
While the human body can produce its own cannabinoids—endocannabinoids, a “phytocannabinoid” or plant-derived cannabinoid-like CBD or THC will also stimulate these same cannabinoid receptors in the body. The plant-derived cannabinoids have a similar but perhaps stronger effect, creating a fully functioning network of neurons. Which is why humans respond positively to CBD.
A powerful plant
CBD is thought to be an antioxidant with potent anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties. It stimulates the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is involved in a variety of physiological processes such as appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory. By stimulating the body’s ECS, CBD is believed to support the body’s natural healing mechanisms and helps to promote a stable equilibrium in the body, this will then reduce the sensation of pain and inhibiting inflammation.
Different companies may use plants that have been bred and grown differently, causing different CBD levels in the extracted compound. Then manufacturers add CBD to other compounds, namely oil, that can come in many different strengths. CBD can be used in a multitude of ways.
Scientific evidence emphasizes the neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory benefits of phytocannabinoids and their applications in various clinical syndromes.
What are the health benefits of using CBD oil?
Does CBD have a positive impact on various health conditions? Well, there are hundreds of well-designed studies praising the benefits of CBD. Here’s what the studies show:
CBD's effect on sleep patterns is still being determined. However, according to some studies, using pure cbd has a positive impact on a persons sense of well-being and allows them to fall asleep faster.
“Surprisingly, CBD can help you both fall asleep and stay awake. In smaller doses, CBD stimulates alertness and reduces daytime sleepiness, which is vital for your sleep-wake cycle. In large doses (upwards of 150 mg) CBD decreases sleep interruptions and increases total sleep time. So far, a range of doses from 10mg to upwards of 1300mg have been studied in scientific research for sleep problems, depression, stress, anxiety, and pain relief. As with everything, you need to experiment with a dosage range that works for you to get fantastic sleep.”
New research shows that cannabinoids may treat sleep apnea, and those with the most severe symptoms benefitted the most.
CBD can keep you alert as it is a cannabinoid is a wake-inducing compound that presumably activates neurons in L.H. and DRN.
Another study concluded that “The acute systemic administration of CBD appears to increase total sleep time, in addition to increasing sleep latency in the light period of the day of administration.”
Anxiety, Depression, Stress Disorders
PTSD – This case study provides clinical data that support the use of cannabidiol oil as a safe treatment for reducing anxiety and improving sleep in a young girl with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Pain relief: Animal Studies have shown that CBD can significantly reduce chronic inflammation and pain. CBD also binds ion channels known to mediate pain perception, swelling, and body temperature.
Inflammation – The anti-inflammatory properties and benefits of CBD oil are appreciated by those who experience neuropathic pain which is “caused by damage or injury to the nerves that transfer information between the brain and spinal cord from the skin, muscles and other parts of the body. The pain is usually described as a burning sensation and affected areas are often sensitive to the touch.” 11
“Clinical studies have confirmed that CBD reduces the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, inhibits T cell proliferation, induces T cell apoptosis and reduces migration and adhesion of immune cells” 10
Cancer – “Cannabinoids are a large and important class of complex compounds that have a promising therapeutic potential for the treatment of a variety of diseases, including cancer.” Studies show CBD is a potent inhibitor of cancer cell growth, while this potency was significantly lower in non-cancer cells. “Cannabinoids were able to effectively modulate tumor growth in different in vitro and in vivo cancer models, however, these anticancer effects appear to be dependent on the cancer type and drug dose.” 13
Anxiety: Anxiety can be caused by an overactive sympathetic nervous system. “Evidence points toward a calming effect for CBD in the central nervous system.”
Current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders. CBD interacts with several receptors in the brain known to regulate fear and anxiety-related behaviors. (5) Anecdotal testimonies and some scientific research already suggest that the effects of CBD can help overcome feelings of anxiety and restore emotional balance, as well as help alleviate chronic pain. Though more clinical trials need to be carried out, the signs are looking good.
Reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in those with Social Anxiety Disorder.
Depression – Multiple studies contribute to the possibility of CBD being an alternative solution to helping symptoms of depression. CBD exhibited anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects in animal models discussed in this study.
Heart disease – Under a doctor's direct supervision the use of cannabis plays a protective role against heart attack and appears to improve heart health. “CBD has a protective role in reducing the ischaemic damage in models of stroke, partly due to maintaining cerebral blood flow.” 12
Autism Spectrum Disorders – “Cannabis in ASD patients appears to be well tolerated, safe and effective option to relieve symptoms associated with ASD.”
Chronic pain sufferers are also said to benefit from the use of CBD. The Journal of Experimental Medicine suggests that CBD can reduce pain and inflammation without a tolerance build-up, which would cause patients to increase doses continually.
Seizures and epilepsy are also being treated with CBD oil. “In June 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved one form of CBD as a treatment for people with two rare and specific kinds of epilepsy, namely Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) or Dravet syndrome (D.S.).” 5
For many people with anxiety and high blood pressure, using CBD oil can help lower blood pressure over time. Data shows that giving a dose of CBD will reduce resting blood pressure as well as lowering stress-related high blood pressure. “A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study.” 8
Alzheimer's patients appear to react positively to CBD oil. More research is beginning to show that it can reduce or remove the negative effect of inflammation and brain cell decline. Inflammation can be a significant cause of the symptoms caused by Alzheimer's disease and CBD appears to reduce inflammation allowing the brain to do restorative work.
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that causes the immune system to eat away at the nervous system. In some studies, using cannabis extract “containing fixed concentrations of Δ9-THC and cannabidiol (CBD), results in symptomatic improvement in patients with MS. There is a reduction in motor dysfunction and pain, observed in a meta-analysis of several clinical studies.” 9
Skincare – conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne are often caused by excess sebum secretion. Using products containing pure CBD such as lotion or salve appears to be effective in treating skin conditions such as these.
Can you overdose on CBD
The Department of Health and Human Services states:
No signs of toxicity or serious side effects of CBD have been observed following chronic administration of cannabidiol to healthy volunteers, even in large acute doses of 700mg/day. 6
How do I know which products to trust?
While research and regulations are tightening up the industry, in the meantime, it’s essential for consumers to do their homework and to choose brands with integrity. This includes clear labeling, sourcing of high-quality ingredients, honesty in their claims, and following Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) including laboratory testing every step of the process.
What are the various types of products?
There is an incredible number of products on the market in regards to CBD currently. Because the goal is to improve our health, it would be best to stay away from CBD gummies, lollipops, and other junk food sources. Many of these products contain sugar, colorings, and other undesirable additives. Always start with the ingredient label.
The easiest way to get accurate dosing is with a tincture, which is what is often prescribed by naturopaths. The label on each product should clearly state the total milligrams of CBD per serving as well as in the entire package.
Confirm whether or not the product contains THC – some may have a small amount so if that is not what you are after, look for no THC on the label.
Tincture – A liquid containing the extract of the cannabis plant. A tincture is typically applied under the tongue with a dropper.
Concentrate – Concentrated compound of CBD.
Roll on – CBD in a topical formula that can be easily applied to the skin.
Spray – Liquid form of CBD that can be applied to the skin via mist spray.
Inhalant – Vape pens are a popular way of ingesting CBD oil. CBD is infused into vape juice or CBD distillate (because technically it doesn’t contain oil) which is then vaporized using a pen or e-cigarette. CBD cartridges or CBD pods are filled with CBD distillate and are used in the same way.
Vaporizing cannabis is not the same as burning it and is considered less harmful to health. As with all vapes, there can be additives that are dangerous and entirely unhealthy! Some of these contain propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, medium-chain triglycerides, or other thinning agents.
I found one Vape Cartridge with MCT oil, hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD), aromatherapy blend of ginger, black pine, cardamom, frankincense, and turmeric essential oils to address inflammation and pain. (Update: I noticed this product is no longer available, perhaps, like many companies they decided to discontinue selling vape because you must use propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine to make vape and it is not considered healthy.)
CBD cartridges contain varying milligrams of CBD, so each puff contains a percentage of the total amount. It is recommended to start low then work up to higher dosages, waiting six hours in between. The total milligrams per day used when vaping depends on the condition it is being used for.
Side effects of vaping CBD are most commonly reported to be drowsiness, with some experiencing hunger and red eyes. Most of the CBD formulated for vape pens comes from industrial hemp, which only contains trace amounts of THC, which is not considered enough to get you high. Though, if you are worried about possibly failing a drug test, look for products that say “THC free.”
Topical – Lotion, Lip balm, Salve – Look for products made with Essential oils, natural herbs, and CBD to soothe minor aches and bruises. Always look at the ingredient labels to avoid undesirable additions such as petroleum or food colorings, etc.
Patches – All natural, waterproof, and up to 96 hours of targeted pain relief can be beneficial for strained muscles or overworked areas.
Powder – Which can be added to various capsule combinations, foods, etc.
Where do you find CBD products?
When you go to purchase your first CBD product you’ll realize one thing right away, you need to know what makes a high-quality CBD product and the jargon and lingo before you can successfully choose among a sea of options, all with various claims.
If you are using CBD to treat a medical condition, we recommend finding a natural medicine practitioner who has experience with CBD oil, and it’s various uses. Otherwise, you’ll find it on every street corner market, gas station, and everywhere online. Whatever your health issues, consult your doctor and come up with a plan to tackle them together.
Look for a CBD company that includes a combination of modern science, research, and laboratory testing with ancient knowledge to develop safe and therapeutic products.
UPDATE: (2020) If you experience chronic pain, you might also consider asking your doctor to look into Low Dose Naltrexone. I have used it for two years to address chronic pain.
1 FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products …. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-questions-and-answers
2 FDA Public Hearing On Hemp: What You Need To Know …. https://cannabisindustryjournal.com/column/fda-public-hearing-on-hemp-what-you-need-to-know/
4 When’s the Best Time to Take CBD? – ECHO Connection. https://echoconnection.org/whens-best-time-take-cbd/
5 What You Need to Know About CBD Oil | The Dr. Oz Show. https://www.doctoroz.com/article/what-you-need-know-about-cbd-oil
6 Does The U.S. Government Own A Patent On … – Leaf Science. https://www.leafscience.com/2014/07/25/u-s-government-patent-marijuana/
7 CBD oil for pain management: Effects, benefits, and uses. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319475.php
11 What is Neuropathic Pain https://www.brainandspine.org.uk/information-and-support/living-with-a-neurological-problem/neuropathic-pain/