Jump on any wellness-related website and you will find glowing accolades for CBD Oil. Along with the accolades, you will find references to various studies that attempt to prove the point and further entice you to make a purchase. The issue, at least for me, is that there is a lot of technical mumbo jumbo in these articles and that many of the studies cited are not what I would call scientific let alone peer-reviewed.
A study with 24 test subjects and no control group is not a study. Neither is a study where the test group consisted of a group of 50 rats. A study of how a handful of subjects deal with anxiety while using social media is simply not relevant.
I wish I could say these are extreme examples but they are not. They are everywhere.
So what is the big deal about CBD Oil? Is it the real deal when it comes to dealing with anxiety, depression, insomnia, aches, pains, and cancer? (The emphasis is mine.) Or is it 21st-century snake oil?
In this article, I hope to summarize, in plain English, what I have learned, so far, about CBD oil.
It is important to note a few things from the onset.
First of all, I am not a healthcare professional although I have received input from my own physicians regarding CBD oil. Second, although I have immersed myself in learning about CBD, I am not an expert and will continue to research CBD and update this article as I feel necessary. Finally, I will do my best to speak in layman’s terms, without the using highly scientific and technical terms that for me, at least, make the discussion of CBD oil confusing.
CBD Oil Explained: How Does it Work?
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is a non-intoxicating natural medicine that is derived from the hemp plant, cannabis sativa. It is extracted from the plant’s flowers and leaves and not from the seeds. This is an extremely important point in that “hemp oil” per se, is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant and contains no CBD whatsoever. I will go into this a bit later, but it is an important distinction to make from the get-go.
CBD is just one of numerous pharmacologically active compounds called cannabinoids that can be extracted from cannabis and used for therapeutic value. These cannabinoids bind to special receptors in the body that are known as the endocannabinoid system or the ECS. This system regulates mood balance, fear perception, fight-or-flight response, memory, emotional outlook, sleep/wake cycles, pain sensation, motor control, immune system function, and body temperature.
A question that many consumers ask is whether CBD oil contains THC. For those of you that don’t know, THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol which is the psychoactive component associated with the “high” produced by marijuana. Full spectrum CBD oil can legally contain 0.3% or less THC. This amount is so minute that it will not make you high and you will not get stoned.
Let me repeat: CBD is non-intoxicating and cannot cause psychoactive effects when purchased from a reliable source that publishes third-party testing results and shares them with the consumer.
On the other hand, this minute amount of THC can show up in drug tests so if you work for an employer who may perform a drug test (for example, after an industrial accident), you need to be mindful that even this minute amount of THC will show up in testing. There is an alternative, however. CBD oil isolates are available that contain no THC whatsoever.
Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum vs Isolate
CBD oil comes in many forms and you will hear terms such as Full Spectrum, Isolate, Broad Spectrum and more. Depending on your personal situation, one may be better for you than another and it would be inappropriate to rank them in order of preference.
Before I describe each, let me explain the various extraction processes used to make CBD oil.
To extract CBD-rich cannabis oil, one must start with high-quality, CBD-rich plant material. From what I have learned so far, organic, farm grown, and non-GMO hemp grown in Colorado and California are likely to produce the best CBD oil available at this time. I am not clear why.
Extraction of the CBD component of the hemp plant is done by distillation or with a solvent. There are good methods and poor methods for each. Focusing on the good, the two extraction methods to look for are CO2 extraction (distillation) and ethanol (solvent).
CO2 extraction uses carbon dioxide under high pressure and extremely low temperatures to isolate, preserve, and maintain the purity of the resultant CBD oil. This process requires expensive equipment and a steep operational learning curve. Similar to the distillation of essential oils, It is not a DIY process that you can do yourself at home.
Ethanol extraction is done using high-grade grain alcohol. While safe, this extraction method destroys the plant waxes, some of which may have health benefits that are favored by some product-makers.
Full Spectrum CBD Oil
Full-spectrum CBD oil includes the full cannabinoid profile of the hemp plant, as well as other compounds that are present, including other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. Terpenes, as a special note, are a part of the hemp plant that has also been linked to a number of health benefits, particularly when combined with cannabinoids like CBD. Terpenes are included in full spectrum CBD oil.
Because full spectrum CBD oil includes other natural compounds found in the hemp plant, it results in an what is called the “entourage” effect. This entourage effect with CBD oil is similar to the synergies I often write about relative to essential oils whereby the combination of two or more EOs may add up to more than double the results.
As far as I can tell, full spectrum CBD oil will always include a small amount of THC.
Broad Spectrum CBD Oil
Broad spectrum CBD oil has had all THC removed. Then, once that is done, has had useful cannabinoids added back in. This means that the user will still get the entourage effect.
CBD Isolates are usually extracted from the hemp plant leaves and flowers using food-grade ethanol rather than CO2 extraction. At least that is what my own research indicates. Isolates may come in crystalline form (used as a food additive) or may be dissolved in an oil.
The important thing to know is that isolates include pure CBD and nothing else, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your needs. One of those needs may be “good taste” since I have heard that the taste of full spectrum CBD oil can be particularly gross, for lack of a better term.
Isolates go by different names such as Zero High, Zero-THC, THC-Free or simply CBD “Isolate”. Some vendors only produce and sell isolates which is something you need to keep in mind to ensure you are getting your preferred product.
Which is Better?
At one time, it was thought that a CBD oil isolate was more potent then full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD but that theory is changing, mostly as a result of current research being done at Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology. Researchers are finding that the aforementioned entourage effect (the functioning of CBD along with other cannabis plant compounds) delivers better results than when CBD is used by itself.
Most likely, the source of the cannabis and the reputation of the processor as well as the vendor are as important as the type, be it a full-spectrum, broad spectrum, or isolate.
What is it Used For?
This is the part that got me started on this journey.
My husband has chronic back pain that transcends the healing properties of essential oils. Although topicals such as my Aches and Pains Salve with wintergreen essential oil help mitigate arthritis pain, back pain is a whole different animal. Eighteen months ago he underwent some time-consuming and expensive procedures with a pain specialist, knowing at the time, the results would be temporary. Before starting up all over again, I asked if he would be willing to try CBD oil. His answer was yes.
Here are the most common ailments that CBD oil is said to resolve:
Moodiness (or what I call the “moody blues”)
Side effects of chemotherapy
If you do an internet search (or visit some CBD vendor sites online), you will find many other uses. I do not prescribe to the school that CBD will cure a major disease because there is simply not enough research and peer-reviewed studies are sparse. On the other hand, I do believe that CBD oil may prevent certain diseases from spreading. At the very least, CBD may go a long way in mitigating the symptoms that make life miserable.
Hemp Oil versus CBD Oil: They Are Not the Same Thing!
Let me repeat what I stated earlier: CBD oil is extracted from the flowers and leaves from the hemp plant. Hemp seed oil, on the other hand, is pressed from hemp seed and contains no CBD, no THC, and no plant cannabinoids to speak of. It is often confused with CBD oil and is sometimes priced similarly. When consumers purchase this product and do not get results, they discount the efficacy of CBD oil and lump it into the bucket we call snake oil.
That is not to say that hemp oil is a bad product when used in a non-therapeutic manner and or a food supplement, but pain relief? Not so much.
As an aside, I purchased hemp oil a few years back because it was being pitched as being a superior carrier oil for essential oils. I found the odor disgusting and the viscosity sticky and gross. I did try some in my Miracle Healing Salve and ended up tossing the batch.
Why You Will Not Find Genuine CBD Oil on Amazon
This brings up another topic: why will you not find CBD oil on Amazon?
This is only a guess but I believe it is because the US FDA views CBD as a pharmaceutical drug. There is already at least one CBD “drug” classified as a pharmaceutical (Epidiolex) for treating two forms of pediatric epilepsy. As a result, our big-pharma controlled FDA maintains that it is illegal to sell hemp-derived CBD as a dietary supplement let alone a natural remedy.
The crazy thing is that the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp (defined as cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC) in the United States and removed various derivatives of hemp, including CBD, from the purview of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Controlled Substances Act.
Are you as confused as I am on this point?
Is CBD Oil Legal in all 50 US States?
Yes and no. Let me explain.
If CBD oil is derived from hemp, and not marijuana, it is legal provided the following:
- The hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC
- The hemp must adhere to the shared state-federal regulations
- The hemp must be grown by a properly licensed grower
Some states have legalized marijuana-derived CBD oil for medicinal and/or recreational use. That said, marijuana-derived CBD oil is beyond the purview of this article.
Notwithstanding the legality of hemp-derived CBD oil, as recently as last week some payment processors (certain Visa purveyors, as an example) have pulled the plug on using a Visa card to pay for CBD oil purchases. I have not researched the reason beyond learning that some vendors are less than honest with their labeling and that the sale of CBD oil is considered to be a high-risk transaction.
So now you may ask: is CBD oil regulated? To the best of my knowledge, the answer is currently no although that may change in the future.
Factoid from the “why I am not surprised” department: The United States government holds a patent on non-psychoactive cannabinoids, including CBD, as a treatment for specific illnesses. Patent 6,630,507, titled “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants,” was issued on Oct. 7, 2003.
That bears the question as to why there is some holdout on legitimizing CBD oil as a bona fide medicine. If you are interested in pursuing this line of thought, start by reading this article, What is Patent 6,630,507? Why The Feds Hold a Patent On CBD Treatments, and expand your research from there.
What My Doctors Told Me
Now that you have a basic understanding of CBD oil, let me get into some specifics of how it is used.
The first step to using CBD oil should be a discussion with your doctor. Heck, in certain instances I recommend this for essential oils as well.
In my case, I checked with our primary care provider (“no issues and knows first hand that it has helped some of her patients”), my husband’s cardiologist (“no concerns whatsoever”) and my ophthalmologist who went into a great amount of detail in explaining that being plant-based, CBD oil was far less toxic then even the most common OTC remedies such as ibuprofen, NSAIDs, and Tylenol. He also said that there may be a bit of a placebo effect which is altogether not such a bad thing.
Once I had these reassurances, I pursued my CBD oil education in earnest.
How to Use it: Less is More
Almost everyone I know that is using CBD oil is using it sublingually, under their tongue. They place the oil/tincture under the tongue and hold it there for about a minute then swallow what remains with plenty of water or another liquid. CBD used in this manner is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, then distributes itself evenly throughout the body.
There are other ways to use CBD oil including in gel caps and gummies, as a food additive, in energy drinks and vaping, and of course, topically for spot relief.
When it comes to the proper dosage, things get dicey. Almost every source indicates less is more and yet the dosage listed on the CBD oil label seems huge.
Rules of thumb seem hard to come by since CBD oil is sold in various strengths and the dosage is dependent on whether you get, for example, a bottle with 500mg total CBD, 1000MG CBD, or something else. Other factors include age, body weight, health issue, and the form of the CBD product (tincture, capsule gummy, etc.). This is the one aspect of CBD oil that is confusing to me, so much so, it makes my head hurt just thinking about it.
Still, with what I have read so far, it appears that a good starting dose for pain is 10mg once or twice a day. That would be half a dropper full, or 8 drops, of 500 mg CBD concentration. Applying the generally accepted philosophy of less is more, starting with 2 to 4 drops twice a day seems reasonable, gradually adding additional drops until (and if) the desired results are achieved.
To help with dosing, a reputable supplier will provide you with information about the CBD concentration per drop, per milliliter (ml), and per bottle.
Now that I have said all of that, many of my friends are already using CBD for anxiety or sleep disorders and they use a single drop of low concentration CBD nightly before going to bed. So, as with essential oils, your mileage may vary.
Why I Am Doing My Own Research and Case Study
If you have made it this far, you will realize that there are a lot of unknowns with CBD oil. Even though it has been around in one form or another since ancient times, there are very few peer-reviewed studies. Most results are anecdotal which is why I want to test things out myself. Having an in-house Guinea pig with back pain issues will allow me to learn about CBD oil in a real-life situation. In addition, I plan to use a small amount myself, just to gauge how I feel after the fact and also how it tastes, a real concern for me.
I plan to make my own salve using CBD oil and will do a direct, if not so scientific, comparison to my own DIY wintergreen salve for joint pain. I have a number of close friends who have indicated a willingness to test the salve for me as well. This will be an important comparison because the cost of a CBD salve, even DIY, will be far more than an essential oil salve.
Resources for Additional Information
To say I have been totally immersed in learning about CBD oil is an understatement. I have found some excellent resources and a lot of crap (pardon the language) during this quest. I have found commercial websites that are factual with a ton of information and others that seem only interested in a grab for your money.
If you want to pursue some additional information, here are a few of the better resources I have found:
Project CBD: This site is a wealth of information and all of it appears credible. Be sure to check out their 10 tips for buying CBD: https://www.projectcbd.org/how-to/10-tips-for-buying-cbd
NY Times “Can CBD Oil Do All That?”: This subtitle is “How one molecule from the cannabis plant came to be seen as a therapeutic cure-all”. Published on May 14th, I learned a lot of this article.
CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis–Healing without the High: If you only get one book on CBD, consider this one. Most of the low-cost or free eBooks on Amazon are useless. This book, by Leonard Leinow, Juliana Birnbaum, and Michael H. Moskowitz is not cheap and not free. I am still working my way through it and recommend that you make this book a part of your self-care library.
The Ultimate Guide to CBD Oil: This guide was written by Joy Naturals, one of the companies that I am ordering from. Especially interesting is the history of CBD oil in both ancient and modern times.
Frequently Asked Questions about CBD Oil: This is top level FAQ answers questions such as “Will I get high if I take CBD?” Answer: No, CBD is non-intoxicating and cannot cause psychoactive effects) and “What are the Side Effects of CBD”. This FAQ is on the OrganicaNaturals site, another company that I am ordering products from.
Disclosure: I have become an affiliate for both Joy Naturals and OrganicaNaturals. This means that eventually if I chose to promote products, these companies will pay me a small commission. I chose these companies after researching at least a dozen different sources for CBD oil and feel they compliment each other in their product offerings. Time will tell whether I made the right decision but so far, each has taken the time to answer my questions, no matter how basic. Neither company is an MLM.
Followup reading: What I Learned Using CBD Oil
Summing It All Up
CBD Oil is showing up everywhere and a lot of bloggers are writing about it even though they have no practical experience using it. Anyone can take the time to research a product and then write about it. It happens with essential oils all of the time and infuriates me. I know for a fact that many authors of essential oil articles have never used the oils themselves and are solely writing content for hire or in the pursuit of affiliate income.
I refuse to do that and so for that reason, am planning to use CBD oil on myself and my husband before going more in-depth into specific products. I also have a number of friends that are currently using CBD oil and are willing to share their experience.
At the end of the day, my goal is to cut through the hoo-ha and help you with information that will allow you to come to your own conclusions.
Yours for a Joyful Life,
P.S. Do you have some first-hand experience with CBD oil? And would you be willing to share it with me?
Because this is a no-pitch post, I am only going to recommend one thing: a book that you should read if you have any interest at all in CBD oil. That said, I am also going to include links to the two companies that I have purchased from. At this point, I am not making an endorsement or recommendation but simply sharing what I have done.
CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis–Healing without the High: If you only get one book on CBD, consider this one. Most of the low-cost or free eBooks on Amazon are useless. This book, by Leonard Leinow, Juliana Birnbaum, and Michael H. Moskowitz is not cheap and not free. I am still working my through it and recommend that you make this book a part of your self-care library. From the description on Amazon:
This practical, accessible guide to using CBD-dominant cannabis contains a wealth of information for both first-time explorers and experienced patients who want to know more about safely treating a number of health conditions with remarkable results and low to no psychoactivity or negative side effects. CBD (cannabidiol) is a component of cannabis that can provide relief for conditions such as seizures, pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, arthritis, and a number of other issues. This book offers guidance on various forms of the medicine such as oil infusions, alcohol-based tinctures, capsules, and CO2 concentrated extracts. The information is organized by health condition and also by recommended CBD-rich strains, which do not produce the “highs” associated with THC. With dosage suggestions, potential side effects and contraindications, and the pharmacology of the plant, this is an essential guide for both doctors and patients looking for a nontoxic alternative to opiate-based pain medications and other pharmaceuticals.a number of health conditions with remarkable results and low to no psychoactivity or negative side effects.
OrganicaNaturals: This company specializes in tinctures for both humans and pets, including a zero-THC option. Their cannabis plants are from Colorado and California, where they grow outdoors under natural sunlight using organic and sustainable farming practices. The plants are non-GMO and pesticide free. All products are third-party tested and shipping is always free. Note: They are offering a 20% discount through May 31st when using code “gayelevy” at checkout. The normal discount using my code is 15%.
Joy Naturals: All Joy Naturals products are broad spectrum and contain no THC. They offer flavored tinctures as well as gel capsules, salves, and skin care products. Their hemp is grown in multiple areas across the US with the final manufacture done in Colorado. They also have retail locations. Shipping is free. Note: They offer a 15% discount when using code “gayelevy15” at checkout.
Want to give CBD Oil a try? For a short time get a 20% discount using code "gayelevy" at checkout. After that, the discount will be 15%. Free shipping and a 60 day return policy.