Cannabidiol (CBD) – The Ultimate Guide
I can clearly remember the day that I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. It’s a disease that causes severe arthritis in my spine. I didn’t know what to do to ease the pain, aside from the heavy treatments and their awful side effects.
I'm not alone in my journey, my girlfriend suffers from Adenomyosis. She experiences painful menstrual cramps, along with hot flushes and loss of consciousness.
We were both looking for a solution to our suffering, which is when we found CBD.
At first, we had plenty of questions that needed answering. So, we researched for several weeks before deciding to try it.
Here is a summary of all I have found to save you this time.
What is CBD and How Does it Work?
Chances are, you’ve already heard of CBD. It has garnered a lot of attention in the media, and many people associate it with weed. But CBD is very different from THC, the primary chemical in marijuana.
CBD is an acronym for cannabidiol, a component that is derived from cannabis plants. It is non-psychoactive, which means it doesn’t cause changes in perception (it doesn't get you 'high'). Most strains of medical marijuana contain THC and CBD. There are more than 60 different cannabinoids present in Cannabis sativa plants.
What most people don't know, is that you can find these components not only in cannabis, but also in our bodies! The endocannabinoid system, also called ECS, is a relatively recent discovery.
Our bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids. These compounds are very similar to the cannabinoids found in marijuana. They act as signals and help to maintain a wide variety of biological functions. The immune system for example relies on endocannabinoids.
Therefore, cannabinoids are nothing new for our bodies. There are cannabinoid receptors located all over us, in our brains, skin, immune cells, and nerves. But these naturally produced compounds don't make us feel 'high'. The same is true of CBD.
Why does THC alter a person’s perception, but CBD doesn’t? Though these two cannabinoids may come from the same plant, they interact with humans in entirely different ways.
THC vs. CBD
THC is the primary ingredient of marijuana, and when inhaled or ingested, it binds with receptors in the brain, causing a feeling of highness.
CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive. It does not induce the same effects as THC and can even make it challenging for THC to bind to receptors. While it may not get you high, it has been proven to help alleviate physical pain.
Where Does CBD Come From?
As I briefly mentioned above, CBD is derived from cannabis. You may hear people say that CBD comes from hemp or marijuana, but these are both terms that refer to cannabis. So, what’s the difference between hemp and marijuana?
Allow me to explain.
Hemp Plants Vs. Marijuana Plants
There is only one crucial difference between hemp and marijuana plants. That difference is the percentage of THC (by dry weight) found in the plant. If the amount is no more than 0.3 percent, we classify cannabis as hemp. It does not contain enough THC to produce a psychotropic effect. But, if the percentage of THC is more than 0.3 percent, we classify cannabis as marijuana.
Hemp plants have risen in popularity due to their varied industrial and commercial uses. Hemp can be used to manufacture:
- Construction Materials
- Foods and Beverages
Because hemp contains minimal THC, but plenty of CBD, it is often used in the manufacture of CBD products.
What is Hemp Oil?
Hemp oil is a general term that could refer to two drastically different products. Hemp seed oil is produced by cold-pressing the seeds of a hemp plant. The resulting oil is often sold as a nutritional supplement. Hemp seed oil does not contain any CBD or THC. It is created from the part of the plant that does not include these cannabinoids.
What is Hemp Extract?
CBD oil can go by many names, which is confusing for anyone trying to find more information. But let me clear a few things up. Nine times out of ten, CBD oil and hemp extract means the same thing.
CBD is produced through a process of extraction. Because CBD must be extracted from the cannabis plant, it is sometimes referred to as hemp extract. There are several types of procedures for CBD extraction.
Here are the two most popular methods:
Isolate - No THC
To create a pure CBD oil, you must isolate the CBD component and remove everything else. This isolation means no THC, no fatty acids, nothing but 100 percent pure CBD oil. For those who want absolutely nothing but CBD to enter their body, an isolated CBD oil is a must.
Full-Spectrum - Contains THC
Unlike isolate oils, full-spectrum oils may contain a wide range of components. Not only is CBD present, but so are other cannabinoids, terpenes, and fatty acids.
This combination may be more effective at treating ailments than isolate CBD oil. Biologist call this the entourage effect. More trials and tests are necessary to prove this claim.
On the other hand, this little amount of THC has the downside of showing up on drug tests. So if your job requires that you pass such tests, you would need to use isolate only.
The Health Benefits of CBD
While researching the benefits of CBD, I came across a lot of claims. Many of them seemed too good to be true. Some of them were. But others proved to be surprisingly authentic.
To help you differentiate between the proven benefits and the false claims, I’ve made a list:
Proven Benefits For Those With:
- Epilepsy. CBD oil has been shown to reduce the occurrence of seizures in those who have epilepsy. The FDA approved Epidiolex in 2018. It is the first CBD prescription drug created to treat epilepsy.
Possible Benefits For Those With:
Anxiety. Using CBD oil may help lessen symptoms of anxiety, but the current data about this benefit is insufficient.
- Alzheimer’s. There is no current proof that CBD oil or cannabis can help treat or prevent Alzheimer’s or dementia. However, cannabis could help manage behavioral aspects of dementia.
- Pain. CBD oil may lessen the perception of pain and act as an analgesic. More research needs to be done.
- Arthritis. There is a considerable amount of evidence that suggests that CBD could help prevent and lessen the pain of a particular type of arthritis. But more trials must be conducted.
- Insomnia. It is possible that CBD oil can help increase drowsiness, but more scientist need more data to confirm this.
- GVHD. The anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive qualities of CBD may help those suffering from Graft Versus Host Disease. More trials are necessary to help confirm or deny this.
- Addiction. The used of CBD oil may help lessen dependence on a range of addictive drugs, including nicotine and opioids.
- Parkinson’s disease. There is some developing evidence that CBD oil may be able to treat the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. But trials are ongoing.
- Multiple Sclerosis. CBD oil may help improve the mobility of those with MS.
- Schizophrenia. Physicians and psychiatrists are finding that CBD may be useful in treating schizophrenia. This is especially true if used in conjunction with other medications.
- Cancer. Results are mixed. Studies show that CBD may help alleviate nausea and some forms of pain associated with cancer treatments. However, patients with an at-risk immune systems need to be especially cautious.
No Proven Benefits For Those With:
- Bipolar disorder.
- Crohn’s disease.
- Huntington’s disease.
The United States Drug Enforcement Agency classifies cannabis, in any form, as a schedule I drug. This classification means that they view it to be dangerous and addictive. Because of its illegality, research involving cannabis has been a slow process.
As laws continue to change, and more scientists collect more data, we will continue to learn more about the many benefits and side effects of CBD oil. We're only starting to figure out what this cannabinoid is capable of!
Interactions and Side Effects of CBD
While CBD may have many potential benefits, it is not without drawbacks.
Information on drug interactions, interferences, and side effects are difficult to find. There is so much yet to learn. In the following cases, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Birth Control Interference
CBD may interfere with estrogen reception. Women using hormonal birth control treatments may find that their contraception is not working after a CBD treatment. Until further research is done on the matter, it is better to avoid CBD oil while using hormonal birth control.
Pregnant women, or women who may be nursing, should also avoid CBD products. This recommendation exists because there is not enough data to confirm that it is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Is CBD Safe for Pets?
There is not a lot of scientific evidence that describes the effects of CBD on pets such as cats or dogs. Anecdotal evidence is plentiful but potentially unreliable.
Owners have described using CBD oil on their pet dog or cat to treat pain, seizures, and vomiting. However, more research is needed to confirm this.
How To Use CBD
I’ve spoken a lot about CBD oil, but CBD is available in a wide range of products. Shampoos, moisturizers, pills, candies, and oils are standard carriers for CBD.
The form you choose depends on what method you feel most comfortable using, and the strength of the treatment you desire.
Different Forms of CBD
- Oils. Most CBD oils are administered in small amounts, drop by drop, beneath the tongue. Because the oil is a concentrated form of CBD, less is needed to create the desired effect.
- Edibles. If the taste or experience of putting oil under the tongue seems unpleasant, there are also CBD edibles. They often come in the form of candies or cookies. The amount of CBD in edibles varies from product to product.
- Moisturizers. CBD-infused lotions are often used topically to treat arthritis pain and sore muscles. Their effectiveness varies.
- Pills. CBD pills come in a few shapes and sizes, and they may be easier to use than other methods. However, there is a delay between ingestion and effect.
- Vape juice. When you use a vape with CBD oil, you are getting the fastest effects possible. But there is some concern over the rise in health issues related to vaping. You may want to have another option prepared.
With all these different methods and CBD percentages, it can be a challenge to figure out what dosage is right for you. There is no official recommended dose.
To find the correct dosage for yourself, it is best to start small and build your way up to higher doses. You may find the initial effects of low doses to be negligible or nonexistent. But it is safer than taking a large dose right off the bat. Also taking a high dosage may decrease your sensitivity, so you may end up needing more.
Is CBD Legal?
The legality of CBD differs from state to state and country to country. Federally, CPD oils and products are only illegal if they contain more than 0.3 percent THC. Think back to the hemp versus marijuana debate. It all comes down to the percentage of THC within the given product.
However, some states are more critical of CBP than others. Let’s discuss!
Places Where It Is Legal
There are currently seven states in which CBD products are entirely legal. They are:
More restrictive laws may come into effect within the future, but for now, these states consider CBD to be perfectly legal.
In Europeans countries that are a part of the EU, CBD products are legal if they contain less than 0.2 percent THC.
Many countries in South America, such as Argentina and Brazil, have fully legalized CBD oil. Though China has not legalized cannabis-related products, CBD oil is legal in Hong Kong.
Places Where It Is Conditionally Accepted
A far greater number of US states don't have a legal or illegal stance on CBD. The legality of the CBD you may have depends on the type of cannabis from which it was derived, your patient registration or status, and more.
In this way, the legality is conditional.
Every state not listed above has conditional rules about CBD usage, manufacture, and sales. Idaho has some stringent policies on this famous cannabinoid.
Laws are always changing, so be sure to check with your state government and medical practitioners to find out if CBD products are legal in your area.
Some countries around the world also offer conditional allowances for CBD usage. These countries include:
- New Zealand
Places Where It Is Not Legal
Most African nations do not have an official stance on the legality of CBD. Currently, the only countries that have a formal, illegal position on CBD are:
Traveling With CBD
Because drug laws differ from location to location, it is crucial to be familiar with the rules and regulations of your destination. Though CBD oil and related products may be perfectly legal in your home city, they may not be allowed at your destination.
If you are traveling with the US, you must be able to prove that your CBD item does not contain more than 0.3 percent THC. If you are going to a country within the EU, you must be able to prove that your CBD item does not contain more than 0.2 percent THC.
The best way to be prepared for traveling with CBD is to know the laws of your destination before setting out.
How To Buy CBD (Safely)
The two most significant threats to consumers looking to buy CBD are pesticides and THC. Unwanted chemicals can cause a lot of harm, and a high enough percentage of THC can make your CBD product illegal in most states.
Luckily, there are a few key things to look for when buying CBD. There are also a couple of red flags that can help you avoid inferior or dangerous products.
Things To Look For
- THC percentage. Most CBD products are legal in the US so long as they contain no more than 0.3 percent THC.
- Origin. If you are using a product that was derived from hemp, you need to know where that hemp came from. Hemp that arrived from international destinations is not federally regulated and could contain harmful additives.
- Certificate of Analysis. A product’s COA is a confirmation that it has been tested for THC percentage and contaminants.
- CBD percentage. You must be aware of the CBD percentage in your product. Too much or too little can make finding the right dosage difficult, and it could be dangerous.
Things To Watch Out For
- Vaping oils or juices that contain propylene glycol. This chemical is known to induce asthma and lead to cancer when inhaled in the form of formaldehyde.
- Grand claims. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. A quick look at nineteenth-century tonics and medicines proves it.
- Strange jargon or text. The US has many federal rules and regulations regarding CBD products. These laws exist to protect the public from harm. Purchasing CBD products from overseas is risky, as you cannot easily verify their ingredients. Strange words or expressions should be taken as clear warning signs.
You may also consider becoming a part of a testing group or medical program which allows for the use of CBD products. Doing so may ensure that you have access to the highest quality oil, lotions, pill, and edibles, while also protecting you legally.
CBD and its uses are still under thorough investigation. As more time passes, more information will become available about its direct interactions and usages. However, what we do know from experience and science is encouraging.
Because of its notorious relationship to cannabis, CBD research and production has been sluggish. But as a greater public interest in its uses and effects continues to increase, so does the funding to learn more about it.
My girlfriend and I have been fortunate enough to experience a wide range of positive effects through CBD. Pain is lessened, it is easier to fall asleep, and our general sense of anxiety seems to ebb away after treatment.
The results will vary. Even with the highest-rated pharmaceutical medications, results vary. Not every person has the same body, blood, or personality type. What works for us make not work as effectively for you.
But CBD has a massive amount of potential. It could be used to treat a wide range of conditions, from aggression to Parkinson's disease. But the bottom line is that more research must be done before we can begin to regulate its usage and confirm its effects.
That can be difficult to accomplish while the plant responsible for CBD is considered a highly illegal drug. It is also made more complicated by the fact that federal and state laws continue to clash and counteract each other. However, times are changing.
There is already an FDA approved CBD medication available to those who suffer from seizures. Many more types of CBD medications are sure to follow.
If you are currently suffering from a condition, and you're thinking about giving CBD a try, that's great!
But before trying it, you must ensure that it comes from a reputable source, that you're aware of the dosage, and that it's legal in your area.
I hope this guide will help you make an educated decision, and begin your journey to pain relief!