Along with its better-known counterpart, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that produces the marijuana high), CBD is one of more than 400 compounds found in the oils of cannabis plant species, which include marijuana and hemp. Unlike THC, CBD will not make you high. That said, this doesn’t mean CBD is not at all psychoactive, as many assert, says Jahan Marcu, Ph.D., director of experimental pharmacology and behavior at the International Research Center on Cannabis and Mental Health in New York City: “CBD does change cognition. It affects mood, which is why people take it for anxiety. And some find that it makes them more alert.”
Since it is non-toxic and non-flammable, supercritical CO2 is preferable over chemical solvents like butane, hexane, and acetone, which can linger in the extracted oil if not purged correctly, rendering the oil toxic. It has also been noted that botanical essential oils extracted using supercritical CO2 are truer to the scent of the original plants than in other forms of extraction, meaning more of the plant’s chemical structure is retained in the oil with the use of CO2.
Dr. Devinsky’s research, which was recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine, is beginning to provide that much-needed data in the field of epilepsy research. In a landmark multinational randomized double-blind study for a treatment-resistant form of the condition, subjects taking an oral solution of 20 mg CBD per kilogram of body weight for 14 weeks, along with standard treatment, experienced a 42 percent reduction in drop seizures (the muscles go limp). Those taking a 10 mg CBD per kilogram of body weight saw a 37 percent decrease; patients who got a placebo saw a 17.2 percent decrease. The mechanism hasn’t quite been worked out yet, Dr. Devinsky says, though there’s some evidence that a receptor known as GPR55 may be critical for the anti-seizure effect.

In response to the FDA’s historic decision, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced in September 2018 that it had removed Epidiolex from Schedule I classification, a category reserved for dangerous drugs with no medical value. Henceforth, Epidiolex would be considered a Schedule V drug, the least dangerous designation under the Controlled Substances Act.

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It is important that you understand the basics of CBD, too. CBD is just one type of cannabinoid that is found in cannabis. Cannabis contains numerous cannabinoids, and CBD is just one of them. CBD is made from the stalks, leaves, and roots of the cannabis plant, unlike other strains that are all made in different ways. It also does not have any THC oil, which many of cannabis strains do. THC oil can induce sleepiness and a high just like it does in marijuana and weed. THC is also another strain belonging to the cannabis family again much like marijuana, weed, and hemp. Hemp has similar properties as CBD and it is also very much legal around the USA.
After an accident at his workplace that saw Rick Simpson suffer from dizzy spells and tinnitus, Simpson saw a documentary highlighting the positive benefits of using cannabis. He approached his doctor about using cannabis as a treatment, however, his doctor refused. Undeterred, Simpson sourced it for himself. After a short time, he started seeing an improvement in his symptoms and continued to use cannabis as a treatment.
Another concern is about medications with which CBD might interact. This won’t be an issue with most drugs, says Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., a palliative medicine physician and scientist who studies cannabis and integrates it into his Seattle medical practice. The exceptions are blood thinners, IV antibiotics, and other drugs whose exact dosing is crucial and must be monitored closely, he says. (Of course, if you have a health problem, talk to your doctor before using CBD, and never take it instead of seeing your physician for a serious condition.)
There has been a fair amount of confusion surrounding the legality of CBD oil. But while the vast majority of cannabinoids are controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act, rest assured that CBD oil is legal across the UK for medicinal purposes, provided it has been derived from an industrial hemp strain that is EU-approved. These strains contain very little to no THC (the psychoactive cannabinoid).
Extracts of CBD—either from marijuana or hemp (a cannabis variant that is essentially free of THC)—are sold as an oil or in tinctures. You can also get CBD via a transdermal patch, capsule, sublingual spray, gel, cream, or vapor. Some contain pure CBD extract (or so they say); others—particularly if you’re in a state where recreational marijuana is not legal—will contain hemp extract, which includes CBD as part of its makeup. As of this reporting, recreational marijuana is legal in nine U.S. states and medical marijuana in 29. Don’t miss these 50 weird things that are banned in the United States.
Answering the question “what is CBD oil” would be incomplete without mentioning the many CBD oil benefits. In addition to positively affecting the endocannabinoid system, CBD has been the focus of more than 23,000 published studies about cannabinoids in relation to various medical indications including anxiety, epilepsy, inflammation, cancer and chronic pain to name few. You can even find CBD for pets that is specially formulated to safely allow your pets to experience the natural benefits of CBD. For a more comprehensive look at these and other studies, visit our medical research and education page. Stay up-to-date on the latest developments in CBD and cannabis in our medical marijuana news section.
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