Most human studies of CBD have been done on people who have seizures, and the FDA recently approved the first CBD-based drug, Epidiolex, for rare forms of epilepsy. Clinical trials for other conditions are promising, but tiny. In one Brazilian study published in 2011 of people with generalized social anxiety disorder, for example, taking a 600-mg dose of CBD (higher than a typical dose from a tincture) lessened discomfort more than a placebo, but only a dozen people were given the pill.
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.
Lisa Hamilton, a jeweler and doula in Brooklyn, NY, knows about the side effects. She recently tried CBD for the shoulder pain that plagued her five years after an accident. Her doctor certified that she was in chronic pain, which under New York State law allowed her to buy from a state dispensary. One Friday, she swallowed two 10-mg capsules, the amount recommended at the dispensary, then took another two on Saturday. “By Sunday, it felt like I’d gotten hit by a truck. Every muscle and joint ached,” Hamilton says. She cut back to one pill a day the following week, but still felt hungover. She stopped after that.
There are more than 80 cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, with THC being the primary one, followed by CBD. However, in the hemp plant, which is a different strain of the species Cannabis sativa, CBD is the main active ingredient, and THC is barely present, making its use and legality more widespread. The reason that CBD is such an effective form of support for human health is due to the body’s endogenous cannabinoid system. This regulatory structure of the body has millions of cannabinoid receptors in the brain and nervous system, which react not only to plant-derived cannabinoids (such as hemp and marijuana) but also to natural cannabinoids produced within our body. When hemp oil is used and processed by the body, it is effectively boosting the function of the endocannabinoid system, helping our body regulate itself in many different ways.
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.
Unfortunately, you don’t. Even though more than half of all U.S. states now allow marijuana for medicinal purposes—and nine of those, plus Washington DC, allow it for recreational use—the Drug Enforcement Agency still views CBD as a banned substance and therefore doesn’t regulate it (since, in the eyes of the law, CBD shouldn’t be on the market). “I can start a company, put oil in a jar and sell it as CBD oil,” says McLaughlin—and no one has to vouch that what’s in there is for real. You have only the manufacturers word for it.
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.