In addition to acting on the brain, CBD influences many body processes. That’s due to the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which was discovered in the 1990s, after scientists started investigating why pot produces a high. Although much less well-known than the cardiovascular, reproductive, and respiratory systems, the ECS is critical. “The ECS helps us eat, sleep, relax, forget what we don’t need to remember, and protect our bodies from harm,” Marcu says. There are more ECS receptors in the brain than there are for opioids or serotonin, plus others in the intestines, liver, pancreas, ovaries, bone cells, and elsewhere.
The appeal? Proponents claim CBD can help ease pain, anxiety, depression and stress, boost focus and productivity, improve the immune system, reduce inflammation and more. And – unlike its psychoactive cousin THC – CBD, they say, is harmless, legal and can't get you high. "The known is it's good for you, it helps a lot of people and a lot of things, and you can't hurt yourself," says Phil Asquith, a farmer and producer of extra-virgin olive oil in California, who founded one of the first companies in the CBD space. "The unknown is all the details."
If you live in a state where CBD is legal for your condition, it’s best to buy it from a state-regulated dispensary. But even there, oversight is uneven. “I feel safe being a cannabis consumer in Colorado, since the state tracks everything from seed to sale, but I didn’t the first few years after cannabis became legal,” when the rules were still taking shape, says Robyn Griggs Lawrence, the Boulder author of The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook, which features recipes for cannabis edibles.
Quality is a particular concern, because cannabis plants easily soak up heavy metals from pesticides and other contaminants, Marcu says. If you are buying online, look for a company that documents how it tests its products. (If the website doesn’t indicate this, call and ask.) “Buying from a reputable manufacturer is crucial, because it matters how the plant is cultivated and processed,” Dr. Maroon says. One clue that a company is cutting corners: too low a cost. Good CBD is pricey—a bottle of high-quality capsules is sold in Cohen’s office for $140. But for many, it’s worth the money. Roth spent $60 on her tiny bottle. But when her energy returned the day she started taking CBD, she decided that was a small price to pay.
The plants are cultivated and then sent for extraction. Some CBD oil-based products come from whole plant extracts. Others are derived from isolates. Whole plant extraction is self-explanatory. The entire plant is part of the process. Those in the medical communities prefer this method. They believe that a broader spectrum of cannabinoids yields during whole plant extraction. According to medical specialists, capturing the entire cannabinoid spectrum stimulates the endocannabinoid system. They call this the “entourage effect.”
Full-spectrum hemp oil refers to when the pure oil extracted from hemp contains all the same cannabinoids and compounds found in the original hemp plant. Unlike isolated or synthetic cannabinoids, full-spectrum hemp oil contains an array of cannabinoids, as well as many essential vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, protein, chlorophyll, fiber, flavonoids, and terpenes.
While there is much debate on which form is better, this 2015 study leans in favor of full spectrum CBD oil products. There are many that believe that other cannabinoids, THC especially, are necessary to take full advantage of what cannabis has to offer. Ultimately, however, we are all different and it comes down to the individual user and their needs. If drug testing is a concern, you’re encouraged to seek out CBD isolate products (or terpsolates) or broad spectrum products instead of full spectrum.
There's also the question of CBD's legality – something that's a lot grayer than the black-and-white picture most companies paint. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration considers CBD, like all cannabinoids, a schedule 1 drug. That means it's just as illegal as heroin and ecstasy. Meanwhile, hemp – a variety of the cannabis plant regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – is legal , so long as its THC content is negligibly low. But because the agriculture department doesn't test for CBD – only THC – in hemp, more companies are getting away with selling products they say contain CBD, says Sara Jane Ward, an assistant professor of pharmacology at the Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine who's been studying CBD in rodent models for more than 10 years. Needless to say, the legality of CBD is "very confusing and very gray," she says.
CBD hemp oil has a huge range of potential health benefits and uses, including reducing pain, soothing anxiety, fighting chronic diseases, improving mood, eliminating depression, preventing inflammatory arthritis, protecting the immune system, balancing the metabolism, aiding sleep disorders, and healing the skin, among others. CBD oil can also be used in many different ways and has a variety of applications for natural health.
First you need to realize that there are more than 70 different cannabinoids that have been identified so far and over 500 constituents of cannabis including various terpenoids and flavonoids. In fact, the US government holds multiple patents on various cannabinoids. They also hold patents defining these cannabinoids many medical benefits. One of these cannabinoids which has shown a huge amount of potential is CBD or Cannabidiol and while its potential could not possibly be understated there is another cannabinoid making headlines as well. Tetrahydrocannabidiol otherwise known as THC.
The aforementioned entourage effect is the main reason behind the efficacy of whole plant extracts. There are over 100 ‘identified’ compounds in the cannabis plant. While most of these compounds have their own therapeutic benefit, they combine synergistically to provide far better performance than any single compound alone, and that includes CBD. Here are a couple of examples of conditions that benefit from the entourage effect:
ISA HERRERA HEARD IT from her patients first. "I have less pain." "I'm having less anxiety." "My menstrual cramps are less intense," they told the New York City physical therapist about taking CBD oil, a product containing cannabidiol, one of many chemicals found in the cannabis plant. "I was like, 'I need to find out more about this,'" recalls Herrera, who specializes in integrative pelvic floor therapies.