Whole plant CBD oils can be made in a variety of ways. The “original” CBD oil was created by Rick Simpson. This method requires you to soak the plant material in a solvent, such as grain alcohol. Once the material soaks, the remaining liquid is full of CBD (and other cannabinoids), you evaporate the solvent and the remaining oil is ready for consumption.
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.
"If it proved effective for anxiety, depression and panic disorder, it may have other effects as well that could be useful and beneficial [but] this is a really early stage," says David Shurtleff, the acting director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. His organization's stance: "Take it one step at a time and do the work and really state where we are right now with the research," he says.
And without high-quality trials, experts don’t know how much is best for a given purpose. The staff at Roth’s dispensary told her, “Try some once or twice a day and see what happens.” (Half a dropper’s worth was a good amount for her.) One thing scientists feel confident about is that CBD is not dangerous. It won’t damage vital organs even at doses as high as 5,000 mg a day, Marcu says, and nobody has died from simply overdosing on a cannabis product.
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.
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CBD and THC interact with our bodies in a variety of ways. One of the main ways they impact us is by mimicking and augmenting the effects of the compounds in our bodies called “endogenous cannabinoids” - so named because of their similarity to the compounds found in the cannabis plant. These “endocannabinoids” are part of a regulatory system called the “endocannabinoid system”.
The key difference between hemp and marijuana is that hemp contains practically zero THC. In fact, in order to be classified as hemp, a cannabis plant must contain less than 0.3% THC by volume. This is really important because it’s actually the reason why hemp products are legal to buy, sell, and ship. If they don’t get you high, then why would they be illegal?

Dosage is important, because CBD can have side effects—the most common are tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite and weight—so it’s best not to take more than you need. As CBD becomes more prevalent, says J. Michael Bostwick, M.D., a psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, “I’m reasonably certain new kinds of side effects will emerge.”

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Scott Shannon, M.D., assistant clinical professor at the University of Colorado, recently sifted through patient charts from his four-doctor practice to document CBD’s effects on anxiety. His study, as yet unpublished, found “a fairly rapid decrease in anxiety scores that appears to persist for months,” he says. But he says he can’t discount a placebo effect, especially since “there’s a lot of hype right now.”

Success stories like Oliver’s are everywhere, but there’s not a lot of data to back up those results. That’s because CBD comes from cannabis and, like nearly all other parts of the plant, is categorized by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as a Schedule 1 drug—the most restrictive classification. (Others on that list: heroin, Ecstasy, and peyote.) This classification, which cannabis advocates have tried for years to change, keeps cannabis-derived products, including CBD, from being properly studied in the U.S.
Sarah Jorczyk is an advocate for CBD products and one of the Administrators of the CBD Oil Users Group on Facebook. She strives to educate the public, and promotes the use of safe products while helping others throughout their CBD journey. You can also find a variety of her content, including reviews and educational videos, on the group's youtube page.

No one’s really sure: “It’s astonishing that there’s still no real consensus on how CBD works,” says McLaughlin. “One thing we do know is that it doesn’t work through the same receptors as THC, and, in fact, seems to have the opposite effect.” THC mainly binds to a certain type of receptor (known as CB1) in the brain. But with CBD, he says, “there seems to be a lot of complex targets”—which means CBD may affect multiple pathways throughout the body.


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.
To make matters more confusing, nine states (including California, Washington, and Colorado) let residents buy cannabis-based products with or without THC. Nearly two dozen other “medical marijuana states” allow the sale of cannabis, including capsules, tinctures, and other items containing CBD or THC, at licensed dispensaries to people whose doctors have certified that they have an approved condition (the list varies by state but includes chronic pain, PTSD, cancer, autism, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis). Sixteen more states legalized CBD for certain diseases. But because all these products are illegal according to the federal government, cannabis advocates are cautious. “By and large, the federal government is looking the other way,” says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the Washington, DC–based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), but until federal laws are changed, “this administration or a future one could crack down on people who produce, manufacture, or use CBD, and the law would be on its side.”
Not much, as far as humans are concerned—at least not yet. The vast majority of studies have been on animals, as of yet, and there are few high-quality studies on humans. Even the oil’s effect on pain—something that CBD oil is popularly used for—isn’t proven. “The studies available are small or not well designed,” says Dr. Devinsky. “There’s a lot of religion out there, but not a lot of data.”
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Dosage is important, because CBD can have side effects—the most common are tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite and weight—so it’s best not to take more than you need. As CBD becomes more prevalent, says J. Michael Bostwick, M.D., a psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, “I’m reasonably certain new kinds of side effects will emerge.”

These studies conclude that “the higher efficiency of plant extract can be explained by additive or synergistic interactions between CBD, terpenes, and the minor phytocannabinoids or non-cannabinoids presented in the extracts. …because other phytocannabinoids, including Tetrahydrocannabivarin, Cannabigerol and Cannabichromene, as well as mono- and sesquiterpenes, exert additional effects of therapeutic interest and the therapeutic synergy observed with plant extracts results in the requirement for a lower amount of active components, with consequent reduced adverse effects.”
There’s no definite amount that’s appropriate for everyone, but the ratio of CBD to THC will indicate how psychoactive the product is and if it’s legal in your state. The more CBD compared with THC, the less of a high, and vice versa. “Managing psychoactivity is key to successful cannabis therapy,” says Lee. “Amounts should be made clear on the label and lab-certified so people know what’s helping them and what’s not.”

While it is clear that full spectrum CBD may be more effective than isolate CBD, even at lower dosages, it may have some drawbacks. Full spectrum vs regular CBD comes down to this drawback for many people. If full spectrum CBD oil is not an option for you due to your obligations or lifestyle, this can help you make your decision more easily for sure.
Full spectrum (or “whole plant”) products contain CBD as well as terpenes and other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN and trace amounts of THC. Usually these will be in ratios that were naturally-occurring and extracted from the plant and specific strain. Terpenes and cannabinoids are occasionally added back into products as an isolated form to raise the potency of the product.
Hemp oil does have a number of uses and is often marketed as a cooking oil or a product that is good for moisturizing the skin. It is also used in the production of certain soaps, shampoos, and foods. It is also a basic ingredient for bio-fuel and even a more sustainable form of plastic. Hemp has been cultivated and used for roughly 10,000 years, and it definitely has useful purposes. However, a lack of cannabinoids, namely CBD, means that it has little therapeutic value.
We also grow our hemp in close rows, limiting the ability of weeds to establish themselves among our fields. Since we sow our hemp seeds close together, the shade from the fast growing hemp plants inhibit the growth of common weeds, negating the need to use herbicides that could cause contamination. Like with pesticides, we avoid using herbicides because they can affect local biological communities or be absorbed by our hemp plants and transferred residually to our customers.
Cutting-edge science has shown that the endocannabinoid system is dysregulated in nearly all pathological conditions. Thus, it stands to reason that “modulating endocannabinoid system activity may have therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans,” as Pal Pacher and George Kunos, scientists with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), suggested in a 2014 publication.
No one’s really sure: “It’s astonishing that there’s still no real consensus on how CBD works,” says McLaughlin. “One thing we do know is that it doesn’t work through the same receptors as THC, and, in fact, seems to have the opposite effect.” THC mainly binds to a certain type of receptor (known as CB1) in the brain. But with CBD, he says, “there seems to be a lot of complex targets”—which means CBD may affect multiple pathways throughout the body.
From anecdotal evidence in humans and from animal studies, CBD appears to affect the way we experience pain, inflammation, and anxiety. “Scientists have identified a number of receptors in the nervous system where CBD acts,” says Orrin Devinsky, MD, professor of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry at NYU Langone. “It’s established that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and can increase activity at some serotonin [the feel-good neurotransmitter] receptors.”
‘In doses used as a food supplement, CBD poses few risks, and side effects are unusual but can include a dry mouth or drowsiness,’ reveals Dr Brewer. ‘Higher doses used medically are well tolerated, and there are no serious safety concerns. A World Health Organization report issued in 2017 concluded that cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.'
The same terms could be applied to what's actually in CBD products. While some do contain CBD, others (often marketed as "CBD-rich hemp oil") may have barely any, Asquith says. And depending on state laws, they can include varying levels of THC too – a combination shown to have some benefits, but also drawbacks, of course, if you're not looking for a high. "People will play all these games with the numbers because the consumers aren't really educated in this space yet and it's easy to get taken advantage of," he says. "It's the milligrams of the actual CBD molecule that matter."
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