With the rapid rise in the popularity of CBD in everything from vape juice to lattes, many people are asking- “what is CBD oil?”. To answer that question, let’s first answer the question- what is CBD? CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a compound found in hemp plants. CBD’s benefits are numerous, making it a popular supplement. We’ll explore the effects of CBD oil in more depth below, but in short, it interacts with receptors that keep the body balanced and running normally.
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 His study, as yet unpublished, found “a fairly rapid decrease in anxiety scores that appears to persist for months,” he says.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.”
The most abundant cannabinoid in hemp oil, making up over 90% of the cannabinoid content, cannabidiol or CBD is non-psychoactive and is the focus of the benefits from hemp oil. CBD has little affinity for CB1 or CB2 receptors, the main points of interaction for cannabinoids in the endocannabinoid system, and instead acts as an indirect antagonist of cannabinoid agonists, possibly allowing CBD to temper the high caused by THC. Our Gold Label RSHO™ is almost 25% CBD, making up most of oil’s weight. All other cannabinoids come in under 0.4% by weight.
Our bodies are thought to produce endocannabinoids by the billions every day. “We always thought the ‘runner’s high’ was due to the release of dopamine and endorphins. But now we know the euphoria is also from an endocannabinoid called anandamide,” its name derived from the Sanskrit word for bliss, says Joseph Maroon, M.D., clinical professor and vice chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. We produce these natural chemicals all day, but they fade quickly because enzymes pop up to destroy them. That’s where CBD comes in: By blocking these enzymes, CBD allows the beneficial compounds to linger. This is why Amanda Oliver, 31, a career consultant in Charleston, SC, pops a CBD gummy bear each night before bed. “I used to lie there tossing and turning as my mind raced from work projects to whether I had set the home alarm,” Oliver says. One piece of candy with 15 mg of CBD is enough to shut off her brain and facilitate sleep. She also swears by the CBD oil she takes at the height of her period, which she says quells her debilitating cramps.
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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There are a number of potential solvents that can be used to extract CBD oil from the hemp plant. Some companies choose to use dangerous chemical solvents in their extraction process. However, this opens the end user to residual contamination from any solvent that is left unpurged from the oil. To extract our CBD oil from our hemp crops, we use supercritical CO2.
"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.
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?
CBD hemp oil has a number of uses and comes in many forms including capsules, tinctures, sublingual supplements, liquid oil, oil as a paste, sprays, salves, creams and in edible forms, such as candies or sweets. You can also inhale CBD oil from vapor-releasing pens, similar to the technology for e-cigarettes. This variety also provides a lot of controlled flexibility in terms of concentration, making CBD hemp oil useful and desirable for people of all ages, economic means, and personal needs.
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.
Cohen has found that chronic conditions including autoimmune diseases and pain syndromes can be helped with a 6-mg under-the-tongue tincture (the fastest delivery system) or a 25-mg capsule taken twice a day. Dosages for topical products like lotions are especially hard to determine—there’s no clarity on how much CBD gets into the system through the skin.
Supercritical CO2 extraction is also the key to understanding more cannabinoids in cannabis like Cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabicitran (CBT) and how they interact with each other (called the Entourage effect). This can lead to increased understanding of marijuana in the medical field, and will also allow growers to come up with more effective, new and exciting strains.
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