Recently I asked myself this very question and the more I read the more contradictory statements I found and the more confused I became. With an extensive background in medical marijuana and high THC strains I felt I had a good grasp on which one was “better” before I started researching for this article and could make a good argument for why medical marijuana derived CBD is better than hemp derived CBD. More recently I have been introduced to CBD derived from hemp and after some preliminary research I was not so sure. Fortunately, I have connections from within the industry and so my mission began. I set out to talk to the largest names on both sides of the spectrum and get their opinions on this matter.
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Although CBD oils aren’t regulated by the FDA, purchasing products stateside from one of the nine states where recreational and medical cannabis use is legal will likely result in a higher-quality product than buying one made with hemp-derived CBD oil imported from abroad, says Martin Lee, director of Project CBD, a nonprofit that promotes medical research into CBD.
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.
Tetrahydrocannabinol is the most abundant cannabinoid in most medical and recreational marijuana strains. However, in hemp THC is a minor constituent and appears only in trace amounts under 0.3% by dry weight, as required by the U.S. government for hemp products. THC mimics the action of anandamide, a neurotransmitter naturally produced in the human body, and binds to CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system found mostly in the brain. The extremely low levels of THC in hemp make hemp oil non-psychoactive and safe for all ages to use.
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.
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.”
‘The media has no doubt helped drive this popularity,’ says Dr Sarah Brewer, medical director at Healthspan. ‘However, the main drive is because people who take it experience the benefits very quickly, and “word of mouth” is a powerful thing. CBD oil also has such a wide range of benefits, reducing anxiety, promoting relaxation, ensuring a good night’s sleep, reducing pain perception and improving general feelings of wellbeing. It therefore appeals to a wide range of people.’
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.”
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.
Essential fatty acids are necessary for maintaining heart and cardiovascular health. The two primary essential fatty acids — Omega 3 and Omega 6 — are ideally consumed at a ratio of around 3:1. Unfortunately, in the typical American diet, that ratio is close to 25:1. Full-spectrum hemp oil offers the two essential fatty acids in the optimal 3:1 ratio.
Only high grade CBD oil is used for manufacture of e-liquid or vaping oil that is used in electronic cigarettes. The vaping liquids used in both disposable and non disposable electronic cigarettes are made as compounds with CBD oil, alkaline e-liquids, vegetable glycerin, flavors and also nicotine to give smokers the feeling of a real cigarette. But buyers of e-liquid refills should read the details of ingredients on the bottle of e-liquid to ensure that they are not using synthetic ingredients like propylene glycol or formaldehyde.
It is for this reason that all the finished hemp goods that you see for sale in America, from food products to clothing to building materials, are part of an imported hemp industry that has surpassed $688 million annually. The size of this import industry is one of the major catalysts for hemp legalization in the U.S. As a renewable source of a range of products, hemp provides an exciting new step in American agriculture.