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.

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Healthy folks vaguely looking to add a little spring in their step (via better sleep, reducing anxiety, or easing muscle soreness) drizzle a little oil into their smoothie or latte. They might also spot-treat with a dab of oil in problematic areas. In the past several years, published papers have suggested that the compound can help with a spectrum of medical conditions, including anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, addiction, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, fractures, migraines, psoriasis, and pain. In an animal study, purified extracts of CBD and THC appeared to slow the growth of a type of brain tumor.
“There’s no oversight,” says Marcel Bonn-Miller, PhD, adjunct assistant professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the JAMA article. Beyond the label, he adds, “There’s no consistency. You know that every Hershey’s bar you buy and every Coke you buy will be exactly the same. But that’s not the case with the majority of CBD products. It’s not unexpected to see variability within a given brand.” This means that you may notice improvements the first time you buy and try a particular product, but none the next.

The cannabidiol oil is derived from flowers of cannabis plants and is concentrated in its resin glands or trichomes. These glands contain oil that is rich in CBD which differs in quality and quantity between different strains of the cannabis plant. The active CBD available in the flower can be purified and concentrated using precise production techniques. When oil of high potency and concentration is derived from the glands then it can be used in lesser dosage. This lesser dosage saves money as CBD oil is an expensive product but produces the desired effect.
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.”
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.
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.
CBD has become quite popular over the last couple of years but despite what you might think, it is only one of the 100+ compounds that have been identified in the Cannabis Sativa L plant. Full Spectrum CBD oil, unlike CBD isolate products, includes a wide range of cannabinoids present in the cannabis or hemp plant. Depending on the condition and what you are looking to achieve, it can provide a greater effect than CBD alone as all the cannabinoids work together in what is known as the entourage effect (more on that later).
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.
Healthy folks vaguely looking to add a little spring in their step (via better sleep, reducing anxiety, or easing muscle soreness) drizzle a little oil into their smoothie or latte. They might also spot-treat with a dab of oil in problematic areas. In the past several years, published papers have suggested that the compound can help with a spectrum of medical conditions, including anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, addiction, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, fractures, migraines, psoriasis, and pain. In an animal study, purified extracts of CBD and THC appeared to slow the growth of a type of brain tumor.
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.
CBD is simply an active chemical compound, or cannabinoid, that’s found in the cannabis plant. The reason it’s becoming so popular across such a wide audience of people right now though is because unlike the other main compound in cannabis (THC), it doesn’t get you high. There have been thousands upon thousands of medical studies showing all of the health benefits that CBD has, but “average” people are loving it because it doesn’t produce any mind-altering psychoactive effects.
Anyway, the research showed that in mice, CBD was much more effective when used along with other compounds of the cannabis plant, than when it was used by itself. While they haven’t yet figured out why exactly this is the case, it’s now generally accepted that full-spectrum CBD oil is more effective at treating the majority of medical conditions, than is CBD isolate.
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.
Keep in mind, too, that CBD product companies use different CBD sources, extraction methods and production techniques – and not all resulting products are created equal. You'll have to do your own research to determine which companies you're willing to trust, Asquith says. Plus, how the products are packaged and consumed – be they in oils, creams or capsules – affect how they're absorbed in the body. Edibles, for example, are well-absorbed, while oils taken under the tongue are "baloney," Tishler says. And of course, salespeople at herb shops don't have the same mission, knowledge, training or oversight as physicians and pharmacists. "We have spent the last 100 years or so developing the pharmaceutical system because it works," Tishler says.

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.

Basically, cannabis is an umbrella term that includes both hemp and marijuana plants. Cannabis sativa is actually the scientific name of the cannabis plant (Cannabis = genus; sativa = species), and hemp and marijuana are just two different “varieties” of it (i.e. you could refer to both marijuana and hemp plants as “cannabis” plants, but you would not, for instance, refer to a “marijuana” plant as a “hemp” plant). Hopefully that’s not too confusing.
The CBD oil derived from cannabis plant is ideal for treating children and adults with epileptic/seizure disorders. This is because of low content of THC which is the main compound responsible for giving pot smokers a high when they take marijuana. In view of the curative powers of CBD oil several states within United States are legalizing its possession among people that are not related to its research. CBD rich oil is also used as a chief ingredient in vaping oil for use in e-cigarettes which can gradually reduce smoking as it does not have the ill effects of regular nicotine rich tobacco smoke that destroys lungs over a period of time.
"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.
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