“What is CBD oil” may be your first question, but the real question we have to answer is, “What does CBD oil do?” CBD interacts with the body through the endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) or endocannabinoid system. First discovered in the late 1980’s, the endocannabinoid system regulates the body’s homeostasis, or general state of balance, impacting such functions as mood, sleep, appetite, hormone regulation, and pain and immune response. Like an acrobat on a highwire, as the environment around us impacts our normal balance, the endocannabinoid system “corrects” by mediating our body’s reaction to keep us level.
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.
The reason so many people are interested in cannabis products that don’t make them high, proponents say, is that CBD helps with everything from pain and nausea to rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, Crohn’s disease, and dementia. CBD is anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, antibacterial, immunosuppressive, and more, says Joseph Cohen, D.O., a cannabis doctor in Boulder, CO.
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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.
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.
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.
Cannabigerol is known as the stem cell cannabinoid for its role as a precursor to other cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana. Previously overlooked as a significant cannabinoid, the role of CBG is becoming better understood, and companies like Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s AXIM® Biotechnologies are starting to research its potential. Because most CBG is transformed into other cannabinoids like CBD or THC by the cannabis plant, natural CBG levels are low in most processed cannabis plants.
Like we mentioned a moment ago, it used to be the belief that “pure CBD,” or CBD isolate, packed the most potent punch in terms of cannabis therapy. And that would make sense too, right? If we know that CBD is primarily the active compound in the plant that provides the medical relief and therapy, then wouldn’t it make sense to make a 100% pure powder out of it?
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.
Along with its better-known counterpart, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that produces the marijuana high), CBD is one of more than 400 compounds found in the oils of cannabis plant species, which include marijuana and hemp. Unlike THC, CBD will not make you high. That said, this doesn’t mean CBD is not at all psychoactive, as many assert, says Jahan Marcu, Ph.D., director of experimental pharmacology and behavior at the International Research Center on Cannabis and Mental Health in New York City: “CBD does change cognition. It affects mood, which is why people take it for anxiety. And some find that it makes them more alert.”
To extract, you soak the hemp plant in a solvent, such as grain alcohol. After the material soaks, the remaining liquid contains CBD and the other cannabinoids from the pant. Once you evaporate the solvent, the CBD hemp oil remains. The oil is then ready to either consume or add to edible products. Commercial producers have adopted and modified Mr. Simpson’s method. CBD hemp oil producers use ethanol to extract CBD.