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.
There are a number of possible side effects to using CBD oil, such as fatigue, dry mouth, lightheadedness, hypotension, and impaired motor functions. However, when used in moderate amounts, most people do not experience these side effects, and none of them are known for being fatal or particularly dangerous. More than 20,000 studies have been done in the past 15 years on cannabis, hemp, and cannabinoids, and the results have been overwhelmingly supportive of the therapeutic potential and viability of CBD oil. That being said, some people should be cautious before using this powerful oil.
When looking at isolate, it is important to verify the purity. While many are in the 99.9+% range with no identifiable amounts of THC, there are lower purity ones (such as 99.5% or lower) that may still have trace amounts that show up on the labs. This small amount is typically negligible, and is nowhere near the amount usually found in full spectrum products. But it’s still something to be aware of for those seeking the purest they can find.
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.”
exhaustion and pain that kept her on the couch much of the day. The 58-year-old Seattle speech coach didn’t want to take opioid pain-killers, but Tylenol wasn’t helping enough. Roth was intrigued when women in her online chat group enthused about a cannabis-derived oil called cannabidiol (CBD) that they said relieved pain without making them high. So Roth, who hadn’t smoked weed since college but lived in a state where cannabis was legal, walked into a dispensary and bought a CBD tincture. “Within a few hours of placing the drops in my mouth, the malaise and achiness that had plagued me for weeks lifted and became much more manageable,” she says. She took the drops several times a day and in a few weeks was back to her regular life.
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.
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."
Given CBD’s reputation as a popular, artisanal remedy, one would think that Epidiolex would command a lot of “off label” attention. After all, physicians often prescribe pharmaceuticals off label to treat conditions that were not the actual focus of clinical trials. But the costly price tag for Epidiolex (more than $30,000 annually) precludes off label prescribing as well as affordable access for tens of millions of Americans without health insurance.
First you need to realize that there are more than 70 different cannabinoids that have been identified so far and over 500 constituents of cannabis including various terpenoids and flavonoids. In fact, the US government holds multiple patents on various cannabinoids. They also hold patents defining these cannabinoids many medical benefits. One of these cannabinoids which has shown a huge amount of potential is CBD or Cannabidiol and while its potential could not possibly be understated there is another cannabinoid making headlines as well. Tetrahydrocannabidiol otherwise known as THC.
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Lab techs use state of the art equipment to create phase changes in carbon dioxide by utilizing temperature and pressure. The carbon dioxide is cooled and compressed to upwards of 10,000 psi – by comparison your car tire is pressurized to about 300 psi. When compressed to these extremes, CO2 becomes ‘supercritical’, which simply means that it converts to liquid when placed under extreme pressure.
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Unfortunately, you don’t. Even though more than half of all U.S. states now allow marijuana for medicinal purposes—and nine of those, plus Washington DC, allow it for recreational use—the Drug Enforcement Agency still views CBD as a banned substance and therefore doesn’t regulate it (since, in the eyes of the law, CBD shouldn’t be on the market). “I can start a company, put oil in a jar and sell it as CBD oil,” says McLaughlin—and no one has to vouch that what’s in there is for real. You have only the manufacturers word for it.
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.
Cannabinol results from the degradation of THC. There is little of it in the fresh plant, but decarboxylation often raises the amount of CBN in the plant as an effect. CBN is only mildly psychoactive and has a higher affinity for the CB2 receptor than the CB1 receptor, linking CBN to the body’s immune system. In hemp oil, CBN is present in levels of 0.2% or lower.
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).
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.”
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.”
Answering the question “what is CBD oil” would be incomplete without mentioning the many CBD oil benefits. In addition to positively affecting the endocannabinoid system, CBD has been the focus of more than 23,000 published studies about cannabinoids in relation to various medical indications including anxiety, epilepsy, inflammation, cancer and chronic pain to name few. You can even find CBD for pets that is specially formulated to safely allow your pets to experience the natural benefits of CBD. For a more comprehensive look at these and other studies, visit our medical research and education page. Stay up-to-date on the latest developments in CBD and cannabis in our medical marijuana news section.