‘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.’
In another, a specific combination of CBD and other secondary cannabinoids were found to work together to slow tumor grown in cases of colon cancer. These sorts of synergistic effects are fairly common in whole plant extracts, and aren’t unique to cannabis. However, the sheer volume of active compounds in cannabis extracts, and their wide-ranging effects certainly distinguish them from other plants.
There's also the question of CBD's legality – something that's a lot grayer than the black-and-white picture most companies paint. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration considers CBD, like all cannabinoids, a schedule 1 drug. That means it's just as illegal as heroin and ecstasy. Meanwhile, hemp – a variety of the cannabis plant regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – is legal , so long as its THC content is negligibly low. But because the agriculture department doesn't test for CBD – only THC – in hemp, more companies are getting away with selling products they say contain CBD, says Sara Jane Ward, an assistant professor of pharmacology at the Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine who's been studying CBD in rodent models for more than 10 years. Needless to say, the legality of CBD is "very confusing and very gray," she says.
That leaves those touting CBD’s effectiveness pointing primarily to research in mice and petri dishes. There, CBD (sometimes combined with small amounts of THC) has shown promise for helping pain, neurological conditions like anxiety and PTSD, and the immune system—and therefore potentially arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and more.
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Since it is non-toxic and non-flammable, supercritical CO2 is preferable over chemical solvents like butane, hexane, and acetone, which can linger in the extracted oil if not purged correctly, rendering the oil toxic. It has also been noted that botanical essential oils extracted using supercritical CO2 are truer to the scent of the original plants than in other forms of extraction, meaning more of the plant’s chemical structure is retained in the oil with the use of CO2.
In other words, many popular claims remain unfounded – and overlook the fact that there's a difference between CBD that's studied in labs for particular conditions and CBD products that are sold to consumers for general well-being. "What happens is people say, 'Look, CBD is harmless and it doesn't get me intoxicated, so I'm going to take it for what ails me," says Dr. Jordan Tishler, a Harvard physician and CEO of InhaleMD, a Boston-area practice specializing in cannabis therapeutics. "Then they're going to get some perceived benefit because that's the way the placebo effect works, and then they go and trumpet this."
A study published by David Cheng, Postdoctoral Scientist, Neuroscience Research, University of New South Wales, NSW, Australia, says that CBD has a potential as a preventive measure against symptoms of Alzheimer’s. This presents yet another exciting development for medical researchers, given the persistent challenges to finding effective solutions for this condition.
Herrera and her patients aren't the only ones doling out rave reviews for CBD oil, which can be found online and in cannabis dispensaries, as well as in some grocery stores and even as an optional add-in alongside protein powder at your local juice chain. The oil has been riding the coattails of the growing legal cannabis industry, with one industry expert, Matt Karnes, telling Forbes in 2016 that he expected CBD products to become an almost $3 billion market by 2021.
'If you have a health condition, or are taking any prescribed or over-the-counter medicines, always check with your doctor or a pharmacist for possible drug supplement interactions before taking CBD,' says Dr Brewer. 'This is because CBD interacts with enzymes involved in metabolising some medicines and may result in increased drug levels that could cause side effects.
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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With that being said, let’s discuss the wonderful thing we call CBD oil. CBD, cannabidiol, is one of over 85 active cannabinoids identified in hemp and other cannabis plants. CBD oil is derived from hemp, due to its abundance naturally occurring in the plant. CBD oil is extracted using the whole plant, stalks or flowers. Since hemp contains only trace amounts of THC, CBD oil products are non-intoxicating.
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.
At least one benefit of CBD is well-supported by science: It can be effective in treating children with rare, genetic seizure disorders. Adults, children and even animals with epilepsy have been shown to benefit from the chemical too, the World Health Organization reports. There's also some evidence that CBD can help with anxiety, says Dr. Robert Carson, an assistant professor of neurology and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University who focuses on children with epilepsy. "In children, especially those with autism spectrum disorders, this may manifest as improved interactions with others," he says. Other preliminary research shows CBD holds promise for conditions including Alzheimer's disease, cancer, psychosis and Parkinson's disease – and is pretty much impossible to abuse or become addicted to, WHO says.
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