So Herrera, who's experienced her own share of pain due to a shoulder injury followed by a bout of Lyme disease, went to a local herb shop and bought a vial of the oil, which, by some definitions, is legal in all states if it doesn't contain more than 0.3 percent THC – the psychoactive component of cannabis. She began putting seven to nine drops under her tongue first thing most mornings – and was startled by the results. "It's changed my pain level, my anxiety level and my stress level," says Herrera, who already practiced yoga, meditated regularly, ate a healthy diet and tried conventional medical treatments for pain and mobility. "It was shocking," she says, because she thought her patients' reports were due to the placebo effect. "Right now," she adds, "I feel pretty amazing."
For example, it eases pain and inflammation. It can also help treat anxiety, epilepsy, and some types of cancer. These are just a few of its many benefits. CBD oil provides relief without the psychoactive effects created by THC. Without the buzz, there are more medical uses for the drug. In order to separate CBD from the THC and other parts of the plant, you have to extract it. The end product is CBD hemp oil.
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.
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.
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.
Success stories like Oliver’s are everywhere, but there’s not a lot of data to back up those results. That’s because CBD comes from cannabis and, like nearly all other parts of the plant, is categorized by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as a Schedule 1 drug—the most restrictive classification. (Others on that list: heroin, Ecstasy, and peyote.) This classification, which cannabis advocates have tried for years to change, keeps cannabis-derived products, including CBD, from being properly studied in the U.S.
‘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.’
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.
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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."
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.”
The benefits of cannabidiol are being studied thoroughly. As of now, we know that CBD works positively with our endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for keeping our body in homeostasis (balance). Cannabidiol reacts with the cannabinoid receptors to maintain that balance. CBD oil products are used for their effects ranging from soothing sore muscles and joints, inflammation, calming, promoting more restful sleep and more.
It probably depends on each individual’s preference, but many researchers support the effects of the full spectrum CBD. They say that the full spectrum’s healing factors through the “entourage effect” are very useful for the treatment of any of the chronic condition. This is why the full spectrum CBD has to be part of the ingredients, not the isolate non-pure one.
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.