The 2020 Ultimate Guide to CBD Oil
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If you're living with chronic pain or anxiety or know someone who is, you've probably heard of CBD oil. This natural remedy has become a popular treatment for a variety of conditions as the U.S. continues to ease restrictions on cannabis products.
With all of the talk surrounding it, you may think it could be worth a try. But you might not know where to start — or even exactly what CBD oil is. This guide will walk you through the basics of CBD oil, what it helps treat, how to use it, and more.
What is CBD oil?
CBD (short for cannabidiol) can be used to relieve a variety of ailments naturally. It is an active compound found in cannabis sativa, a plant with two main species you've likely heard of: marijuana and hemp.
CBD is one of many compounds found in cannabis sativa, including the well-known and psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, compound. THC is the element of marijuana that causes those who ingest it to feel "high." Ingesting CBD oil or applying it to the skin allows you to receive the benefits of medical marijuana without experiencing the "high" that THC causes.
The History of CBD Oil
Although it may seem like a new trend, people have been benefiting from the pain-relieving properties of CBD for centuries.
In fact, according to CBD Central, the first recorded use of cannabis for pain relief was in 2727 BC when the emperor of China drank cannabis-based tea for his ailments. After that, the use of cannabis for this purpose spread across the globe. In the mid-1800s, even Queen Victoria used cannabis monthly to relieve menstrual pain.
Despite this widespread medical use, states began to prohibit the use of cannabis in 1911 due to the perceived dangers of cannabis's psychoactive effects. This gradual ban carried well into the 20th century, even after a team at Illinois University isolated CBD from the plant and noted the compound's lack of psychoactive effects in the 1940s.
It wasn't until the 1980s and '90s that the medical community began acknowledging CBD for its health benefits and that medical marijuana began to be legalized. CBD finally went mainstream in America in 2004, when the Figi family shared their story of reducing their daughter Charlotte's seizures by 99% with CBD.
Since then, many more studies on CBD have been done, and the use of CBD has become more popular. In 2018, the U.S. made CBD products derived from industrial hemp legal on a federal level with the Farm Bill. Today, CBD products derived from the hemp plant are legal in most states.
How is CBD Oil Made?
While CBD can be found in both the hemp and marijuana species of cannabis sativa, hemp is most often used to make CBD oil. This is because it contains a higher percentage of CBD and much less THC than marijuana.
CBD oil is made by extracting the CBD compound from the flowers of the hemp plant, which can be done in a few different ways. Most often, though, it is extracted using what is called a supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) process. According to Echo Connection, this process involves using a non-toxic liquid CO2 to absorb the CBD, essential oils, and lipids from the plant. Then, the CO2 is removed by returning it to a gas state, leaving behind a CBD-rich oil.
Additionally, the CBD oil may be extracted using a carrier oil such as olive or coconut oil. However, unlike the supercritical CO2 method, this method dilutes the CBD oil as the carrier oil cannot be removed.
CBD Oil vs Hemp Oil
Because CBD oil can be extracted from hemp, you may be wondering if CBD oil and hemp oil are the same things. Nope! While CBD oil is removed from the flowers of the hemp plant, hemp oil is extracted only from the seeds.
Hemp oil does not contain CBD and, therefore, does not have the same pain-relieving benefits as CBD oil. Instead, hemp oil contains healthy fats, vitamin E, and protein that can be nourishing and moisturizing when applied topically.
What Does CBD Oil Treat?
While much research still needs to be done to prove the effects of CBD oil, those who use it find that it helps them with a range of both mental and physical ailments. Below are a few of the most notable uses.
CBD Oil for Epilepsy
The strongest evidence of CBD oil's medical benefits is regarding its ability to treat both adults and children with severe types of epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, according to Harvard Health Publishing. These syndromes typically do not respond to anti-seizure medication. Still, in many studies, CBD has been shown to reduce seizures or sometimes stop them altogether.
Such strong evidence has led to the first cannabis-derived medicine, Epidolex, to be approved by the FDA for these conditions.
CBD Oil for Pain
Cannabis has been used for centuries to relieve pain. Recent studies have shown that CBD (primarily when used in conjunction with other cannabis compounds) can reduce inflammation and neuropathic pain.
Additionally, studies using rats found that CBD injections can relieve pain from surgical incisions. Not only this, but a daily oral treatment of CBD can reduce nerve pain and inflammation. More human studies have yet to be done, but the research available shows that using CBD to relieve pain may be worth a try.
Some people have found that CBD oil helps them relieve pain related to headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and cancer-related symptoms.
CBD Oil for Anxiety Disorders
Although there isn't much concrete evidence, some studies have shown that CBD oil can reduce symptoms of anxiety.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), CBD oil has been found to reduce behavioral and physiological signs of stress in rats, such as rapid heart rate. NIDA also states that, in small human studies and clinical trials, CBD oil has shown to reduce stress in patients with social anxiety. This calming effect of CBD may also help those with insomnia.
Multiple studies have also shown that CBD could benefit those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). NIDA notes that small studies have found CBD can help PTSD patients "unlearn" or forget traumatic memories and reduce the occurrence of nightmares or flashbacks.
More controlled human studies have yet to be conducted, but the evidence currently available shows promise.
CBD oil may also be beneficial for those suffering from:
- Acne and other skin problems
- Substance abuse
- Irritable bowel disease
- High blood pressure
CBD Oil Side Effects
CBD oil is generally safe to use and typically does not cause many side effects. According to a study done in 2017, some mild side effects that may occur include fatigue, diarrhea, and changes in appetite or weight.
While CBD oil is safer than most treatments, it can be harmful when interacting with some medications. According to MedlinePlus, you should not take CBD oil with Clobazam or Valproate and should be cautious when taking CBD oil with Brivaracetam, Eslicarbazepine, and Everolimus. Additionally, CBD oil can have a harmful interaction with drugs that have a "grapefruit warning," as it can interact with these drugs in the same ways as grapefruit does.
To be safe and avoid adverse drug interactions, be sure to talk with your doctor before you start using CBD oil.
What is the Best Way to Take CBD Oil?
There are many products available that CBD oil is used in, and the best way to take it depends on what you're taking it for and your personal preference. Some of the most common ways to take CBD oil include lotions, capsules, tinctures, edibles, and vapor.
CBD-infused lotion is applied topically and can be best for those using CBD oil for localized pain or a skin condition such as eczema. You may also prefer it if you don't wish to ingest anything. Still, for conditions such as anxiety, lotions may not have as much of an effect as other methods.
CBD capsules are most often taken to treat digestive issues and seizures associated with some types of epilepsy. For example, as stated earlier, a CBD capsule called Epidolex was recently approved by the FDA to reduce seizures in patients with severe types of epilepsy.
While they can be helpful, it may take a few hours for CBD capsules to take effect.
Tinctures are sprays or oils that are applied and absorbed under the tongue. These can be great for those who are unable to take capsules or who want to avoid the added sugar that is often in edibles. Additionally, tinctures allow you to absorb more CBD than other methods, so they will usually take effect faster than capsules or edibles.
Edibles like gummies and mints can be a discreet and easy way of taking CBD oil, and they're much tastier than other methods. However, they can take a few hours to take effect. Because they have to be broken down by the digestive system, you won't absorb as much CBD as you would with tinctures or vapor methods.
CBD oil cartridges for vaporizers or CBD concentrate for vape pens are also an option. CBD oil takes effect the quickest with this method, as the CBD goes directly from your lungs into your bloodstream. Typically, you'll feel the effects after only ten minutes.
However, the safety of this method is not yet proven, and some cartridges may include ingredients that can cause damage to your lung tissue.
Consider talking to your doctor about the method that would be best for you.
What to look for in a CBD Product
Once you decide how you want to take CBD oil, there are a few things to look out for to ensure that you purchase a quality product.
Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate?
First, you should be aware of any other cannabis compounds in the product. A product might be full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate.
- Full-spectrum CBD products include CBD as well as all other compounds found in the cannabis plant, including THC. When derived from hemp, though, these products only have up to 0.3 percent of THC
- Broad-spectrum CBD products include CBD and all other cannabis compounds, except THC.
- CBD isolate products are purely CBD and do not include any other cannabis compounds.
Ultimately, the type you choose depends on preference. Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products can be more effective, as cannabinoids are most effective when working together. However, some people prefer to take CBD on its own without additional compounds.
Whatever you choose, be sure to pay attention to what the product is labeled, so you know exactly what you're taking.
Does it Actually Have CBD in it?
That being said, you'll also want to check the ingredients of the product to be sure it has CBD in it. CBD oil might be listed on the label as cannabidiol or hemp extract. Ingredients such as hemp seed oil or Cannabis sativa seed oil are not the same as CBD oil. You should steer clear of products listing these with no mention of cannabidiol or hemp extract.
You should also review the ingredients for anything you might be allergic to. Some products might include a carrier oil, such as olive oil or additives for coloring or flavoring.
If you're purchasing a full-spectrum CBD oil, check the percentage of THC to ensure you're comfortable with the amount.
Is it Third-Party Tested?
A quality and reputable CBD product will have been tested by a third party without a stake in the product. If the product has been third-party tested, it will have a certificate of approval (COA). The certificate of approval allows you to see if the product has been labeled correctly, any safety issues the product raises, and a full list of the compounds included in it.
According to a 2017 study, only 31 percent of products are labeled accurately. Compare the product label to the COA to ensure you're getting the concentration of CBD stated. Of the products in the study, 26 percent contained a lower concentration of CBD than indicated.
The COA will also include any contaminants, such as a pesticide, found in the product. Should contaminants be detected, the COA will mark the status of the analysis as "pass" to indicate if the amount found is safe to be ingested.
All in all, do your best to learn everything you can about the product before purchasing it. Because the FDA has not approved any over-the-counter CBD oil products, it is up to you to research the product and determine its legitimacy and safety.
What is the Proper Dosage of CBD Oil?
After you've purchased the best CBD oil product for you and your needs, you might have a few questions before you feel ready to take it. How much CBD oil do I have to take to feel the effects? How much CBD oil is it safe to take? Can you take too much CBD oil?
The right amount of CBD for you depends on a variety of factors, including your weight, the condition CBD will be treating, and the concentration of CBD in the product. If you can, you should talk to your doctor about the dosage best for you and follow their instructions.
If you don't have a doctor's guidance, it's best to start with a small dosage, such as 20 to 40 mg. Increase it gradually by 5 mg every week until you feel the CBD's effects.
How do you Calculate the Dosage?
Sometimes, figuring out how much of your product to take can be simple, and the label will tell you how much CBD is in a single serving. For example, a bag of CBD gummies may state that one gummy is 10 mg of CBD, making it easy to know to take four gummies if your necessary dosage is 40 mg.
It is often not that simple, though, and you'll have to do the math to figure out how much is in a serving. For example, a bag of gummies may simply say it's 300 mg for the whole bag of 30 gummies, and you'll have to determine yourself that that's 10 mg per gummy.
It can be more confusing to figure this out for oil products. To calculate the dosage for CBD oil, look for the milligrams per milliliter on the label (mg/mL) to find the product's CBD concentration. You may even have to determine this yourself by dividing the milligrams of CBD in the bottle by how many mL of oil it contains.
One drop is about 0.05 mL. So, for a product that is 100 mg/mL, one drop is 5 mg. For a dosage of 40 mg, you will, therefore, have to take eight drops.
This can be overwhelming at first. Once you make the calculation, be sure to write it down somewhere safe, so you only have to figure it out once.
Can you take too much CBD oil?
Studies done in 2013 and 2017 have found that CBD oil is generally safe to take. Even when used regularly or in high quantities of up to 1,500 mg per day, CBD is "reportedly well tolerated in humans."
As you increase your dosage, you might experience some side effects, such as nausea or diarrhea. CBD can also harmfully interact with some medications.
As stated, it's best to consult your doctor before taking CBD, especially if you're already taking other medications or supplements. If you don't have the guidance of a doctor, slowly increase the dosage and pay close attention for side effects. Should you experience an extreme reaction to CBD oil, lower the dosage, or stop your use accordingly.
The long-term effects of CBD, especially when vaped, are still unknown.
About the Author
Stephanie Schwarten is a freelance writer and editor with a Bachelors degree in Professional Writing. She specializes in content marketing as well as both developmental and copy editing.
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