Chronic pain. Anxiety. Sleep problems. Cancer symptoms. Seizure disorders. The list of conditions CBD oil allegedly helps treat seems ever-expanding. There is even an FDA-approved drug containing CBD to treat rare seizure disorders. CBD oils popularity has skyrocketed in lockstep with bold health claims. But is there rigorous science backing this cannabis-oil cure-all? Does real-world evidence support CBD as a medical panacea and magic bullet? Or has CBD simply been endowed with almost mythical healing powers in the public imagination? Given society’s continued infatuation with holistic wellness and alternative therapies, it’s worth investigating if CBD oil lives up to its budding hype.
What is CBD Oil and How is it Made?
CBD oil, extracted from the two main cannabis plants, hemp and marijuana, is celebrated for its potential therapeutic properties. This oil is primarily composed of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component, which ensures it doesn’t cause the ‘high’ traditionally linked to marijuana.
The production of CBD is similar to how essential oils are made, involving the extraction of CBD and other chemicals from the cannabis plant using solvents like olive oil, alcohol, or CO2 gas. After this extraction, the solvent is eliminated, leaving behind a CBD-enriched oil.
Along with cannabinoids, the CBD oil also contains various cannabis compounds like terpenes and flavonoids. This composition allows CBD oil to preserve the comprehensive therapeutic attributes of the cannabis plant. Its potency and efficacy vary depending on the cannabis strain used and the extraction method employed.
Hemp vs Marijuana: What’s the Difference?
Hemp and marijuana, both from the Cannabis sativa species, significantly differ in chemical composition and usage. The key distinction lies in their tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) levels, the primary cannabinoids found in these plants. Marijuana typically has high THC and low CBD levels, leading to its psychoactive effects and use in recreational or medicinal contexts. In contrast, hemp contains low THC and high CBD amounts, rendering it non-intoxicating and suitable for industrial uses like textiles, food, and fuel.
Lastly, the legality of the two plants varies. Legal definitions hinge on these THC levels: cannabis with 0.3 percent or less THC is classified as hemp, while more than 0.3 percent THC designates marijuana.
How Does CBD Oil Work and Will It Make You High?
I’m going to dive into how CBD oil works, but let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: it won’t make you high. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in cannabis plants. Unlike its cousin THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it’s not psychoactive, so it doesn’t produce the ‘high’ associated with marijuana use.
Now, onto how it works. CBD interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex cell-signaling system that plays a key role in regulating various bodily functions like sleep, mood, and pain. It’s thought that CBD’s therapeutic effects come from this interaction.
When you ingest CBD oil, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream, where it can interact with receptors in your ECS. Specifically, it’s thought that CBD prevents endocannabinoids from being broken down, allowing them to have more of an effect on your body. Additionally, CBD can also interact with non-endocannabinoid signaling systems, contributing to its potential therapeutic effects.
While research is ongoing, current evidence suggests that CBD oil can provide relief for a variety of conditions, including anxiety, chronic pain, and seizures, without the mind-altering effects of marijuana.
CBD Oil Types and Their Potencies
There are three main kinds of CBD oil that vary in their cannabinoid composition:
- Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the compounds found in the cannabis plant, including THC, albeit in small amounts.
- Broad-spectrum CBD oil also contains a range of cannabis plant compounds, but it’s usually free of THC.
- CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, containing no other plant compounds.
The potency of CBD oil varies, with products typically ranging from 250 to 5000 milligrams per bottle. The right potency for you depends on your body weight, the condition you’re treating, and how your body reacts to CBD.
Scientific studies suggest that higher doses of CBD may be most effective for certain conditions. For example, research shows that doses of 300 mg to 600 mg may reduce anxiety. However, everyone’s response to CBD is unique, and it’s essential to start with a low dose and gradually increase until you find what works for you.
Science Verifies: Does CBD Work?
CBD oil’s journey from alternative therapy to a scientifically endorsed health solution is remarkable. From easing chronic pain to reducing anxiety, its therapeutic potential is beginning to take shape in the medical world. The Food and Drug Administration’s nod to Epidiolex as a CBD-based medication for reducing seizures underscores it’s growing acceptance and potential.
Here’s a list of 11 scientifically backed claims that CBD oil works:
Pain Relief: Research suggests CBD may help reduce chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation, and interacting with neurotransmitters.
Anxiety and Depression Reduction: Studies have found CBD to have potential in treating anxiety and depression, possibly by acting on the brain’s serotonin receptors.
Neurological Disorders: CBD is being studied for its potential in treating a range of conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and anxiety.
- Epilepsy: Epidiolex, a CBD oral solution, has been effective in clinical trials, particularly a 2021 study that found a median reduction in certain types of seizures.
Heart Health: Some research has linked CBD with several benefits for the heart and circulatory system, including the ability to lower high blood pressure.
Anti-Acne: Due to its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce sebum production, CBD oil may be effective in treating acne.
Antipsychotic Effects: Studies suggest that CBD may help people with schizophrenia and other mental disorders by reducing psychotic symptoms.
Substance Abuse Treatment: CBD has been shown to modify circuits in the brain related to drug addiction, potentially aiding in treating substance abuse disorders.
Anti-Tumor Effects: In test-tube and animal studies, CBD has demonstrated that it may inhibit cancer cell growth, though more research in humans is needed.
Diabetes Prevention: There is some evidence from animal studies that CBD may help prevent diabetes.
Improving Sleep: Some research indicates that CBD may help improve sleep for individuals with certain sleep disorders, like insomnia, REM sleep disorders, and daytime sleepiness.
It’s important to note that while these benefits are promising, more research is needed in many areas to establish the efficacy and safety of CBD oil. Additionally, CBD can interact with certain medications, so it’s advisable to consult a healthcare provider before starting its use.
Does CBD Oil Have Side-Effects?
CBD oil is generally well-tolerated, but it can have side effects like fatigue, digestive issues, and, in rare high-dose cases, liver damage. Most liver damage instances were observed in animal studies with doses much higher than typical therapeutic levels and are not commonly reported in human trials. CBD can also interfere with the metabolism of certain medications, potentially intensifying their effects. The quality of CBD oil varies, with some products containing unwanted elements like heavy metals and THC. This underscores the importance of industry regulation and quality control to ensure consumer safety and consistent product standards.
Is CBD Oil Legal?
The legality of CBD oil in the U.S. hinges on its THC content and the plant from which it’s derived. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC is federally legal. However, CBD sourced from marijuana remains illegal federally, despite some states legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. This creates a legal gray area. Only one CBD product, Epidiolex, is FDA-approved for treating certain seizures. While hemp-based CBD is federally permissible, state laws vary significantly. Some states align with federal law, whereas others have restrictions or deem all cannabis products illegal. Therefore, it’s crucial to be aware of the specific CBD regulations in your state. The legal framework for CBD is intricate and subject to change, reflecting ongoing developments in legislation and public perception.
So, Does CBD Oil Really Work? It’s Complicated
The existing scientific evidence makes a reasonably strong case for CBD oil as an effective therapeutic aid, but there are caveats. Science points to real therapeutic potential while acknowledging existing gaps that warrant further research. But the gaps likely reflect CBD’s growing popularity more than problems. The FDA itself confirms CBD’s medical value in approving the epilepsy drug Epidiolex. And small but growing studies already indicate CBD can improve anxiety, pain, nausea, and more for many people. Users overwhelmingly report better quality of life. So for those struggling with chronic issues, quality-controlled CBD oil seems a promising supplemental treatment option worth exploring under medical guidance.
True, more research on CBD is still needed. But science is making progress to confirm what many users already experience — CBD oil can help with conditions like pain and anxiety. As the FDA prepares new regulations, access to safe, quality CBD products should increase. For now, enough evidence exists for consumers to make reasonable choices about trying CBD under medical supervision. As we learn more, we’ll better understand how to best use CBD oil and who benefits most. By educating themselves, consumers can feel hopeful about CBD’s potential while improvements continue. Reason and research point to CBD as a supplementary treatment worth exploring for some people