What is CBD?

CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of the most prevalent of the more than 130 identified cannabinoids found within the Cannabis sativa plant. Though it arises from the plant commonly referred to as marijuana, it is not psychotropic in any way. Rather, it directly affects the endocannabinoid system that has been found over the past half-century to affect an astounding number of processes and physiological functions.

CBD has been shown to have beneficial effects on a variety of physical fronts, including areas such as pain management, overcoming addictions, acne, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disorders, stroke, and even premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

CBD vs. THC: What is the Difference?

CBD comes from the same species that produces marijuana. Marijuana’s active psychotropic component, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is another and quite a separate cannabinoid. Though CBD and THC arise from the same plant species, they are different compounds.

  • Commercially available CBD generally is in the form of an extract that is wholly or mostly devoid of THC. Some hemp oil extract – i.e., CBD – producers proudly announce that their products contain no discernible THC levels at all. Others enjoy promoting minimal THC levels that keep their products legal in all 50 states. Most produce products that are somewhere in between the two extremes.
  • Regardless of whether there is detectable THC content in any CBD product, the bottom line is that the difference between CBD and THC is that one is psychotropic and one is not. Even lower quality CBD extracts that contain maximum levels of THC will not invoke any overt physical reaction stronger than extreme relaxation. Users of CBD have not a prayer of getting “high” from it. The differences in the forms of the two cannabinoids define their existence and their physical properties.

What is CBD’s Legal Status?

Hemp was a vitally important agricultural crop literally for centuries. Hemp plant fiber was used for virtually all rope production, and before the mid-1800s it also was used for most paper production. In 1938, Popular Mechanics stated that hemp was flirting with becoming the first-ever billion-dollar crop. In 1938! Newer methods of paper production emerged, however.

  • DuPont patented a “plastic fiber” in the 1930s touted to replace hemp in a variety of applications. Hemp remained popular in high quality, low-cost paper production, at least until newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst invested in thousands of acres of timber to produce low quality, cheap paper.
  • The hemp industry threatened those plans. Hearst used his considerable influence to highlight the possible psychotropic effects of the plant. The combined lobbying efforts of DuPont and Hearst resulted in a 1937 ban on commercial hemp production.
  • Controlled production for medical use remained legal until 1970 when the “federal government enacted the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act (now known as the Federal Controlled Substance Act)” (Sellman, 2017, p. 13) and hemp was then classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. As such, it was illegal for any physician to prescribe any hemp-derived product for patients.

The 2014 Farm Bill legalized hemp production in narrowly defined areas, but since then hemp production and CBD purchase and use have come to be legal in all 50 states.

 How Does CBD Work?

CBD directly affects the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which in turn is directly responsible for maintaining homeostasis within many of our internal systems. Dr. Sellman (2017) states, “The ECS is possibly the most critical system within our entire body.

  • It is responsible for maintaining homeostasis. If our ECS is out of whack, the health of our entire body could be at risk” (p. 24). In 2006, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) stated that since the late 1990s, the ECS “has been implicated in a growing number of physiological functions” (Sellman, 2017, p. 25) and that the ECS holds vast “therapeutic promise in a wide range of disparate diseases and pathological conditions, ranging from mood and anxiety disorders … movement disorders …to cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension … and osteoporosis, to name just a few” (Sellman, 2017, p. 26).

The ECS holds receptors that can receive molecules of only CBD. CBD molecules serve to align the functions of the ECS, and it is only CBD that can satisfy the ECS’ requirements.

Hemp vs. Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

In terms of the plant that produces both hemp extract and marijuana,  Cannabis sativa, there is no difference at all. The glaring dispute arises from the methods used to create each substance. Hemp oil is an extract of the  Cannabis sativa plant, the result of a process that extracts cannabidiol. Marijuana arises from dried leaves and flowers of the same plant and by definition contains the psychotropic cannabinoid known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

  • These are two separate cannabinoids originating with the same plant. There are at least another 128 cannabinoids that can be gained from the  Cannabis sativa plant, but CBD and THC are the two of leading interest.
  • The primary distinction is that hemp oil or CBD by definition contains zero to 0.03% THC. Even at its upper level of 0.03% THC, no correct hemp oil or CBD extract can produce any sort of “high.” It also should not appear in even the most rigorous of drug tests.

What’s the Difference Between CBD Oil from Medical Marijuana and CBD Oil from Industrial Hemp Oil?

Because the base plant,  Cannabis sativa, is the same for each of these formulations, there is no difference at all between CBD oil from one designation classification and any other. Medical marijuana is produced from Cannabis sativa, as is industrial hemp oil.

  • There may be differences in growing practices among growers – there would be little incentive for industrial hemp oil producers to take on the expenses of organic production, an example.
  • Other than cultural practice differences, there are no differences at all between CBD oil from medical marijuana and CBD oil from industrial hemp oil. That said, it is possible to gain some CBD benefits from ingesting marijuana. Those who want marijuana effects will gain CBD benefits. Those who want CBD benefits without marijuana effects can find right products in all 50 states.

Find the Best CBD Oil Products for You

First, decide the purpose. Is the primary goal to address some pain or condition that CBD can help to alleviate, or is that benefit secondary? Is the primary purpose of achieving the “high” of marijuana? Individuals living in states where marijuana is legal can seek and gain guidance from clinics or retail locations. Those who want no part of the psychoactive aspects of marijuana but seek the physiological benefits of CBD oil or extract can find suppliers virtually anywhere. As CBD now is legal in all 50 states, prospective customers can discover suppliers both locally and online.

CBD in Clinical Application

It isn’t likely that any MD connected with “big pharma” will advise patients to seek out CBD use. Many naturopaths, chiropractors, and holistic healers are enthusiastic in recommending CBD, however. CBD is valuable in many applications, but perhaps the most promising at present is its real value in helping to overcome the opioid epidemic in the US. CBD has real value in addressing pain management without the need for any opioid drugs, either prescribed or otherwise.

How to take CBD oil? What’s the correct dose of CBD?

CBD oil is available commercially as drops or capsules. There are some tablets that likely no one should use, not because there’s any problem with their quality but because CBD bioavailability within a tablet is significantly reduced.

  • The first dosage to use is that which is suggested on the container. Individuals can assess changes within them, then increase dosage accordingly. One of the leading beauties of CBD is that it isn’t possible to overdose on it. It is highly possible to take more than the body can utilize effectively and so waste money, but there’s no physiological issue with higher level doses.
  • The bottom line on dosage is that it can be a moving target in terms of the most significant effectiveness. There is no danger at all in taking “too much.” The only issue with taking higher doses than necessary is the associated costs of repurchase.

What Are the Benefits of CBD Oil?

There are so many benefits of CBD oil that its value has been questioned, especially by medical establishment types. CBD oil can be beneficial for so very many conditions that it can appear to the Swiss Army Knife of natural remedies. Following are just a few of those conditions:

Pain

  • One of the leading uses of hemp extract over centuries has been for treating depression. Chronic pain is defined as any pain that persists for three months or more. Hemp extract stimulates the cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2 receptors) to block the release of pain “messages” causing inflammation and swelling at the site of an injury.
  • Any nerve that is irritated, pinched, injured or otherwise negatively affected can produce neuropathy. Neuropathic pain messages are sent from the site of injury to the brain, where they are perceived as pain.
  • This is a pain path common with conditions such as diabetes or herniated disks. CBD interacts with receptors in the immune system and brain, creating a pain – relieving and anti-inflammatory effect. CBD also acts to modify the brain’s perception of pain.
  • Where intense pain is present and persistent, CBD also can act synergistically with opioids to reduce the individual’s needs for opioids for pain control by as much as 30 percent.
  • Where pain is more minor, CBD can be used topically to address localized pain, inflammation and swelling. Combining oral and topical treatments is a highly effective systemic effect.

Epilepsy

  • Many epilepsy drugs provide immense benefit for individuals suffering from this affliction. However, drugs fail to provide relief for fully 30 percent of those who have epilepsy.
  • Additionally, “the side effects are often so debilitating that the patient can’t continue using the medications” (Sellman, 2017, p. 72). The benefits of CBD have clinically proven, however.
  • CBD is amazingly effective in alleviating epilepsy symptoms in infants, children, and adults. It also helps to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures significantly. Further, CBD has demonstrated not only to be safe for individuals of all ages but also affordable.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in an autoimmune disease that attacks the myelin sheath covering nerves. MS causes a range of troubling symptoms that vary in their severity according to the level of nerve damage.
  • Symptoms can include tremors, tingling, pain, numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, partial or complete loss of vision in one or both eyes, slurred speech, fatigue, dizziness, heat sensitivity, and others.
  • Hemp extract decreases the autoimmune inflammatory response in and destruction of the myelin sheath, helping to slow or even halt the progression of MS. It also can help to reduce the pain and muscle stiffness symptoms so common to MS.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – Lou Gehrig disease – is a fatal neurodegenerative disease of the motor neuron system that has only limited therapeutic options.
  • ALS destroys nerve cells that control muscles, progressively attacking those muscles that enable speech, swallowing and breathing.
  • Researchers gave mice daily doses of THC, CBD, CBD plus THC or a placebo. “Results showed that … hemp extract was most effective in delaying the progression of the disease” (Sellman, 2017, p. 40).

Parkinson’s

  • Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system. It affects more than 6 million people around the world and is most prevalent in those over the age of 60. Sellman (2017) explains that one of the roles of the ECS lies in regulating the lifespan of individual cells, particularly those within the central nervous system.
  • The ECS has a protective effect in neurodegenerative diseases and helps to mitigate the neurological damage characterized by Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is challenging to treat with standard drugs but responds well to treatment with CBD.
  • Hemp extract improves cell survival rates and helps to reduce the muscle reactions that create the tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Inflammation

  • Chronic inflammation is instrumental in many types of diseases including the autoimmune diseases of arthritis, lupus, colitis and MS. Inflammation also is associated with pain.
  • There is evidence that inflammation directly contributes to the progress of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and others. Hemp extract activates CB2 receptors, thus inhibiting inflammation.

Acne

  • One of the causes of acne is the overproduction of sebum, which is an oily substance that supports skin maintenance. Sebum is highly desirable at optimum levels, but production leads to acne.
  • CBD can inhibit sebum production and reduce the inflammation of sebum overproduction. The best use of CBD against acne is to combine oral and topical preparations.

Dyskinesia

  • Dyskinesia is an involuntary movement disorder similar to those associated with Parkinson’s disease. They are debilitating conditions that indeed can be quite debilitating and are linked to oxidative stress and neurodegeneration.
  • Pharmacological solutions address only symptoms and aren’t effective even in that. Researchers have found that Cannabis sativa can have positive effects not only on the symptoms but also on the underlying causes, resulting in significantly reduced or even prevented symptoms.

Psoriasis

  • Psoriasis affects the skin, causing an overgrowth of cells on the surface of the skin. These overgrowth areas can form red patches and may become covered with silvery scales Affected areas are itchy and in severe cases can become quite painful. CBD is active on several fronts.
  • It helps to reduce inflammation, slows cell growth, helps to control pain, may reduce itching and even contributes to wound healing.

Broken Bones

  • Several studies have concluded that the addition of CBD in the presence of broken bones contributes not only to more rapid healing but also to healed bones stronger than before breaks. The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research published a study concluding that CBD not only strengthens bones but also accelerates fracture healing.

Mad Cow Disease

  • Mad Cow Disease is a progressive and brain damaging neurological disease that has a high probability of being fatal. There is a large concentration of prion proteins in brains affected by Mad Cow Disease.
  • Though researchers are unclear on how Mad Cow Disease operates, it has become clear that CBD is highly effective in fighting it.

Depression

  • Depression has become nearly ubiquitous in our society. Though researchers are unclear on just how CBD produces positive effects, almost all agree that it does.
  • Not only does CBD provide relief, but it also does so without the side effects so common with antidepressant medications.
  • Further, its effects are seen within a few days rather than within the weeks required when using pharmaceutical treatments.

Bacterial Infections

  • It has long been known that  Cannabis sativa has antibacterial properties. Italian researchers tested five cannabinoids including CBD on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains to find that CBD had a significant effect on the bacteria.
  • The researchers could only speculate about the means of the action of the CBD on the notoriously resistant MRSA bacteria, but results were clear.

Diabetes

  • CBD even is a useful tool to use in diabetes. It inhibits inflammation, which is a precursor of insulin resistance and subsequent development of Type 2 diabetes. Where the condition is present, CBD has been shown to help stabilize blood sugars, protect against the development of diabetic neuropathy, lower blood pressure and help calm diabetic restless leg syndrome (RLS).

Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease characterized in large part by inflammation that increases to the point that it causes pain that can range from relatively minor to quite debilitating.
  • CBD’s effectiveness against arthritis lies in its positive effects in reducing inflammation. Keeping the inflammation at bay has a direct beneficial impact for those with rheumatoid arthritis.

Nausea

  • Researchers have known for some time that manipulating the endocannabinoid system can regulate nausea and vomiting. Research evidence indicates that the use of CBD can be quite useful in reducing nausea and vomiting often associated with chemotherapy and other therapeutic treatments.

Anxiety

  • If there are any “side effects” of CBD, the only one identified is a general sense of well being. It has a calming effect that directly reduces anxiety levels.
  • This is important for mental sources of anxiety, but CBD also reduces the stress created through physiological pathways such as minor heart irregularities.

ADHD

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been a troubling issue for many years. Characterized by anxiety, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and impaired attention span, adults with ADHD often have trouble staying on task, completing projects and accomplishing even simple things of daily life.
  • There has been very little direct research with CBD use in treating ADHD, but adults who choose to use CBD frequently report a significant decrease in symptoms. Some psychiatrists even advise using CBD rather than relying on one of the many pharmaceutical drugs in widespread use.

Schizophrenia

  • Schizophrenia is a type of psychosis that has been difficult to manage using antipsychotic drugs with or without mental health therapy. It also has been found to respond well to CBD. Researchers have confirmed that CBD can combat psychotic episodes and may well become a mainstream therapeutic option in the future.

Substance Abuse and Withdrawal

  • Certainly, there are many substances to which individuals can and do become addicted. Opioids have taken center stage in recent years because of their frighteningly broad availability in the form of legal prescription drugs as well as illegal drugs such as heroin or illicitly made fentanyl.
  • Opioids act in the brain, but they also work in other neurological systems. CBD interacts with these same neurological systems. Sudden withdrawal can produce intense symptoms such as pain, anxiety, nausea, and vomiting, all of which CBD can significantly ease.
  • Some studies have concluded that CBD also reduces cravings for harmful substances. It appears that CBD is an excellent non-addictive solution to ease withdrawal symptoms while also serving to reduce cravings.

Heart Disease

  • CBD addresses several of the critical issues that contribute to heart disease. Its use has the effect of relaxing arterial walls, reducing inflammation, increasing antioxidant protection, decreasing plaque buildup and even enhancing the immune response.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Along with colitis and Crohn’s disease, IBS involves inflammation as well as irregular muscle movements and absorption of water in the large intestine. Research indicates that CBD is one of the most reliable and most effective anti-inflammatory compounds currently available.
  • CBD also inhibits the production of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), an enzyme that can reduce endocannabinoid production. CBD serves to support increased production of endocannabinoids, which in turn diminishes the symptoms of IBS.

Final Thoughts

After decades of being maligned and even illegal, the pendulum now has made a full swing. The list of CBD benefits appears to be very nearly endless and continues to grow. As there are no known side effects but a wealth of scientific and anecdotal evidence of its many benefits, virtually any adult can use CBD oil for therapeutic or preventive purposes.