As more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, people interested in products containing CBD oil have an increasing number of options. However, more options often come more questions about the differences in sources of the products. And regardless of whether or not your state has legalized marijuana, you can still get some of its benefits. There’s an entire world of products derived from cannabis that won’t get you high, but that does promise pain and stress relief.
In a recent survey by Consumer Reports, more than a quarter of people in the U.S. stated that they had CBD. If you are interested in trying CBD but don’t know what to look for or what to expect, this handy guide will answer your questions and clear up some common misconceptions about CBD and its uses.
Cannabidiol (CBD) does not get you high. It is just one of the more than 100 active compounds in the Cannabis sativa or hemp plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is another active compound and the most well-known.
Are CBD and THC different? Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not contain the psychoactive properties that cause a “high,” that’s the main difference between CBD and THC. This is because CBD does not affect the same receptors in the brain as THC. It does, however, have some of the same qualities of THC, which means you can benefit from its therapeutic qualities without feeling stoned.
Where Does CBD Come From?
All CBD oils come from the cannabis plant. Unlike marijuana plants, hemp plants farmers don’t modify their plants to increase THC levels. Overall, CBD oil is extracted from the flowers of the hemp plant, instead of the leaves or seeds.
The legality of CBD Oil
The legal status of CBD oil depends on the state you live in. In the United States, CBD is legal in most states. However, certain states have only legalized CBD for medical use, and that requires special licensing.
Another key point when it comes to the legality of CBD oil is its origins. Hemp-derived CBD products are still illegal under some state laws. Just like marijuana-derived products are prohibited on a federal level, but legal in some states. Before you buy any CBD products, check your state’s laws, as well as any state you travel to.
The human body runs on a series of complex processes, and as much as we know about the human body, it seems like we are learning more each day. It’s incredible to think that we’ve only known about the endocannabinoid system (ECS) since the 1990s, even though cannabis, the substance it was named for, has been used for health and wellness purposes by humans for centuries.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is just one of the more than 60 compounds found in the cannabis sativa plant. It is the part of the hemp plant that can keep you healthy, not get you high. Let’s take a fascinating trip through the ECS and how scientists think CBD works in the human body.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
Before discussing the endocannabinoid system (ECS), it’s important to note the differences between CBD and THC. CBD is not psychoactive, so it won’t get you high. The substance responsible for the high is THC. Because these two substances have different chemical structures, they interact with the receptors in the ECS in a different way and therefore have different effects.
The ECS is made up of receptors that run throughout the brain and body. Named after the plant that led to its discovery, the ECS is one of the key physiologic systems governing the establishment and maintenance of human health. It plays a variety of roles in the regulation of systems in the body. At the most basic level, this system is a big, complex network of cannabinoid receptors spread throughout the body.
In addition, the ECS releases cannabinoids that interact with the corresponding receptors found in just about all the tissues in the body. CBD oil is phytocannabinoids that you can take to supplement the compounds your body produces and help the ECS do its job.
This is where the critical difference between CBD and THC comes into play. CBD binds indirectly to cell receptors to control signaling and the flow of other chemicals to create a variety of positive effects. THC binds directly to cell receptors to create a psychoactive response.
Basics of How CBD Works
During the last 40 years since the discovery of the ECS, researchers have identified a vast and complex system that, according to many studies, helps regulate numerous things in the body, including mood, brain function, immune response, sleep, inflammation, pain, and stress.
CBD interacts specifically with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, the only known cannabinoid receptors. CB1 receptors are found mainly in the central nervous system and the brain, with a few scattered also in the glands, spleen, heart and other locations. CB2 receptors are found in cells associated with the immune system.
These receptors are signaling pathways for anxiety, stress, pain perception, and inflammatory responses. Research shows that CBD can act on these receptors indirectly, controlling the signals sent to the brain, which can minimize the unnecessary pain or inflammation. This has the potential to mitigate the symptoms of many conditions related to inflammation and pain, such as acne and other skin conditions, general inflammation, sports injuries, and more.
How CBD Works with the Brain
In addition to CBD’s effects on the ECS, it also increases the uptake and flow of chemicals to the brain. One of the most well-researched effects of CBD is how it impacts serotonin. CBD has been shown to increase serotonin levels, which can help offer relief from depression, anxiety, and migraines.
CBD research indicates that CBD has an impact on ‘glial cells’ that support the neurons on the brain. If these cells become overactive, it can cause hypersensitivity to pain or light. CBD oil helps control their activity and keep them at a normal level.
Other Ways That CBD Works in the Body
Between 2006 and March 2019, more than 11,000 medical and scientific studies on CBD have been published. More than half have been released in the past 5 years and there are thousands in the works. These studies have found numerous benefits of CBD, from helping to reduce anxiety to helping reduce dependence on other drugs, reducing the progression of neurodegenerative diseases, and improving some skin disorders.
It’s clear that the research is ongoing, even as many are already benefiting from CBD and its effects on certain systems in the body. Knowing more about how CBD works in the body will provide the information needed for further development of therapies.
CBD Oil Uses and Benefits
People use CBD oil for a variety of conditions, from lowering blood pressure, helping with anxiety, and stress relief to joint pain and cancer. Here are some of the ways CBD oil can benefit a person’s health.
Epilepsy, Seizures, and Other Neurological Symptoms
The use of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy and seizures is probably the most well-researched use for CBD with plenty of medically reviewed studies and analysis. After much research on its effectiveness and safety in treating epilepsy, back in June 2018, the FDA approved CBD for treating two rare, severe forms of epilepsy.
Also, a 2014 review discussed CBD’s anti-seizure properties and low side effects for people with epilepsy. The findings indicated that CBD might also be a potential therapy for many of the complications connected to epilepsy, including neuronal injury, neurodegeneration, and psychiatric diseases. Further research is needed on the many possible uses of CBD for treating neurological symptoms.
Anti-inflammatory and Pain Relief
While there are many over-the-counter drugs available to relieve pain, stiffness, and chronic pain, many people are turning to CBD oil as a more natural alternative to these drugs. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine demonstrated that CBD could reduce chronic inflammation and pain in some rats and mice. This research suggests that CBD could provide a new treatment for pain. The hope is for CBD oil and other cannabis-derived products to help with chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis or arthritis. Many athletes use topical CBD products, either oil or cream, for joint pain.
While doctors often advise patients suffering from chronic anxiety to stay away from cannabis, since the THC it contains can trigger or intensify anxiety and paranoia, research indicates that CBD could be a potential treatment for people with anxiety disorders. These disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many people use CBD products such as tinctures, edibles, and even bath products to combat stress and anxiety.
Acne Treatment and Skin Care
Another potential use of CBD in the treatment of acne. Acne is caused by excess production of sebum and inflammation. In a 2014 study, researchers found that CBD oil could help control both. It helps lower the production of sebum and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. CBD is already being added to many skincare products, and studies have shown it could also become a treatment for acne vulgaris, the most common type of acne.
Suppression of Cancer Cells
There is some evidence that CBD can help prevent the spread of cancer and could be a potential anti-cancer drug. Researchers noted that CBD tends to suppress the growth of cancer cells and promote their destruction. Since it has low levels of toxicity, the researchers suggested further research into CBD as a potential complement to standard cancer treatments.
CBD Oil FAQs
Is CBD Oil the Same as Hemp Oil?
Since CBD oil is derived from hemp, you may wonder if CBD oil and hemp oil are the same things. CBD oil is extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant and then mixed with a carrier oil so that your body can more easily absorb it. Hemp oil is extracted from the seeds of industrial hemp plants, where there is less cannabidiol to be extracted. Therefore, it is important to know that CBD oil and hemp oil are not the same and to be sure to read labels closely.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD does not affect the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) directly, but rather it inhibits or activates other compounds in the ECS. For instance, CBD stops the body from absorbing anandamide, a compound associated with regulating pain. Increased levels of anandamide may reduce the amount of pain a person feels. Although ingesting CBD offers the most benefits, the body can absorb CBD through the skin.
Does CBD Oil Have Side Effects or Risks?
One of the most significant benefits of CBD is the lack of reported side effects. The associated risks with CBD could be related to the lack of research about its long-term health effects. Generally, CBD is safe to take. However, people who take CBD have shown signs of:
- Dry mouth
However, more human studies are needed to understand the side effects as most CBD oil research has been conducted on animal studies. Because substances like cannabis are highly regulated, there aren’t as many CBD oil studies available. With the legalization of more cannabis-derived products, the hope is to expand research.
How to Use CBD Oil?
There are tons of reasons that vary the best way to use CBD. CBD oil is available in creams or gels, capsules to be taken orally, tinctures to be sprayed or pour into the mouth, and more. Talk to your doctor before you incorporate CBD into your diet. The amount of CBD your body needs to reap the benefits depends on your current health state, your age, your weight, and your tolerance.
Although CBD oil has been available for decades, most people are only starting to use it as its legality becomes the norm in most countries. Because of this, most people still have many questions regarding CBD oil, its use, and its benefits. Here are some CBD FAQs.
Why Choose Hemp Over Medical Cannabis?
For those looking for a natural approach to treat medical conditions, CBD offers a more safe option. Also, CBD offers many of the benefits medical cannabis does without the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis.
Can My Pet Take CBD?
The many benefits associated with CBD oil have increased curiosity among pet owners. The short answer is yes. Your pet can take CBD. The long answer is it depends. Pets can be highly sensitive to THC, even in the small quantities present in CBD oils, so speak with your vet before giving your pet CBD oil.
Can I Get High Off CBD?
No. Unlike marijuana or other cannabis products, THC doesn’t have the psychoactive cannabinoid associated with the “high” feeling most people are familiar with. However, those who take CBD can expect to feel more relaxed and at ease.
CBD is currently available in several forms, such as oils and tinctures, creams and lotions, capsules and pills, edibles such as gummies, and vaping. Nowadays, you can find CBD coffee in most shops, as well as restaurants trying different CBD recipes to update their menus. While the scientific jury may still be out on some of the benefits of CBD oil, people are still using it and finding relief.
The Body’s Endocannabinoid System
After several decades of research, scientists studying the effects of cannabis made some pretty significant discoveries.
First, they identified the active ingredient in the plant: cannabinoids. Then, they discovered how and why cannabinoids work in the brain – via a new system they named the endocannabinoid system.
Yes, your endocannabinoid system is literally named after pot.
Commonly dubbed the ECS, the endocannabinoid system is a unique communications pathway traveling throughout the brain and body. And its all made possible by cannabinoids, the chemicals our bodies share with cannabis sativa.
What Does “Endocannabinoid” Mean?
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds. They are naturally produced in plants, like cannabis, where they are referred to as “phytocannabinoids.” However, the human body also produces cannabinoids of its own. These are what we call “endocannabinoids.”
Endocannabinoids are simply cannabis-like chemicals that are produced naturally by the body.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The ECS is a complex cell-signaling system that helps the body maintain homeostasis. This means it helps keep the body in balance; regulating a large range of functions and processes, including sleep, appetite, and even reproduction and fertility.
The endocannabinoid system is composted of three parts:
- Receptors that bond with cannabinoids and endocannabinoids
- Enzymes that help break down cannabinoids and endocannabinoids
When something is operating outside of its correct range, your body activates the ECS to help correct it. So, for example, when it’s really hot and your body begins to sweat, that’s your ECS in action cooling you down.
How Does the ECS Work?
The ECS communicates through receptors found within the body. We have at least two known types of cannabinoid receptors:
- CB1, which are found within the central nervous system located in the brain and nerves of the spinal cord
- CB2, which are in the peripheral nervous system, especially in immune and digestive cells
Researchers believe cannabinoid receptors to be among the most plentiful in our central nervous system. When something is off-balance in the body, cannabinoids work as neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers, that deliver information from one cell to the next.
However, the effects that result depend on both where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid it binds to. For example, endocannabinoids might target CB2 receptors in immune cells to signal that your body’s experiencing inflammation. Others might bind to CB1 receptors in the spinal nerves to relieve pain.
Once the endocannabinoids have done their job and brought things into homeostasis, ECS enzymes come along to break them down and prevent excess endocannabinoids from upsetting the balance they helped create.
What are Functions of the ECS?
Since the ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body, its job is to regulate many of the body’s important functions, including:
- Motor control
- Immune function
- Temperature regulation
Not only is the ECS a natural part of our bodies, but it’s also a crucial one. So, the next time someone mentions cannabis around you, remind them some of the most important cannabinoids are already coursing through your body.