You may or may not have heard of a little present from nature called cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD. Well—scratch that. We’d venture to say you have definitely heard of CBD. It’s everywhere nowadays! We’re seeing products pop up all over the place, in grocery stores, corner stores, and pet stores. CBD is just about everywhere! But even more exciting than that, it seems CBD might be able to help just about most things. While we should state right off the bat that research is largely preliminary, and much is still needed to be done before we can definitively state that CBD can aid or alleviate any health concerns, the findings so far have been very promising and researchers seem to be collectively quite excited to continue exploring this fascinating organic substance.
What Is CBD? What About CBD Oil?
CBD is one of over 400 organic chemical compounds found in plants within the cannabis genus. More specifically, it is one of over 113 cannabinoids found in plants of the cannabis genus. But what exactly distinguishes a cannabinoid from any other old chemical compound? To answer this, let us take a look at another well-known cannabinoid: tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC. More often than not, the first thing you will think of when you hear “THC” is of marijuana and its notorious effects, which essentially consists of an intoxication commonly referred to as a “high.” THC’s ability to produce this effect is what allows it to be characterized as a cannabinoid. Basically, cannabinoids are able to interact with cells in our brain to produce varying effects that are essentially considered an alteration of the normal state of our brain and body. However, just because THC has a “psychoactive” effect (a fancier, more scientific way to say “it can get you high”) does not mean CBD’s effects are equally as drastic. On the contrary, CBD is non-psychoactive; by deductive reasoning we can infer that this means it does not get you high. This difference in effect can be explained by the way in which each cannabinoid uniquely communicates with the cells in our brain.
Within our very own brains, we have something called an endocannabinoid system. This is essentially a complex system of communication, made up of cannabinoid receptor cells and pathways that allow our brain to chit-chat with cannabinoids and basically pass on those messages to the rest of our brain and body. THC binds directly and strongly with those cannabinoid receptors, and as a result, its effects are quite significant. CBD’s communication skills employ a bit more finesse and subtlety to their speech. They’re kind of the soft speaker at the soiree who you cannot hear well over the rambunctiousness of the music of other guests, yet you find yourself leaning in to listen because what they are saying is actually quite interesting. They bind indirectly and weakly with the cannabinoid receptors cells, resulting in a different (albeit meaningful) effect, sans the high associated with THC. That being said, CBD still produces its own special effects. After use, people report feelings of calm, relaxation and a lift in overall mood. There are a number of other less immediate effects as well, but we’ll get into those potential benefits later.
CBD oil is a product made by extracting CBD from the hemp plant and then distilling it with a carrier oil, such as hemp seed oil. There are a number of different ways to extract CBD oil, as well as a number of types of CBD oil. CBD isolate, however, is the purest form of CBD oil. The CBD isolate extraction process removes virtually all other chemical compounds, leaving you with the closest thing to pure CBD oil you can get.
Is It Legal?
In short, yes (thankfully). CBD was not legalized on a federal level until the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, in which the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) removed the hemp plant from the controlled substance list. Thus, CBD products were also made legal (in most states), so long as the product contains less than 0.3% THC and is derived strictly from the hemp plant and not the marijuana plant. The reason the bill specified the hemp plant is because it is naturally high in CBD and low in THC, unlike the stigmatized marijuana, which is naturally high in THC and low in CBD.
What Are the Benefits?
There are a great number of potential benefits that CBD oil has been shown to offer, and more research is currently underway to find out just how much CBD oil can do for people.
Many people report (and studies are beginning to suggest) that CBD oil may be able to help relieve feelings of anxiousness. When looking at common signs of emotional stress, despondence, and anxiousness, researchers are able to observe CBD’s possible ability to reduce and manage those common signs. The potential of this amazing cannabinoid to serve as an alternative method of promoting feelings of calm and reducing emotional turmoil are especially exciting in the face of other pharmaceutical options that many people strive to avoid due to the unwanted side effects and risk of addiction.
Research has suggested that CBD oil may harbor some impressive anti-inflammatory properties and potentially help support joint health. In one study on mice with arthritis, the mice that were given CBD demonstrated less damage to their joints, and a reduction in behavior associated with physical tension and inflammation.
Amazingly, a CBD-based prescription medication called Epidiolex has actually been Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved to reduce the frequency and severity of treatment-resistant seizures related to rare forms of epilepsy.
Is it Safe?
The risks of CBD oil are minimal, especially when contrasting them with that of pharmaceutical medications, which can not only be addictive, but offer severe and sometimes fatal side effects. Some possible side effects include diarrhea, fatigue, and elevated blood pressure. It is always important to speak with a medical professional before trying CBD to make sure you know the product and dosage you are taking is safe.