Phyto cannabinoids. These are the ones responsible for the plant’s therapeutic properties. They’re all being studied, and a lot is being discovered daily. Today, however, we shall focus on CBD.
CBD itself is quite closely related to another Phyto cannabinoid known for completely different (and controversial) properties. That chemical is
tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. It is the chemical responsible for the famous high that users get when they consume flowers of the cannabis plant. Together, these two Phyto cannabinoids are the most studied of all of them.
To be sure, THC has plenty of therapeutic benefits, just like CBD. However, THC makes a person feel intoxicated or ‘stoned’ while CBD does not. The main reason for this is that, while both interact with the same receptors in the body and brain, they react with them in different ways, often having opposite effects on users.
In fact, for that reason, CBD is known to often neutralize or at least lessen the psychoactive properties of its cousin THC, depending on the specific amounts of each compound consumed.
Many people want to reap the benefits of CBD without having to experience the high, or with a significantly milder high. CBD’s most prominent properties: that it has numerous therapeutic benefits and is not intoxicating make it a prime candidate for those who are curious about what cannabis has to offer but are cautious about trying it for the first time. Moreover, CBD can easily be taken as oil. But let us not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll talk all about CBD oil later in this guide.
CBD Of All Trades
For as long as pharmaceuticals have existed, there has also been concern about their sometimes harsh side effects. Many people therefore try to seek alternative medicines that are more natural and have fewer or milder side effects. CBD has a unique ability to tap into the very way our body works, and that way it can provide relief for a variety of conditions, including inflammation, chronic pain, anxiety, and even depression.
There has been lots of scientific research in this area, much of it sponsored by the U.S. government itself. There have also been lots of anecdotes from both physicians and their patients about CBD’s unique ability to treat all sorts of conditions. Some of the more serious diseases CBD treats include the following:
- Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation, and other autoimmune diseases
- Traumatic brain injury, Huntington’s chorea, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other neurological conditions
- Obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic syndromes
- Alcoholism, PTSD, ADHD, autism, and other neuropsychiatric illnesses
- Crohn’s, colitis, and other gut disorders
- Arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, and other forms of cardiovascular dysfunction
- Psoriasis, dermatitis, acne, and other skin diseases
CBD has also been found to have anti-cancer and neuroprotective qualities, with more research being done at top research centers in the country and elsewhere around the world. A study of brain cancer done in California in 2010 found that CBD works together with THC to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells. THC is already known to have some anti-cancer properties. The study found that CBD enhances it to make its anti-cancer properties even more potent. Another study in 2010 in Germany found that CBD stimulates the growth of new brain cells.
Here is a closer look at some of the conditions CBD has been shown to treat:
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Anti-inflammation and Pain Relief
There are many conventional drugs that have been designed for the sole purpose of relieving pain and preventing or stopping inflammation. However, as mentioned above, many people are wary of the side effects and would like a natural alternative. CBD is one such alternative.
There is a lot of evidence that shows that CBD and other compounds in the cannabis plants that are not psychoactive can effectively treat chronic pain. A study in 2018 on mice showed that CBD has the ability to battle inflammation by inhibiting the production of the compounds responsible for triggering inflammation in the body.
Another study done in 2019 found that when CBD is applied as an ointment to the skin, it can significantly reduce scarring and inflammation of the skin.
Helping People Quit Smoking and Withdraw from Drugs
A pilot study conducted in 2013 had some interesting results. It was found that when smokers used inhalers that had CBD in them, they smoked fewer cigarettes than they usually did and, eventually, their cravings for nicotine stopped altogether. While this was by no means conclusive evidence, it certainly suggests that CBD may be of significant help to anyone who wants to quit smoking.
Another study conducted in 2018 found that taking CBD helped to reduce cravings during the period when patients were trying to withdraw from tobacco. This was thanks to the calming and relaxing effect of CBD.
In a 2015 review of the literature, the authors discovered significant evidence that CBD and other cannabinoids may help people addicted to opioids.
The authors particularly found that CBD was especially potent when it came to battling specific symptoms that come about due to substance use. Among these were insomnia, pain, mood-related symptoms, and anxiety.
There is plenty of research still happening in this area, and most of it supports the idea that CBD might be a great ally in the battle to withdraw from drug and substance abuse.
Effect on Epilepsy
There has been plenty of research surrounding the benefits of CBD when it comes to treating epilepsy, and after years of research, the
FDA finally approved the use a purified form of CBD known as Epidiolex in 2018.
In particular, Epidiolex was approved for treating people over the age of 3 with either
Dravet syndrome or Lennox-Gestaut syndrome. These are rare forms of the disease. However, they had proven quite difficult to control with conventional medication, up until Epidiolex entered the scene.
There has been a lot of research around just how CBD manages to prevent the seizures caused by epilepsy, especially considering the fact that it doesn’t rely on the same sedating strategy as other more conventional medicine. With time, we can only hope to know more. One thing’s for sure, however: no one has yet been able to come up with a synthetic drug for treating epilepsy that targets the body’s endocannabinoid system in quite the way that CBD does.
Did you know that CBG stands for
Just like with epilepsy, there have also been numerous studies done on Alzheimer’s, specifically with respect to CBD’s effect on it.
A study done on rodents in 2014 suggested that CBD may help people to retain their ability to remember and recognize faces that were familiar to them. This is only one of the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s on many patients.
A review of the literature done in
2019 showed that CBD might be of significant help in slowing down both the onset of Alzheimer’s and its progress.
There is definitely more research being conducted on the subject, particularly with respect to the right dosage of CBD required to effectively treat various symptoms of the disease. Many scientists even believe that combining CBD and THC in a single treatment may be far more effective than using either on its own.
Other Neurological Disorders
When it comes to epilepsy in particular, CBD does not only treat the seizures, but other symptoms as well. Research has found that CBD is effective in treating various complications caused by epilepsy, such as psychiatric diseases, neuronal injury, and neurodegeneration.
A study conducted in 2012 (
and a much recently published 2019 study) showed that CBD can produce the same effects as those of some well known anti-psychotic drugs, and that it may be especially effective and safe for the treatment of schizophrenia. That said, this is still a green area of research and more needs to be done.
In a review of the literature conducted in 2012, the authors found significant evidence that CBD may be helpful in preventing certain cancers from spreading. It particularly appears to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells and even helps in their destruction.
One of the things the authors pointed out was that CBD have very low levels of toxicity. At the end, they called for more research to be done into the possibility of using CBD as part of standard cancer treatments.
Another review written in 2020 talks about the possibility of adding CBD in drugs used during chemotherapy so as to strengthen the immune system and make it better able to respond to the cancer treatment.
There has also been plenty of other research, looking into the potential benefits of CBD with respect to preventing the growth of cancer cells, reducing the side effects of standard chemotherapy, improving the effectiveness of chemotherapy, and helping patients by reducing anxiety as they go through cancer treatment.
For the longest time, doctors have strongly advised patients with chronic anxiety to stay away from cannabis. This is because THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, can often trigger or even enhance feelings of anxiety, sometimes causing them to cascade into paranoia. On the other hand, CBD has no such effects. In fact, not only does CBD not trigger or amplify existing feelings of anxiety, but it actually helps to reduce or neutralize them.
study conducted in 2019 found that mice that consumed CBD experienced significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety.
In a 2015 review of the literature, the authors suggested that CBD might be especially helpful in the reduction of symptoms and behaviors related to anxiety in people who suffered from general anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
The authors of the review particularly noted that some of the treatments at the time might have some adverse effects and that certain people should cease them. However, there has been no evidence that CBD-based treatments have any adverse effects.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is characterized by the immune system turning on the body it’s meant to protect, particularly attacking pancreatic cells, which in turn leads to inflammation of the pancreas.
A study done in
2016 found that CBD may help significantly to reduce the inflammation and delay or even protect against the onset of this type of diabetes.
Another study done on rats in 2018 found that CBD had neuroprotective properties, helping the diabetic rats reduce inflammation in their nerves and preserve their memories.
Another promising area for CBD use is the treatment of acne. This condition is partly caused when sebaceous glands are overworked, leading to inflammation.
A study conducted in 2014 found that CBD significantly helps to reduce the overworking of the sebaceous glands, which end up producing sebum, which eventually leads to acne. This is partly due to the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD.
According to research, applying CBD on the skin as an ointment can help to reduce the inflammation that comes about as a result of psoriasis and various other skin diseases.
For that reason, CBD is appearing more and more as a core ingredient in skin ointments and creams. Some experts do point out, however, that the industry isn’t very well regulated, and there is still a lot of research to be done on just how effective it is.
How, exactly, does CBD work?
CBD and THC, the two most widely studied cannabinoids, interact with our bodies and brains in many different ways. One particularly interesting way they interact with our bodies is by mimicking compounds in our bodies known as endogenous cannabinoids and augmenting their effects in the body. Ironically, endogenous cannabinoids are so-called because they are quite similar to Phyto cannabinoids (the ones found in the cannabis plant). Had they been discovered before Phyto cannabinoids, perhaps it is Phyto cannabinoids that would take on the derivative name, and not vice versa.
Endogenous cannabinoids are part of a larger system within the body known as the endocannabinoid system. With the discovery of this vast system spanning both body and brain, scientists were able to take leaps in their understanding of disease and health. The endocannabinoid system does not just have implications for the study of THC and CBD, but for virtually every area of medicine. Moreover, the importance of this system and the ability of both THC and CBD to interact with it explain the seemingly endless versatility of these two compounds. It also explains why, despite being illegal for a long time, cannabis is still so widely consumed all around the world.
The endocannabinoid system is a key play in the regulation of all sorts of physiological processes that we go through on the daily. These include hunger, stress, how we experience pain, the metabolism of glucose, bone density, blood pressure, immune activity, our digestive processes, our energy levels, our mood, and so much more.
With such a crucial role in so many processes, the endocannabinoid system can easily spell disaster when it does not function properly, either by underperforming or overperforming.
In fact, when the endocannabinoid system isn’t performing as it should, you can bet your money that it will lead to disease. There has been plenty of research that has shown that virtually all pathological conditions involved a malfunctioning endocannabinoid system. It therefore stands to reason that modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system may have great therapeutic benefits in just about any disease you can think of that affects humans. This is how CBD and THC have the great ability to not only slow down diseases, but in some cases stop their progression completely.
In particular, the endocannabinoid system consists of receptors, to which CBD, THC, and other phytocannabinoids attach themselves. The particular ones that CBD and THC attach to are CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system, including the brain, while CB2 receptors are primarily found in cells of the immune system and peripheral organs.
While CBD and THC bind themselves to the same receptors, their effects are very different, sometimes completely opposite to each other. This is especially true when it comes to CB1 receptors, which are responsible for the psychoactive properties of THC. This is why CBD is known to neutralize or lessen many of the psychoactive effects of THC.
Is there pharmaceutical CBD?
As mentioned earlier, there is a lot of excitement surrounding CBD and its healing potential. We talked about the FDA’s approval of Epidiolex, which was an almost entirely pharmaceutical formulation of CBD, and a great ally in the treatment of two rare forms of epilepsy (Lennox-Gestaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome).
This was a great victory for cannabis, which has been constantly under attack since the release of the movie Reefer Madness in 1936. Marijuana had finally begun its transition from being viewed as a crime in popular culture to being viewed as a cure.
When the FDA finally approved Epidiolex, the
DEA then announced that it had officially removed Epidiolex from its Schedule I classification. Schedule I drugs are those that are considered dangerous and without any medical value. Epidiolex was freshly assigned to the Schedule V category, which is the least severe designation outlined in the Controlled Substances Act. But that wasn’t the end. Later on, the DEA completely removed it from the federal government’s list of controlled substances, officially descheduling it.
That said, cannabis is still categorized as Schedule I, and so is CBD derived from a cannabis plant with more than 0.3% THC (such as marijuana). That officially makes it an illegal narcotic, at least at the federal level. As far as the government is concerned, CBD is now the only good chemical. The rest of the marijuana plant is still ‘evil’.
There is still a concern here, even with the approval of Epidiolex. You would think that, given how popular CBD is as an alternative remedy, that there would be plenty of off-label attention for Epidiolex. It is common among physicians to prescribe pharmaceuticals off-label to treat conditions that they weren’t particularly focused on during clinical trials. However, Epidiolex has a forbidding price tag of $30,000 annually, which not only makes it unreasonable to prescribe it off label, but also makes it virtually inaccessible for all the Americans out there without health insurance.
What about CBD oil?
If you can’t get your hands on pharmaceutical CBD, worry not. CBD products come in all shapes and sizes, from skin creams to CBD gummies. There are also so many gas stations, boutiques, offices, clubs, shops, markets, and storefronts that offer these products in one form or another, including CBD isolates that have a similar makeup to Epidiolex. Today, however, we shall be focusing on CBD oil.
CBD oil products come with varying amounts of both CBD and THC, and can be vaped, smoked, applied topically, ingested, and absorbed sublingually. They can also be found at various dispensaries specializing in cannabis products in states where cannabis has been legalized for therapeutic use.
One of the effects of the 2018 decision by the FDA was that market demand for CBD and CBD-based products skyrocketed. As a result, an unregulated market rose to fill the gap. This sparked media interest, and there was praise coming from all corners, ranging from soccer moms to athletes.
However, with the lack of regulation, misinformation is won’t to spread, and a knowledgeable consumer is an ultimately more effective consumer. So before you rush out to buy some CBD oil, let’s learn more about it, and the different types there are out there.
With the rising popularity of CBD oil around the world, one thing is for sure: there is going to be a lot of confusing terminology going round. Companies have created many different types of CBD oils and name different things in order to set themselves apart from the competition. Some of these often used but confusing terms include ‘raw CBD oil’, ‘PCR CBD oil’, ‘PCR hemp oil’, and ‘CBD concentrates’, among others. This section is to help you pierce through the confusion and understand just what you’re shopping for.
What are CBD Concentrates?
Let’s start with CBD concentrates in general. A CBD concentrate is any CBD extract that has a very high concentration of CBD. This is a catch-all term that tells you what you should ideally look for when you’re shopping for CBD. There are all sorts of concentrates, including isolate and crystals, crumble, distillate, CBD oil extract, wax, and shatter.
Below we’ve included two frames to CBD Isolate and CBD Distillate so you can see the difference:
For a product to be categorized as a concentrate, it needs to have a very high concentration of CBD, typically 45% and above. The main idea behind concentrates is that, by taking a small dose of the concentrate, you will be getting a high dosage of CBD, and in a shorter time span. An interesting distinction to make here is that all CBD extracts are concentrates. However, not all CBD concentrates are extracts.
What is raw CBD oil?
Raw CBD oil is called raw because no heat or solvents were used to extract it. Such oil is typically made through an extraction process involving CO2. One of the consequences of this method of extraction is that most of the original chemicals in the plant will stay intact throughout the process. The product that results from this has the full spectrum of cannabinoids that were present in the original plant, including not just CBD, but also a variant known as CBDa. The product will also contain any THC and other cannabinoids that were present in the original product, as well as pigments and terpenes.
What is PCR CBD oil?
PCR CBD oil, also known as PCR hemp oil is CBD oil with a wide range of cannabinoids in it. As mentioned earlier, cannabinoids are chemical compounds produced in the cannabis plant (these are phytocannabinoids. Remember, the body also produces its own cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids). The PCR in ‘PCR CBD oil’ stands for ‘phytocannabinoid rich’, and is simply another way of saying that the specific oil has a lot of different cannabinoids in it, not just CBD. Whenever you’re dealing with CBD oil that has a wide range of cannabinoids other than CBD, the more accurate term to use is PCR CBD or PCR hemp oil.
PCR CBD and PCR hemp are often used interchangeably with the term ‘full spectrum hemp oil’ or ‘full spectrum CBD oil’.
You may have noticed that there is a similarity between PCR CBD oil and raw CBD oil. They both seem to have the full range of cannabinoids in the original plant. However, raw CBD oil is a more general term and is used in reference to the extraction method. PCR CBD can be made via other extraction methods. The important thing is that it has lots of different cannabinoids, not that the original plant remains intact. As a result, PCR CBD oil can lack some of the substances found in raw CBD oil, such as pigments, flavonoids, and terpenes.
Now that we have those confusing terms out of the way, we can talk about the 3 main types of CBD oil.
The three types of CBD oil
When most people talk about CBD oil, they aren’t referring to any CBD oil in particular, though there are different types. In fact, the term ‘CBD oil’ isn’t particularly accurate, as different CBD oil products can have different kinds of cannabinoids in them. For starters, most of the CBD oil on the market comes from hemp, rather than marijuana. The content might differ a little. In fact, CBD oils are categorized according to their content. There are therefore 3 types, based on this categorization: isolate, full spectrum oil, and broad spectrum oi.
The difference between the 3 comes down to their chemical makeup, which is to say the specific compounds found in each. Full spectrum oil contains all of the cannabinoids and other compounds that were there in the original plant. Broad spectrum contains all of the cannabinoids and other compounds that were there in the original plant… except THC. Isolate contains nothing but 99% pure CBD, and is typically in either powder or crystal form.
What Is Full Spectrum CBD Oil
Full spectrum CBD oil contains CBD as well all of the other cannabinoids and other compounds that were present in the original plant. That includes THC, fatty acids, terpenes, flavonoids, and so on. For this reason, full spectrum is sometimes also referred to as raw CBD oil or whole plant extract.
To make full spectrum oil, the extract goes through the complete extraction and filtration process. None of the original compounds are removed. Even though full spectrum CBD oil has THC in it, it does not have enough to get high, and it has less than the legal limit of THC (0.3%).
There are many benefits to full spectrum oil. Since it has all the cannabinoids and other compounds, many of them are likely to have healing properties, and using them together may cause them to work synergistically. The terpenes present in cannabis has anti-inflammatory qualities, just like CBD, which means they can enhance its anti-inflammatory properties. The same can be said of many of the other non-CBD cannabinoids. By using them together with CBD, you enhance the therapeutic benefits of CBD.
A study conducted in 2005 found that full spectrum CBD oil had greater therapeutic benefits than CBD on its own. This general tendency of the cannabinoids to work better in synergy than they would on their own is known as the ‘entourage effect’.
On the other extreme is CBD isolate. This is a true CBD oil, as it contains nothing but CBD. There are no fatty acids, flavonoids, terpenes or other cannabinoids in CBD isolate. Most companies will sell isolate as a powder or crystal, though some do sell in oil form.
CBD isolate is made via the same extraction process as full spectrum oil, except it undergoes an extra filtration process to remove CBD. The extract is then chilled in a process known as winterization, where any traces of other compounds are removed.
CBD isolate is most commonly used for vaping, or can be placed under the tongue (sublingual administration) when in powder or crystal form. The main benefit of this type of CBD over the other types of CBD oil is that it is significantly cheaper, and has absolutely no trace of THC, so you don’t have to worry about failing any drug tests. The main disadvantage is that you won’t get to reap the benefits of the entourage effect that the other types of CBD oil offer.
Broad Spectrum Oil
The middle ground between full spectrum CBD oil and CBD isolate is broad spectrum CBD oil. Broad spectrum CBD oil has all of the cannabinoids and other chemical compounds that were present in the original plant. It does not, however, contain any THC. This means you don’t have to worry about failing a drug test when taking broad spectrum oil. Also, while you will miss out on the entourage effect that occurs when THC works in synergy with CBD, you will still enjoy the benefits of CBD working in synergy with the other compounds in the oil.
Broad spectrum CBD oil is actually pretty hard to find, compared to the other two kinds. Just like the others, it goes through the normal extraction process. However, it goes through an additional filtration stage where all the THC is removed.
Broad spectrum oil is especially popular in areas where all THC is illegal. In that case, you can buy either broad spectrum oil or CBD isolate.
How is CBD oil distributed?
CBD oil needs carrier agents if it is to be administered effectively to the body. A carrier agent, as you might have guessed, is simply a base which makes it possible to deliver the CBD and other cannabinoids into our bodies. These come in two main forms: oils and tinctures. While they may look the same, they most certainly aren’t.
The main difference between the two is the type of carrier used. A CBD oil uses oil as the carrier, as you may have guessed. As for a tincture, the carrier is alcohol. Both CBD oils and tinctures are in liquid form, but they are not the same liquid. The only other way the two are similar (apart from the fact that they are both liquids) is that they may have the same cannabinoid content.
CBD oil has an apt name, as that is exactly what it is: an oil. The CBD and other cannabinoids and compounds are extracted out of the plant and into an oil. This form of extraction remains the most popular form of extraction, especially for how easy it is to do at home. Common oils that are used as carriers include olive oil, MCT oil, hemp seed oil, and coconut oil.
While the name might sound confusing, a CBD tincture uses alcohol as the carrier of choice, rather than oil. Tinctures are created by taking the cannabis plant and steeping it in a high-proof grain alcohol. The mixture of cannabis and alcohol are then heated at a fairly low heat for a long period of time so that plant compounds have the chance to infuse. Over the time, the alcohol slowly evaporates and maximum infusion takes place. One major advantage of tinctures of oils is that they can be stored for a much longer time.
And with that we come to the end of our guide on CBD and CBD oils. It can often feel complicated looking for CBD, and overwhelming, given all the options that exist. CBD concentrates, though they all contain CBD at a concentration of greater than 45%, come in many different forms. So let us bring it all together and summarize everything we have learned so far.
Raw CBD oil is CBD oil that has not been heated or treated with solvents in the extraction process. This process of heating and activation with solvents is known as decarboxylation, so we can say that raw CBD oil has not been decarboxylated. As a result, it has the full spectrum of cannabinoids (including CBD and THC) and other compounds and pigments that were there in the original plant. PCR, or Phyto cannabinoid rich CBD oil has a wide range of cannabinoids, other than CBD.
Generally speaking, there are three types of CBD products:
- Full spectrum CBD oil contains all the cannabinoids and other compounds that were there in the original plant, including any THC.
- CBD isolate only contains CBD and often comes in crystal or powder form.
- Broad spectrum CBD oil contains all the cannabinoids and other compounds that were there in the original plant, except THC.
If you buy CBD isolate, you are almost always guaranteed to get it in the form of a powder or a crystal. If you buy full spectrum or broad spectrum CBD, you will have to choose between oil and a tincture. Oils use oil as the carrier for CBD and the other cannabinoids, while tinctures use alcohol as the carrier.
Generally speaking, CBD oil does not get you high. However, if the CBD product you take is full spectrum, meaning that it contains THC, then it is possible the THC will appear in a drug test (depending on the accuracy of the test). Finally, make sure to consult your doctor before buying a CBD product to determine which one will work best for you.
CBD is something of a miracle compound, with new therapeutic benefits being revealed by research every day. By knowing how it works, and what types of products it comes in, you can make more informed purchasing decisions. Hopefully, this guide will help you do just that.