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What is CBD oil?

CBD oil or cannabidiol oil is a substance derived from the hemp or cannabis plant containing high amounts of the cannabinoid cannabidiol.

Most CBD oil comes from industrial hemp rather than psychoactive marijuana strains; while the two plants are related, industrial hemp does not contain nearly as much psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol, another cannabinoid better known as THC. In fact, according to the 2014 Farm Bill, industrial hemp cannot contain more than .3 percent THC on a dry weight basis – a nearly negligible amount.

To extract CBD oil from the cannabis plant, producers need to isolate the CBD from the THC to ensure that the oil will not be psychoactive.

What does CBD oil do?

To answer this, we need to take a step back to address the endocannabinoid system, a system within the body whose receptors (CB1 and CB2) have an enormous impact on our health and well-being.

“CB1 receptors in the brain are associated with emotions, mood, appetite, coordination, movement, and pain,” explains Stormy Simon, the former president of Overstock.com who recently left the corporate world to become an advocate for cannabis. “CB2 receptors are found in the immune system and throughout tissues of the spleen and tonsils.”

The endocannabinoid system is a relatively new discovery. In fact, Simon notes, it was discovered and named after the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Seeing as cannabinoids are the compounds that activate this system, many have posited that cannabinoids like THC or CBD could help improve endocannabinoid function.

While CBD oil’s benefits are still being tested, some studies connect CBD oil to reducing the symptoms of epilepsy, neuropathic and multiple sclerosis-related pain, and cancer. Many people also claim that CBD helps with anxiety.

For more information on where the research currently stands on CBD oil, be sure to check out part one of this series, where we distill current science on CBD.

Effects

CBD oil is usually extracted from industrial hemp.

CBD is one of more than 120 compounds called cannabinoids.

Many plants contain cannabinoids, but people most commonly link them to cannabis.

Unlike other cannabinoids — such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — CBD does not produce a euphoric “high” or psychoactive effect. This is because CBD does not affect the same receptors as THC.

The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that receives and translates signals from cannabinoids. It produces some cannabinoids of its own, which are called endocannabinoids. The ECS helps to regulate functions such as sleep, immune-system responses, and pain.

When THC enters the body, it produces a “high” feeling by affecting the brain’s endocannabinoid receptors. This activates the brain’s reward system, producing pleasure chemicals such as dopamine.

Does CBD make you high?

CBD is an entirely different compound from THC, and its effects are very complex. It is not psychoactive, meaning it does not produce a “high” or change a person’s state of mind, but it influences the body to use its own endocannabinoids more effectively.

According to one study posted to Neurotherapeutics, this is because CBD itself does very little to the ECS. Instead, it activates or inhibits other compounds in the endocannabinoid system.

For example, CBD stops the body from absorbing anandamide, a compound associated with regulating pain. So, increased levels of anandamide in the bloodstream may reduce the amount of pain a person feels.

Cannabidiol may also limit inflammation in the brain and nervous system, which may benefit people experiencing pain, insomnia, and certain immune-system responses.

Benefits

People have used CBD traditionally used for thousands of years to treat various types of pain, but the medical community have only recently begun to study it again.

Here are some of the possible benefits of CBD oil:

Arthritis pain

CBD oil is popular for easing pain associated with arthritis.

A study in the European Journal of Pain used an animal model to see if CBD could help people with arthritis manage their pain. Researchers applied a topical gel containing CBD to rats with arthritis for 4 days.

Their researchers note a significant drop in inflammation and signs of pain, without additional side effects.

People using CBD oil for arthritis may find relief from their pain, but more human studies need to be done to confirm these findings.

Chronic pain

The same report studied CBD use for general chronic pain. Researchers compiled the results of multiple systematic reviews covering dozens of trials and studies. Their research concluded that there is substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults.

A separate study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine supports these results. This research suggests that using CBD can reduce pain and inflammation.

The researchers also found that subjects were not likely to build up a tolerance to the effects of CBD, so they would not need to increase their dose continually.

They noted that cannabinoids, such as CBD, could offer helpful new treatments for people with chronic pain.

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the entire body through the nerves and brain.

Muscle spasms are one of the most common symptoms of MS. These spasms can be so great they cause constant pain in some people.

One report found that short-term use of CBD oil could reduce the levels of spasticity a person feels. The results are modest, but many people reported a reduction in symptoms. More studies on humans are needed to verify these results.

Other uses

In the United States, CBD oil has varying legality across different states and at a federal level, yet it currently has a range of applications and promising possibilities.

These include:

  • smoking cessation and drug withdrawal
  • treating seizures and epilepsy
  • anxiety treatment
  • reducing some of the effects of Alzheimer’s, as shown by initial research
  • antipsychotic effects on people with schizophrenia
  • future applications in combating acne, type 1 diabetes, and cancer

Although more research is required to confirm some uses of CBD oil, it is shaping up as a potentially promising and versatile treatment.

How do I take CBD and at what dosage?

Before adding CBD oil to your regimen, as with any supplement, be sure to check with your doctor to make sure that it’s a good choice for you. This is especially true if you are taking certain anti-seizure medications.

CBD oil can be consumed in a myriad of ways: tinctures, capsules, sublinguals, and even topicals. When taking CBD, always follow the instructions on the package of the product you have purchased.

Side effects

The potential side effects of CBD are few and far between, and multiple studies have shown that CBD is much safer than THC, when weighing the side effects against the benefits of each component. Nevertheless, there are a few reported negative side effects of CBD, but those who become affected by them are not many in number.

  1. Dry Mouth: Dry mouth is sometimes present due to the endocannabinoid system’s inhibition of salivary secretion, which could be as a result of CBD getting involved in the system’s processes. Luckily, it is easily manageable by consuming plenty of hydrating fluids before, during and after your CBD consumption, which can also help to prevent dehydration. In general, it is important to remember to drink enough water daily, so staying hydrated carries a clear advantage for a variety of reasons.
  2. A Small Drop in Blood Pressure: Some studies have shown that higher doses of CBD have caused a small drop in blood pressure, so for those who are taking medication for low blood pressure, or who have been diagnosed with low blood pressure, it is vital and necessary for them to consult with their doctor before consuming CBD or CBD based products. Low blood pressure is often tied with a feeling of lightheadedness, which can be uncomfortable for many.
  3. Drowsiness: CBD effects everyone a bit differently. For some, CBD is wake inducing, generating extra useable energy and a generally uplifted demeanor, but for others it can produce the opposite. In very high doses, some people have reported feeling drowsy after taking CBD. If this is how it affects you, it is important not to operate heavy machinery or drive a vehicle while in this state, for the safety of you and all those around you.
  4. Lightheadedness: One of CBD’s more temporary possible side effects, lightheadedness, which is linked with a drop in blood pressure, can be easily managed by consuming some sort of caffeinated beverage, which will help to regulate your body back to normal, (a cup of tea or coffee works wonders, paired up with some H2O to stay hydrated, since caffeine is dehydrating).

A few other possible side effects do, of course, exist, but they are related to specific medical conditions, for example: a possible increase in tremors amongst Parkinson’s patients. With that all said, further research needs to be conducted, as some research also suggests that Parkinson’s disease patients could actually benefit from the regular or occasional consumption of CBD.

Takeaway

CBD oil does show a huge potential for pain relief. Anecdotal evidence and numerous studies suggest that it can be used to help manage chronic pain in many cases.

CBD oil is especially promising due to its lack of intoxicating effects and a possible lower potential for side effects than many other pain medications.

People should discuss CBD oil with their doctor if they are considering using it for the first time.

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