What Exactly is CBD Oil & Why It's Not What You Think!
I’ve been a big fan of CBD oil for awhile now, but before I wrote about it, I wanted to make sure that I vetted all the options. When selecting a CBD oil, it’s incredibly important to pick a company that you trust, as well as their extraction process. There are a lot of shady companies out there! That’s why I love Aethics - they’re transparent and focused on high quality! I’ve been working with Aethics and their line of CBD oils for athletes and I have to say, I love it. But, I feel as though there are a ton of misconceptions regarding CBD oil, so I want to set the record straight!
What does CBD do?
CBD oil works by interacting with different receptors, proteins, and chemicals in the brain. It might surprise you to know this, but the body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is responsible for the regulation of hormones, specifically for those of the reproductive system and stress response. The ECS is also controls energy homeostasis and the food intake centers of the central nervous system. These food intake centers are responsible for lipid (fat) synthesis in the liver and glucose metabolism in muscle cells.
Studies have shown that CBD oil may be beneficial in treating patients with stress/anxiety disorders, chronic pain, depression, epilepsy, and sleep disorders. There is also some promising research on CBD oil’s effect on inhibiting cancer cell growth.
Note: While I know that there is a lot of skepticism towards CBD oil as a “snake oil,” please note that I’ve referenced many scientific studies for further reading. While far from definitive, the research is promising.
What is CBD?
CBD is a naturally occurring cannabinoid, and the second most abundant compound—the first, of course, being the more widely known, THC—of the hemp plant. Unlike medical cannabis, CBD oil is not psychotropic, meaning that it doesn’t cause the “high” associated with THC and is legal all 50 states. Most CBD products contain a very small amount (<0.3 percent) of THC and some companies manufacture completely THC-free oils. If you are concerned about CBD’s impact on drug tests, don’t be. But, if you are concerned, always reach out to the manufacturer, as they should be able to tell you definitively if their product is THC-free.
CBD oil is commonly combined with hemp oil to be available in tincture form.
The difference between Hemp Oil & CBD Oil & Cannabis
I think that this was one of the major sticking confusion points for me when I was researching CBD Oil. Here’s the distinguishing characteristics.
Hemp Oil, or Hemp Seed Oil, comes from the seed of the Cannabis Sativa (or Hemp) plant. Hemp Oil does not contain THC or CBD. In fact, there are no cannabinoids present in the seeds of the hemp plant! Hemp Oil is more commonly referenced as a “superfood” since it contains high levels of vitamins, omegas, as well as other nutrients. This makes it excellent for hair and skin, but is not the same as CBD Oil!
CBD Oil / Hemp Extract
CBD Oil is commonly referred to as Hemp Extract (see the confusion!?). Hemp extraction comes from the Hemp plant, not the seeds, and contains naturally occurring flavonoids, cannabinoids and other phytonutrients. High quality hemp extract is done through a CO2 extraction, which rids CBD oil of harmful solvents, and produces the purest form of CBD oil available (Something any quality brand should be able to tell you!). This CBD oil (and the cannabinoids present) is used to treat stress, pain, anxiety disorders, nausea, sleep, inflammation and much more.
Cannabis Sativa is the botanical name for many strains, including Industrial Hemp, as well as marijuana. The difference in Industrial Hemp (from which most CBD Oil is sourced) and Marijuana is in the levels of natural occurring components. Industrial Hemp, which is legal to grow in the USA, has much higher levels of Cannabidols (CBD) and lower levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the chemical responsible for the “high” that you get when smoking or consuming marijuana products. As such, the marijuana plant contains much higher levels of THC and lower levels of CBD. Of course, marijuana use varies from state to state.
What CBD Oil is used for?
One of the main reasons that I use CBD oil is for its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities during training. Research is starting to suggest the beneficial analgesic (pain reducing) properties of CBD oil, as well as CBD oil’s use in patients with chronic pain. While I don’t have chronic pain, I do notice a difference when I take CBD oil post long run in my recovery and muscle soreness.
Depression & Anxiety
As someone who has dealt with anxiety for most of her life, CBD oil has been a game-changer for me. I’ve never been a fan of the way that anti-anxiety medications make me feel, but I don’t feel the same intense sleepiness or lethargy with CBD oil that I have felt when taking prescription medications Scientific studies have started to emerge to suggest that CBD oil can be used successfully to treat anxiety disorders. CBD oil works to reduce stress/anxiety levels by producing an anti-depressant effect on serotonin receptors. Even more importantly, CBD has shown benefits for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Sleep / Insomnia
Linked closely with depression and anxiety, research has been done on CBD oil for its effect on sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleep-cycle disturbances. Patients treated with CBD showed increases in sleep time, as well as significantly less dream recall.
Another branch of CBD research extends to seizure disorders, such as epilepsy. CBD has been shown to tentatively have anti-seizure capabilities. In another study, it was demonstrated that cannabidols could potentially reduce seizure frequency with an adequate safety profile to be used in children and young adults. Research is currently being done on Parkinson’s Disease for non-motor impairment improvements, but the the sample size is still small. This study shows that there may be some preventative aid for Parkinson’s patients if diagnosis is early (this, unfortunately, is uncommon.)
One of the most exciting studies currently being done is CBD’s role in cancer by inhibiting cancer cell growth. Cannabis has recently been touted as a powerful anti-nausea option for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, as well as a pain reducer. Interestingly, this study shows that CBD is linked to its ability to target multiple cellular pathways that control tumorigenesis. As well, CBD’s most common effect is the increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which is fundamental to induce both apoptosis and autophagy. With a low toxicity, CBD is showing great promise as a cancer drug, although many more studies on dosing and safety need to be done with larger studies.
Can I get high from CBD Oil/Hemp Oil?
No. The “high” that you receive from cannabis or marijuana is your body’s response to the cannabinoid THC, which is not legal in all 50 states. CBD is 100% non-psychoactive and contains only trace amounts of THC, 0.3% to be exact.
Can I use CBD Oil if I’m pregnant/breastfeeding?
It is currently not recommended as the safety profiles and appropriate dosings have not been thoroughly researched, but as always, talk with your doctor.