Over the past few decades, most strains have been bred to increase the amount of the main psychoactive component, (-)-trans-delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, within the past decade, researchers have become increasingly interested in the medical benefits of another compound found in both plants, known as cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant but is reputed to help with a myriad of medical conditions.
To make matters more confusing, nine states (including California, Washington, and Colorado) let residents buy cannabis-based products with or without THC. Nearly two dozen other “medical marijuana states” allow the sale of cannabis, including capsules, tinctures, and other items containing CBD or THC, at licensed dispensaries to people whose doctors have certified that they have an approved condition (the list varies by state but includes chronic pain, PTSD, cancer, autism, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis). Sixteen more states legalized CBD for certain diseases. But because all these products are illegal according to the federal government, cannabis advocates are cautious. “By and large, the federal government is looking the other way,” says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the Washington, DC–based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), but until federal laws are changed, “this administration or a future one could crack down on people who produce, manufacture, or use CBD, and the law would be on its side.”
CBD exerts several actions in the brain that explain why it could be effective in treating anxiety. Before we dive in, it’s important to note that most research describing how CBD works is preclinical and based on animal studies. As the saying goes, “mice are not men” — and, results from animal studies don’t always neatly transfer to human therapies. However, preclinical studies provide insights that move us in the right direction:
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Weight plays a role in the effects of CBD oil, and bottle size should be selected based on how much you weigh. Let’s say you weigh less than 130 pounds and desire light CBD oil effects; this means that 11 mg or less will probably suffice per dose, giving roughly 40 doses from a 450-mg concentration. If you weigh more than 230 pounds and desire strong effects, then this same concentration will supply roughly 10 doses.
What exactly is cannabidiol (CBD) and more importantly, what does it do? Those questions and more are at the heart of this comprehensive guide to one of the most fascinating and important compounds of the cannabis plant. Cannabis plants are chemical powerhouses that produce more than 400 different compounds. Not all of those compounds are unique to marijuana, of course, and appear in many other species of plants. That’s why marijuana can smell like pine trees or taste like fresh lemons. But of those 400 compounds, more than 60 of them are totally specific to the plant genus Cannabis. Scientists call these special compounds “cannabinoids.” However, not all cannabinoids are created equal. One of them, cannabidiol, or CBD, holds the key to the wide variety of medicinal and therapeutic effects marijuana offers.
One tablespoon of hemp oil contains 14 grams of fat, of which only 1 gram is saturated. This low saturated fat content is a primary benefit of using hemp oil in place of animal fats such as lard and butter. Keeping your consumption of saturated fat to less than 7 percent of your total caloric intake is one way to cut your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease, notes the American Heart Association. Hemp oil also contains fatty acids that can help reduce your risk of heart disease, according to a 2014 article published in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry."
It is for this reason that all the finished hemp goods that you see for sale in America, from food products to clothing to building materials, are part of an imported hemp industry that has surpassed $688 million annually. The size of this import industry is one of the major catalysts for hemp legalization in the U.S. As a renewable source of a range of products, hemp provides an exciting new step in American agriculture.
There's plenty of anecdotal evidence that CBD helps treat a variety of ailments. People are turning to oils, gummies, and other CBD food and drink products to relax at the end of a long day. Retired NFL players are using CBD to manage physical pain, debilitating headaches, and sleeplessness. Spa clients are even using CBD skin products to fight signs of aging.
Although the exact mechanism and magnitude of effects of THC and CBD are not fully understood, CBD has been shown to have analgesic, anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant, anxiolytic, neuroprotective, anti-oxidant, and anti-psychotic activity. This wide variety of effects is likely due to it's complex pharmacological mechanisms. In addition to binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, there is evidence that CBD activates 5-HT1A serotonergic and TRPV1–2 vanilloid receptors, antagonizes alpha-1 adrenergic and µ-opioid receptors, inhibits synaptosomal uptake of noradrenaline, dopamine, serotonin and gaminobutyric acid and cellular uptake of anandamide, acts on mitochondria Ca2 stores, blocks low-voltage-activated (T-type) Ca2 channels, stimulates activity of the inhibitory glycine-receptor, and inhibits activity of fatty amide hydrolase (FAAH) [1, 2].
Both Bonn-Miller and Ward stress that it's up to the consumer to be well-educated about the material they're purchasing and the research that's out there. "The companies that are creating [cannabis oils] are offering lots of claims about its use that are not necessarily substantiated by any research," Bonn-Miller said. So "I think there needs to be, from a consumer standpoint, a lot of vigilance," he added.
It is also illegal to market CBD oil as a dietary supplement. This is because cannabidiol is not a food ingredient (dietary ingredient) and it doesn’t have an established safety profile or history of use in the food supply. If you see a CBD product, and it is labelled as a dietary supplement, then the company is either unaware or doesn’t care about the FDA’s current position that CBD is not a legitimate dietary ingredient.