What is CBD?

Posted by Adil Kunda on

What is CBD?

You may have heard your coworkers talk about it, or maybe a friend recommended it for your back pain. Maybe you’ve seen it in dispensaries or read about it online. But what is CBD? This article covers CBD, the difference between CBD and THC, as well as the potential benefits and risks of using CBD oil. Keep reading to get all caught up on CBD, CBD oil, and whether or not it’s right for you.

CBD is short for Cannabidiol, one of two major cannabinoids found in both hemp and cannabis plants. Like THC (the other major cannabinoid), CBD is also known for its therapeutic physiological and psychological effects. The big difference being that CBD doesn’t get you high.

CBD is sold to the public as CBD oil with several methods of ingestion including vaping, consuming edibles, using topical solutions, or using sublingual tincture. In contrast to THC-based products, this oil comes primarily from hemp plants as opposed to marijuana plants. The reason for this is two-fold, since growing hemp commercially is legal and hemp has high amounts of CBD compared to marijuana. CBD oil is not to be confused with hemp oil, which is made from the seeds of the hemp plant, not the plant itself like CBD oil. Hemp oil also has many beneficial properties, but is much different than CBD oil.

The Difference Between CBD, THC, and Hemp Oil

CBD oil, THC products, and hemp oil all derive from the cannabis plant but each has its own unique properties. Most people are familiar with THC products like flower (weed), concentrates, and edibles. In addition to the obvious psychoactive effects of THC, this chemical also treats a variety of ailments from nerve and muscle pain to anxiety.

CBD works similarly to THC, only without the high. CBD oil benefits are documented as positively impacting anxiety levels, chronic pain, insomnia, and depression. In total, as many people use CBD for psychological issues as they do physical ones.

Finally, hemp oil contains neither CBD nor THC despite being derived from hemp seeds. People typically use hemp oil for beauty products and cooking, though it is occasionally sold as a dietary supplement.

The Benefits of CBD Oil

The US recently made hemp plants and research on CBD and other cannabinoids legal. The results of studies done on the benefit of CBD are quite remarkable.

Most notably and well-documented, CBD oil is recognized by the FDA to treat epileptic seizures in both children and adults. Other research suggests that CBD has positive benefits for the following disorders:

  • Anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and other mood disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Addiction to tobacco and opiates
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Neurodegenerative disorders

More research needs to be done to discover the full potential of CBD. Most research so far has been on animals or small groups of people. Anecdotal evidence of CBD treating everything from back pain to social anxiety is great but not enough to endorse CBD oil as a “cure for all that ails you”. Even without hard evidence, however, people increasingly self-medicate with CBD oil like they would any over-the-counter drug based of recommendations from friends and family.

Is CBD Oil Safe?

A 2019 Consumer Reports survey found that over a quarter of Americans have tried CBD oil in the past 2 years. CBD oil is becoming mainstream, and even retailers like Walgreens and CVS are looking to add the product to their shelves. How many people really know what they’re ingesting, though? Is CBD oil safe?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “In general, CBD has been found to have relatively low toxicity, although not all potential effects have been explored.” As for the known or suspected risks of using CBD, he report goes on to say that there are mixed studies regarding CBD’s effect on hormones, as well as potential interactions with some medications. At high doses, CBD may cause immune suppression, although at low doses it actually has the opposite effect by stimulating the immune system.

There’s not enough research yet to determine all the possible adverse effects of CBD consumption. Fortunately, the outlook seems good. There is evidence that CBD has no effect on developing embryos, causes no physical or psychological dependency, and has virtually non-existent abuse potential. WHO also report that CBD “has no effect on a wide range of physiological and biochemical parameters or significant effects on animal behavior unless extremely high doses are administered.”

So, what’s the short answer to whether or not CBD oil is safe to consume? Probably. More research needs to be done on a wider range of possible side effects, but for now it looks like CBD is about as dangerous as a Tylenol.


Where to Buy CBD Oil?

Interested in buying CBD oil for yourself? Stay smart when shopping and avoid diluted, low-quality, or outright counterfeit CBD oil.

CBD oil sits in a gray-zone of federal legality, meaning there’s little-to-no quality regulation on street-bought CBD and “trusted” pharmaceutical brands don’t produce it for over-the-counter consumption. In fact, the only federally regulated source of CBD is Epidiolex, an expensive prescription for treating seizures. As you may already know, this hasn’t stopped people from producing and selling CBD oil products. Available everywhere from gas stations to headshops to health and wellness retailers, CBD oil is easy to find depending on where you live.

Since it’s an unregulated market, sort of like vitamins, take caution when shopping for CBD oil. Only buy from trusted sources and brands. When buying online, be sure to buy directly from the manufacturer’s website. Do research on the company first, and be sure to read some trusted reviews. Importantly, also look for independent lab results on the purity of a company’s CBD products.

If you buy CBD oil in person, be sure to do so at a trusted retailer, i.e. don’t buy CBD products at a gas station. Ask friends and family where they buy their CBD, and use common sense when trying new brands.

Finally, don’t be fooled by “hemp oil” products, which typically contain no CBD and are made with hemp oil derived from hemp seeds.

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