It’s been a hot topic for the last couple of years. You’ve already probably heard someone talking about their experience buying and consuming CBD, especially if you live in a place where it is legal to buy it, wether online or in a store right in your neighborhood.
Several countries have legalized the production and commercialization of CBD and well-known people have been talking about it on tv and throughout social media.
Despite all the free and paid exposure, though, many people are still confused or unsure whether CBD is good or bad for health or if it is even legal.
If you are one of those looking for answers, search no more! We made the research for you and condensed the information to answer your questions and help you separate facts from opinion.
This is your quick guide to CBD. Let’s begin.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid from cannabis sativa plants. Cannabis is a family of plants with a variety of uses.
Industrial hemp plants are grown mostly to use their fibers to make paper or cloth. Industrial hemp plants have little to no THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana that gives users a psychoactive high.
On the other hand industrial hemp has a higher amount of CBD, which is interesting for its many health benefits.
CBD and THC are both cannabinoids present in cannabis plants, but because THC is not legal everywhere, many cannabis products today contain only CBD so that consumers can use medical marijuana legally.
Who is it helping?
Many people could benefit from using CBD.
Medical marijuana has been used in some places for cancer patients to help with a variety of side effects from chemotherapy and radiation. Recent research shows that CBD is the active ingredient in cannabis that helps cancer patients deal with nausea, neuropathic pain and lack of appetite.
People living with Multiple Sclerosis can use CBD to help manage muscle spasticity and pain. In the US, according to a Gallup poll, most people that use CBD are taking it for pain (40%), anxiety (20%) or insomnia (11%).
CBD shows a lot of promise in helping with both anxiety disorders and mood disorders like depression. There is also some evidence that CBD could have antipsychotic properties.
One of the most talked about groups that sees real results from the use of CBD is epileptics and people with seizure disorders. One of the only FDA-approved medications containing CBD is for epileptics that are unable to manage their seizures using more traditional medications.
Because cannabis is still considered an illegal drug in many places, research is just taking off, and we can expect to see confirmations of initial results and new possible benefits.
What are the side effects of taking CBD?
With the lack of research, just as there are gaps in our knowledge about the benefits of CBD, there are gaps in our knowledge about potential side effects.
No serious side effects have been recorded, but there is some evidence that CBD might make you sleepy, feel lightheaded or give you dry mouth. Some patients also have changes in their liver enzymes, which might be a cause for concern, especially for people with liver problems.
It is also important to mention that it is not yet known how CBD can interact with medications you take.
Be aware that there is a lack of regulation on most CBD products, and they might contain other substances such as heavy metals or pesticides which can have negative consequences on your health.
Other products might not undergo a rigorous quality control check and have other contaminants such as mold or bacteria.
Finally, some CBD products might contain some THC or synthetic cannabinoids that might have effects on your health.
Can CBD interact with my medications?
CBD can interact with certain medications.
It keeps an enzyme from breaking down the medication to be absorbed by your body. This mostly affects medications that are also affected by the “grapefruit rule.”
Always check with a doctor about using CBD products, especially if you take any of the following medications:
- blood pressure medication
- blood thinners
- cholesterol medication
- heart medication
- mood disorder medications
- pain medication
- neurological medication
How long does the effect last?
This varies on the concentration of the product you used, the dosage you are taking, your height and weight, and the method you used to take the CBD.
What dose should I take?
Dosage of CBD depends on your age, height and weight. It also depends on the concentration of the product you are using and what health problem you are treating.
In addition, the dosage changes over time. Users generally start with a small dose and slowly move to a higher dose before stabilizing their use. If they develop a tolerance for CBD, they can later increase the dose again.
Is CBD addictive?
Research has shown that CBD has a very low potential for addiction. In fact, there is some evidence that taking CBD might even help addicts to overcome their addiction. In addition, CBD might help some people go through drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
If you stop taking CBD it is possible that chronic pain or other problems will come back, but they won’t feel stronger than they did beforehand.
How does CBD work?
CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is a biological system in our bodies that uses neurotransmitters and receptors in our nervous system to regulate our appetite, sleep, mood, pain and more.
Our bodies produce endocannabinoids, substances similar to the phyto-cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Because CBD interacts with the nervous system through the endocannabinoid system, it can have an effect on the regulation of a broad range of physical and emotional responses.
Researchers know that THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in our nervous system, but they aren’t 100% sure how CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system. Perhaps it binds to a receptor that hasn’t been discovered, or maybe it helps preserve endocannabinoids from the enzymes that break them down. More research is needed on this point.
How can I take CBD? What are the different methods of taking CBD?
Hemp derived CBD products come in many forms and can be consumed by users in different ways. Each method has its pros and cons.
The most common ways to take CBD are to smoke or vape, use sublingual drops, take an oral spray, eat CBD edibles, take CBD oil capsules or use topical creams or salves.
The quickest way to feel results is to inhale CBD products through smoking or vaping, while the longest lasting effects can be felt through eating edibles such as gummies or hard candies. Different solutions work better for different people, depending on the conditions they are treating.
Can I give CBD to my pet?
Research for human use of CBD isn’t complete, and the use of CBD in animals is just beginning. There are many gaps in knowledge.
Even so, many people do give their dogs, cats, and other pets CBD for anxiety and chronic pain. Talk with your local veterinarian, especially if you give your pet regular medication to manage a chronic illness.
How is CBD extracted from cannabis plants?
CBD is just one of many cannabinoids present in cannabis, and it is necessary to extract it from the plant. The extraction process concentrates the CBD, eliminates other cannabinoids, including THC, and eliminates any impurities such as mold.
There are three main ways to extract CBD from hemp plants:
1. Chemical Solvents
Chemical solvents such as butane, ethanol or hexane are the least expensive means of removing CBD from the cannabis plants by running the liquids through the harvested plants.
After this, the solvents have to evaporate and CBD oil is left. While this is cheap, it has significant risks for the person doing the extraction as well as for the person who will consume the CBD oil in the end. Do not try this method at home.
2. Oil Infusions
Another extraction method is to infuse an oil with CBD by gently heating the plants in oil for a few hours and then straining out the plant solids.
This is not used by businesses because there isn’t a lot of control over the amount of CBD in the infused oil. This isn’t good for commercial use because they wouldn’t be able to make guarantees about their product’s concentration or efficacy.
3. CO2 Extraction
The best way to extract CBD from hemp or cannabis plants is CO2 extraction. This method allows commercial producers of CBD products to extract CBD without contaminating their product with other chemicals. CO2 extraction also has more reliable results, so producers know how their product will turn out and they can maintain a good level of quality for their customers.
How do I know I’m getting high quality products?
CBD has to be extracted from hemp plants. This process isn’t cheap, and that means that good CBD oil will not be cheap.
To begin with, hemp plants should be cultivated in areas where farmers are required to test the soil. Hemp accumulates whatever is in the soil where it grows.
This can be positive, like taking in minerals… but it can also mean the plants will accumulate traces of toxins like pesticides or heavy metals left in the soil from conventional agriculture.
High quality CBD products are the result of CO2 or alcohol extraction. In addition, companies that provide high quality CDB products will always be transparent about quality control done through third party tests. They might post this regularly on their website or the information might appear directly on the product label.
Who checks the research?
Research on CBD historically has been limited by governments because marijuana has been classified as an addictive or harmful drug for more than 50 years in many places.
Because the plant was considered illegal, it was difficult to get permission to do research on cannabis plants and the different cannabinoids present in the plants.
Recently, with the legalization of cannabis by more and more state and national governments, research has increased. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the United States has approved far more growers and researchers to work on projects that research the medicinal uses of cannabis over the last few years.
Epidiolex is the only cannabis-derived medication that is FDA approved, and it is for children and adults with seizure conditions. In addition, Marinol and Syndros (dronabinol) helps anorexia, cancer and AIDS patients to combat weight loss.
Cesamet, another synthetic cannabis product, is used to treat severe nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients. So far, the FDA has not approved any dietary supplements with CBD or any other products outside those listed here.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also has reviewed the research and agrees that CBD is an effective treatment for seizures, and is likely a possibility for treatment for people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, cancer patients, psychosis and other serious illnesses or conditions.
Clinical trials are ongoing, and the research should give us a better picture of the full potential of cannabis products in the near future.
Are CBD products legal in my country?
CBD is legal in every European Union country except Slovakia, which has explicitly classified cannabidiol as an illegal drug.
Italy is a little ambiguous because of changes in government. It is technically illegal, but many cannabis and hemp products are still sold within the country.
While marijuana containing both CBD and THC are legal in the Netherlands, however, CBD isolate is not legal.
In other countries, like Switzerland, THC is illegal, but CBD isolate is ok.
Cannabidiol was classified as a “Novel Food” by the EU in 2019, and it could be up to 3 years to before CBD is officially approved by the European Union.
The differences in legal status are even more confusing in the United States as state laws are extremely variable.
If you have any doubts, it is best to look for specific guidance for your country, or the country where you are travelling.
Always consult with your primary care physician before using any supplement or herbal remedy, because they can interact with medications your doctor has prescribed.