Your Complete Guide to CBD Oil: Benefits, Side Effects & More
Marijuana has been a hot topic in the United States for over a hundred years, with longstanding arguments still raging over the legality of growing, selling, or using it.
While only 9 states (so far) endorse recreational marijuana, most others have approved it for medical use.
As the marijuana debate rolls on, CBD oil, a cannabis derivative which has flown somewhat under the radar until recently, is starting to become more prominent.
You may have heard about CBD oil, you may know someone who uses it, heck, you might have even tried it yourself. And even though it’s typically associated with marijuana, it’s actually not the same thing.
If you’re wondering what it is, what it’s used for, and what distinguishes it from marijuana, I’m here to answer these questions and more.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, a substance extracted from cannabis plants in oil form. Although it was discovered in 1940, CBD oil has become commercially relevant in recent years.
It’s currently supported by anecdotal evidence for everything from pain relief, to treating acne, and more. Strong scientific backing does not currently exist for many of these claims, however, as research is still in the relatively early stages.
But that hasn’t stopped people from experimenting with CBD oil as an alternative treatment for what ails them.
This is due, at least in part, to the lower cost (compared to many prescription medications) and the relative ease with which CBD oil can be obtained. It’s a good bet you could drive to your nearest health food store or supplement shop and find CBD for sale in one of several forms.
Forms of CBD
CBD comes in several forms and can be administered in a number of different ways. While the most common form is oil droplets, there are other options available:
- Capsule/Soft Gel
CBD Oil Benefits
Although CBD oil is, in a sense, waiting for the research to catch up and support its usefulness, many people report a wide array of benefits.
Some of the most common reported uses of CBD oil include the following:
1. Pain Relief
If you turn on the news or crack open a newspaper regularly, you know that we have a prescription painkiller problem in the United States. But you may not realize just how big an issue it really is.
Consider this: on average, 46 Americans die every day from a prescription drug overdose, according to the CDC. With so many individuals and families affected, policymakers and concerned citizens alike are looking for alternatives to opiate-based medications.
CBD oil could be an effective option in many cases.
Although medical marijuana generally has stronger analgesic effects, CBD has provided relief to many suffering from chronic pain and may be a viable alternative to prescription painkillers for certain individuals.
2. Anxiety Relief
Did you know that anxiety is the number one most common mental illness among adults in the United States? Every year, just over 18% of the population experiences the effects of anxiety to one degree or another.
Most individuals who deal with anxiety seek treatment in the form of medication, therapy, or both (even acupuncture), but some have turned to CBD oil for relief. Those who use CBD oil for this purpose cite increased relaxation and lower feelings of anxiousness.
And although research is still in the early stages, a number of studies have shown CBD oil to be successful at reducing the effects of social anxiety disorder.
3. Sleep Aid
If you’ve ever had trouble sleeping, you know just how frustrating it can be. And while it’s not widely advertised as a sleep aid, CBD has been reported to offer relief for insomnia in some individuals.
This is likely due to the fact that two of the most common causes of sleeplessness include anxiety and pain.
Although CBD oil may not necessarily induce drowsiness like other sleep aids, many people have taken advantage of its pain and anxiety-relieving properties to help them sleep at night.
One area in which researchers have given perhaps more attention in recent years than others when it comes to CBD is the effect it may have on patients with epilepsy. And although tests are ongoing, the initial results are promising.
Multiple studies show that CBD oil may be effective in treating those with epilepsy, especially children.
But epilepsy isn’t the only neurological disorder with which CBD oil is being tested. Early research suggests that CBD oil may have positive effects for those dealing with Parkinson’s as well, although further testing is required to make any definitive statements.
5. Heart Health
CBD oil is a strong antioxidant, making it naturally beneficial to many areas of physical health including your heart. But CBD oil may have heart health benefits that go beyond its antioxidant properties.
High blood pressure has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, heart attack, and other negative conditions. Research suggests that CBD oil may be effective at helping to reduce blood pressure, which means a healthier heart.
What Makes CBD Oil Different from Marijuana
You’ve probably heard the terms cannabis, hemp, and marijuana used interchangeably on the news, in publications, or during those casual conversations you overhear on the bus.
This may come as a surprise, but the three are actually not the same thing. Let me explain.
Cannabis is a plant family of which the two primary species are hemp and marijuana. Although both are widely used around the world, there’s a major distinction which makes the two very different.
Both hemp and marijuana contain the compounds CBD and THC. CBD, as you know, is used for a wide array of purposes but contains no psychoactive properties and will not produce psychotropic effects.
THC, on the other hand, does have psychoactive properties and is what causes marijuana to produce the high experienced by those who use it for recreational or medical purposes.
But while marijuana is high in THC, hemp naturally contains very little. In fact, most countries mandate that the THC content of hemp be 0.2-0.3% or lower.
Because of this, it is hemp which is the primary source of CBD oil products as opposed to marijuana. That’s why CBD can be consumed without the effects people typically associate with getting high.
CBD Oil Side Effects
One of the biggest selling points for CBD oil as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs and other medical treatments is the relative lack of major side effects.
In otherwise healthy individuals, side effects seem to be rare and relatively mild and may include diarrhea, constipation, and dry mouth.
In those with certain medical conditions, however, the side effects may be more severe. In these cases, checking with your doctor prior to use would be a necessary precaution.
A Word of Caution
Before you consider buying CBD oil, make sure you research the company you’re buying from.
A 2017 study researching label accuracy of CBD oil products being sold online yielded some startling results.
During the study, 84 products were purchased from 31 different companies. After analyzing each product, researchers found that only 26 of the samples contained the same concentration of CBD that was listed on the label.
22 of the 84 samples had a lower CBD concentration than advertised while 36 contained a higher CBD concentration, in some cases, much higher.
And that’s not all. 18 of the 84 samples analyzed were found to contain THC which was not properly disclosed on the label.
So should you avoid CBD oil forever then? Well, not necessarily. Just use precaution when purchasing from an unknown company and make sure the product fits a few basic criteria.
We may still be several years away from seeing CBD oil prescribed by healthcare professionals as a form of alternative medicine.
But so far, the number of people claiming to have experienced benefits from using CBD oil suggests that it may indeed be effective for certain things.
As with anything, the decision to give this compound a try is a personal decision. But if you’re on the lookout for a natural alternative, CBD oil may be worth considering!