Demystifying CBD OIL
*This blog is meant to give the average reader some informed knowledge on CBD oil as there appear to be quite a few confusing stories floating around regarding the oil. We will try our best to lay out what we know through research as clearly as possible to avoid any confusion. If you have any health concerns, please consult your medical practitioner before using CBD oil.
Cannabidiol oil, otherwise known as CBD oil is no new kid on the block. The oil has actually been used by ancient civilisations for thousands of years, yet it has only recently become popular in Western society. So what exactly is CBD oil?
CBD vs THC
CBD or cannabidiol is an extract of the Cannabis plant (which we will see later can refer to multiple plants) known for its medicinal benefits. It has no psychotropic effects. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, on the other hand, is cultivated specifically for its psychoactive effects. Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids, a class of chemical compounds that act on the cannabinoid receptors in cells, regulating the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. The body actually has a whole system, called the endocannabinoid system, which is a collection of cannabinoid receptors in parts of the nervous system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for the physiological and psychological effects of CBD and THC cannabinoids.
The Plant Family
Now that we know what CBD is, we must understand the plant family from which CBD oil hails. Cannabidiol oil can come from either the marijuana plant or the hemp plant, both of which are members of the Cannabis plant family. When most people refer to Cannabis, they mean marijuana, but this is in fact incorrect and misleading. Here are the facts in simple terms:
Cannabis - a plant family that includes hemp and marijuana, among others. So when we talk about Cannabis, we're not referring specifically to 'weed', we're referring to the plant family.
Hemp - a member of the Cannabis sativa plant family. It grows tall, and the sturdy stalks are farmed for multiple purposes. It has relatively high amounts of CBD and less than 0.3% THC. It is also referred to as industrial hemp. In SA, it is still currently illegal to cultivate without a permit as it is classified under the Cannabis species, but the Department of Agriculture is petitioning to have it allowed.
Marijuana/dagga - arguably the most (in)famous member of the Cannabis sativa family due to its psychotropic effects that give the user a ‘high’. It is specifically grown for its high THC levels and is illegal to sell, though it has recently been decriminalised for personal use in the home. It is quite different in appearance to hemp, as the bush grows much smaller and is cultivated indoors.
Oils Produced from the Cannabis Plants
Cannabis extracts with high concentrations of THC are known by various names such as medical cannabis, medical marijuana, cannabis oil, marijuana oil, or THC oil. These extracts also contain CBD but in lower amounts. Extracts with high levels of CBD are commonly known as CBD oil, cannabidiol oil, hemp oil or CBD hemp oil. These typically have very low amounts of THC.
Don’t confuse hemp seed oil and hemp oil though, as they are not the same. The difference lies in how the oils are produced. Hemp seed oil is pressed from the seeds of the hemp plant and is virtually free of any CBD or THC constituents. It is a rich and nourishing oil but is not used in the same manner as CBD oil or cannabis oil. Hemp oil or CBD oil, does contain CBD but very low to non-existent amounts of THC. It is usually extracted from the leaves, stalk and flowers of industrial hemp.
Benefits of CBD
CBD is a wonder molecule and has been extensively researched and studied for its health benefits. It has antioxidant, analgesic, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antipsychotic properties. It alleviates age-related cognitive decline, and it can also reduce the risk of diabetes. Studies show that it has a significant impact on various neurological and physiological disorders such as anxiety, stress, ADHD and ADD, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, bipolar, schizophrenia, cancer, chronic pain and fibromyalgia, depression, epilepsy, and hypertension. CBD also treats insomnia, migraines and headaches, multiple sclerosis, nausea, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s, PTSD, seizures, spasticity and spinal injuries.
CBD oil is also safe for pets, and can be administered for stress, anxiety, pain, various diseases and for sedation purposes. Please consult your vet for more information.
CBD extracts come in a few forms, namely oil tinctures, liposomal CBD, capsules, sprays and topically as creams or balms. Oil tinctures are the most commonly available form of CBD, are the purest form and even come in a variety of tasty flavours. A liposome is a nano sized bubble made of phospholipids (the same material as in our cell membranes). During liposomal encapsulation, CBD is inserted into the tiny bubbles. Liposomal CBD is a highly effective way of bypassing the body’s destructive digestive juices and helping the CBD to be delivered to cells efficiently. CBD capsules are convenient for travel. Sprays tend to have weaker CBD concentrations, but are easy to administer and ideal for travel. Topical forms of CBD such as balms or creams can assist with skin problems such as eczema, acne, psoriasis and pain.
CBD oil is most commonly taken sublingually, as there are many capillaries under the tongue, helping the CBD to enter the bloodstream easily and act efficiently. Hold the oil under your tongue for as long as possible before swallowing. CBD can also be added to smoothies, drinks and food. It can also be used in skin creams or as a balm - we’ll share some recipes soon!
The right amount to take really depends on what you are treating. For example, if you are treating chronic pain, cancer or Alzheimer's, you will require a higher dosage at possibly more frequent intervals than if you were treating insomnia or mild stress.
CBD is safe and nontoxic even in high dosages. There have been no reported cases of CBD overdoses. You can take up to 1500 mg/day in chronic cases, but it is best to consult your medical practitioner and stick to the recommended doses.
Possible side effects include tiredness, diarrhea or stomach cramps. If your stomach is overly sensitive to CBD or the miniscule amounts of THC present, then discontinue use. Hemp oil is rich in polyunsaturated fats so if you have cardiovascular health concerns, please consult a medical practitioner on lower doses. Don’t consume CBD oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have any serious health concerns, consult your medical practitioner.
For additional reading on CBD’s benefits: