CBD oil Cannabidiol (CBD) is just one of more than the 60 components or active ingredients that belong to a class of molecules called phytocannabinoids that are found in cannabis, the plant that has been used as medicine for centuries. It was isolated for the first time in the 1930s and 1940s, but it was Professor Raphael Mechoulam and his team of researchers who fully described its structure and configuration in Israel in the 1960s.
What is CBD?
According to multiple scientific and medical sources, CBD has important medical benefits. Since 2013, the National Institutes of Health (PubMed) service has included over 1,100 studies on CBD in its index. Moreover, cannabidiol does not produce a psychoactive effect; it can actually counteract the psychoactivity of THC.
CBD vs. THC: The Issue of Psychoactivity
After THC (?9-tetrahydrocannabinol), cannabidiol or CBD is the natural cannabinoid that is the most studied and that has the most therapeutic potential. Of the cannabinoid compounds, it is generally CBD and THC (as well as cannabinol or CBN) that are present in the highest concentrations. Cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol have a special interdependent relationship and work together to mutually increase the therapeutic benefits. As mentioned above, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound, whereas THC is psychoactive, and therefore, can produce euphoric and dysphoric effects. The sensitivity of a patient to THC is a key factor when determining the right dose and ratio for a treatment with a high content of CBD. As we have said, CBD can reduce or neutralize the psychoactivity of THC, so a higher ratio of CBD to THC means fewer mental effects.
There are two types of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) in all the cells in the human body, although they are most abundant in the brain and immune system. When a person takes CBD, the cannabinoid receptors activate and bind together on the surface of the cells. Research indicates that when we introduce non-toxic cannabinoids to our endocannabinoid system (ECS), the result is not addiction, but rather a healthier endocannabinoid system.
It is very important to keep in mind that each strain has a different ratio of these active ingredients, which makes each one of them more or less suited to different needs; for example, marijuana grown for recreational purposes usually contains more THC than CBD. By using selective breeding techniques, however, cannabis breeders have managed to create varieties with high levels of CBD and negligible levels of THC. These varieties are not very common, but have become very popular in recent years. Having said that, all cannabis strains contain some CBD, however little, so all varieties will have some medicinal benefit.
CBD is usually found in percentages between 0.6% and 1%. The varieties that contain less than 0.6% have little effect and those which have more than 1% are very strong. Although this may seem like a relatively small difference, it is all that is needed. Even higher percentages can also be achieved, but such strong strains (with more than 6%) are not very common. The percentage indicates how much CBD is present in comparison with other elements of cannabis.
There is no doubt that CBD is bringing rapid change to the debate about the use of cannabis as medicine. In recent times, the attention has shifted to CBD for good reason. In general, doctors and health professionals prefer treatments with minimal side effects, meaning they cannot overlook certain side effects of THC. CBD does not have this problem. In 2003, the United States government obtained a patent for the medical use of cannabidiol or CBD. A 2011 study published in Current Drug Safety concludes that CBD “is well tolerated and safe”, even in high doses.
CBD has a wide range of medical benefits
The evidence that demonstrates the medical benefits and therapeutic applications of CBD continues to increase. According to an article published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in 2013, studies have discovered that CBD has numerous medicinal properties: antiemetic, to combat nausea and vomiting; antipsychotic, to combat psychosis disorders; anti-inflammatory, to combat inflammatory illnesses; antioxidant, to combat neurodegenerative illnesses; anti-tumoural for cancers, to combat tumours and cancer cells; and anxiolytic and anti-depressant, to combat anxiety and depression disorders. The fact that cannabis with a high content of CBD does not produce a high (i.e. the cerebral effect of cannabis) makes it an attractive treatment option for patients who only desire anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic, antipsychotic, anti-spasmodic, etc., effects, without having to worry about sleepiness or dysphoria.
Scientific and medical studies highlight the potential of CBD as a treatment for a wide range of illnesses, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, infections resistant to antibiotics, epilepsy, endometriosis, and other neurological disorders. Moreover, CBD has been demonstrated to have neuroprotective and neurogenic effects, and its cancer-fighting properties are being researched in several academic research centres in the United States and other parts of the world.
Unfortunately, a large part of the evidence available has been obtained through studies on animals, as there have not been many studies on CBD in human patients. The majority of the material published at medical level consists of pre-clinical research that involves individual molecules of cannabinoids, test tubes, Petri dishes, experiments with animals, and in some cases, studies on the human cell line. Although all mammals have receptors in cells that respond pharmacologically to cannabinoid compounds, the data from experiments with animals, and other pre-clinical research, is not always applicable to humans.
What is CBD oil?
We normally use the term “cannabis oil” (or hemp oil) for extractions made in order to obtain the active ingredients of the plant without the rest of the plant material, which mostly contains substances harmful for our health. Some safer and more effective than others, there are several extraction techniques for obtaining the active ingredients of cannabis and hemp and making them fit for consumption in different ways: ingestion, inhalation, smoking, etc. CBD can be found in several formats: in oil (liquid or wax) or in capsules, and in other products such as creams, tinctures, etc.
Dosage of CBD oil
CBD oils are a very effective way of administering a daily dose of cannabidiol. These oils are refined with vegetable oils, such as extra virgin olive oil or hemp oil, and a base of pure CBD paste previously extracted from the plant.
Its use is comfortable and discreet. The bottle has a dropper to control the amount of CBD being consumed and to apply it directly under the tongue or to foods to enrich them. It is not easy to recommend a fixed dose, so consumers should test little by little, starting with a small drop of oil and waiting to see what impact it has. If the response is positive, the dose can be slowly increased to determine the exact dose that will provide the desired effect. Each drop contains approximately 1mg of CBD. As a dietary supplement, it can be used twice a day.
CBD oils are 100% natural and do not contain synthetic chemical substances. They must be stored away from heat and light in a cool place in order to maintain their original composition and strength.
Hemp (CBD) is not marijuana (THC)
Hemp and marihuana are two different strains of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Harvested marijuana has high levels of THC, concentrated mainly in the flowers and trichomes of the plant. Industrial hemp is grown for its fibre and has undetectable levels of THC, but relatively high levels of CBD. For centuries, hemp has been grown around the world for industrial and medical purposes, and for the manufacture of useful objects, such as rope, clothes, candles, paper, and thousands of other products. Hemp is not a drug. In fact, it actually contains almost all the essential nutrients that the human body cannot produce on its own.
By combining different strains of Cannabis Sativa, and thanks to the development of genetics and growing techniques, it has been possible to produce hemp with an exceptionally high percentage of CBD. As such, it is possible to obtain CBD-rich and non-psychoactive oil from legal hemp.
Guidelines for the dosage of CBD
We must forget that cannabis therapeutics is personalized medicine, so determining the correct dosage will depend on the person and the illness treated.
First, you must decide how the cannabis CBD will be taken: infusion, CBD-rich oil extract, sublingual spray, capsule, edible and topical product, tincture, etc.
Then you have to find out what ratio of active ingredients works best for you. Cannabis products have variable amounts of CBD and THC. A variety or product with a high content of CBD and little THC is not necessarily superior to a variety or product with a more balanced ratio of CBD:THC.
If you have little or no experience with cannabis in general, the most advisable approach is to start with a low dose. It is better to take several small doses throughout the day than one large dose.
It is best to use the same dose and ratio for several days to observe the effects and decide whether adjustment is needed.
You should not overdo it, because with cannabinoid therapeutics “less is more.” Cannabinoid compounds have biphasic properties, which means that higher doses of CBD may not be as effective as low or moderate doses. Furthermore, although an excess of THC is not lethal, it can increase anxiety and mood disorders.
You must consider the disease you are treating, for example, for anxiety, depression, spasms and paediatric seizures, the best is a moderate dose of a remedy with a high content of CBD in a CBD:THC ratio of more than 14:1. For cancer or pain, you may need more THC, for example, a 1:1 ratio.
What you need to keep in mind before buying a CBD-based product
As the number of strains with high CBD content has increased, the number of products available on the market that advertise CBD as the main ingredient has also increased. The problem is that most consumers do not know the exact amount of CBD that they should take nor what the CBD oil or tincture they are considering buying really contains. Therefore, it is very important to consider the following aspects:
- The product should have a label with the content description of the solution and the amounts of each ingredient clearly specified (such as terpenes, alkanes, nitrogenated compounds, amino acids, sugars, flavonoids, vitamins, etc.) and the method of preparation used (using olive oil, alcohol, etc.).
- The product should have usage instructions and specify the normal and maximum doses.
- The product should describe the exact concentration of the active ingredient CBD.
- The product should provide a website where access to other analyses or more detailed information can be found.
Do remember that CBD on its own and extracted from hemp strains does not have the same effect as CBD extracted from recreational strains, due to what is known as “the entourage effect” (the effect produced by all the elements and components found in a plant activated at the same time).
It is clear we still have a lot to learn and discover about this new medicine, so continued research into the benefits of CBD is needed to determine what the best method of administration is and which illnesses it can treat the most effectively. There is still a lot to do, but we cannot deny the increasing usefulness of CBD as a medicinal product.