Over the past few years, CBD has been one of the fastest-growing product categories in the health food industry. People from all walks of life are using it, and a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that CBD may be useful for alleviating a wide variety of health conditions. You can find CBD products in retail locations as far ranging as health food stores, online stores and even local vape shops. So, is CBD something that you should add to your supplement rotation? What is CBD, what does it do and how do you use it? In this ultimate CBD guide, we’ll provide an overview that will help you determine whether CBD is right for you.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many cannabinoids (active compounds) found in the cannabis plant. While tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most famous cannabinoid — and the one that we know the most about — we have actually identified 113 different cannabinoids to date. Cannabinoids interact with specific receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system. THC, of course, is the cannabinoid that makes us feel euphoric. We are only just beginning to understand, though, what the other cannabinoids do. Since CBD is the most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis after THC, it is one of the primary subjects of medical studies.
The difference between CBD products and cannabis extracts is that CBD products come from industrial hemp with little to no THC content. CBD product makers routinely test their products for both CBD and THC content. The tests confirm that the resulting extracts contain consistent levels of CBD. The tests also confirm that the extracts are below the federally mandated limit of 0.3 percent THC. Depending on the plant source and extraction method, CBD products may also contain other cannabinoids, terpenes and phytochemicals.
Where Can I Buy CBD?
CBD oil is a natural product with great variation from one brand to the next. Different hemp strains have varying cannabinoid profiles. Plants grown outdoors may have phytochemicals that indoor-grown plants lack. Some CBD products contain nothing but isolated CBD. Others are full-spectrum extracts containing many botanical compounds. Some CBD oil producers may work with many different farms and only test their products for CBD content — not for other compounds. Other producers may import their hemp plants — or even finished CBD oil products, ready to consume — from places as far away as China.
It’s a really good idea to know as much as possible about where CBD oil comes from. It’s good for your health as dangerous contaminants have been found in some imported CBD oils. It’s also wise because once you find a CBD product that works for you, you’re going to want to know why it works and whether other CBD products will have the same benefits.
We like Prime Sunshine. Prime Sunshine’s CBD oil is a full-spectrum extract that comes from a single hemp cultivar grown on a single farm in the United States. Prime Sunshine’s CBD oil isn’t imported or made from imported plant material, and it’s made from plants that are grown outdoors and have complex phytochemical profiles that can only come from sunlight and good soil. Prime Sunshine makes its extracts to order on the farm, so customers receive bottles that are a few days — not several months — old. Further sweetening the deal, Prime Sunshine has an offer in which new customers can receive half off their second bottle of CBD oil when ordering two bottles.
Is CBD Legal?
Yes. Hemp-derived CBD products are legal in all 50 states, although it’s wise to stay up to date with your state’s laws. Some states also allow cannabis-derived extracts containing both CBD and THC, although such extracts are governed by the states’ medical marijuana laws.
Will CBD Get Me High?
No. Hemp-derived CBD products contain no psychoactive compounds and will not get you high. Studies suggest that CBD is non-toxic and safe to consume. However, you should not take a CBD supplement before driving or operating heavy machinery until you know how it interacts with your body. A few people have reported side effects such as drowsiness and low blood pressure after taking CBD.
How Is CBD Oil Made?
Most CBD oil is obtained through a process called supercritical CO2 extraction. In this technique, carbon dioxide is placed under intense pressure until it changes phase from a gas to a liquid. A machine passes the liquid CO2 through a tank full of ground whole hemp plants. The CO2 acts as a solvent, releasing the cannabinoid-rich oils from the plant material. The resulting mixture passes through a cyclonic separator, which separates the CBD oil from the CO2. The CBD oil drips from the separator into a collection vessel. There are other methods of extracting CBD oil from hemp plants — solvents such as butane and ethanol are popular — but the supercritical CO2 extraction method is one that many CBD oil producers prefer because it results in a pure product that contains no solvent.
What Are the Benefits of CBD?
There is anecdotal evidence suggesting that CBD supplements can be beneficial for a wide variety of conditions, and there is a growing body of studies suggesting that the use of CBD as medicine has real merit. One thing we know for certain is that CBD is a potent anti-seizure medication. One CBD-based prescription medication — Epidiolex — is already available in many regions throughout the world and appears likely to gain FDA approval in the United States in June 2018. As many as one third of those with epilepsy have experienced no benefits from existing prescription medications, and the existing medications often have negative side effects. CBD appears to be far safer, and it has drastically reduced seizures for some patients.
That’s not all. There are studies suggesting that CBD can treat:
What Are the Drawbacks of CBD?
Some people who have taken CBD have experienced side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness and low blood pressure. There is no evidence, however, suggesting that CBD is dangerous or toxic. If you aren’t sure whether CBD is right for you, it’s probably best to read some of the many available studies and ask your doctor for advice.
What Types of CBD Products Are Available?
The most common CBD products are CBD oil and CBD isolate. CBD oil is a full-spectrum plant extract resulting from the process of exposing ground hemp plant material to a solvent as we described above. The amount of CBD in a CBD oil depends on the potency of the original plant material. If you want something that’s even more potent, you need to isolate the CBD from CBD oil. Filtering out the oils and waxes leaves you with a crystalline powder that’s almost pure CBD. Using powdered CBD isolate as a base makes it easy to add CBD to a variety of other products including lotions, capsules and candies.
Can’t I Just Drink Hemp Oil Instead of Buying CBD?
Since you’ll often see the term “hemp oil” on a bottle of CBD oil, it’s important to understand the distinction between hemp seed oil and CBD oil. Just like the THC in a cannabis plant, you’ll find most of the CBD in a hemp plant in the buds. The leaves and other trimmings also contain small amounts of CBD. To yield a usable amount of CBD, you need to create an extract from the whole plant. Culinary hemp oil is a product made from crushed and pressed hemp seeds. It contains no CBD.