Comprehensive Introduction to CBD and Hemp oil

A Very Important Introduction

In the past few years, lots and lots of new habits, diets, lifestyles and healthcare related practices have come to life, particularly due to how easy it is to spread information with our new means of easy communication, the web. New words have been invented, reinvented, branded and rebranded, called upon for all possible ways of commercial profit. Detox, x or y diet with the most intense forms of imagery and the best of all greatly shaped gurus being presented in the most well-created videos to make you believe that it worked. These 'hypes', for a lack of a better word have spread like a storm on social media, reaching everyone and preying on their problems in order to sell their miraculous products.

It is, as such very important to clarify that we're not like that. No product is as miraculous as that. No supplement will make you the best looking TV resembling person in the world. CBD products won't do that for you. The best CBD or Hemp oil in the world will not do that for you. When something seems too good to be true you should be ready to believe it is.

This does not mean that there are no true benefits to a given lifestyle or to the controlled administration of a substance, like CBD derived products. It just means that there is no product that fixes all your problems, particularly on every possible scenario. On top of that you shouldn't believe everything you read, and most importantly everything you see. On top of whatever claims you see, do your own research, check scientific articles and don't ever play around with your health based on false hopes or somebody's word.

Like every other person, we are fallible and have limited knowledge. With that in mind, we pride ourselves in transparency and try to back up all our claims with scientific research. We hope that in reading our articles, you not only learn the topics we discuss, but also the learning method facilitating your own research and making sure you don't fall prey to common marketing schemes.

This important detail behind us, let's then discuss what's this new 'hype', if we can call it such of CBD oil and CBD products. I believe, before we can dwelve into understanding in detail what it all means, we should clarify where it comes from.

The Cannabis Plant

Cannabis is a  flowering plant that has been used for thousands of years for many reasons such as it's strong cheap to produce fiber with many applications, its seeds for different oils, the leaves as edible vegetables or for juices and particularly for it's wide variety of medicinal uses sharing a fine line with it's use as a recreational drug. Its use for medicinal purposes has been documented by archaeological finds in prehistoric societies in Eurasia and Africa(Ernest Abel, Marijuana, The First 12,000 years, Plenum Press, New York 1980) and recreational use documented as far back as the 5th century BC according to a Greek historian Herodotus' s documented reference to the central Eurasian scythian's taking cannabis steam baths(reference). Evidence of cannabis usage though, dates as far back as 2000 B.C. (Mallory and Mair (2000), p. 262.)

This means there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence of what cannabis consumption does to the human body. Regardless of this, due to a series of concerns(to be elaborated on a different article) it's medicinal use has been prohibited on most countries for many many years and it has been given an illicit drug label, that was common to quite a share of very harmful substances. This not only gave it an awful reputation, but has prevented proper research from being conducted to figure out the actual science behind the benefits of this plant.

Fast forward to recent times and a lot has changed, particularly since 2008 for many reasons such as increasing support for legalization and popular use in cases of chronic pain among patients(reference). Research is finally being done, albeit slowly due to many social and legal barriers, particularly because it is not a patented drug owned by the pharmaceutical industry and because it's legal status as a medical treatment is quite ambiguous. Still this is rapidly changing, hopefully for the best.

The Cannabinoids and Terpenes

Open to research, we can come to a scientific understanding of what gives the medicinal properties to the cannabis plant and finally be able to shine some light on the subject and make reason of all the anecdotal evidence collected over the years. As such we find the cannabinoids, basically quite a broad group of chemicals found in cannabis(at least 144 have been isolated exhibiting various effects) from which the most notable are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the primary psychoactive compound and Cannabidiol (CBD), which is the main subject of this article.

These compounds have particular interest because the human body has a series of cannabinoid receptors, small proteins in the membrane of our cells which when activated mediate the transfer of important molecules from/to these cells.  These are generally activated by a series of compounds produced in our body(endocannabinoids) and are responsible for a variety of activities that regulate our body. The therapeutic effect of CBD and THC exists because they can also activate some of these cannabinoid receptors(read more here).

Knowing this we can start differentiating a particular strain of the Cannabis plant, the Hemp plant, which has been used mostly industrially because it has residual amounts of THC, something that has kept it legal throughout the years. While it doesn't have enough THC to cause any relevant psychoactive effects, it has CBD and many other cannabinoids with possible therapeutic value.  Since THC, the illegal compound in the marihuana plant is not present in hemp, it is widely legal. Contrary to THC, whose psychoactive effect derives mostly from activating the CB1 cannabinoid receptor, CBD doesn't have an euphoric or intoxicating effect as it won't active the same receptor.

Terpenes on the other hand are a class of organic compounds that are produced by hemp and other plants(some insects too) generally as a deterrent (or the opposite as a means to reproduction) to predators and are responsible for the strong odor that these plants produce. They are generally very volatile evaporating quite fast and are frequently used in essential oils often applied in traditional medicine or aromatherapy.

Hemp and CBD Oil

All of this gets us to finally being able to discuss the major subject of this article, CBD in it's oil form. Before going in depth about its specifics, let's clarify the common CBD oil vs Hemp Oil differentiation. While both are rich in different types of cannabinoids, and some times this maybe nothing more than a labelling difference for the same product, it's common to call CBD oil a product with a less broad extraction(less cannabinoids and lacking most terpenes) and Hemp oil a more broad extraction(with most of the cannabinoids and terpenes). It's common to call the later a Full-Spectrum CBD Oil(or Broad Spectrum CBD Oil) as well, because it tries to extract the complete set of terpenes and cannabinoids from the Hemp Plant. Notice that CBD Oils are always extracted from the Hemp strain of the cannabis plant and are THC free as such.

So, anecdotal evidence aside, while more rigorous studies are necessary to properly evaluate the complete clinical application of Cannabidiol, a lot of research in-vitro and animal trials has been done that has shown quite a series of valuable therapeutic uses.

  • Anticonvulsant: Since 2018 CBD has been used for treatment of two particular forms of epilepsy that have been resistant to the usual treatment, Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndrom in children(from 2-5 years old) with refractory epilepsy.
  • Anti-Cancer: Besides the common use for reducing nausea and increasing appetitie, there are diverse studies showing anticancer effects of CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids from hemp extracts on cellular cultures and animal trials reducing tumoral growth and increasing the death rate of cancer cells(study here).
  • Anti-Psychotic: Small trials have been done on human patients with psychotic symptoms, treating them with CBD oil, presenting positive results and demonstrating it's anti-psychotic effect, while claiming further studies to be necessary for proper application in therapeutic setting(article).
  • Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant: Studies on animals have demonstrated both of these effects, and attempted to correlate these with how CBD affects cancer cells(visit article).
  • Anxiolytic and stress reduction: CBD has shown therapeutic efficacy on a variety of animal trials reducing behavior and physiological measures of stress and anxiety(here). It has also shown positive results on small human trials regarding social anxiety related to public speech(here) and improved the effectiveness of the consolidation of the extinction of traumatic memories(here). Some research has also been done on the use of CBD oil for sleep.
  • Substance Addiction: Pre-clinical trials suggest that CBD also has a therapeutic value as a treatment for substance abuse. In animal trials it has reduced the rewarding effects of morphine as well as diminished the search of heroin(here and here).

CBD is also being used by both professional and amateur athletes as it was removed from World Anti-Doping Agency's banned substances list. It is current endorsed by many professional athletes(see this) not only for it's regulating effects but particularly as a treatment for pain(here).

It's also relevant to mention that a revision of 25 different studies on the efficacy and safety of CBD has identified no significative collateral effects in a wide variety of dosages, including on treatment of acute and chronical pain using a variety of administration methods(see this).

Additional Questions

Is CBD Oil legal ?

You should absolutely check your own country legislation before purchasing it, but since it's derived from the hemp variety of the cannabis plant and it contains only residual levels of THC it is legal in most of the world.

Does CBD oil get you high ?

Since it contains no relevant amounts of THC(less than 0,02%), the psychoactive compound of cannabis CBD oil will not get you high.

Is hemp oil the same as cbd oil ?

We clarified this above, please read the first paragraph of the Hemp and CBD Oil section of the article.

Stay tuned for our upcoming articles to know more regarding how to use cbd oil, how much cbd oil to use and specifics regarding the different applications of it.

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