What is CBD Oil?
Last Updated: February 14, 2019
With a broad and growing range of therapeutic capabilities and a host of studies to back them up, it’s fair to say the hype about CBD oil is real. As with any new medicine attracting interest, many questions from the public arise.
Like, how do you know if your CBD oil is pure? How does it work? And, what conditions has CBD oil been proven to help?
If you’ve only scratched the surface of this therapeutic cannabinoid, read on as we dig deeper into the versatility and medical scope of CBD oil.
Are CBD and cannabis oil the same?
Oil is a healthier alternative to smoking and has gained popularity with recreational and medicinal users. But what’s the main difference between CBD and cannabis oil?
Simply put, they aren’t the same thing, however it’s complicated.
Its many monikers make cannabis oil tricky to nail down because it’s a blanket term for a range of oils with different purposes. Hemp oil, hash oil, CBD oil, and THC oil all fall under that blanket along with others. Hash oil alone is another blanket term so yeah, it’s pretty complicated.
The main difference between CBD oil and cannabis oil is usually that the latter contains THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana that gets you ‘high’.
Let’s be clear though, THC is not the enemy unless abused and/or smoked over long periods of time. In fact, THC has its own array of medical benefits but it’s also very therapeutic when combined with CBD.
The ‘entourage effect’ happens when the cannabis plant’s most famous compounds unite, along with help of terpenes. This term refers to strength in numbers — better together than alone — when it comes to creating a medicinal force. Basically, when cannabinoids and terpenes all work towards the same goal, you’ll notice stronger overall healing effects.
While technically a cannabis oil, non-psychoactive CBD oil is never really used recreationally due to its lack of buzz. It’s primarily a healer. Although scientists believe more studies are required, it is definitely the star cannabinoid of medical cannabis and has the capability to treat numerous conditions and diseases.
Evidence suggests that it’s effective in the treatment of severe pain, epilepsy, anxiety disorders, arthritis, and schizophrenia just to mention a few.
Is CBD legal in Canada?
The short answer is yes, but you’d be forgiven for thinking the legality of CBD oil would be a formality in Canada.
A bird’s eye view of its qualities and capabilities would instantly lead you to think so. It’s a non-psychoactive compound with very few side effects that don’t get you buzzed.
So what’s the harm right?
Thankfully, CBD oil is legal but there’s still a ways to go. Alternative sources of CBD oil and other related products are not yet endorsed by the government for retailers. Meanwhile, any CBD products made by a licensed cannabis producer are fully endorsed by the government (just FYI, hemp oil is also a government-approved product).
So here’s where it gets tricky.
You may be a medicinal cannabis patient intent on using only government-approved products. Let’s say you have a joint (no pun intended) or muscular pain and buying a CBD topical seems like the next logical step. Currently, this would not be possible as the government has yet to approve cannabidiol creams or any cannabinoid edibles for that matter.
It really depends on how cautious and particular you are about where you obtain your CBD oil. If you need that government seal of approval then the cream and edibles will have to wait. If you are confident in your source — be it an online retailer or a local headshop — and happy with the quality of that CBD oil then this is not a problem for you.
Ultimately, these are cannabis or hemp-related products sold in a country where cannabis and hemp are completely legal. So there’s nothing illegal about buying CBD oil through unregulated channels.
Hemp vs. cannabis CBD?
For a simple comparison of hemp and cannabis, you could say that the values of the former are industrial and nutritional while those of latter are medicinal and recreational.
When all forms of marijuana were illegal in North America, hemp — a non-psychoactive relative of the cannabis plant — was incorrectly labeled and destroyed. Regularly and systematically chopped down and burned by the US government for its tenuous connections to cannabis.
Thankfully, we are now living in more enlightened, evolved times so hemp has made a comeback. This durable and versatile plant is used to make shampoo, clothing, makeup, food, building materials and more. However, when it comes to the production of CBD it comes a very distant second to the cannabis plant.
While both plants produce the therapeutic compound, hemp has nowhere near the same medicinal value as cannabis. This is due to its extremely low concentration of CBD and THC.
Contrast this with cannabis which can boast THC and CBD as its two most present elements. CBD oils are extracted by licensed producers with the sole goal of delivering maximum medical benefit.
This could be a THC/CBD mix to treat the likes of multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, nausea, certain cancers and psychological problems. Or maybe pure CBD oil to help those suffering from arthritis, epilepsy, anxiety disorders and many other conditions.
Explore In-Depth: The difference between cannabis CBD oil and hemp CBD oil.
But CBD is CBD so why should you care what plant it comes from if the end product is 100 percent CBD? Whether made through isolation from natural sources, or by synthesizing in a lab CBD from cannabis and hemp are identical.
So how does hemp CBD oil differ from that of its ancestor cannabis?
The extraction process reveals the real truth. Hemp oil is pressed and extracted from the plant seeds (which double as a nutrient-rich health food). While it is high in polyunsaturated fats and is popular in the cooking world it barely contains any CBD and almost no THC.
This is why hemp is not a controlled substance and overseen by the Industrial Hemp Regulations (IHR). Additionally, hemp is a bio-accumulator meaning it absorbs large amounts of whatever is present in the soil in which it grows.
This is a real downside since the growing methods and conditions for industrial hemp aren’t federally regulated. So, it’s hard to know when you’re getting a high quality, clean, and safe product. In the past hemp has been known to absorb pesticides, toxic spills and other dangerous chemicals and metals from the soil.
Cannabis, on the other hand, is often grown using soilless methods like aquaponics and hydroponics. These techniques eliminate the possibility of outside contaminants tainting the end product.
When processing marijuana the flowers, leaves, and stalks are used to create cannabis and CBD oil, both of which have a multitude of medical benefits. Due to its high CBD and THC content, it is instead regulated by the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) and the Narcotic Control Regulations (NCR).
Under the IHR, it is forbidden for hemp oil to contain any CBD at all and more than 10 parts per million of THC (0.3%) when it’s sold as a nutritional food. Since these are the cannabinoids known to possess therapeutic qualities be wary of any person or company lauding the medicinal value of hemp oil.
Why is CBD experiencing such a spike in popularity?
All across the internet comment threads on health-focused cannabis websites are filled with sentences like:
“It’s done wonders for my anxiety, I feel like a new person!!”
“My severe arthritis is all but gone thanks to CBD oil.”
Or, “I’ve had regular epileptic seizures for 12 years but since I’ve started taking CBD oil I’ve been seizure-free for 5 months!!”
Yes, comment threads themselves are often seen as the underbelly of the internet and with good reason. They play host to trolls and scam artists but they also allow good people suffering from bad illnesses to interact, help each other and voice their opinions.
It’s hard to deny the countless positive and genuine CBD oil reviews out there sprinkled across the web like nuggets of hope. These statements of elation and relief are organic proof of CBD’s ever-growing popularity.
The adoration for this medicinal compound is hardly a noodle scratcher. It’s a cannabis product for people who don’t like cannabis. Not only does it not get you ‘high’ but it could help you treat a devastating condition you are afflicted with.
So, let’s take a look at why the popularity of CBD oil is currently through the roof.
What does the research say about CBD oil?
Research on CBD wasn’t exactly plentiful before the turn of the millennium. Now, since the advent of cannabis legalization in Canada, it is probably one of the most researched substances out there.
Science has pointed to the relationship between the cannabinoid and our CB1 and CB2 receptors as the reason why it possesses such therapeutic value. CBD interacts best with CB2 receptors which aid in the regulation of appetite, pain management, and immune system functions like inflammation.
Explore In-Depth: Cannabinoid Receptors 101 – Why Do We Have Them?
Although experts recommend more studies be conducted on the subject, evidence is emerging that CBD may be a potent inhibitor of cancer growth. It has already shown promise as a treatment for several forms of the disease including lung cancer, leukemia, colon cancer and to a lesser extent glioma (brain cancer) and breast cancer.
Research also suggests that CBD is a neuroprotective compound that could repair the damage done to the brain by THC. It encourages neuroplasticity as well which is crucial to people in their twilight years. Additionally, scientists have proven — thanks to a deeper knowledge of the endocannabinoid system— that CBD can ease or alleviate the symptoms of epilepsy as well as anxiety disorders, depression, and psychosis.
CBD oil could also become a popular mood stabilizer in the future. Its anti-convulsive, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, and antipsychotic actions with minimal side effects make it seem like a good fit. On top of all this, it has had a positive impact in treating certain sleep disorders and addiction to cannabis itself.
There is a downside
While most CBD oil users don’t experience adverse reactions, possible side effects do exist. These include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating and dizziness. Also, please always consult with a doctor before using CBD oil as it could interfere with medication you are already on.
The many uses of CBD oil
Backed by hundreds of peer-reviewed sources in scientific journals it has been proven that CBD may be therapeutic for the list of conditions below. Since it is still an understudied cannabinoid, future research could reveal even more of the compound’s medicinal potential in all of these conditions and possibly more, including:
Acne, ADD and ADHD, addiction, AIDS, ALS, Alzheimer’s, anorexia, antibiotic resistance, anxiety, atherosclerosis, arthritis, asthma, autism, bipolar, cancer, chronic pain, digestive issues, depression, diabetes, endocrine disorders, epilepsy and seizures, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, heart disease, Huntington’s disease, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney disease, liver disease, metabolic syndrome, migraine, mood disorders, motion sickness, multiple sclerosis, nausea, neurodegeneration, obesity, OCD, osteoporosis/bone health, Parkinson’s disease, prion/mad cow disease, PTSD, rheumatism, schizophrenia, sickle cell anemia, skin conditions, sleep disorders, spinal cord injury, stress, stroke and TBI.
What makes a ‘good’ CBD oil?
CBD oil is rapidly expanding and barely-regulated industry. This wild-west, ‘Green Rush’ scenario is sure to attract plenty of scam-artists trying to rip you off with below-par products.
Unfortunately, determining which CBD oils are high quality and trustworthy is a tricky business. Its surge in popularity means new sellers and brands are surfacing regularly, claiming their oil is the best.
Researchers in the US confirmed our worst fears about the number of fraudulent and unscrupulous sellers online. After analyzing the content of 84 CBD products purchased on the internet the results were concerning and rife with inconsistencies. Labeling inaccuracies and incorrect concentration levels were the two biggest offenders.
When compared to their advertised concentrations, products were badly mislabeled with 26 percent containing less CBD than stated on the label while 43 percent contained more, resulting in a dangerously high degree of variability. In addition to CBD mislabeling a bigger concern emerged. THC was detected in 21 percent of samples.
It’s completely understandable if this has made you wary of buying CBD online. To ensure you purchase the high-quality CBD oil you seek, allow us to ease those concerns by passing on some useful buying tips. These should help you to weed out the online scammers.
With different CBD oil brands come different extraction methods. Beware of low prices as these companies may be using cheap extraction methods to achieve greater profits. Since CBD can be extracted using solvents some companies will use lower grade solvents to get the job done for fewer dollars.
Toxic substances such as propane, butane, hexane, and pentane are all examples of low-grade CBD extractors. Dangerous to our health, a product containing any of this quartet should be avoided. Ethanol — grain alcohol — or olive oil are viewed as the safest method of processing CBD oil for our consumption.
Last but not least, CBD oil can be extracted through “supercritical CO2 extraction.” This process happens using carbon dioxide under high pressure in ultra-low temperatures. Pricey, high-tech equipment is necessary for this method, the refinement of the oil is complex and specific expertise is required on the production side. The final product, however, is worth it as the CBD oil maintains its purity all the way through.
Using quality cannabis or hemp: Your source matters
This one is simple, to ensure quality use high-quality materials. This is especially important in CBD oil. Cannabis or hemp grown using hydroponics or aquaponics is ideal because both methods don’t require soil to consistently produce high-quality plants which in turn means very effective CBD oil.
Grown in soil both plants absorb whatever is present in the ground where it was cultivated. If the soil was rich and fertile then expect a safe, high-grade CBD oil but if the earth was laden with heavy metals like mercury and lead, the resulting oils will be tainted and toxic.
The presence of such metals in the oil would make it unsafe for humans to consume, especially children. Sadly, some manufacturers only have profit on their minds so investigate where the CBD brand sources their cannabis or hemp. Such information should be available on the retailer’s websites or via their customer service channels.
THC is the celebrity cannabinoid present in both cannabis and hemp. This popular psychoactive compound is responsible for getting you “high.” The maximum and acceptable level of THC present in CBD oils should not exceed more than 0.3 percent, which is a trace amount. So be sure to check the labels or request lab results prior to making a purchase.
‘Whole-plant’ or ‘full spectrum’ labels
Another sign of a quality CBD oil is one that was manufactured using the whole plant. A 2015 study showed that using the entire plant instead of a single part ensures that your CBD oil gets the full range of primary and secondary constituents of the cannabis plant.
These include terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids that are generally believed to synergize with CBD, making the health benefits better than using CBD alone. Again, this is called the “entourage effect”.
Third-party lab results
A reputable brand of CBD oil will have nothing to hide. They will always provide third-party lab results to their customers. These independent labs exist to provide transparency. They ensure that CBD oil is everything it claims to be while protecting Joe Public from potentially-harmful impurities.