Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
You’ve probably heard of—and wondered about—CBD oil, a constituent of the hemp plant that’s being used in everything from topical creams to supplements. And even though CBD has been used as a medicinal cure for thousands of years around the world, it’s still shrouded in mystery—and fears that it will make you high, or that it’s not safe for kids.
To add to the confusion, there’re other hemp products at health food stores, namely hemp oil, seeds, and milk. Where do these fit in, and how are the different from CBD oil? Here, we’ve got the answers to 6 frequently asked questions about hemp and CBD oil.
1. What Is Hemp?
The seeds or “nuts” of the hemp plant are the source of various hemp foods and hemp milk. Hemp nuts are rich in healthful fats and protein, and a good source of fiber. Hemp is also good for the planet. Unlike most plants that are commercially cultivated, hemp is grown without pesticides because it is naturally resilient. And rather than depleting soil, hemp has a revitalizing effect.
2. Can You Get High on Hemp?
No. Industrial hemp, the plant used to make food, fabric, and other commodities, comes from the same botanical family as marijuana, but is a different plant and does not contain THC, the psychoactive ingredient in the drug.
3. So Then, What Is CBD Oil?
“CBD is like marijuana’s non-psychoactive cousin,” says Alex Corren, founder and CEO of Hempower Nutrition, Inc., in Boulder, Colo. CBD is made from a type of hemp that’s very low in THC, the component that’s responsible for marijuana’s mind-altering effects. To clarify, CBD comes from the hemp plant, which is in the same plant family as marijuana. But unlike medical marijuana, which contains large amounts of THC, CBD products are not psychotropic, meaning they don’t cause the euphoric feeling associated with marijuana. Most contain miniscule amounts (less than 0.3 percent) and some are completely THC-free, says Corren. CBD won’t impact drug tests, and it’s safe enough for children. In fact, CBD came to national prominence with the discovery of its ability to halt seizures in children with drug-resistant epilepsy. And while both THC and CBD are considered phytocannabinoids, they interact with the body in very different ways. THC works by directly binding to cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2). CBD doesn’t bind to these receptors, but instead interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
4. How Does CBD Work?
CBD works by interacting with the endogenous cannabinoid system or endocannabinoid system (ECS), a collection of cell receptors that play a fundamental role in the function of the nervous and immune system. The human body produces its own endocannabinoids—the highest concentration is in mother’s milk. CBD works with the body’s own system, blocking or reducing the breakdown of naturally occurring endocannabinoids.
5. How Is CBD Different from Hemp?
CBD oil is different from hemp oil and hemp seeds found in grocery and natural food stores. Hemp oil is derived only from hemp seeds, and it does not contain appreciable amounts of cannabidiol; CBD products, on the other hand, are made from the whole plant, not just the seeds. There are thousands of varieties of hemp, and the cultivars used for CBD oil contain significantly higher concentrations of cannabidiol.
6. What Are the Top Benefits Associated with CBD Oil?
Studies are proving the ability of CBD to stop seizures, calm anxiety, reduce inflammation, ease depression, and soothe chronic pain. “CBD has the potential to be the most important wellness ingredient in the last 50 years,” says Corren. “CBD is important for nervous and immune function, and in the same way probiotics aren’t just for people suffering from digestive disorders, CBD is not just for sick or hurting people. It’s for anyone who wants to be proactive about their long-term health.”
CBD Dosage Guidelines
Effective doses vary widely, based on severity of symptoms and the balance or tone of an individual’s endocannabinoid system. Generally, though, doses start at 5 mg and may go as high as 200 mg. Start small, and increase dosage gradually, dividing the total amount into multiple doses if that is effective, until you find what’s right for you. CBD can cause drowsiness for some people.