You’ve probably heard about Charlotte Fiji, whose rare seizure disorder, Dravet’s Syndrome, was dramatically alleviated by the cannabis extraction, CBD Oil. Her story was featured on CNN and her success has prompted hundreds of parents to petition their state’s legislatures to legalize CBD Oil. But, what is CBD Oil? is it the same as medical marijuana? Does it have psychoactive properties? What is its legal status? How do you use it? And, why is everyone so excited about it?
THE CANNABIS PLANT
Cannabis has been used historically for medicinal, ritual, recreational and industrial purposes. The two main species of the cannabis plant are Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. It is Cannabis sativa that is bred for industrial hemp to make rope, fiber, wax, resin, cloth, pulp, paper, fuel, biodegradable plastics, construction, body products, health food, bio-fuel, mulch, animal bedding, and birdseed, among others.
In addition to its uses for industrial hemp, cannabis sativa—as well as cannabis indica and hybrid strains—can also be bred for medical or recreational marijuana, which has higher medicinal or psychoactive properties. Thousands of different varieties can be selectively bred to significantly raise or lower the active ingredients of a strain. For example, one of the active ingredients in cannabis is Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the psychoactive component. Plants can be bred to have as little as 0% of THC or as much as 25%.
The active ingredients in cannabis are called cannabinoids, and these are unique to the cannabis plant. Already more than 70 different cannabinoids in cannabis have been identified, including not only THC, but also Cannabidiol, or CBD. Other cannabinoids include CBG, CBC, CBN, THCa, THCv, CBGa, CBCa, CBCa, and CBDa among others. While the chemical structure of these cannabinoids is related to THC, their biological effects are quite different as they have no psychotropic potential. THC is associated with pain relief, suppression of muscle spasms, reduction of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation. CBD is associated with the following:
- Reduces nausea and vomiting
- Muscle relaxtant
- Improves blood circulation
- Lowers blood pressure
- Relieves autoimmune disorders
- Stimulates bone production
In addition to showing remarkable results in epilepsy, CBD has also shown potent anti-psychotic and anti-cancer effects. A new film, Weed the People, by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein features young cancer patients who have been helped by CBD oil. No other medicinal herb or pharmaceutical drug possesses such a wide array of therapeutic applications.
CBD Oil is extracted from either the mature seeds or the mature stalks of the cannabis plant. It can be used as an ingestible in tinctures, supplements or capsules, as a highly concentrated oil that can be diluted in olive oil or in a smoothie, or as a topical in creams, oils and salves.
The CBD oil that Charlotte Figgi made famous is from a cannabis strain grown in Colorado by the Stanley Brothers, well-respected growers of medical marijuana. Charlotte’s Web, named after Charlotte Figgi, is now a recognized strain of medical marijuana with less than 0.3% THC. As long as CBD oil has a THC content of below 0.3%, it can be sold legally in all states . Below that level, a product is classified and sold as a nutritional supplement; above that level, it is sold only in the 30 states (and the District of Columbia) that legalize medical marijuana laws.
IF YOU NEED A REFERRAL
CBD Oil is generally sold over the counter for stress, anxiety, insomnia, pain, and inflammation. For a serious condition, consult with a healthcare practitioner versed in the use of CBD. And, it’s a good idea to consult with your primary health care provider before you take CBD, especially if you’re taking prescription medications. Here are two doctors experienced with CBD who may be able to offer referrals:
If you are looking for help with Parkinson’s Disease, Maureen Leehey, MD, and her neurology team at the University of Colorado School of Medicine are launching a pioneering study on CBD and Parkinson’s.
CBD AND THC FOR PAIN
Dr. Rav Iker, author of Cannabis for Chronic Pain, says that his patients have found that CBD alone (less than 1% of THC) is not an effective analgesic for chronic pain unless it is used in conjunction with some THC. According to Dr. Iker,
“the combination of the cannabinoids CBD and THC is the safest and most potent pain-relieving medicine in existence.”
CBD and THC work synergistically: THC appears to enhance the analgesic effects of CBD. According to Dr. Iker, the products that are the most effective for pain have a CBD: THC ratio of 1:1, 2:1, or 3:1. Dr. Iker’s book has an extensive list of the best marijuana strains for relieving pain, including:
- Charlotte’s Web
- Haley’s Hope
- Strawberry Cookie
If you are looking for a CBD product to relieve pain, choose one that has the CBD:THC ratios recommended by Dr. Iker.
HOW TO CHOSE A RELIABLE CBD PRODUCT?
With so much enthusiasm with CBD, the market is flooded with products and it is hard to know which ones are the most reliable. Here are some good things to consider when looking for a good company and an effective product:
- How does the product look?
- Is the packaging clear? Does it give you the information you need?
- Is the website aesthetically pleasing?
- Is it simple and easy to use?
- What is the mission of the company?
- Who are the owners of the company?
- Is the product independently reviewed? Are there user reviews?
- What is the company’s customer service reputation?
- Is the product sourced domestically or internationally?
- What is the carrier oil?
- Do you like the taste?
- Are the ingredients organic or certified organic?
- What is the cost of the product? The price per milligram of CBD?
In their article, “The 20 Best CBD Oils for 2019,”: Rave Reviews compares the top 20 CBD companies. Here are their top five:
- Moon Mother
- Recepta Naturals
- Lazarus Naturals
HOW DO YOU MEASURE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF CBD?
Because the field of medical cannabis is changing so rapidly and research lags behind usage, it’s important to create your own criteria for evaluating a good CBD product and company. Research a company and review its website and customer reviews before you buy. When you use a product, consider the milligrams of the product. Start with a lower dosage at first and increase the dosage after you experience its effectiveness or lack of effectiveness. Keep track of the dosage and what you experience after you take different dosages. Note how many times a day you have to take it. Consider your body weight when determining proper dosage. Don’t be afraid to ask for a refund if a product doesn’t meet your expectations.
About Peggy O’Mara. I am an independent journalist who edits and publishes peggyomara.com. I was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine for over 30 years and founded Mothering.com in 1995. My books include Having a Baby Naturally, Natural Family Living, The Way Back Home and A Quiet Place.I have conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. I am the mother of four and grandmother of three. Please check out my email newsletter with free tips on parenting, activism, and healthy living.