Cannabis often finds itself in the media’s eye because of its popularity as an…..ahem……”recreational” substance, but there are reasons to consume it that don’t involve hallucinating Pee Wee Herman as an erotic table dancer at 4 AM on your living room couch.
Despite its reputation as a party drug cannabis has a wide variety of practical applications as a safe, healthy feel-good tonic.
And even better, most of these benefits can be had in a form that’s not addictive, legal in all 50 states (for now), and non-hallucinogenic.
How’s that, you say?
It’s due to a remarkable compound called CBD (cannabidiol). It doesn’t draw attention to itself because it’s not psychedelic, but many of cannabis’s medicinal functions are a result of CBD’s broad array of biological activity.
It’s recently become available as a health supplement, and there’s been an upswelling of curiosity around its potential therapeutic uses.
Why does it work?
How should it be used?
Where can it be bought?
The answers to these questions will both surprise and delight you.
CBD: Uses and Benefits
Cannabis has two primary active ingredients: THC and CBD. THC is what gives cannabis its reputation……it makes you imagine things and get all giggly. But CBD is the unsung here of the two. It provides a full spectrum of health benefits unique unto itself.
They are as follows:
- Helps the crazies. CBD actually counteracts the psychedelic effects of THC. It gives you an anti-high. That’s why CBD is useful for muting behavioral conditions such as ADHD and epilepsy.
- Modifies the pain response. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating the pain response, and people who suffer from chronic pain often suffer from a cannabis deficiency. Lots of medical marijuana is used for this purpose.
- Improves circulation. CBD stimulates the 5-HT1a receptor in the brain which improves circulation in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus. This is why CBD is useful for treating anxiety and mania.
- Protects the brain. CBD prevents lipid peroxidation more effectively than popular antioxidants such as vitamin C and E and prevents the build up of beta-amyloid plaque. Both of these are strong risk factors for conditions associated with neural inflammation such as alzheimer’s and cerebral ischemia.
- Reduces inflammation. CBD quenches the production of TNF-alpha and IL-2, two compounds used in the inflammatory response that cause rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders.
- Promotes wakefulness. Move over caffeine! For reasons not entirely understood CBD helps promote wakefulness and modest improvements in mental clarity. I’ve been taking CBD oil for the last month and have noticed more regular sleep/wake cycles as a result. I fall asleep for 8.5 hours like clockwork and awake with a restful calm at the same time every morning.
What’s useful about all of this is the benefits are independent of the other constituents found in cannabis and none of them promote the side effects that are associated with the recreational use of marijuana.
So CBD occupies a unique space in the natural health field as a potent antidote to a wide variety of conditions that can’t be recreated elsewhere, hence all the excitement about its commercial capabilities.
Is It Legal?
There’s a lot of confusion about the legality of various cannabis products. If marijuana is outlawed in most places how can we buy CBD oil in all 50 states?
The key is understanding the different types of cannabis that are used for commercial products.
There’s Cannabis Indica, which is colloquially known as marijuana. It has a very high THC content and is only approved for medical use in certain states. (Colorado and Oregon notwithstanding).
Then there’s Cannabis Sativa, which is colloquially known as hemp and has practically undetectable levels of THC, but very high levels of CBD.
It’s Cannabis Sativa that’s used in most commercial hemp products like hemp protein or hemp milk. In most states it’s illegal to grow Cannabis Sativa, but you can import it from other countries.
If the CBD is sourced from Cannabis Indica then it can only be consumed at regulated dispensaries where medical marijuana is legal. If it’s sourced from Cannabis Sativa you can use it as a dietary supplement anywhere in the US. (Although this legality is currently being challenged and is 50 shades of grey more generally). [footnote]Even then the legality of hemp products is unclear. The FDA actually blocked an attempt to give it GRAS status in 2000 and the commercial legality of hemp products could potentially be overturned in the future since its current legal status is technically incertus at the moment.[/footnote]
Is CBD Different From One Product to Another?
Regardless of the type of Cannabis your CBD oil is sourced from there shouldn’t be any differences in the CBD itself in various products. Some oils might have a higher overall CBD content, and they’ll often have a slightly different compliment of secondary ingredients depending on the strain used, but the active compound is the same in all cases.
There’s no hard and fast rule about whether or not CBD oil is more effective coming from hemp or marijuana, but CBD from hemp typically has a gentler extraction process since it naturally has a higher CBD content, and most of the popular CBD oil brands use hemp-derived CBD since it’s more broadly available to sell.
How To Use
CBD products usually come in the following forms:
- Dropper- Usually to be taken 5-15 drops at a time.
- Capsule – Taken like other product forms in this category.
- Vaping – Basically e-cigarettes. A non-intrusive way to smoke it like a cigarette without carcinogens entering the atmosphere. Convenient form, albeit with unproven benefits.
- Topical – A good way for delivering cannabis products to particular areas of the body, especially those in acute pain.
CBD is fat soluble so it naturally wants to be in oil form. Any claims about vaping are currently subjective as nothing has been studied on them yet. Topical treatments are good options for people who want the health benefits of THC without the high and are particularly useful for reducing inflammation.
So all in all it depends.
The CBD Product Landscape
I was lucky enough to get seven different products from 3 different companies to try out for this review, and the experience was awesome!
I think highly of all 3 of them and each provided unique product offerings that had distinct features that made them worth trying out.
One of the best aspects of the cannabis industry right now is that the landscape is filled with a lot of mission-oriented startups who are committed to doing very interesting product development in this space.
So let’s take a look at what they had to offer.
Probably my favorite of the oils.
This is completely subjective, but the immediate effect after taking it was a fairly deep sense of calm and steadiness. It wasn’t euphoria or a high, but more like this earthy uncluttering of all the scattered thoughts that are typically running through my head.
My mind has a strong tendency to wander, and for some reason it just seemed easier to focus and feel within myself after taking a few drops of the Bindu oil.
The oil itself has a bit of a sting when you try it, almost like whiskey. That description might not be welcoming to someone looking to use it as an early-morning anxiety tonic, but I actually liked it and the strong taste made it feel potent and effective.
The company is founded by herbalists with a background in Tibetan Medicine, a unique school of Herbalogy that’s built around the teachings found in the Four Tantras, a scripture that focuses on particular methods of lifestyle management, herbalism, and philosophy to enhance well being.
At $80 it’s one of the more affordable oils, and I think this product is perhaps the least appreciated offering currently on the market.
Bindu is unique in that the company spends significant time in the far east where their products are sourced and uses suppliers that, to be frank, might not be widely utilized by any other company in the world.
This close relationship with growers makes Bindu a particularly solid choice for people looking to dip their toe into the sometimes pricey world of CBD products.
CW Botanicals gets its name from the strain of Cannabis it uses for its products: The high CBD Charlotte’s Web strain that was made famous when a young girl named Charlotte Figi was featured on CNN because she used medical marijuana to stop her epileptic fits.
Charlotte’s Web was originally derived from Cannabis Indica (marijuana), but a law that was passed in 2014 allows hemp to be grown in Colorado and its commercial CBD Oil products are now derived from Cannabis Sativa, allowing it to be used in all 50 states.
I received 3 separate products from CW Botanicals:
- CBD in MCT Oil (1500 mg)
- CBD in MCT Oil (500 mg)
- Topical CBD
The big difference between CW Botanicals’ oil and that of Bindu is that, in addition to using different suppliers CW mutes the hemp flavor of its products by infusing it with peppermint essence, giving the oil a very mild minty flavor.
This’ll make it more appealing to people who want to give CBD oil to their children or can’t take the somewhat smoky flavor or CBD on their own.
CW Botanicals has the benefit of being a “full stack” product development company since it sources and manufacturers its products on the same premise.
BioCBD+ has the distinction of being the most technologically advanced of the three mentioned here. It’s engineered to be water soluble, which changes its pharmacokinetics [footnote]that’s lingo for how a compound travels through your body[/footnote].
Claims about absorption can only truly be validated by an AUC study which has not been done on hemp oils yet so it’s too early to say whether or not this delivery mechanism is truly superior.
BioCBD+ has a fairly broad range of product offerings and I was given a combination of its CBD + Turmeric capsules as well as topical gels.
Turmeric is a very powerful anti-oxidant itself, and a CBD/Turmeric combination would be particularly potent for reducing inflammation and aches and pains.
This would make the BioCBD+ options uniquely well suited for people who suffer from arthritis, athletes, or anyone looking to deal with an autoimmune condition.
The ability for anyone to use concentrated hemp products is an exciting development for those who are passionate about natural health.
All 3 of these companies are unique in their product offerings and, IMO, represent the top of the line with regards to what’s currently available and are a good starting point for people who want to try and use CBD for therapeutic purposes.
The following websites proved incredibly useful when writing this review and are good places to learn more about CBD and how it works:
- CBD Oil Review: Does a great job of exploring the differences between various products and their content library is very comprehensive.
- Leafly – The definitive cannabis resource.
- Project CBD – Similar to leafly, but has a special emphasis on CBD.
Okay, th-th-th-that’s all folks!