The Health Benefits of CBD Oil
This cannabis extract may help treat nerve pain, anxiety, and epilepsy
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman’s World, and Natural Health.
Lana Butner, ND, LAc, is a board-certified naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist in New York City.
CBD oil is an extract of Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa—the same plants that, when dried, make marijuana. CBD oil is believed by some to treat pain, reduce anxiety, and stimulate appetite in the same way that marijuana does, but without its psychoactive effects. CBD has also shown promise in treating certain types of seizures.
CBD is the short name for cannabidiol, one of the two chemicals—among the dozens in cannabis—that have the most health benefits. The other, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is what gets people “high.” CBD oil generally does not contain THC, although some trace amounts may be present in products sold in certain states.
CBD oil contains CBD mixed with an inert carrier oil, such as coconut oil or hemp seed oil. The bottled oil, called a tincture, is sold in various concentrations. There are also CBD capsules, CBD gummies, and under-the-tongue CBD sprays.
CBD’s exact mechanism of action is unclear. Unlike THC, CBD has a relatively low affinity for cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These are the molecules to which THC binds to elicit its psychoactive effects.
Instead, CBD is thought to influence other receptors, including opioid receptors that regulate pain and glycine receptors involved in the regulation of the “feel-good” hormone serotonin.
Proponents claim that CBD oil can treat a wide variety of health problems, including:
- Chronic pain
- Drug addiction and withdrawal
- High blood pressure
- Muscle spasms
- Parkinson’s disease
Despite the growing popularity of CBD use, CBD oil remains sorely under-researched. As such, some of these claims are better supported by studies than others.
Here is just some of what the current evidence says.
CBD shows promise in the treatment of anxiety disorders, suggests a 2015 review of studies in the journal Neurotherapeutics. According to the investigators, CBD demonstrated potent anxiolytic (anxiety-relieving) effects in animal research, albeit with counterintuitive results.
In all but a few studies, lower doses of CBD (10 milligrams per kilogram, mg/kg, or less) were better able to treat symptoms of anxiety. Higher doses (100 mg/kg or more) exhibited virtually no effect.
Part of this response could be explained by the way that CBD acts in the brain. In many cases, CBD works as an agonist, meaning that it triggers an opposite response when binding to a receptor. It is possible that low doses can elicit a positive agonist response, while high doses overwhelm the brain and trigger a compensatory effect to fight CBD’s effects.
Among the few human trials evaluating CBD’s anxiolytic effects was one published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry in 2019. For this study, 57 men were given either CBD oil or a placebo before a public-speaking event. Anxiety was evaluated using physiological measures (such as blood pressure, heart rate, etc.) and a relatively reliable test for mood states known as the Visual Analog Mood Scale (VAMS).
According to the investigators, men provided 300 mg of CBD exhibited less anxiety than those given a placebo. Interestingly, those provided 100 mg or 600 mg of CBD oil did not.
CBD oil may benefit those with drug addiction, suggests a 2015 review of studies published in Substance Abuse.
In an analysis of 14 published studies (nine involving animals and five involving humans), scientists with the University of Montreal concluded that CBD “showed promise” in treating people with opioid, cocaine, or psychostimulant addiction.
However, the effect of CBD on each addiction type was often very different. With opioid addiction, for example, CBD showed little effect in minimizing withdrawal symptoms in the absence of THC. By contrast, CBD on its own appeared effective in minimizing drug-seeking behaviors in users of cocaine, methamphetamine, and other psychostimulant drugs.
There have also been suggestions that CBD may aid in the treatment of cannabis and nicotine addiction. Further research is needed.
Medical marijuana is frequently prescribed to people with intractable (treatment-resistant) pain, including those with terminal cancer. There is some evidence that CBD contributes to this benefit.
According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, rats injected with inflammatory chemicals in their hind feet experienced less inflammation and neuropathic pain when treated with an oral dose and spinal injection of CBD.
Scientists believe that CBD reduces nerve pain by binding to glycine receptors in the brain that regulate the speed at which nerve signals pass between nerve cells.
Human studies evaluating the use of CBD in treating chronic pain are lacking. Those that do exist almost invariably include THC, making it difficult to isolate CBD’s distinct effects.
CBD oil may reduce the risk of heart disease by alleviating hypertension (high blood pressure) in certain people, suggests a 2017 study in JCI Insight.
For this study, nine healthy men took either 600 mg of CBD or the same dose of a placebo. According to the researcher, those treated with CBD had lower blood pressure before and after exposure to stressful stimuli (including exercise or extreme cold).
In addition, the stroke volume (the amount of blood remaining in the heart after a heartbeat) was significantly reduced, meaning that the heart was pumping more efficiently.
The findings suggest that CBD oil may be a suitable complementary therapy for people whose hypertension is complicated by stress and anxiety. However, there is no evidence that CBD oil can treat hypertension on its own or prevent hypertension in people at risk. While stress is known to complicate high blood pressure, it cannot cause hypertension.
In June 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Epidiolex, a CBD oral solution used for the treatment of certain rare forms of epilepsy in children under 2—Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Both are exceptionally rare genetic disorders causing lifelong catastrophic seizures that begin during the first year of life.
Outside of these two disorders, CBD’s effectiveness in treating seizures is uncertain. Even with Epidiolex, it is uncertain whether the anti-seizure effects can be attributed to CBD or some other factor.
There is some evidence that CBD interacts with seizure medications such as Onfi (clobazam) and “boosts” their concentration in the blood. This would not only make the drugs more effective but extend their half-lives as well. Further research is needed.
Possible Side Effects
Clinical research has shown that CBD oil can trigger side effects. Severity and type can vary from one person to the next. Common symptoms include:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in mood
- Dry mouth
CBD oil may also increase liver enzymes (a marker of liver inflammation). People with liver disease should use CBD oil with caution, ideally under the care of a doctor who can regularly check blood liver enzyme levels.
CBD oil should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. A 2018 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics warned women to avoid marijuana during pregnancy due to the potential risks to a baby’s development. Although it is unclear how CBD contributes, CBD is known to pass through the placental barrier.
If you are thinking about using CBD oil to treat a health condition, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider to ensure that it is the right option for you.
Since some CBD oils contain trace amounts of THC, you should avoid driving or using heavy machinery when taking CBD oil, particularly when first starting treatment or using a new brand.
CBD oil can interact with certain medications, including some drugs used to treat epilepsy. CBD inhibits an enzyme called cytochrome P450 (CYP450), which certain drugs use for metabolization. By interfering with CYP450, CBD may either increase the toxicity or decrease the effectiveness of these drugs.
Potential drug-drug interactions with CBD include:
- Anti-arrhythmia drugs like quinidine
- Anticonvulsants like Tegretol (carbamazepine) and Trileptal (oxcarbazepine)
- Antifungal drugs like Nizoral (ketoconazole) and Vfend (voriconazole)
- Antipsychotic drugs like Orap (pimozide)
- Atypical antidepressants like Remeron (mirtazapine)
- Benzodiazepine sedatives like Klonopin (clonazepam) and Halcion (triazolam)
- Immune-suppressive drugs like Sandimmune (cyclosporine)
- Macrolide antibiotics like clarithromycin and telithromycin
- Migraine medications like Ergomar (ergotamine)
- Opioid painkillers like Duragesic (fentanyl) and alfentanil
- Rifampin-based drugs used to treat tuberculosis
Many of these interactions are mild and require no adjustment to treatment. Others may require a drug substitution or the separation of doses by several hours.
To avoid interactions, advise your doctor and pharmacist about any drugs you are taking, whether they are prescription, over-the-counter, herbal, or recreational.
Dosage and Preparation
There are no guidelines for the appropriate use of CBD oil. CBD oil is usually delivered sublingually (under the tongue). Most oils are sold in 30-milliliter (mL) bottles with a dropper cap.
There is currently no known “correct” dose of CBD oil. Depending on who you speak to, the daily dose can range anywhere from 5 mg to 25 mg.
The tricky part is calculating the exact amount of CBD per milliliter of oil. Some tinctures have concentrations of 1,500 mg per 30 mL, while others have 3,000 mg per mL (or more).
How to Calculate CBD Dose
To determine an exact dose of CBD, remember that each drop of oil equals 0.05 mL of fluid. This means that a 30-mL bottle of CBD oil will have roughly 600 drops. If the concentration of the tincture is 1,500 mg/mL, one drop would contain 2.5 mg of CBD (1,500 mg ÷ 600 drops = 2.5 mg).
To use CBD oil, place one or more drops under the tongue and hold the dose there for 30 to 60 seconds without swallowing. Capsules and gummies are easier to dose, although they tend to be more costly. CBD sublingual sprays are used mainly for convenience.
What to Look For
Aficionados of CBD oil will tell you to buy full-spectrum oils over CBD isolates. Unlike isolates, which contain CBD only, full-spectrum oils contain a variety of compounds found naturally in the cannabis plant, including proteins, flavonoids, terpenes, and chlorophyll. Alternative practitioners believe these compounds offer more substantial health benefits, although there is no clear evidence of this.
Remember, because CBD oils are largely unregulated, there is no guarantee that a product is either safe or effective.
According to a 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, only 30.95% of CBD products sold online were correctly labeled. Most contained less CBD than advertised, while 21.43% had significant amounts of THC.
Here are a few tips to help you find the best CBD oil:
- Buy American. Domestically produced CBD oil tends to be safer because of better growing and refining practices.
- Go organic. Brands certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are less likely to expose you to pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
- Read the product label. Even if you choose a full-spectrum oil, don’t assume that every ingredient on the product label is natural. There may be preservatives, flavorings, or thinning agents that you don’t want or need. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, ask the dispenser what it is or check online.
Are CBD Oil and Hemp Oil the Same?
Not necessarily. Although some people use the terms synonymously, they may also be referring to hemp seed oil, which is primarily used for cooking, food production, and skincare products. CBD oil is made from the leaves, stems, buds, and flowers of the Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa plant and should contain less than 0.3% THC. Hemp oil is made from the seeds of Cannabis sativa and contains no TCH.
CBD oil is made from cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating extract of marijuana, and is believed to treat pain, anxiety, and seizures.
How to Take CBD Oil: CBD Drops, Coffees and Cocktails
So, you’ve read all about cannabidiol (or CBD as it’s more commonly known) and now you’re thinking of giving it a whirl. It makes sense. The food and wellness industries are buzzing about this natural chemical compound, which is said to help with anxiety, arthritis, pain relief, menopause symptoms and insomnia to name but a few.
You’ve decided you want to try it, so what’s next? When it comes to how to take CBD oil, you’re spoiled for choice. From tinctures and topicals to smoothies and coffee blends, there’s an overwhelming amount of options out there. Unsure where to start? That’s where we come in – here’s our CBD oil guide to help you decide how best to take CBD oil.
How to take CBD Oil?
While there are many ways to take CBD oil, it depends on the strength of the oil. With our 250mg CBD Oils (a great starting point), you put five CBD oil drops under your tongue and hold them there for 30-60 seconds, and do that three times a day. You can, however, freestyle, putting your drops into a smoothie, juice or even your morning cuppa. CBD is said to take the edge off coffee too.
Which brings us to…
9 Ways to Take CBD Oil at Home
1. In a tincture
In layman’s terms, a tincture is a concoction you take by dropper or spray straight into your mouth. You can take CBD oil by putting it directly under your tongue (that part of the mouth is a capillary-rich area and so the CBD will reach your bloodstream quicker). Try dropping a dose of CBD under your tongue and holding it there for a minute before swallowing.
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2. In a capsule
CBD oil also comes in a capsule form, which can be a good option for people who want to maintain a consistent amount of the compound in the body. However when CBD is ingested it passes through the digestive tract which means you might have to wait upwards of 30 minutes before experiencing any effect.
3. In a smoothie
Some blends of CBD oil can have a pungent, earthy taste. It’s not for everyone, which is why many people like to mask the flavour with other – more delicious – ingredients. Another way to take CBD is by adding half a teaspoon of CBD oil to your morning smoothie for a calm start to the day. If you’re after some smoothie inspo, head over to the 5 Best Self Care Smoothies With Hemp .
4. In coffee
If only there was a way to capture the energy of coffee without its associated jitters. Oh wait… there is! There are an increasing number of CBD coffee brands popping up, who claim that when coffee beans are infused with CBD, they take away the anxiety that caffeine consumption can cause. This makes the ‘up’ that your coffee gives you a little smoother; it takes the edge off. Or use a dairy-free milk that’s infused with CBD to easily control your dosage and allow you to continue using your favourite coffee blend.
5. In a salad dressing
Now we’re talking the same language, right? Try incorporating a little CBD oil into your daily cooking routine to get a bunch of health benefits without much effort at all. For a delicious and nutritious salad dressing, start with three to four tablespoons of olive oil, then add two teaspoons of CBD, the juice of half a fragrant lemon and salt and pepper. Here’s 5 hemp oil friendly recipes for starters.
6. In a vape pen
Okay so this one might sound a little scary, but vape pens are easy to use and can go undetected because they produce little smoke. The plus side of taking CBD in a vape pen is that when CBD is inhaled, it enters the lungs where it rapidly passes into the bloodstream. However, it’s important to note that the long-term safety of vaping is still unknown.
7. In sweet treats
The beauty of CBD is that it can basically be baked into anything, which is why you’ll find everything from cookies and brownies to gummies and caramel candies infused with it. Sweets are easy to take along with you in a bag on the go, while baked goods might need to be kept refrigerated to keep the CBD fresh (or just eat them quickly before they go off?).
8. In a topical rub or balm
In balm or rub form, CBD is often blended with fragrant coconut oil or beeswax, which makes it easy to spread on the skin (and makes your bod smell great too). When used topically, CBD can reach local targets, like sore muscles or joints. We’ve also heard it works wonders for period pain.
9. In a cocktail
If you’re feeling fancy go on the hunt for a CBD cocktail. We’ve heard reports that over in San Diego you can order The Mr Nice Guy – that’s a vodka and mezcal mixed drink that includes CBD. More proof, if any were needed, that CBD can be imbibed alongside any other food or drink, and that you’re going to be seeing a whole lot more of it soon.
How Much CBD Should I Take Each Day?
We always suggest starting the day with a few drops – it just sets the tone, you know? But you can top up throughout the day, no problem. Everyone will have an amount that works for them, just play around with it and see what feels good. We recommend starting with 5mg doses, 3 times per day and increasing your dosage incrementally over the course of a few weeks, ensuring you always stay below 70mg each day.
Check out our guide to CBD dosages for detailed advice.
Should I Refrigerate CBD Oil?
No, you shouldn’t. It’s best kept in a dark place like a pantry or cupboard so that it stays cool without getting too cold.
Should I Drink CBD Oil or Rub it Into My Skin?
Whichever you prefer! As outlined above, you can add CBD oil to a variety of different drinks or rub it into your skin as a topical balm. However, rubbing it into your skin tends to be better for sore joints or muscles.
What Does CBD Oil Under the Tongue Do?
This is one of the many ways the body can absorb CBD oil – as we mentioned above, your tongue is capillary-rich, meaning this method will allow the CBD to reach your bloodstream quickly.
How Long Does It Take for CBD Oil to Work on Joint Pain?
It depends on a variety of factors, such as how strong the CBD oil is (the stronger the concentration, the faster you will feel its effects) as well as how you are consuming it. For example, if you are taking CBD oil by placing a few drops under your tongue, it should take effect in around 15 to 45 minutes , while a topical application may take longer.
How Often Should I Take CBD Oil?
This varies from person to person and, when in doubt, you should always consult a doctor. However, we recommend starting with one of our 250mg bottles of CBD and taking five drops three times a day. After you begin to learn how this affects your body, you can better decide whether you should scale your dosage up or down (as long as you don’t exceed 70mg of CBD per day!).
Should I Take CBD Oil in the Morning or Evening?
Again, this is up to you and how CBD oil affects your body. People who find that CBD oil makes them feel energised, awake and clear-headed may prefer to take it in the mornings (or afternoons when they need a bit of a boost), while those who find that CBD oil helps them unwind and relax may prefer to take it in the evenings.
Can CBD Keep Me Awake at Night?
It can, but it probably won’t. While some people do feel that CBD oil makes them feel more alert, preliminary studies have shown that CBD oil is an effective way to treat insomnia.
Have we caught your attention? Now that you know how to take CBD oil, are you interested in trying it out for yourself? Check out our range of Pure CBD oils and start experimenting with your smoothies, baked goods and more!
If you’ve ever wondered how to take CBD oil you’re not alone. Check out Good Hemp’s CBD oil guide for the nine best ways, how much CBD to take and more.