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Some research suggests that CBD may reduce anxiety and self-deprecating thoughts, and there’s evidence that CBD has antipsychotic effects in people with schizophrenia. But other studies show no significant benefit of CBD over a placebo.

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a trending ingredient the natural products industry and is the focus of a new area of cannabis research. CBD is one of many cannabinoids, or molecules produced uniquely by the cannabis family. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the primary psychoactive element in marijuana), CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t have a strong effect on cognitive brain activity and doesn’t cause the “high” associated with marijuana.

Scientific observation takes time, and the research community has only just begun to pursue scientific inquiry into the discrete effects of various cannabinoids. That said, many researchers believe the potential carried by CBD is promising.

Research on CBD

In the last few years, there have been many advances in cannabis processing and consumption methods. Concentrated products such as oil and rosin (a sap-like product extracted via heat and pressure) have allowed for cleaner ingestion methods, such as vaporization, to become more widespread. These new technologies have brought more consistent, identifiable dosages to patients and enthusiasts alike, while potentially enabling safer methods of consumption. Finally, more accurate and detailed studies of cannabis effects and usage are underway, as prohibition continues to be challenged.

“There is a great deal of interest in the possible therapeutic effects of CBD, but there is very little evidence of efficacy,” said Dr. J Hampton Atkinson, co-director of the Center for Medical Cannabis Research (CMCR) at the University of California, San Diego. CBD may have health benefits, but the lack of research in this area means there just aren’t enough data points to support most of the anecdotal claims. Along that same line, the lack of research also means the potential health risks of consuming CBD are unclear.

According to nonscientific anecdotal evidence, CBD is good for treating discomfort and illness of all kinds. Sufferers of everything from anxiety and aches to epilepsy and cancer are evangelizing for the CBD molecule. But the largely prohibited status of cannabis has prevented many long-term, academically rigorous studies on most cannabinoids in isolation, leaving these anecdotal claims mostly uninvestigated until recently.

Every variety of the cannabis family produces cannabinoids, including hemp. While CBD and THC are the most well-known cannabinoids, there are many different types, and only recently have significant resources been poured into their study. Our brains have specific receptors designed to accept cannabinoids, known as CB1 and CB2. These receptors are responsible for the assimilation of cannabinoid molecules into your system, resulting in the psychoactive and immune responses correlated with cannabis consumption.

It may also be beneficial for arthritis. Last fall the Arthritis Foundation became the first major health organization to release guidelines for the use of CBD.

Advocates say CBD, or cannabidiol, which comes from hemp and marijuana, can help with anxiety, pain relief and provide a slew of other benefits. And while many experts agree that CBD has potential, there are still a lot of unknowns.

The law depends on where you live, and whether the CBD comes from hemp or marijuana. The Farm Bill of 2018 legalized hemp. Marijuana is trickier because the federal government still considers it an illegal drug, although states have their own swiftly changing laws. Some states have legalized recreational use of marijuana, while others have legalized medical marijuana. Still others have introduced CBD-specific legislation.

What does it do?

Currently the Food and Drug Administration has only approved one CBD product, a prescription drug called Epidiolex to treat two rare forms of epilepsy. In July, the FDA expanded what the drug is approved to treat, saying it can also be used for seizures associated with tuberous sclerosis complex.

CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of the many cannabinoids, or chemical compounds, found in marijuana and hemp.

Here are the basics of what you need to know about CBD and health.

CBD is everywhere lately — in skin care, coffee and even pet treats. But is it really all it’s hyped up to be?

It's also crucial to buy third-party-tested CBD for quality assurance (more on this later). Because the FDA doesn't regulate CBD, it is possible to buy a product that is more or less potent than advertised, or even contains small amounts of THC.

Figuring out how much you should take is challenging as well; the dosage that alleviates one patient's pain might do very little for someone else. "And until we can study it, it's the wild west," Dr. Danesh says.

What are the health benefits of CBD?

This means that "consumers everywhere, if they're compliant with their state, can grow hemp and use hemp products," Parrish explains, "and among those will be CBD."

You know how you check your raw chicken or bagged lettuce every time there's a recall to make sure the one you bought isn't going to make you sick? You should be able to do that with CBD products too. "This is a huge indicator as to whether they are following good manufacturing practices," says Beatty. "There should be a way to identify this product in case it was improperly made so the company can carry out a recall."

It's a naturally occurring substance that's used in products like oils and edibles to impart a feeling of relaxation and calm. Unlike its cousin, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the major active ingredient in marijuana, CBD is not psychoactive.