What is CBD Oil? An in Depth Look at Uses, Benefits, and Risks


Have you been hearing about CBD oil but aren’t sure of what exactly it is or how it could help you?

If you haven’t heard about it, it’s time to get informed. The CBD market is projected to grow up to $2.1 billion by 2020. This is a 700% growth from the current market.

To show just how large that prediction of $2.1 billion is, in 2017 the sales were approximately $202 million for CBD in the U.S.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What is CBD Oil
  • CBD vs. THC
  • How CBD oil affects sleep
  • Risks and side effects
  • Is CBD oil legal in your state
  • How to take CBD oil

We intend to answer all your questions about CBD oil and how it can potentially help you, while also making sure you understand any potential risks associated with its use.

If you’ve been thinking about buying CBD oil but aren’t sure where to start, this article will help clarify dosages, administration, and any tools you need to make an informed decision regarding CBD oil and your body.

What is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, was the second compound isolated in the cannabis plant—found in 1963 by Mechoulam and Shvo.

Similar to THC, CBD is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Over 100 cannabinoids have been discovered so far, each with their own effects and uses. The cannabis plant has been cultivated and used by humans for over 6,000 years, though modern scientific knowledge of its benefits are only just over 100 years old.

Much of the CBD used medicinally around the world comes from the hemp plant, another word for a very low-THC, non-psychoactive cannabis plant.

How is CBD Oil Made?

Cannabis farms and cultivators breed and grow CBD-rich cannabis plants in greenhouses or outside. The process to actually extract CBD oil from plants involves harvesting the cannabis leaves and stems and drying them completely. The dried cannabis is then ground up into powder and poured into a carbon dioxide-powered oil extracting machine. This machine begins the extraction process using very low temperature and carbon dioxide under high pressure for several hours. The very cold temperature helps to isolate, maintain, and preserve the concentrated oil during this part of the process.

When the extraction machine is finished, the oil and wax paste are removed from the large machines, the plant wax is removed, and ethanol is used to refine the oil further. Ethanol and the oil are put in a large rotating glass evaporator, and after refining is complete, the ethanol is removed. The CBD oil is then analyzed for potency and cannabinoid content and then formed into various products, such as capsules, ointment, vape oil cartridges, and more.


CBD is not the same thing as THC. The main difference between THC and CBD is CBD is not psychoactive, unlike the well-known cannabinoid THC, or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol.

The World Health Organization defines psychoactive drugs as: “...substances that, when taken in or administered into one's system, affect mental processes, e.g., cognition or effect.”

In plain terms, this means CBD will not change your state of mind or make you feel “high” when used.

CBD and THC work differently in your body’s endocannabinoid system, producing different effects.

The endocannabinoid system is basically a regulator of our behaviors and energy balances. It is a complex system, and similar endocannabinoid systems are found in all vertebrate species.

The three main components of the endocannabinoid system are cannabinoid receptors found on the surface of cells in the body, including in the brain, endocannabinoids (small molecules which activate the cannabinoid receptors on the cells), and metabolic enzymes, which break down endocannabinoids after use.

Cannabinoids such as CBD attach to receptors in our bodies known as CB1 and CB2 receptors, and each cannabinoid affects the body differently.

CBD Benefits and Uses

CBD has many uses and positive effects on your mind and body. As more cannabinoids have been isolated and discovered, newer studies and trials are being done on individual ones and how they can benefit us - even the U.S. government has funded some clinical trials.

CBD is quickly becoming a widely-accepted product for medicinal purposes. Just this year, CBD was taken off the list of banned substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and in June of 2018 the FDA approved the first medication with CBD oil in it, a drug for severe epilepsy. There are also more studies being conducted on the efficacy of CBD oil each year.

What is CBD Used For?

Cannabis has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for many things. While studies are ongoing, there is some scientific evidence and a lot of anecdotal evidence of how CBD oil has helped people who suffer from both physical illnesses and mental illnesses. Some of the most well-known and talked about effects of CBD so far are pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties.

Here are some physical ailments CBD has been said to help with and how:

  • Acne - The findings suggest that “due to the combined lipostatic, antiproliferative, and anti-inflammatory effects, CBD has potential as a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of acne vulgaris.”
  • Cancer - CBD is being studied because it is believed to help with the modulation of different steps of tumorigenesis (the formation of tumors) in several different types of cancer.
  • Cardiovascular Health - This study’s conclusion says the results show that CBD might have a high therapeutic effect for patients with diabetes and other cardiovascular disorders by treating inflammation, cell death, fibrosis, and more.
  • Glaucoma - CBD has been proven to have some effect on pain receptors and can help in this regard with glaucoma, which causes patients eye pressure and pain.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome - CBD is showing to reduce intestinal inflammation through the control of the neuroimmune system.
  • Multiple Sclerosis - Another of the more common illnesses CBD assists with is chronic pain, such as that which people with MS suffer from. With its anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing properties, those who suffer from chronic muscle or joint pain may get relief with CBD oil.
  • Seizures and Epilepsy - Perhaps one of the most well-known ailment cannabinoids have been shown to help with, the U.S. FDA approved the first medication with CBD as the active ingredient for epilepsy in June 2018, called Epidiolex.

Physical health is not the only health that matters. Mental health and well-being are just as important, and while mental health is different for each person and the individual effects of CBD may be different for people, it is fascinating to see how far we have come in the study of CBD on mental health.

CBD oil can help with sufferers of various mental health imbalances, such as:

  • Anxiety - In one interesting study, patients diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder who had never been on medication before were given either CBD or a placebo and then do a simulation public speaking test. The results showed that the use of CBD reduced the anxiety of patients.
  • Depression - The conclusion of one study found that the patients using CBD were experiencing effects similar to those of using an antidepressant.
  • PTSD - In 2015, Project CBD wrote about how CBD could be a breakthrough for people with PTSD. The National Institute on Drug Abuse even gave permission for an FDA-approved research study to test the effects of both cannabis and CBD on military veterans with diagnosed PTSD.
  • Sleep Disorders - CBD has been found to modulate waking by the activation of neurons in the body’s hypothalamus and DRD, and CBD may assist with REM sleep behavior disorders and excessive daytime sleepiness.

CBD and Sleep

As you can see, CBD has significant and varied uses and benefits to many people. Let’s dive into more detail on how CBD oil can help you sleep better. CBD is all natural and is shown to help reduce anxiety, which will, in turn, help anxiety sufferers fall asleep more easily. For those with chronic pain, the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD will help them fall asleep with less pain. It can also help regulate REM sleep, giving users better quality sleep.

Medicinal CBD in small doses may also help with staying awake during the day for those who are excessively sleepy during waking hours.

There have been multiple studies done on CBD oil for patients with Parkinson’s disease. One study in 2014 on patients with Parkinson’s who suffer from RBD (REM sleep behavior disorder) plainly stated that the study proved CBD helped to control the symptom of RBD.

In many cases, the relaxing effects of CBD are allowing patients to have better sleep overall by reducing the stress on the brain and helping with the root issue of pain and inflammation.

At first glance, it may seem like we are saying CBD can do everything and anything; we are not. But CBD is a natural therapeutic drug which calms your nervous system, which has a direct positive result on your mind and body in many different ways.

While CBD oil will not work in the same way for every person, many studies have shown it has positive effects and can help patients with everything from sleep disorders to Alzheimer’s.

When deciding on whether to use CBD oil for your own sleeping issues, remember that CBD is not going to get you “high” or alter your mental abilities, so you may not have an immediate feeling of noticing it working or “feeling different.” Also, you may need to do some experimenting to find the dosage that works best for you.

When starting to take CBD for sleeping, it is generally recommended to start with a very small dose, such as 10 mg, and simply up the dosage by small amounts until you get the effect you want. Doses anywhere from 10 mg to 600 mg and even higher are observed during scientific studies, and many different dosage levels are available in retailers.


You now see all of the potential benefits of using CBD oil and how it can make a difference in your life and sleep, but it is also important to understand the potential risks.

Like any medication, there are risks involved when starting a new treatment.

In patients who use cannabis along with other pharmaceutical drugs, studies find that there were very few, if any, reported negative side effects which could be linked to interactions with other medications.

However, when adverse effects are reported, it is typically a result of extremely high doses of pure CBD concentrate. Even though CBD is not an intoxicant, some users ingest very high doses, which is more likely to have a metabolic effect in your body. With 10 to 50 mg per kilogram most common in clinical trials and current medications, you can purchase 2000 mg and higher in stores and dispensaries.

Can You Overdose on CBD?

No. CBD and other cannabinoids have been proven to be nontoxic, and right now there are no known fatal or overdose levels which have ever been reported.

CBD Side Effects

There are not too many side effects associated with using CBD oil specifically, but a few have been reported.

In several studies on CBD and epilepsy and psychotic disorders, the most commonly reported side effects included:

  • Tiredness
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Psychosis
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness

Despite the above listed potential side effects, actual patients involved in CBD oil studies have said that the side effects they experienced with CBD were less severe than side effects they personally experienced from other treatments and medications for the same ailments.

The important thing to remember is there are always more research and studies to do, but at this point, CBD is considered to be safe to use with minimal risks or side effects.

CBD oil and other cannabinoids are not 100% legal in the United States yet.

According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, 31 states plus Washington DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico have medical marijuana and medicinal cannabis by products programs, and 15 additional states legalized CBD for medicinal use or as a general legal defense in court. More states have decriminalized cannabis and its byproducts, but there is no formal legalization - even for medicinal use.

The only states or territories with absolutely no public cannabis access programs at all are Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.


Photo: http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx

Every state in the U.S. has different regulations, for example, Louisiana has legalized medical marijuana, but it cannot be smoked. It can be used in oils, ointments, and topical applications. Alabama and Mississippi allow medical marijuana, but only for specific and severe epilepsy.

At the federal level, marijuana and its extracts are still considered Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act. There have been measures put into place to allow states to make their own regulations, but it is important to realize that it is still not legal at the federal level.

Hemp vs. Cannabis

Hemp and cannabis often seem to be terms used interchangeably, but they are different things. Hemp plants themselves are one form of the overall Cannabis sativa plant species. CBD oil is typically extracted from hemp plants, though it can be taken from other cannabis plants as well.

Industrial hemp is used exclusively for industrial purposes, such as automotive uses, body and skin care, clothing, construction, plastics, foods, and more. Industrial hemp is legal as long as it contains 0.3 percent THC or less. The same 0.3 percent THC level restriction is used for CBD oil, too. Hemp plants have higher levels of CBD while non-hemp varieties of the cannabis plants have higher levels of THC. Higher THC strains of cannabis, known as marijuana, contain anywhere from 5 to 35 percent THC.

How to take CBD Oil

Here are the four ways to use CBD:

  • Topically (on the skin)
  • Ingesting (eating/drinking)
  • Inhaling it (vaping)
  • Sublingually (putting it under your tongue)

Topical Application

You can use CBD-infused creams, lotions, and salves on your skin to help relieve joint and muscle pain. Because it is on your skin, the CBD oil is only absorbed into the topmost layer of your body’s cells in that area, and the CBD does not get in your bloodstream at all. This is a great way to assist with muscle and joint pain in a very targeted area and with a very minimal risk of side effects.

Ingesting CBD Oil

Eating or taking a pill is generally considered to be the easiest way to take CBD oil, and includes all edibles and pills. If you want to use CBD oil for sleeping, taking it orally is considered the best method.

Just like multivitamins, swallowing a pill or a few drops of concentrated oil allows the medicine to metabolize faster and enter your bloodstream sooner.

Types of Ingestible CBD:

  • Pills
  • Candy
  • Gummies
  • Baked goods
  • CBD-infused butter or olive oil
  • Salad dressing
  • Sodas and juices

Because CBD can be infused into butter and olive oil, you can cook with it or add it to any other foods, such as popcorn. This is not an exhaustive list of ways to orally ingest CBD oil.

Inhaling CBD Oil

Using a vape (vaporizer) pen and inhaling CBD vapor will bypass the liver, go into the lungs, and enter the bloodstream quickly. This is not recommended for kids using CBD. Inhaling the CBD oil by vaping is the most overall efficient method of ingesting it, as it gets into your bloodstream the fastest, and it also leaves your body sooner, too.

Taking CBD Sublingually

Some pure CBD oils, concentrates, and tinctures (a solution or medicine made by dissolving a drug in alcohol) can be placed under the tongue. It is absorbed into the bloodstream through the mucous membranes and bypasses the digestive system and your liver. Simply hold the CBD under your tongue for about 90 seconds and then swallow the rest. The swallowed amount will digest naturally.


CBD oil is a natural remedy for many of life’s pains and ailments, and it is critical for you to know the difference between CBD and the most well-known cannabinoid, THC. CBD is not going to get you high and can have many similar effects as THC without the drawbacks of cognitive changes.

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