As most of us know by now, CBD is becoming a wildly popular commodity. Available in everything from gummies to vapes, there’s a CBD option for everyone, whether they use it for their physical discomfort or just need a little help winding down. But even still, CBD oil remains one of the most popular CBD products out there. So what is CBD oil, and how does it work? How do we shop for CBD, let alone use it? In this guide, we’re answering your biggest questions about CBD oil—whether it’s about shopping for it, dosing it, and how to get the most out of it.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a compound known as a cannabinoid, and there are over 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, but legal CBD products come from hemp, specifically. And while CBD can be made into tons of different products, they all start with CBD oil, which is CBD suspended in a carrier oil, which is stored in a bottle with a premeasured dropper. Hemp is naturally high in CBD and low in CBD’s cousin THC. In fact, CBD products legally must remain below 0.3%. And unlike THC, CBD oil is not intoxicating and won’t create a “high” in users, and it’s also federally legal. However, CBD is not regulated by the FDA (except for the seizure medication, Epidiolex), so customers need to enter the CBD market with some understanding of CBD oil, and what makes a good product.
So what can CBD oil do for our health & wellbeing? And how does CBD oil work? While there are still many questions about CBD oil, there are some pretty strong theories as to how. And essentially, it all comes down to the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a network of sorts that works alongside the nervous system and immune system, and it helps manage functions like stress, emotional responses, pain, and appetite. The endocannabinoid system is found throughout the body, and its receptors communicate with each other through endocannabinoids. And this is important to understand because endocannabinoids are cannabinoids created by our bodies. CBD is a phytocannabinoid, which is a cannabinoid made by plants. So since CBD is a cannabinoid, it’s theorized that it has a unique influence on the endocannabinoid system. And through this influence, CBD may help to ease discomfort related to certain ailments.
In your search for CBD oil, you may have noticed that “CBD oil” and “CBD tinctures” are terms that are often used interchangeably. But is there a difference between CBD oil and CBD tinctures? Sort of. But when we’re talking about CBD oil, we’re referring to CBD extracted from hemp and suspended in a carrier oil, like hemp seed or coconut, and these are also known as “tincture oils.” However, a true CBD tincture is when CBD extracted from hemp is suspended in high-proof types of alcohol, i.e., moonshine. While the alcohol content preserves the CBD, the high concentration of alcohol doesn’t appeal to a lot of folks, not to mention the taste! On top of that, tinctures undergo a solvent extraction, which creates a lot of waste. While it’s important to note the distinction between the two, CBD oils are the more popular option, and they’re sometimes referred to as both. And if you’re confused, just check the ingredients! If the product is made with oil, it’s an oil, and if it contains alcohol, it’s a tincture. Generally, CBD oils are the better option.
When trying CBD oils for the first time, consumers often ask: “what are the side effects of CBD oil?” And because CBD is well-tolerated by most people, side effects in CBD oil appear to be quite rare. However, side effects do occur, particularly in cases of excess dosing. Typically, side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, changes in appetite, nausea, and diarrhea. If you experience any of these side effects, it may be that your current dosage is too high, so lowering may ease these side effects.
The dosage of your CBD oil is going to make a massive impact on how it works for you in the long run: dose too small, and you might not even notice the CBD. Dose too much, and you may experience some side effects or you might reach the point where CBD isn’t even working. So how do you find that dosing sweet spot? Truth be told, there is no single answer, since each person’s ideal dosage is going to be different, and will come down to factors like metabolism and body weight. Before taking CBD oil, consulting a doctor is always recommended, since they can go over potential risks and help determine an appropriate dosage. Otherwise, the rule of thumb with CBD oil is to start small and work your way up. Generally speaking, 25-50 mg may be a viable starting dosage, though plenty of individuals may start with even less.
When shopping for any CBD product, it’s easy to feel a little daunted—especially if it’s your first time doing so! And while products like gummies and edibles offer different flavors to choose from, all CBD oils tend to blur together. So how do you shop for CBD oil? And how do you know which CBD oils are worth your money? Here are some of the major points that can help you find out! Hemp Sourcing When it comes to quality and potency, the hemp source is going to speak volumes and it’s going to give us clues about its harvesting and processing. Is the hemp grown in the U.S.A.? Was it grown organically and without pesticides? Potency The best CBD products are going to offer concentrated, quality CBD, and you’ll know by reading the label: the more milligrams (mg) of CBD, the more potent a CBD oil is. Type of Extract It’s also good to check for the type of extract. Is it full-spectrum, where all of hemp’s compounds are present? Is it a CBD isolate, with nothing but good ol’ CBD? Or is it broad-spectrum, where all of the compounds are present except for THC? There’s no right or wrong answer here, but some individuals may prefer a specific one to fit their lifestyle. Full-spectrum oils appeal to those who want the entourage effect, which is a type of synergistic connection between all of hemp’s naturally occurring components, and may make CBD’s overall effects more powerful. However, full-spectrum CBD oils do contain a small amount of THC (<0.3%) and while this is not enough to get the user high, it may create a false positive on a drug test. CBD isolate, on the other hand, contains no THC at all. In fact, the only hemp-derived compound is CBD, and it may be more suitable for those who may need to take a drug test for their job. Meanwhile, broad-spectrum products contain all of hemp’s components except for THC, and it’s believed by some that it may still create the entourage effect. Third-Party Lab Testing This isn’t so much a quality of the best CBD oils for sale; it’s more of a minimal requirement for even decent CBD oils. In other words, this is what every CBD oil has to have. This is because CBD companies are virtually self-regulated, so they need to keep their quality control in check, and prove that they do. That’s why CBD companies will have their CBD oils third-party tested, and each batch should have a certificate of analysis available online.