For someone who’s not familiar with this niche, it can be difficult to understand the differences between the various products obtained from marijuana or hemp, or to distinguish between hemp oil, CBD hemp oil and the same product obtained from medical marijuana. In the end, they all refer to the same plant, right?
Yes and no. These products are indeed obtained from the same source, but different parts of the marijuana plant are used for producing the oil, and this is why the final products have different characteristics and effects.
CBD oil is a dietary supplement and an excellent source of nutrients that can be safely consumed by kids and adults as part of their daily diet. Unlike “cannabis oil” (generally referring to high THC oil), CBD hemp oil is legal, and is not psychoactive, meaning that it does not cause one to “get high”. Responsible for this “getting high” effect is THC, a compound that is naturally found in the cannabis plant, but is not included in CBD Hemp oils above .3%. CBD is thought to counteract the effects of THC, so it is not used for recreational purposes.
Then why is this oil beneficial for? If it’s not the same with medical marijuana and is different from both THC-rich cannabis oil and hempseed cooking oil, what is CBD oil used for?
Applications of non-psychoactive CBD oil
A study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology points out the numerous therapeutic properties of CBD oil, showing that this product can act as a natural aid in a series of conditions. According to the aforementioned study, cannabidiol, which is the main ingredient in Elixinol as well, has shown anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties in a number of experimental models, as well as antiemetic (reduces nausea and prevents vomiting), anti-depressant and antipsychotic properties.
But what about people who don’t suffer from inflammatory disorders, don’t experience anxiety or depression episodes on a regular basis and aren’t affected by neurodegenerative disorders? Can they still benefit from using CBD hemp oil? The answer is yes, and here’s why!
1 CBD oil acts as a natural pain killer
Oil obtained from hemp that is rich in cannabinoids can act as a natural pain killer, several studies showing that CBD activates the same brain areas as opioids, exerting an analgesic effect.
The endocannabinoid system is known to play an important role in the control of synaptic transmission in pain pathways, so by activating this system, cannabinoids act as neuromodulators for a series of physiological processes among which pain-sensation. Moreover, studies suggest that through its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, CBD oil can reduce the pain in arthritis.
2 Cannabidiol-rich oil is a neuroprotective agent
Thanks to its anti-oxidant effects, CBD oil can act as a natural neuroprotective agent that reduces oxidative stress and prevents neurodegradation, as well as oxidation-associated diseases like Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, gastric ulcers or CNS disorders (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease).
Studies have shown that CBD inhibits the production of glutamate, attenuating its toxicity, protecting brain cells and reducing the risk of ischemic damage.
3 CBD oil is beneficial for skin
A recently published study showed that cannabidiol-rich oil has anti-inflammatory effects and can inhibit the production of sebum, being a potential solution for people struggling to keep acne outbreaks under control. According to researchers at the Department of Physiology, Medical and Health Science Center, University of Debrecen (Hungary), the oil obtained from hemp plants inhibits the production of sebocytes and exerts antiproliferative effects, while reducing inflammation.
All these findings are encouraging, as they show that besides delivering significant amounts of nutrients, CBD oil can be a powerful aid in various health conditions.
There are several analyses that need to be done in order to certify that a hemp product is indeed pure, free of toxins and able to provide the claimed benefits. I’ll first list these tests, then explain what each of them analyzes and why it’s important to be done:
- Potency testing
- Pesticide testing
- Microbiological testing
- Terpene profiling
- Residual solvents testing
The first test, Potency, is done for determining the levels of cannabinoids in the product. As you probably know, hemp doesn’t contain only CBD; cannabidiol is only one of the numerous cannabinoids that can be found in the cannabis plant, and a lab test is necessary for determining the concentrations of all these compounds and therefore the potency of the CBD oil.
In general, the tested cannabinoids are CBD, CBC, THC, CBG and CBN. CBD or cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive compound, and is responsible for a vast number of health benefits in the cannabis plant. CBD is known to act as a natural neuro-protectant and to exert antioxidant properties, being therefore effective in protecting against and reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders, as well as in strengthening the immune system and protecting against inflammations and infections. CBD is also believed to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.
THC, the other abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, is the one that gives the psychoactive properties and can only be ingested in small amounts as a result. THC has analgesic effects and has been shown to have positive effects with cancer and undesirable muscle spasms in people with MS. It also has been shown to increase appetite and assist with glaucoma. However, as I said, only small amounts of THC can be tolerated before the psychoactive effects occur.
Just like CBD, attach to the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Once it gets there, it can slow down the communication between brain cells and interfere with brain’s activity, preventing neurotransmitters from properly doing their job. By binding with the receptors in the hippocampus for example, THC impairs the memory function, as this area of the brain is responsible for the learning process; when it binds to receptors in the cerebellum, THC can affect the motor coordination and balance, and the list can go on.
Besides these two components, there are other cannabinoids tested during lab analyses. THCV for example is believed to have appetite-suppressing properties and to be effective in treating metabolic disorders. THCA or the acid form of THC is found in large amounts in raw cannabis and it known to have anti-inflammatory effects. Like THC, studies suggest that it might also be effective in inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells and in relieving muscle spasm.
CBN has mild psychoactive properties and enhances the effects of THC, while CBG is non-psychoactive, has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects and is believed to be useful in preventing certain forms of cancer. Another compound usually found in hemp products is CBC, also with anti-inflammatory properties but believed to be a bone-stimulant as well.
The overall amounts of cannabinoids can differ from one test to another depending on several variables. In an ideal world, a high CBD product also has small amounts of all cannabinoids (as well as other essential plant materials). The synergistic quality of these compounds is what makes it truly effective.
Moving to pesticide testing: this analysis is important for ensuring the safety of hemp and cannabis compounds, as the plants can be treated with herbicides and fungicides and too high concentrations of these substances can cause significant side effects.
The microbiological testing is done for ensuring there’s no harmful bacteria or mold on the hemp or cannabis plants. Pathogens that are present on the plants can easily get inside the body and if the levels are too high, they can also cause unwanted health effects.
A complete lab test should also include analyses of the residual solvents. Solvents are used when the plants are processed and turned into oils, powders or other products, but only for the solvent-based extraction processes. Too high concentrations of solvents like ethanol, propane, carbon dioxide or acetone can lead to unpleasant health effects and can turn the products into highly flammable ones. With CO2-extraction, solvents are not involved. This makes a solvent test for anyone claiming they use CO2 important. There should be no detectable solvents.
Finally, Terpene testing is done for identifying those compounds that give the color and distinctive flavors to the cannabis plants. Terpenes are pungent oils that provide flavors like mint, berry, citrus or pine, and are believed to have beneficial health effects as well.
As you can see, a lab test for a hemp product provides information on more than the content of THC or CBD, and it’s useful to know these facts and to get informed before purchasing a CBD oil.
Along with CBD, THC is the most known cannabinoid found in the Cannabis Sativa plant, and we’ve discussed some of its properties here. This time however, we’ll take a closer look at this compound and we’ll analyze the good and the bad effects of THC, based on the existing studies.
Although until a few years ago THC was considered the most psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant, this substance is actually believed to result from another compound, called CBGA (cannabigerolic acid), which is naturally produced by Cannabis Sativa. A portion of CBGA is converted to THCA, which is an acid substance, and this compound is the one that generates THC when aged or exposed to UV light or heat.
Depending on the method used for processing the plant, up to 70% of the THCA can be converted to THC, so when labs analyze the content of THC in a product, they typically measure THCA as well. Cannabis buds and flowers contain 8%-20% THCA, most strains being bread to contain a higher THC content.
However, this doesn’t apply to hemp products like our CBD oil because industrial hemp is not cultivated to produce buds, and therefore lacks the primary component that forms THC in the plant.
It is therefore essential to point out that hemp products do NOT contain more than trace levels of THC, and are therefore not psychoactive. This means that CBD oil does not induce a euphoric sensation and doesn’t make one high, so it can be safely used as dietary supplement.
Now let’s move on to discussing the other properties and effects of THC, as the psychoactive action is widely known already.
Positive effects of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)
THC interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the human body; the former is located in the nervous system, and this is why THC induces euphoric feelings, but the latter is part of the immune system. This seems to play an important role in the overall health effects of THC, studies suggesting that the activation of the CB2 receptor may help in reducing stress levels, improving the immune function and minimizing the risk of inflammation.
Moreover, it seems that the activation of the CB1 receptor could help in regulating appetite and reducing the intake of fats, thus helping in weight management. Very low doses of THC exert cardioprotective effects and can be useful in preventing heart attacks, studies suggest.
THC can cause anxiety in some people and even paranoia, but it also seems to have pain-relieving effects and to act like a natural neuro-protective agent. One study found this compound to be helpful in the treatment of Chron’s Disease, and another pilot clinical study showed that THC might exert an anti-proliferative action on tumor cells.
While it’s obvious that in an unsupervised environment it’s extremely hard to separate the positive effects of this compound from its psychoactive action, it wouldn’t be fair to say that THC is completely harmful for the human body.