Recreational use of cannabis is becoming legalized more often, CBD oils have skyrockets in popularity, and the many-uses of hemp are coming to light. Despite all the evidence-based benefits, cannabis has a storied history. We think it’s about time to clear that up.
Therefore, we’re here to shine a light on exactly what the cannabis plant is, which parts are used for recreational marijuana, how CBD and hemp oils are made, and other questions involved in a beginner’s guide to CBD oil.
What made marijuana an illicit drug in the first place? What’s the difference between weed and cannabinoids? Are hemp and marijuana the same thing? If so, how can clothing, jewelry, proteins, oils, and more be made from hemp where marijuana remains illegal? And finally – how can CBD and hemp oils benefit you?
Let’s start from the top.
What’s the difference between hemp and marijuana?
Marijuana and hemp are made from the same species of plant, yet they’re not the same thing. Both are derived from cannabis sativa, a strain of the marijuana plant. You may have heard of sativa’s cousin – indica – or hybrid versions being smoked. All of those strains that contain THC, the compound that causes the “high” from smoking weed, are considered marijuana.
Hemp, on the other hand, is a strain of cannabis sativa that MUST contain less than 0.3% of THC. The two are basically the equivalent of alcoholic beer and non-alcoholic beer. While breweries control the alcoholic content in their fermentation, marijuana growers can breed hemp through genetic processes that remove THC from cannabis sativa. Hemp, therefore, is grown as a plant just like any other in agriculture, and has many uses in today’s society.
Now, where does hemp oil come from in all of this?
A Hemp Oil Guide
Hemp oil comes from the stalk of the hemp (non-THC cannabis sativa) plant. Hemp seed oil, instead, comes from the seeds. While it’s clear how hemp fibers can make useful items, you may be wondering why anyone would need the oil if there’s no THC.
That’s where the other benefits come in.
Take Hemp Oil for its CBD concentration
Cannabidiol (CBD) is just one of many cannabinoids found in the plant, including THC. Rather than produce a high, CBD interacts with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system to yield its health benefits.
Much like other internal processes, our bodies contain regulatory endocannabinoid compounds to control pain management, cognition, sleep, appetite, mood, and more. Science is just scratching the surface on these benefits due to the prior taboo placed on cannabis. CBD provides similar compounds to signal these receptors to promote sleep, anxiety-management, inflammation and immune function.
What is the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil?
CBD oil can be derived from marijuana or hemp, as long as it contains a significant amount of cannabidiol.
When taken from the stalks of the hemp plant, extracted oils containing CBD are known as hemp oil. To make matters more confusing, hemp seed oil exists, which is the equivalent of grape seed or olive oil. Hemp seed oil can be used in cooking, lotions, and more, but it barely contains any CBD.
In short – if you’re looking for a CBD oil that doesn’t get you high, can be legally produced in place with strict marijuana laws, and doesn’t go in a salad, hemp oil is the way to go.
What does hemp oil do for you?
Researchers’ interest in CBD oil has spiked recently with rumors of its mood, neurological, and recovery effects. How valid are those claims?
CBD oil can quell your anxiety
CBD from hemp acts on the CB1 receptors in your brain that control neurotransmitter release. When we’re overly anxious, those neurotransmitters go crazy to prepare us for whatever imaginary (or real) dangers may lie ahead.
Yet when that danger is just a public speaking opportunity, CBD can calm that reaction and decrease anxiety. According to a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, researched induced anxiety by asking participants to give a speech in front of their peers. When compared to traditional medical intervention (benzos), CBD calmed anxiety just as much.
Hemp oil counteracts Epilepsy – just ask Charlotte
The potential for cannabinoids to alleviate symptoms of epilepsy caught fire when a young girl named Charlotte took the news by storm. Her treatment with medical marijuana, a high CBD strain of sativa now known as “Charlotte’s Web”, severely reduced epileptic seizures.
As it was covered in a CNN documentary, the news blew up. Now, growers of “Charlotte’s Web” are ensuring it contains less than 0.3% THC, making it classifiable as hemp.
Since then, the epilepsy community has been met with mixed research on the efficacy of CBD. Most well-conducted studies, such as a review in Epilepsia, yield overall positive results. Another multicenter study in Seizure by Tzadok, et al. showed reduced seizure frequency in almost 90% of patients. Yet almost all research highlights the limited clinical trial data and need for further review.
Certain hemp oils manage pain
According to a study from Kaiser Permanente by Drs. Shannon and Opila-Lehman, Hemp-derived CBD stimulates specific pain receptors in humans, which control inflammation, perception of pain, and temperature. They go on to tout the anti-anxiety benefits of this anti-inflammatory response, which can relax some of the very real physical symptoms.
For those in chronic pain, CBD could alleviate the underlying inflammatory causes. In the European Journal of Pharmacology, a study gave daily oral treatment of cannabidiol to rats after injury, significantly reducing neuropathic pain perception. Overall, if you’re in pain, it’s likely CBD can moderate the immediate intensity to put you at ease.
Elite athletes use CBD oil for exercise recovery
As a physical and mental stressor, exercise induces inflammation. Recovery modalities such as cold water immersion, compression, and active recovery have proven effective to increase subsequent performance. But now, athletes are starting to cue in to the anti-inflammatory benefits of hemp-derived CBD.
Not only does CBD protect neuronal inflammation, as discussed above, but it lowers other post-stress toxicity in rats. Hampson et al. discuss how CBD protects against dangerous excitatory glutamate toxicity as a potential antioxidant. According to the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, CBD produced an antiarthritic effect and reduced other inflammatory markers after neuromuscular stress.
It’s no wonder athletes such as Nate Diaz are starting to believe in CBD for recovery from training.
Potential implications in Alzheimer’s treatment
As Alzheimer’s is associated with oxidative stress, and we’ve discussed how CBD is an antioxidant, researchers are highly interested in the therapeutic potential against the disease.
Esposito et al. specifically studied the neuroprotective effects of CBD, highlighting its potential benefits in Alzheimer’s prevention. Unfortunately, the nuance of medical CBD use combined with the long-term degenerative effects of Alzheimer’s Disease make it difficult to state conclusively its efficacy, but there is promise.
Is hemp oil as good as CBD oil?
Given that hemp oil contains CBD, it shouldn’t be a question of equality. Rather, because marijuana-derived CBD does contain other cannabinoids like THC, it’s possible you’ll get stronger benefits.
But you’ll also get high, and potentially arrested, depending on where you live. So that’s maybe not a chance you want to take.
Ways to take hemp oil
Great! You’ve decided you’re getting on this CBD train. What’s the next step, and how do you take hemp oil?
This is by-far my favorite method of consuming CBD because a) it’s fun b) there are so many flavors and c) it’s the fastest acting.
Most hemp-oil cartridges will be sold separately from the rechargeable battery. That way, you can refill with different flavors and terpenes at your leisure. Five clicks to turn it on/off, three clicks to change the heat, and one long hold and draw to inhale.
Orally-ingesting CBD oil
The purest form of CBD from hemp to get a pure concentrate is through CO2 extraction. You can take these orally through capsules, much like a multivitamin, or put it in drinks, bake with it, etc.
Hemp Seed oil
Again, hemp seed oil contains less CBD, but has an added benefit of Great omega-3 fats. Think of hemp seed oil as your new olive oil dressing, with a slightly different flavor. For those more concerned with health benefits of fats with a CBD twist, this might be the way to go.
Tinctures are typically the stronger cousin to hemp oils, containing a higher concentration of cannabidiol and other reactive qualities, such as terpenes. They’re kind of like comparing liquor to wine – still alcohol, just one’s way more potent. The best way to take tinctures is a few droplets below the tongue.
Hemp Oil Creams
Creams are best for relieving localized, muscular pain. The relaxing effects of CBD transfer directly onto the skin through a lotion to provide relief to a specific area. If you’ve got low back pain or an old injury, try hemp oil creams.
Hemp Protein powder
After hemp oil is extracted from the seeds, the remaining fibrous plant is ground up for hemp meal or protein powders. While the hemp oil has been removed, thus taking away the majority of CBD content, there are still lots of health benefits to hemp protein powder.
It’s one of the highest content vegetable-based protein powders, filled with antioxidants and immune-boosting proteins. However, when looking for a CBD product specifically, hemp protein powders aren’t going to cut it.
What are the side effects of hemp oil?
- Being cooler than your friends*
- A more chilled-out outlook on life*
- Incessant, incorrect insistence that it’s bad for you from your aunt*
*not scientifically proven
In all seriousness, hemp oil can come with mild side effects. Although you can’t really overdose on CBD, any medical concerns should be discussed with a doctor beforehand. Some common side effects include:
- Dry Mouth
- Stomach discomfort
- Blood-coagulation concerns in those with blood clotting disorders
- THC response in those with high-THC sensitivity (although it’s less than 0.3%, there’s still some THC hanging out in there)
So, what have we learned from this? Hemp and marijuana are different breeds of the same species, and hemp-derived CBD barely contains any THC. Most countries are cool with hemp production and therefore hemp oils, and people are starting to take notice.
For example, check out this YouTube video offering a quick, highly-informative overview on why hemp-derived CBD oils could be for you. If you somehow missed all the information above, this guy covers it all.
Along other healthy practices like good diet and exercise, regularly taking hemp oil can improve quality of life. While yes, there are side effects (as with anything), those are few and far between. If you have anxiety, work out a lot, are concerned with brain health, suffer from epilepsy, or want to manage pain, CBD oils are your new go-to. In my experience, that covers pretty much everyone.
If you’re still on the fence, that’s okay. You don’t have to go all-in with hemp oils right now. Do your research, start small, and see how you feel. It’s definitely not any worse for you than having a few pints or a kabob, so why not try it out? You might just find that you like it.