What is CBD?
CBD is short for Cannabidiol, one of the many cannabinoids present in the Cannabis plant.
Unlike THC, CBD has no known psychoactive properties, and will not get ‘high’. What CBD does have, is an array of health benefits.
CBD is able to control inflammation, improve immune function, and ensure homeostasis (balance) in the body.
As a result, it can be used to treat a variety of diseases and illnesses due to its healing properties.
Below is a list of what CBD is:
- Analgesic – Relieves pain.
- Antibacterial – Slows bacterial growth.
- Anti-Diabetic – CBD is the only cannabinoid identified that helps lower blood sugar levels.
- Antidepressant – Relieves symptoms of depression.
- Anti-Emetic – Reduces vomiting and nausea.
- Anti-Epileptic – Reduces seizures and convulsions.
- Anti-inflammatory – Reduces inflammation systemically.
- Anti-Insomnia – Aids with sleep.
- Anti-Ischemic – CBD is the only cannabinoid identified that reduces the risk of artery blockage.
- Antipsioratic – CBD is the only cannabinoid identified to treat psoriasis.
- Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth.
- Antipsychotic – Tranquilizing effects to relieve symptoms of psychosis, two terpenoids also help (linalool and myrcene).
- Antioxidant – Prevents the damage of oxidation to other molecules in the body.
- Antispasmodic – Suppresses muscle spasms.
- Anxiolitic – CBD is the only cannabinoid identified that relieves anxiety.
And here’s some great news for you:
This has been scientifically proven, and CBD has been successfully used for helping treat pain, inflammation, anxiety and psychosis, epilepsy and other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, cancer, nausea, diabetes, as well as promoting cardiovascular health.
In my own experience…
Other than helping with eczema, CBD has been helpful with insomnia, anxiety, and recovery from training.
In fact, it has been key to increasing my training capacity and relieving my muscles from post workout inflammation and pain.
In terms of eczema relief, it helped with itching, skin healing and reducing the appearance of scars. I would take it both internally and apply topically by mixing it with a carrier oil or putting it directly into my cream.
I found that both methods bring complimentary benefits, and would urge you to do both. CBD has even smoothed out my skin and any wrinkles that began to appear due to damage from constant itching.
What Makes CBD So Effective?
Our body already produces cannabinoids, and is full of cannabinoid receptors. This is called the Endocannabinoid System.
The receptors are CB1 and CB2 and it is likely that we have more, that are yet to be discovered.
- CB1 receptors are mainly concentrated in the brain and central nervous system, responsible for movement, coordination, pain, sensory perception, emotion, memory, cognition, autonomic and endocrine functions, to name a few.
- CB2 receptors are mainly located in the peripheral organs, and the immune system, responsible for reducing inflammation.
Given that our body produces cannabinoids, we can differentiate between two types: the endogenous (originating from within the organism) and exogenous (coming from the outside, i.e. plants).
Phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoids) reproduce the effect that our endocannabinoids have on us, thus acting in a completely natural way together with our body.
Although CBD has little direct effect on CB1 and CB2 receptors, therefore producing no psychoactive effect like THC, CBD activates other non-cannabinoid receptors and ion channels.
As a result, it is able to yield all of these healing benefits and have no side effects, as opposed to conventional pharmaceuticals.
Furthermore, it has been shown that cannabinoid deficiencies exist, and are the cause for many ailments.
Therefore, it makes sense to use what nature provides in order to aid our body in healing, and helping it balance itself with a non invasive and non aggressive remedy.
How to Choose a CBD Oil?
Since my first encounter and use of CBD I have learned a great deal. I have tried a variety of oils, some of which I loved and highly recommend, others I find are not high enough quality nor good value for money.
When choosing an oil, there are a few things to keep in mind. CBD oil is not cheap, and if it is then there is a catch.
The trick is to find the best quality for a reasonable price. I always recommend oil over smoking and vaping.
My main selection criteria are:
- Extraction method
- Full spectrum vs Isolate
- Organic vs GMO
- Production location
- CBD %
- THC %
There are three extraction methods, CO2, ethanol, and carrier oil extraction.
CO2 is the best and most expensive method, and produces a clear amber liquid that tastes nice. It remains full spectrum, meaning it contains cannabinoids other than CBD, terpenes and flavonoids.
Ethanol extraction tends to produce a darker and stronger tasting liquid, of high quality. However, Heat is used to evaporate the ethanol from the blend, and there is a danger that the medicinal properties of the plant get damaged if not carefully monitored.
Carrier oil extraction uses other plant oils to extract the CBD, this can yield a healthy and easily digested product, however, it has a very short shelf life. It is therefore essential to keep it in the refrigerator and know exactly when it was produced.
It is also essential to buy full spectrum oil and not a CBD isolate. Isolates are much less effective even though they tend to have a much higher CBD content.
That is because CBD needs other cannabinoids in order to optimise its bioavailability, and be easily absorbed and used by the body.
THC is one of these cannabinoids, which is why it is good to have traces of THC in the oil, which are of legal amount, will not get you high, nor show up on a drug test.
Always make sure your oil is organic and preferably grown close to where you live, i.e. in the same country or same continent. That is because there is no point getting an oil shipped from another country when you can get locally sourced ingredients.
The CBD % and price come hand in hand. The lower the CBD content the cheaper the product. However, I would always recommend getting a higher content oil as it will last you longer, and be better value for money.
This is especially true as you need to use the oil for at least a month in order to reap the full benefits. I always end up using more oil than I thought I would, so I am glad to have the bigger bottle, and not have to go through the hassle of ordering again.
As mentioned previously…
Traces of THC are essential as they improve CBD absorption in the body, therefore don’t fret when you see a small percentage of THC on the label. Up to 0.2% THC is legal, and is far from an amount that could produce any mind altering effects.
A word of caution:
When choosing CBD content, you shouldn’t be getting anything below 500mg (or 5% in a 10ml bottle).
The risk is not getting good value for money, but also feeling the benefits because the oil isn’t strong enough, or it running out too soon because you are having to use more of it.
If you are using CBD for the first time, it is better to lower the dosage rather than using a weaker oil.
I have used CBD oils ranging from 2.5% up to 40%, and I believe that 10-20% is a very good concentration. It can be usually bought at a relatively affordable price, and better value for money than lower concentrations.
Below are my top CBD oil picks that I have used and wholeheartedly recommend.
A Swiss brand that grows its own CBD rich hemp. It uses the ethanol extraction method giving the oil a darker colour and stronger taste. It is organic, and full spectrum, and contains a range of cannabinoids, terpenes, sesquiterpenes and flavonoids.
Their oils are very affordable: a 20% 10ml bottle costs CHF125.-, which is around $125 and €105.
Is based in the Netherlands, and grows its CBD in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. It uses the CO2 extraction method, which means its oil is clear amber coloured, with a pleasant taste.
And in addition to that…
It is also full spectrum and alongside CBD and CBDa, contains CBD, CBG, CBN, and an array of terpenes, and flavonoids.
They have a 15% CBD oil at the price of €156, which is around $187, the higher price can be explained by the costlier CO2 extraction method.
I myself started off using Hempworx oil. A CO2 extracted, full spectrum oil from the USA, grown and processed there.
It is a great oil, however, I find it is too expensive for the concentrations they have: $89 for 2.5%. However, it is the oil that got me interested in CBD and initially helped me with my eczema and insomnia.
Once my bottle ran out it was a chance to go for something more local and I tried a few Swiss brands.
Cannaliz was my favourite, and I could really feel the benefits on my body, despite its particular taste. I also began incorporating CBD into my beauty routine with this oil, through topical use.
When I moved to Sweden I began testing other oils, and found that Endoca had it all. It is CO2 extracted, and has truly been amazing on my skin as well as inside my body.
Endoca is now part of my daily regimen, but I still try to test new oils. Recently I have used a 40% CBD oil from a Danish producer that I absolutely love, but they are not yet available for orders online.
Of course, you do not have to purchase from the brands that I recommend, as there are plenty of new ones being created, and I cannot keep up with all of them.
Therefore, as long as you follow my guidelines, you should be able to find a good quality oil at a good price.
You can also check out my pages “CBD with Maria” on Facebook and Instagram
- Fernandez-Ruiz et al (2013). Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid? Br J Clin Pharmacol, 75(2), 323-33. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22625422
- Pertwee, R. G. (2008). The diverse CB1and CB2 receptor pharmacology of three plant cannabinoids: Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin. Br J Pharmacol, 153(2), 199-215.