The Seeker’s Guide to CBD

The Seeker's Guide to CBD

Cannabidiol

CBD products such as CBD oil, edibles, tinctures, and topical solutions are extracts from the Cannabis sativa or hemp plant with a negligible amount of THC or with this psychoactive compound completely removed.

CBD does not cause the classic marijuana ‘high’ and is used for its therapeutic value by a growing base of consumers. As a more natural alternative to often ineffective and harmful pharmaceuticals, CBD is rapidly becoming the go-to option for many seeking a remedy for conditions such as depression, anxiety, pain, inflammation, and many more.

This guide is intended for those who would like to learn more about and experience CBD’s healing benefits in a safe and legal context. 

Since CBD is not fully legal everywhere and the CBD market is largely unregulated, we urge users to refer to the Practical and Legality sections of this guide and only purchase and use well-vetted CBD products in accordance with the local laws.

Who This Guide Is For

The Seeker's Guide to CBD was created for everyone who is interested in harnessing the healing benefits of CBD. Whether you or your loved one suffer from one or more of the conditions CBD is reportedly able to help with, this guide should provide all the information you need on how to best take advantage of this powerful cannabinoid.

In This Guide You'll Learn

  • What CBD is
  • Where it comes from
  • How it works
  • What it can treat
  • What the risks are
  • Which forms it comes in
  • How it's extracted and processed
  • How to take it
  • How much to take
  • How to give it to children and pets
  • What its legal status is, and
  • How to choose products and verify vendors.

Sounds good? Let's get started!

Part 1:
CBD 101

This first chapter covers the fundamentals about CBD and its use, so that you, the seeker, can have accurate information about this emerging therapeutic cannabinoid.

You will discover what CBD is, where it comes from, how it differs from THC and hemp oil, and what it does to the body. Finally, we’ll go into how it feels to take CBD and examine some of the potential risks involved.


This essential information will help you navigate the dynamic, growing, and sometimes complex landscape of CBD use.

What is CBD?

CBD, also known by the name of the molecule, cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant. It is the second most abundant cannabinoid in this plant, otherwise well-known for its flower buds which are smoked or vaporized as marijuana or cannabis.

However, CBD is not the compound responsible for getting people “high”—that’s THC or Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Most Cannabis sativa plants, which are grown with recreational (and medical) cannabis users in mind, are engineered and cross-bred over many generations to contain the highest possible amounts of THC.

Both THC and CBD are phytocannabinoids. There are two types of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids, which naturally occur inside the bodies of mammals, and phytocannabinoids, which are found in plants.

THC has many health benefits, but it also comes with a few inconvenient side effects. Notably, consuming THC increases heart rate and causes anxiety in many users. Due to its psychophysical effects, it’s also not a suitable therapeutic for many, especially children and the elderly. Finally, its prolonged consumption can lead to the development of tolerance and mild psychological dependence.

CBD, on the other hand, has no consciousness-altering effects whatsoever and it does not cause physiological or psychological dependence. [1] Over the last few decades, as science has been catching up on CBD research and thousands of people on its therapeutic benefits, many Cannabis sativa cultivators have pivoted to growing plants rich in CBD rather than THC.

Aside from carefully and selectively grown Cannabis sativa plants used for recreational and medical marijuana production, another variety of this plant is grown on an industrial scale. This variety is called hemp and it’s genetically identical to the cannabis plants, but it contains much lower concentrations of THC—less than 0.3% in order to be legally grown, to be precise.

With the recent legalization of industrialized hemp in the US, CBD became federally legal to produce and market, IF—it is extracted from hemp plants. CBD extracted from cannabis plants, no matter how much THC they contain, still undergoes the same state-specific regulations as medical and recreational marijuana.

Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil

Hemp oil and CBD oil come from the same plant, but from different parts of it, meaning that they have different compositions and different effects.

While CBD oil is mostly extracted from the flowers and leaves of Cannabis sativa, hemp oil is produced from its seeds. Unlike the rest of the plant, and with little regard to how it’s grown, the seeds contain only trace amounts of CBD and negligible amounts of THC.

Due to its high nutritious value and ability to moisturize without clogging pores, hemp oil has been used for decades as a dietary supplement and for making cosmetic products. Hemp oil has also been shown to be very beneficial for the cardiovascular system,[2] the brain,[3] and the skin, [4] among other organs.

However, as useful and beneficial it is, hemp oil does not measure up to the numerous therapeutic benefits that have been discovered in CBD.

Hemp oil

You may also be curious to learn about the difference between Hemp Oil vs Cannabis Oil.

History of Hemp & CBD Use

The legalization of CBD products extracted from industrial hemp is the last link in the proverbial chain of the history of CBD and hemp use in general. Let’s take a look at how Cannabis sativa use developed throughout time.

Hemp is likely one of the oldest plants cultivated by humans. Due to its high nutritional and medicinal properties, multi-purpose use, such as for making rope and fabric, and ability to grow in a variety of environmental conditions, the potential of this plant was recognized over 10,000 years ago, and likely way before that, too.

Written and archaeological records of the use and cultivation of hemp account for how widespread it became throughout these ten millennia. It was cultivated in the pre-Neolithic times by the ancient Japanese for its fibres and nutritional value, by the Neolithic Age Chinese for making clothes, shoes, rope, and paper, by the ancient Koreans to make fabric, by ancient Indians and Assyrians in rituals and ceremonies, and by many other old civilizations. It was carried around the world and introduced to new lands and cultures, all of which embraced it and started cultivating it for its numerous benefits, psychoactive effects, and ease of growth.

Over the last few hundred years or so, the psychoactive use of cannabis and hashish, the flower’s more potent resin extract, started being banned by various emperors and nation leaders, as it was hampering military efforts, decreasing slave productivity, and undermining religious indoctrination.

Most notably, Islamic countries started banning the plant in the late 19th century. By the early 20th century, many Western countries had followed suit. Finally, in 1925, the global North banded together and arrived at an international compromise to collectively ban the import of hemp if it’s not to be used for medical or scientific purposes.

Sometime around the middle of the 20th century, cannabis use started entering the mainstream, embraced fully by the beatnik and hippie subcultures worldwide. This internationalization of cannabis, along with its expanding use as a therapeutic and a total lack of harmful consequences, eventually led numerous countries to decouple the possession and use of cannabis from that of more serious, harmful, and addictive substances.

However, although it became the most popular recreational drug in the world, cannabis remained a taboo for most of the global North. Only in the last decade or so are we starting to see a gradual but mass destigmatization of this harmless and medically beneficial plant.

A large part in this shift in consciousness is played by none other than—CBD.

CBD buds

This powerful cannabinoid was mostly unknown throughout the history of cannabis use. However, the 21st century has brought forth so much valuable scientific data on the healing potential of this compound. And, while THC was also shown to have numerous health benefits, thus jumpstarting the general change in attitude toward cannabis, it will always have the drawbacks of being psychoactive and causing heart palpitations, paranoia, and psychological dependence. CBD does none of that.

So, while in the past cannabidiol was not given much attention because it’s not psychoactive, the increasing prevalence of mental disorders and many painful physiological conditions it has shown effective against have launched it into the spotlight of the global alternative healing scene.

With the legalization of medical marijuana already on the upswing, the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which institutionalized industrial hemp production, opened up a legal doorway for CBD to reach everyone, not just those with medical marijuana prescriptions.
On the other hand, the pharmaceutical industry is now running behind the regulations; despite countless studies and clinical trials showing effectiveness of CBD against a wide range of psychophysical disorders, official approval of the clinical use of this compound remains largely amiss.

The FDA has approved only one CBD-based medication for use in treating epileptic seizures. The entirety of the rest of the market consists of unstandardized products, whose quality must be vetted by consumers before use.

Although cannabidiol may not be regarded as a medication at this point in time, most of the research, which we will discuss in the following sections, is quite promising, as are the thousands of testimonials from people using it to alleviate various forms of suffering. As the body of research into the health benefits of CBD continues to expand, the cannabinoid is expected to eventually join the ranks of government-verified therapeutic compounds.

CBD Pharmacology: How Does It Work?

Numerous biochemical reactions take place when CBD enters the bloodstream and the brain. [5] Science is still unraveling this complex puzzle, but countless studies have confirmed many of the effects, which are described below.

Firstly, CBD is known to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system[6] which is responsible for stopping the body from overworking, promoting rest, healing, digestion, rejuvenation, and regeneration. It also inhibits the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for eliciting stressful responses, as well as triggering the fight-or-flight mechanism. These processes are understood to be the basis of CBD’s overall calming neural action.

CBD leaf and molecule

Unlike THC, CBD does not activate the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid (eCB) receptors. [7] However, it does indirectly interact with the endocannabinoid system. This system is one of the most extensive receptor networks in our bodies, and it was found to play a key role in regulating pain sensation. [8] Aside from pain, it’s also responsible for appetite and digestion, body temperature, immunity, motor control, mood, memory, sleep, and response to pleasure.

Among CBD’s most prominent effects are that of suppressing pain and inflammatory processes, which are likely caused by its indirect interaction with the eCB system. [9]

The eCB system is understood to also play a role in the processing of emotional memories. CBD is able to alter aversive memories and prevent their reconsolidation, thus promoting improvements in the symptomatology of PTSD. [10]

To add to this, CBD has inhibitory action on the Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH), [11] an enzyme responsible for breaking down anandamide, a natural endocannabinoid responsible for regulating feeding behavior and generating motivation and pleasure. As a result, more anandamide stays in circulation, exerting its beneficial effects.

When consumed together with THC, CBD also seems to indirectly prevent the psychoactive cannabinoid from affecting the CB1 receptor, thereby reducing its undesirable effects such as anxiety and paranoia. This is called the “entourage effect” in cannabis.

Read more about the Entourage Effect in Cannabis.

Most of CBD’s neurochemical activity, however, seems to be centered around its activation of the 5-HT1A receptor. [12] This is a receptor of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is understood to be responsible for catalyzing states like anxiety and happiness, and generally regulating mood. Research indicates that this is how CBD achieves its anxiolytic and antidepressant effects.

CBD has also been shown to activate the TRPV1 and TRPM8 receptors, [13] which are both responsible for pain sensation (the former for heat pain, the latter for cold pain). Additionally, it interacts with the TRPV2 receptor, the orphan G‐protein coupled receptor (GPR55), and peroxisome proliferator‐activated receptors (PPARs). A combination of these is thought to account in part for its antitumor effects. [14]

This all may seem like a lot, but it’s barely scratching the surface—research into the immense variety of CBD’s effects on the incredibly complex internal system of the human body is still in its infancy. With the scientific spotlight shining bright on cannabidiol at this point in time, there is no doubt we will be discovering much more very soon.

CBD Effects

The psychological effects of CBD are mild and predominantly positive.

At lower doses, CBD usually causes a wakeful yet relaxed state; aches are reduced, stress dissolved, the mind cleared, and a subtle euphoria motivates the user to carry out his or her activities.

At higher doses, CBD has more prominent sedative effects; more serious pains are dampened, there is no particular motivation for action, and a drowsiness or fatigue takes over, pushing the body to rest.

Side Effects and Precautions

With moderate use, CBD side effects are a rare phenomenon, and when they are experienced, they are normally quite mild. The most common reported side effects include: dry mouth, reduced appetite, wakefulness or drowsiness, low blood pressure, and fatigue.

Very rarely, diarrhea can be experienced, though it is likely attributable to excessive doses and / or additional ingredients in the product.

Extremely rarely, with long-term high-dose consumption, liver damage can occur. This is exclusive for orally consumed CBD, which gets metabolized in the liver.

Depending on what CBD is used for, some of the side effects may actually be viewed as desirable effects. For example, if using CBD to lose weight, a reduced appetite comes in handy; or, if using CBD to fall asleep, becoming drowsy is the goal.

Still, because these side effects can be unpredictable, users are advised to not operate any heavy machinery after having consumed CBD.

Finally, some CBD brands use artificial flavourings that contain chemicals which, although are labelled ‘Generally Recognised As Safe’ by the FDA, might cause certain side effects. This especially applies to additives in vaping products.

CBD users are always advised to check the ingredients of their desired product thoroughly for possible allergic or otherwise adverse reactions.

Drug interactions

With moderate and short-term use, CBD has no known drug interactions.

Central nervous system depressants such as alcohol or sedatives, however, will contribute to the sedation effect of CBD but this is not known to lead to any health complications.

Aside from these substances, any drugs that are metabolized by the liver’s CYP450 enzyme (which is approximately 60% of all pharmaceuticals [15]) may, after long-term high-dose use of CBD, end up unable to be metabolized due to CBD’s inhibition of this enzyme.

If taking CBD for a prolonged period of time, liver health must be controlled regularly.

Part 2:
Healing

CBD products are used successfully by thousands of people worldwide to treat a variety of psychological and physiological disorders.

Aside from the reviews of many happy consumers, which can be found online, for most conditions CBD is used for, scientific support for its effects is also available.

This section of the guide will examine some of the most important research findings reporting CBD’s therapeutic effects.

CBD oil dripper

Therapeutic Benefits of CBD

The first thing you must do is decide where and how you’d like to experience kambô medicine. Most indigenous groups that use kambô would recommend seeking out an indigenous practitioner; although the Brazilian government, for one, frowns upon outsiders coming to Brazil to experience kambô.

Although some people choose to take kambô on their own, without a facilitator or sitter, we don’t recommend this path. The kambô experience can be intensely unpleasant, and it’s always best to at least have a sober sitter – and preferably an experienced facilitator.

There are many kambô retreats that offer the opportunity to take kambô in a guided setting. These vary in the amount of luxury they provide. Although retreats can be ideal for beginners, you should consider whether the retreat offers what you’re looking for:

Pain and inflammation suppression

Pain and inflammation are among the symptoms most frequently treated with CBD. A large body of scientific research has demonstrated unequivocally that cannabinoids THC and CBD are effective analgesics and anti-inflammatories. [16]

There are numerous biochemical explanations for these soothing properties of CBD; research indicates that its indirect interaction with the endocannabinoid system and direct activation of the TRPV1 receptors can account for these effects. [17]

CBD products are helpful for acute and chronic pain, whether it comes from simple muscle exertion, inflammation, or some deeper issue. Many testimonials coming from thousands of satisfied users can be found online.

Anxiety and depression relief

Anxiety and depression are the primary psychological disorders being treated with CBD. By inhibiting the sympathetic and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, CBD brings generalized calming effects to the user.

Its action on the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor further regulates mood, energy levels, behavior, and digestion. [18] Combined, these two processes have been shown in numerous studies to induce anxiolytic and antidepressant effects. [19]

Read our full article on the use of CBD for anxiety and depression here.

Treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Although there have been no large-scale clinical trials conducted, a study done on a small group of PTSD patients reported that the overwhelming number of participants had experienced a significant decrease in symptom severity after eight weeks of CBD therapy. [10]

Another review of research conducted on rodents noted that CBD is able to extinguish aversive memories and inhibit them from forming again. It’s assumed that CBD’s action on the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor is behind this effect. [20]

Regulating sleep and suppressing insomnia

Many CBD users have reported that the cannabinoid can be used to restore healthy sleep patterns. However, for others, it doesn’t seem to work. It appears as if the dosage plays a big role-low doses generally seem to keep users more alert, while higher ones can induce drowsiness.

There are also some products on the market which contain compounds such as melatonin and soothing essential oils, added specifically for the purpose of regulating sleep. While no studies are currently available, these products are worth a shot for anyone suffering from chronic lack of sleep or insomnia.

Read our full article on using CBD for insomnia here.

Reducing nausea and vomiting

While acute episodes of nausea and vomiting can help the body expel the toxins, chronic nausea, which often stems from serious underlying conditions such as cancer, can be detrimental for the sufferer’s psyche. Cannabidiol has been found to alleviate this condition.

Studies conducted on rodents have reported that, by means of indirect activation of the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors, CBD can suppress nausea when ingested in low quantities. [21] Aside from CBD, cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), the raw form of CBD, has shown even stronger anti-emetic effects, so those looking to reduce nausea with CBD should shop for products which also contain CBDA.

Treating cancers and tumors

CBD is not a cure for cancer and marketing it as such in any form is, at the very least, misleading.

That said, a number of in vitro and animal model studies have been conducted which indicate that both THC and CBD may serve to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells and stimulate their self-destruction. [22] These cannabinoids are also thought to be able to train the immune system to recognize tumors and fight them.

Scientists are starting to learn which specific processes may account for these cancer-suppressing effects of CBD; however, it’s also likely that CBD may only serve as a starting point for building more precise pharmaceutical analogs to target the receptors found to play a role.

For now, using CBD for cancer is only recommended to alleviate the symptoms of the illness and its treatment.

Read our full article on using CBD oil for cancer symptoms here.

Breaking addictions

CBD oil has been shown in many studies to be effective in interrupting various kinds of addiction, including opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction, as well as cannabis and tobacco dependency. [23] That’s right—CBD may actually be used to help people stop smoking weed.

Since vaping has taken off, many cigarette smokers have transitioned to getting their nicotine fix this way. Unfortunately, minors are also increasingly becoming interested in vaping, indicating that a substantial increase in nicotine dependency may be on the horizon. For this reason, CBD, as a compound that is also commonly vaped, is being looked into for its potential to break tobacco addiction.

A study conducted by the Society of Cannabis Clinicians has shown that it’s possible to use CBD oil to quit smoking cigarettes safely and effectively. [24] Hopefully, more research into other forms of addiction is pending.

Read our full article on using CBD to quit smoking here.

Treating skin conditions

Topical CBD products are ideal for maintaining skin and healing various skin conditions. [25] Like hemp oil, CBD balms and creams are excellent moisturizers which don’t clog the pores.

Additionally, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties are effective against acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, scleroderma, dermatomyositis, and epidermal scarring. [26]

Topical application of CBD also mitigates any side effects, as the compound doesn’t enter the bloodstream.

Alleviating fibromyalgia symptoms

CBD is likely able to help with managing neuropathic pain and stiffness, most common physiological symptoms of fibromyalgia, as well as to boost the mood, alleviate anxiety and depression, provide mental clarity, and help patients sleep better.

However, a recent study reported that, out of three cannabis-based products tested, only the one with high CBD and THC content was significantly more effective than the placebo at reducing pain. [27]

If you’re not averse to consuming THC, you are advised to consider using cannabis products with high CBD and THC contents, which can be purchased in medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries in states where medicinal / recreational cannabis use is legal. Otherwise, CBD products may provide relief, too, and are well worth a shot.

Read our full article on using CBD for fibromyalgia here.

Controlling weight

Consuming CBD has been shown to suppress appetite and thus help reduce body weight. [28] Additionally, an in vitro study from 2016 found that CBD promotes the “browning” of white fat cells, a process which converts energy-storing fat into calorie-burning fat. [29]

These, and a few other effects CBD was found to have on glucose levels and overall metabolism, indicate that consuming it can help users manage their weight. Hundreds of people who have left testimonials on online forums concur.

Losing weight can also create the physiological and psychological conditions needed for countless other health improvements.

Read our full article on using CBD for weight loss here.

Reversing type -2 diabetes and preventing type -1 diabetes

One of the critical pathways toward reducing the prevalence of diabetes is by reducing obesity, something CBD has been shown able to help with.

Aside from lowering body weight, study results indicate that CBD can help quell type-2 diabetes by optimizing insulin secretion and overall glucose levels. [30]
It can also serve to protect the blood vessels from damage done by the glucose [31] by reducing oxidative stress, inflammation, cell death, and vascular hyperpermeability associated with diabetes. [32]

Finally, CBD can help preserve the functioning of pancreatic β-cells, thus delaying the effects of pancreatic damage and preventing type-1 diabetes from developing. [33]

While these study results are promising, CBD should by no means be regarded as a cure for diabetes. It should only be used as a supplement to healthy lifestyle changes, which need to be the foundation of diabetes management.

Protecting against neurodegenerative diseases

The main cause of aging and disease formation in general is the oxidation of our cells. Oxidative stress happens as a result of an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body's ability to counteract their damaging effects by neutralizing them with antioxidants. The brain is especially vulnerable to oxidation; most neurodegenerative diseases can be traced back to this process.

Both CBD and THC have been found to have antioxidant properties. [34] Reports from many studies indicate that CBD may help preserve neurological function and protect from brain damage after a stroke, [35] as well as help manage the symptoms of a variety of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, [36] Parkinson's disease, [37] Huntington's disease, [38] multiple sclerosis, [39] and others.

Reducing epileptic seizure frequency

The FDA-approved oral solution Epidiolex has been shown to significantly reduce frequency of seizures in three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials involving over 500 patients with two rare and difficult forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. [40] [41] [42]



Unfortunately, due to the rather high CBD doses needed for suppressing epileptic seizures, the side effects were more serious in some patients. They included: abnormal liver functioning, diarrhea, drowsiness, vomiting, fatigue, fever, and decreased appetite. However, similar effects were noted in a substantial portion of the placebo group participants as well, making it unclear how much of this comes from the condition itself.

While Epidiolex has received federal approval for use, its cost at the moment remains prohibitively high. This is why many parents of children with epilepsy are opting for trying out the high-potency CBD products available on the market.

Studies are still pending on whether CBD is effective with other forms of epilepsy and seizures stemming from other kinds of medical disorders.

Treating autism

Many people who live with autism are high-functioning, meaning that, aside from some different behaviors, they are mostly integrated well into the society. However, for others, both symptoms of autism and several disorders, which are often comorbid with it, can present a serious impediment to normal life.

Recent research looked at long-term use of CBD in autism patients. [43] The CBD therapy led to dramatic improvements on numerous symptoms of ASD in the majority of children who were treated. Side effects were infrequent and mild.

Aside from autism symptoms, many patients suffer from associated anxiety. Additionally, many epileptic patients also suffer autism symptoms as a comorbidity. In all these cases, CBD has been found to be therapeutic.

Read our full article on using CBD for autism management here.

Treating arthritis

Both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis are inflammatory conditions, which CBD is generally good at managing. A study conducted on rodents reported that CBD gel was effective in reducing the pain and swelling in the animals’ joints. [44] Likewise, many users have been reporting success on online forums.

Edible forms of CBD should be able to provide general anti-inflammatory benefits to arthritis sufferers, while topical solutions containing CBD oil can be soothing and healing for localized joint pains.

Reducing psychoticism

Psychotic symptoms are consequences of highly complex mental dysfunctions and are often comorbid with many other disorders. Recent research reviews presented mixed null and encouraging effects of various dosages and lengths of treatment effects on the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenic, bipolar, and Parkinson’s Disease patients, as well as those in clinical high-risk states for psychosis (CHR-P). [45] [46]

While not all patients in these studies saw improvements in their conditions, there were no deteriorations. Although more research is needed, when contrasted with the suffering psychotic patients endure almost every living moment, CBD, with its negligible side effects, seems well worth a try.

Fighting autoimmune diseases

While CBD has shown unequivocal anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective effects, which should theoretically aid against autoimmune diseases, it’s important to note that these disorders are highly complex and often mysterious in origin.

One study, which looked into the relationship of the dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system and systemic lupus erythematosus, found promising results from CBD use. [47]

Another rodent study found an increase in suppressor cells which countered autoimmune encephalomyelitis in the subject animals. [48]

Alleviating IBS and IBD symptoms

Emerging scientific and anecdotal reports are suggesting that cannabinoids may play a role in the management of patients suffering from IBS and IBD.

CBD may help relax the tissues in the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to fewer episodes of bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhoea. It can also alleviate nausea, pain, and gastric inflammation, [49] as well as stop the food from moving too quickly through the system. [50] 

The network of endocannabinoid receptors, with which CBD indirectly interacts, is intricately connected with the functioning of the GI tract.

Vasorelaxation and general cardiovascular protection

In vitro studies conducted on isolated rodent arteries suggest that CBD enhances vasorelaxation and reduces vascular damage in high-glucose environments. CBD has also been shown to reduce infarct size and increase blood flow in animal models of stroke, which is attributed to its action on the 5-HT1A receptor. [31]

Alleviating conditions in dogs and cats

There is limited research available to support the therapeutic effects of CBD on pets, but numerous pet owners are reporting benefits from CBD products on symptoms such as incessant barking / meowing, pain, anxiety, gastric issues, inflammation, arthritis, and seizures. Even some vets endorse the use of CBD on pets, although we’re not sure if it works in the same way as it does on humans.

Read all we know about giving CBD to dogs and cats here.

How to Take CBD

The many different CBD products can be consumed in four distinct ways, leading to different onset times, compound absorption, effect intensity and duration:

  • Oral ingestion - consuming CBD edibles or capsules takes the longest to work (30min to an hour) because the compound goes through the digestive tract and gets metabolized in the liver, like regular dietary supplements. The advantage is that the effect duration is significantly longer than when CBD is inhaled, but, due to the low absorption rate, estimated at 4-20%, the effects end up lasting for a similar or lower amount of time as in sublingual application.

  • Topical application - CBD balms and creams applied to the skin typically take up to 90min to start. Absorption rate is relatively low, at 13-14%, but CBD’s permeability is high, so effects typically last for several hours. Because CBD doesn’t enter the bloodstream, this is the safest way of ingestion, without a possibility of experiencing any side effects.
  • Vaporizing - this is likely the most effective way to consume CBD oil, with the absorption rate estimated to be 34-56%. It is the quickest-acting (the effects are felt almost immediately or in a matter of minutes) because CBD molecules enter the bloodstream directly through the lungs. However, CBD is also quickly metabolized when inhaled, so the effects don’t last as long as they do when taken in other ways.

  • Sublingually - CBD oils, tinctures, or sprays can be dropped or sprayed under the tongue and held for 30-90 seconds. This way of administration allows the CBD to relatively rapidly enter the bloodstream (in about 5 to 30min). Sublingual absorption rate is estimated at a decent 12-35%. The effects typically last four to six hours.
CBD oil coffee

CBD oil can also be added to your favorite beverage

Dosage

Because CBD is not a federally approved therapeutic compound, its concentration in the products that are marketed is never guaranteed to be exactly as indicated; this also goes for the concentrations of other compounds contained in the product.

A recent analysis of products obtained from several dozen CBD brands actually revealed that only 30.95% of them were correctly labeled in terms of their ingredients. Most contained less CBD than advertised, while 21.43% had significant amounts of THC. [51]

Different ways of intake having different absorption rates complicates matters further, making it difficult to pinpoint exact dosages that should be taken, even when factors such as body weight are accounted for.

General guidelines

As a general rule of thumb, the recommended starting dose of CBD intake for adults, for treating less severe conditions such as body aches or nausea, or for general wellness purposes is about 5mg of CBD taken twice daily.

For reference, a standard dropper bottle will usually contain 30ml of liquid. A full dropper should contain exactly 1ml, each drop containing 0.05ml, meaning that the entire bottle should contain about 600 drops. If its potency is 1,500mg of CBD per bottle, each drop will contain 2.5mg of CBD, meaning that two drops should be taken twice daily.

For more serious conditions such as severe pain, anxiety, or depression, 10-15mg can be taken twice daily. For most difficult to manage conditions, the dose can be 20-30mg twice daily.

CBD Dosage Table

These recommendations apply for sublingual administration of CBD oil, tinctures, or sprays. Due to the relatively high absorption rate, sublingual administration is more effective than when consuming CBD orally; higher doses need to be taken if they travel through the digestive tract.

As for vaporizing or smoking CBD, users can generally feel free to inhale as much as they think they need.

All in all, CBD users are advised to take recommended dosages as starting guidelines only, experiment and discover for themselves which type of CBD product and what dosage suits them best.

Fortunately, CBD side effects are rare and commonly mild, so experimenting with different product forms and concentrations does not carry any serious risks. [52] One study into whether CBD can cause dependency even concluded that extreme doses of 1,500mg per day taken for four weeks were quite well-tolerated. [53]

Higher doses do not mean higher therapeutic value, though. In fact, for the most part, the benefits of CBD in relation to dosage have a ‘hockey stick’ correspondence. But, while the therapeutic effects plateau at higher doses, the side effect risk still increases. Ultimately, taking high amounts of CBD over long periods of time may lead to liver metabolism inhibition (the inability to break down most pharmaceutical drugs).

Specific disorder dosage

Finally, the dosage will also depend on what condition is being treated because some effects of CBD can vary based on the concentration. Here are a few CBD dosage recommendations for various disorders taken from studies which have reported therapeutic effects of CBD on them:

  • Anxiety: 300-600mg of CBD (orally), acutely. [19]
  • Bowel disease: 5mg of CBD (sublingually), twice daily. [54]
  • Epilepsy: 200-300mg of CBD (orally) daily. [52]
  • Schizophrenia: 40-1,280mg of CBD (orally) daily. [52]

It should be noted that the CBD doses used in scientific studies vary so substantially that they often seem like not much more than an educated guess of the researchers.

For example, one study on the effects of CBD on anxiety has reported that 300mg is a suitable dose, while both 150mg and 600mg (amounts three and twelve times higher than the maximum recommended daily dose for regular consumers) reportedly did nothing. [55] In many other studies, 600mg was reported as an adequate dose [19]. As a comparison, both 300mg and 600mg are substantially higher doses than those found to be effective in reducing seizure frequency in patients with epilepsy.

In short, the truth is that we still have no idea what are proper CBD doses. While many users find benefits in the recommended range of 10-60mg per day, everyone is encouraged to find their individual lowest-dose sweet spot at which they get the healing value from CBD, and stick to it, only increasing the dose if necessary.

How to Give CBD to Children

Firstly, even though CBD is not psychoactive, it still has a multi-faceted impact on a human body when ingested. As children’s bodies are smaller and at a different stage in terms of neurotransmitter and hormonal activity, CBD needs to be introduced with utmost caution - at low doses and with high vigilance.

There are many ways to administer CBD to children. The most suitable and popular ones are: CBD edibles such as gummies, chocolates, or other candies, CBD oils, alcohol-free CBD tinctures, CBD syrups, and CBD topical solutions for treating skin issues. Gummies are the easiest to precisely measure the dose, and they have the upside of being yummy and therefore easily embraced by children. The liquids can be added to food or drinks.

Dosage

The dose for children can be calculated by adhering to one of the following rules:

  • Ausberger’s Rule: [1.5 x weight of child in kg] + 10 = percentage of adult dose

  • Salisbury’s Rule:

    • For children under 30 kg (66 lbs): [weight of child in kg x 2] = percentage of adult dose

    • For children over 30 kg (66 lbs): [weight of child in kg + 30] = percentage of adult dose

How to Give CBD to Pets

Cats and dogs are much more sensitive to chemicals than humans. While veterinarians agree that CBD specifically should not cause any considerable side effects on pets (with mild sedation being the most prominent one), THC might, if it’s present in the product.

This is why it’s very important to vet your CBD retailers carefully and make sure their production certificates are in order and that there is no THC present in the products.

Giving CBD to pets works just like it does most other medicine, but CBD animal products also come in appetizing packages. Here are a few ways to go about it:

  1. Just as with standard medications, CBD oil or edibles can be added to your pet’s food. While most dry foods will mask the taste and texture of the CBD product, it’s not as easy to add it to wet foods as the edibles may stick out, and the oil may not be absorbed.

  2. Opt for CBD products seasoned or infused with a certain flavoring (such as bacon for dogs or salmon for cats) that few pets would decline.

  3. When you are doing an activity with your pet that involves giving him or her a treat for a good job, you can simply try sneaking in the CBD edible instead of one of the treats.

  4. If all else fails, you can always hold your furry friend’s mouth open and drip a few oil or tincture drops straight in.

CBD oil dog

If your pet is suffering from skin conditions like rashes or allergies, you can apply a CBD cream or balm directly to the affected area.

Dosage

A general rule of thumb is to administer between 1mg (low dose) and 5mg (high dose) for every 10lbs of your pet’s weight. Here are some disorder-specific dosages that are currently being recommended by vets:

  • Pain and inflammation: 0.25mg/lb of your pet’s weight three times per day or as needed;

  • Anxiety: 0.25 to 0.5mg/lb of your pet’s weight 30min before an anxiety-inducing event or when they are experiencing an episode;

  • Pancreatitis: 0.05mg/lb twice per day in the beginning and gradually increase up to 0.25mg/lb twice daily.

  • Asthma: 0.25mg/lb twice daily;

  • Seizures: 0.25mg/lb twice daily and gradually increase up to 1.5mg/lb

  • Chronic Upper Respiratory Infections: 2.5mg/lb twice daily

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: 0.1mg/lb twice daily

  • Arthritis: 0.25mg/lb of your pet’s weight twice per day

Part 3:
Practical

If you have decided to give CBD a try, you may be overwhelmed by the immense variety in product options and suppliers.

It’s important to keep in mind that, although CBD is predominantly legal to purchase, the market is unregulated, meaning that suppliers do not go through a federal verification process.

As a result, the products available are not standardized and their contents do not always match the description; this goes not only for the CBD concentration, but also for THC levels and presence of other chemicals, some of which may be dangerous.

This is why CBD buyers need to be careful in vetting suppliers and only go for those brands which have the necessary certificates and production ethics.

CBD Products

CBD comes in many forms, the most common ones being: CBD oil, CBD tincture, CBD spray, CBD edibles, CBD capsules, and CBD topicals.

CBD oils are made by diluting the extracted compounds in a base or carrier oil, which usually contains one or more of the following: coconut oil, MCT oil, vegetable glycerin, and hemp seed oil. The carrier oils help CBD to be absorbed by the body, and make it possible to vaporize. They can also be consumed sublingually for enhanced effect duration.

CBD sprays are just CBD oils, often with a few added ingredients, in a spray packaging which makes the application convenient.

CBD tinctures are made by suspending the extracted compounds in a mixture of: alcohol, glycerin, aromatic oil such as cinnamon or peppermint oil, and various other ingredients such as vitamins, herbs, sweeteners, melatonin, or essential oils. Due to the presence of alcohol, the absorption rate as well as the shelf life of CBD tinctures is increased compared to CBD oils. Tinctures can’t be vaporized, and they normally taste better than oils.

CBD edibles and capsules are CBD extracts infused into an edible product or a capsule for convenient dosing and taste mitigation.

CBD topicals are CBD extracts infused into creams or balms for topical application.

All of these products, aside from the topicals, enter the bloodstream; the means of intake will determine how quickly that happens, how much CBD is absorbed, and how long the effects will last.

These products are made by extracting CBD, and, often, a variety of other compounds, namely other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, from the plant.

Aside from the different product forms in which CBD can come, a product can be a:

  • CBD isolate - contains only CBD;

  • Full-spectrum extract - contains all the beneficial compounds found in the plant;

  • Broad-spectrum extract - full-spectrum extract that has undergone an additional step in which all THC content was removed.

Normally, full-spectrum extracts can contain a negligible amount of THC; less than 0.3% is the legal limit, but due to the unregulated state of the market, this can sometimes not be honored. Broad-spectrum extracts are also sometimes referred to as THC-free extracts - this is normally explicitly indicated on the product packaging and in its description.

Many products available on the market also contain various ingredients such as flavorings, carrier oils, essential oils, and other supplements, which may enhance their intended purpose or just give them a specific texture or aroma. Make sure to browse thoroughly and opt for the products which align with your needs and fulfill the necessary safety and production quality criteria.

CBD Extraction Methods

CBD and the other beneficial compounds in Cannabis sativa can be extracted from the plant in several ways. The most common ones include:

  • Oil infusion - this is the most DIY extraction method. It involves either doing a decarboxylation of the plant material, or heating it up in order to activate the compounds. It’s then mixed with olive oil or another carrier oil and heated for a few hours. The added oil cannot be evaporated and a lot of it needs to be used for the process, but this is the easiest method available.

  • Using liquid solvents - various plant-dissolving solvents, such as ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, butane, or hexane, can be used to eliminate the plant matter but keep the useful chemical compounds. This process is cheap and relatively straightforward, but it requires some finesse in chemistry in order to perform the extraction as cleanly as possible.

  • Using supercritical carbon dioxide -this is the technology used by most bigger CBD producers; it is fast, clean, and precise, and allows a high level of customization of extracted compounds. The process requires complex machinery which brings the CO2 into a supercritical state, meaning it can permeate solids like a gas and dissolve them like a liquid. This way, exactly the compounds which were chosen can be extracted from the plant.

Once CBD and, optionally, other compounds, are extracted, they are combined with various carrier oils, alcohol, or flavorings for aroma and functionality, or infused into edibles or capsules.

Verifying Vendors

While CBD and other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids found in CBD products (excluding THC) are entirely safe to consume, due to the lack of market regulation, there are many inferior products in circulation, which may contain harmful ingredients.

The competition in the CBD market space is high, and many suppliers attempt to undercut their rivals by sourcing cheaper plants grown in poorer conditions, using inadequate extraction techniques, or infusing additives which may cause adverse effects in users.

The reality is that until CBD gets extensive federal approval and the market standardizes, users need to be on high alert over which brands they can trust, especially with so many new players entering the market all the time with fantastic promises. With the dosage and product form conundrum being confusing enough on its own, product safety should not add stress.

This is why we want to outline how to vet suppliers and identify high-quality products.

There are three key factors that influence the safety and quality of each CBD product:

  1. The way the plants are grown

  2. The way the chemicals are extracted

  3. The ingredients and additives which can be found in the products

Plant origin

The origin of the plant, including the soil in which it is grown and any chemicals used to help it grow, will determine how healthy or harmful the final product can be. It’s logical that growing plants in high-quality, fertile soil will cost much more than growing them in soil rich in led or mercury.

Most medical marijuana grows satisfy this criterion because they are relatively small operations focused on delivering high-quality products to the market. However, since industrial growing of hemp was legalized, this became a more overt issue.

Worse quality soil also means that more chemicals need to be used to support the plants’ growth, and larger grows are more difficult to protect from invading insects, so larger amounts of pesticides are added. This can all result in a product full of harmful, even cancerous components.

For this reason, CBD users are advised to purchase CBD products obtained from medical marijuana flowers rather than from industrial hemp leaves and stalks. It is more likely that these products will come from more intentionally and organically grown cannabis plants, as well as that they will contain more beneficial compounds.

Still, medical marijuana is not legal and available in all states, so those purchasing hemp-extracted CBD products are highly advised to inspect the manufacturer’s certification to make sure their growing process was approved under the USDA organic regulations.

Extraction process

As described, there are several popular ways of extracting CBD and other compounds from the Cannabis sativa plants. Some are popular because they are safe, others because they are cheap.

Cheaper extraction methods normally require the use of toxic solvents such as pentane, propane, hexane, or butane. These compounds can remain in the extract, causing harm to the user if exposed to them for a prolonged period of time.

The most precise, safest, and costliest extraction method is the supercritical CO2 extraction. This part of production is expensive because it relies on expert manpower and specialized equipment. A CBD product manufacturer should not be trusted if they don’t process their plants this way.

The result of employing both organic growing methods and a safe extraction process will be reflected in the final product price - high-quality CBD products do not come cheap, and it’s wise to prioritise product value over cost in this underregulated market.

Product composition

Finally, the manufacturer should have available third-party laboratory test results which confirm their products’ quality and composition. You should look for a certificate of analysis (CoA) from laboratories with certifications from one of these organizations: the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists (AOAC), the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), or the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP).

The certificate should contain a list of everything found in the product analysis. They should indicate the presence and concentration of CBD, as well as of other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBC, CBN, CBV, and, of course, THC. This is a chance to make sure these levels are as described by the manufacturer and that the THC level is under 0.3%.

Some constituents to look out for include: microbes, pesticides, and chemical solvents such as glycols. Brands whose certificates list any of these should be avoided.

Most brands have products with a number of additives, such as flavorings, alcohol, sweeteners, essential oils, hormones, vitamines, or preservatives. Consumers need to thoroughly check each added ingredient to make sure they won’t cause an adverse reaction. It’s always wise to advise with a physician if unsure of potential interactions.

Finally, after having inspected all the certificates and the ingredient list, it’s vital to also check the references and customer testimonials. The retailers with more positive references will have been in the business for a longer time and will normally be providers of high-quality, safe, and effective products.

Legality

With the passing of The 2018 Farm Bill, industrial growing of hemp was legalized in the US. With it, all hemp-derived CBD products became legal on a federal level.

However, the situation is not completely straightforward—each state has its own regulations of hemp and CBD which can override the federal regulations.

A total of three states currently have both CBD and hemp illegal: Idaho, Iowa, and South Dakota. The FDA-approved drug Epidiolex is the only legal form of CBD use in these states.

As for the rest of the country, CBD products are legal if they are derived from hemp.

If they are derived from marijuana, on the other hand, they undergo the same regulations that govern medical and recreational marijuana use.

In Australia and most of Europe, CBD products are also legal, provided they meet certain requirements.

FAQ


Does CBD come from marijuana?

CBD comes from the same plant as marijuana. However, there are two varieties of this plant: hemp, which is grown industrially and must contain less than 0.3% of THC content to be legal, and CBD-rich marijuana plants, which may contain higher amounts of THC and are only legal in states which have legalized recreational and / or medicinal marijuana.


Will CBD make me high?

No. CBD products are generally required to have less than 0.3% of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC, meaning that they can’t make the user high. Some CBD products (broad-spectrum or isolates) undergo additional steps which completely remove all THC.


What is the difference between hemp oil, CBD oil, and cannabis oil?

Hemp oil is a valuable nutritional supplement and a great skin moisturizer. However, it does not have most of the therapeutic benefits that CBD oil has.

Cannabis oil has its own set of therapeutic benefits, but, unlike CBD oil, it’s psychoactive and only legal in states where recreational and / or medicinal marijuana use has been legalized.


Is CBD addictive?

No dependency is developed with long-term use of CBD, and no withdrawal effects have been reported. Unlike most chemicals, CBD actually seems to cause reverse tolerance, meaning that lower doses are needed after a while of using it.


What are terpenes and flavonoids?

These are compounds present in miniscule amounts in most CBD products. They are not cannabinoids; they give the products their distinct flavor and aroma, and some have been found to have therapeutic benefits, too.


What is the difference between a CBD isolate, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum products?

CBD isolates contain only CBD. Full-spectrum products contain all the beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds extracted from the plant. Broad-spectrum products contain everything full-spectrum products do, but they go through an additional step in which all THC content is removed.


Is CBD safe?

CBD products are generally quite safe, with only infrequent and mild side effects. However, there are a few caveats:

Since the CBD market is under-regulated, there are many retailers which provide inferior, and even harmful products, usually at lower prices than the competition. We give a rundown on how to vet the manufacturers and products in the Shopping section of this guide.


In many CBD products there are additives which some consumers may have adverse reactions to. This goes especially for vapes, beside the fact that the method of vaporization itself is potentially harmful.


Finally, we are not fully familiar with long-term adverse effects of CBD use. Although extreme doses of 1,500mg of CBD daily over the course of four weeks were shown to be tolerated well by consumers, some studies suggest that high-dose long-term use may lead to liver damage.


For more details, refer to the
Side effects and precautions section of this guide.


Is CBD legal?

CBD products derived from hemp are legal in all states except for Idaho, Iowa, and South Dakota. The FDA-approved drug Epidiolex is the only legal form of CBD use in these states.

If they are derived from marijuana, however, CBD products undergo the same regulations that govern medical and recreational marijuana use in each state.


How can I take CBD?

CBD comes in many product forms, including oils, tinctures, sprays, edibles, capsules, and topicals. Oils can be vaped or applied sublingually, tinctures and sprays should be applied sublingually, edibles and capsules are taken orally, and topicals are applied directly on the painful or inflamed area.


Which CBD product form is the best?

This will depend on what is being treated; generally speaking, CBD oils and tinctures applied sublingually are the most favorable option in terms of having a rapid onset, high absorption rate, long effect duration, and low chances of side effects.


Can I cook with CBD oil?

Absolutely. Some types of CBD oil even have flavorings which make them an ideal gastronomic additive.


Does CBD cure ________?

Generally speaking, CBD doesn’t cure anything, but it can help alleviate many psychological and physiological conditions. You may refer to the Healing section of this guide for specific conditions and research indicating CBD’s effectiveness in treating them.


Can you overdose on CBD?

Not likely. Even extreme doses of CBD were found to be well-tolerated by adult consumers.


What is the proper CBD dosage?

This will depend on numerous factors, including individual genetic makeup, body chemistry, weight, condition being treated, the potency and composition of the product, and means of intake.

Generally speaking, for adult consumers, doses between 5 and 30mg taken two times per day should help with symptoms ranging from mild to severe.


The safest way to arrive at an adequate dose is to start with the lowest amount of 5mg taken twice daily and increase it by 5mg after several days or a week to get the body gradually used to the biochemical processes which happen when CBD is ingested. Once the healing effects are felt, users should stick to that dose and not increase it until necessary.


Can CBD be detected in a drug test?

CBD is a predominantly legal compound and a cannabinoid which drug tests do not screen for.

However, most drug tests screen for THC, and most CBD products contain trace amounts of THC. These minute concentrations can not get the users high, but they may show up on a drug test.


If you are concerned about this, you should only consume products which are CBD isolates or broad-spectrum extracts (otherwise known as THC-free extracts).


Can I give my pet CBD?

Although there is limited research available, many pet owners are reporting beneficial effects of giving CBD to their furry friends, and some veterinarians are also endorsing CBD pet products. Symptoms being treated include: incessant barking / meowing, pain, anxiety, gastric issues, inflammation, arthritis, and seizures.

You can refer to the How to Give CBD to Pets section of this guide for detailed info on administration and dosage.


Can I give my children CBD?

Generally speaking, CBD products are safe to give to children, and may have numerous benefits.

However, it’s even more important to make sure that the products are safe and certified organic, with no harmful additives, and that the dose is adjusted for children.


You can refer to the How to Give CBD to Children section of this guide for detailed info on administration and dosage.

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