So, what the heck is CBD Oil?
There’s been a lot of talk in scientific community lately about a powerful plant with incredible therapeutic benefits. In fact, you’ve probably heard of it before. The plant? Cannabis. No, I’m not joking, I’m talking about Marijuana, people. Reefer. Bud. Ganga. Mary Jane. That gooooood grass. I’m totally serious, and if you’re surprised right now, I totally understand where you’re coming from. I was just as shocked as you are! But don’t start calling all your best buds (not a weed reference, I promise – purely coincidental) to tell them the news just yet. You see, marijuana contains several chemical substances, called cannabinoids. Believe it or not, there are actually over 85 of these cannabinoids in marijuana! The one that most people are familiar with is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)– this is what makes people feel ‘high’ when they smoke (vape, eat, or whatever the kids are doing now-a-days) it. THC is the psychoactive component and most prevalent cannabinoid in marijuana, but there are still at least 84 other cannabinoids that are now being studied and have huge potential for therapeutic use.
The cannabinoid that is almost as abundant as THC, but is non-psychoactive and has been under the microscope (LOL science jokes) for its potential is called CBD – short for Cannabidiol. CBD is a naturally occurring cannabinoid that works with the body’s Endocannaboid System (aka the ECS- more to come on this!). CBD is not psychoactive, but instead promotes a sense of calm, relaxation, and well-being.
You may or may not know this about me, but I studied Biology and Human Physiology at University. I love science, and if you’ve read my blog you know how much I like to nerd out when I write about different aspects of how the body works. So, imagine my surprise when I started doing some research on CBD oil only to find out that there’s a WHOLE SYSTEM in the body that I didn’t even know about! While this isn’t exactly University curriculum, I was amazed to discover that we have a system in our bodies called the Endocannabinoid System. In case you were dying to know, this system was discovered in the 90’s and helps to regulate all sorts of things like sleep, appetite and digestion, mood, immunity, reproduction and fertility, motor control, pain, memory, temperature regulation, and much more. You can read more about the Endocannabinoid System here, I thought this article did a great job of breaking down how important this system is for maintaining different processes in our body.
So, why am I rambling on about the Endocannabinoid System? WELL… besides the fact that I did warn you that I tend to nerd out when science is concerned, it’s crucial for what I am about to share about my experience with CBD and why CBD is important in the first place. The Endocannabinoid System is made up of a bunch of cells that can recognize different cannabinoids. These specific cells are called receptors, and they are known as cannabinoid receptor 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2). When these cells recognize a cannabinoid, they react in a specific way (IE: start or stop a process, regulate it). These receptors are spread all throughout our bodies – brain, organs, connective tissue, glands and immune cells. While CB1 receptors tend to be mainly in connective tissue, the nervous system, gonads, glands and organs, CB2 receptors tend to be found in the immune system.
It seems that the main role of the Endocannabinoid system is to maintain homeostasis (remember that word from biology?! Yay science!), it helps to make sure your processes are staying where they should (staying “the same”). Additionally, the endocannabinoid system in the brain and periphery plays a major role in controlling food intake and energy balance (2). Interestingly, because your body naturally has an Endocannabinoid System, it makes sense that your body would also produce endocannabinoids on its own. Guess what? It does! Your body produces endocannabinoids, essentially chemical messengers that help to maintain balance within the body. Where do these come from? Your diet! Your body creates these endocannabinoids with the help of fatty acids, specifically from omega-3 fatty acids (2). That’s why it’s so important to make sure you are getting enough healthy fat in your diet! So here’s your chance to order that guac at Chipotle. I know it’s extra, but this is scientific proof that it’s good for you – so live ya’ life! ‘The body’s endocannabinoid system relies on the natural production of endogenous cannabinoids in order to function properly’ (2). In order to produce enough of these endogenous cannabinoids, your body must have sufficient omega-3 fatty acids. When things fall out of balance, and your ECS becomes dysregulated, conditions like fibromyalgia, IBS, and others can develop. THIS, my friends, leads me to why I decided to try CBD oil. And yes…. I do realize that was a long, albeit necessary (I promise!) explanation! Thanks for nerding out with me for a bit up there!
I was diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 15, read a little more about my story here or here. Throw in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and IBS, and my motive for giving CBD oil a try may be becoming clearer by the second! Within the span of a week, I often deal with symptoms like migraines, joint pain, anxiety, pelvic pain, severe fatigue, strange fluctuations in appetite, digestive distress, bloating, cold fingers and toes, and others. My symptoms come and go, but my digestive issues, migraines, anxiety, and fatigue are the most debilitating as they interfere the most with my day to day life. I have been trying my best to switch to natural forms of therapy, as I hate being on so many prescription drugs. Over the past year, I have made many modifications to my prescriptions. That was my first step towards moving to a more holistic approach. The problem is, some days my medications don’t work and I can only take so many NSAIDs when I’m in pain without feeling like I’m destroying my stomach and liver. I hated feeling like a slave to my body’s symptoms that day or to my medications. Was there another option? It turns out, that option had to do with taking advantage of my Endocannabinoid System in the form of CBD oil (TOLD YA it was important!).
I was concerned about buying a CBD oil that wouldn’t be organic so I found a store, For The Ageless, that selects only organic CBD and provides certificates to prove its CBD content. I chose Biopurus 10% because of it is raw with no additives and is cold-pressed, according to the site using Supercritical CO2 (which is “hemp’s Gold Standard extraction method”). It is also THC free. Since I’m fancy schmancy, I couldn’t just try out any old CBD oil. I wanted to try out the best so that I could really get a great understanding on whether or not CBD would help my symptoms.
CBD Oil Strength
One thing that really confused me when first looking into various CBD oils, is the percentage of CBD oil on the bottle. I saw that concentrations varied between different preparations, from 1 mg per dose to hundreds of milligrams but I did not understand what this meant, why it was important, or where that percentage came from. In my head I thought (or maybe I said this out loud, who knows), “why does it say 10% CBD oil if it’s supposed to be all CBD oil?” Have no fear, I have an answer for you. This percentage means that in the total bottle of CBD oil (mL) is a specific amount of CBD oil (in mg), giving the total bottle a strength in %. For example, the product I used, Biopurus 10%, is 10mL of which 1000mg is CBD. That is how the strength of 10% is calculated. The Biopurus 10% bottle contains 250 drops, which is a 4-month supply if one is taking 2 drops a day. Hopefully that sheds a little light on that math problem….I’ll be honest I never really liked math.
CBD Oil Dosage
The next thing that came up for me was dosage. The obvious question here is not that I know my CBD oil strength, how much should I take? Remember how I told you earlier that I was on a few medications? While I tried to eliminate all of them, there are still a few that I am on which begged another question. Would the CBD oil interact with any of my medications? I decided to opt for the easy route and got started searching “Will CBD oil interact with x medication?” for every medication that I take. Ok, there’s not that many, but still. It seemed like a lot of effort. So instead, I looked into dosing for being “medically sensitive”. What does being “medically sensitive” mean? According to The Realm of Caring, it is defined by one or more of the following: 1. Sensitive to medical interventions, 2. Is on pharmaceuticals, 3. Has LGS, 4. Has only absence seizures, or 5. Has only myoclonic seizures If the client is on an AED, anti-epileptic drug. Quite obviously I qualify for #2, so if you are wanting to try CBD and are on other medications, I would recommend starting on the “medically sensitive” dosing to see how your body reacts.
Example Dosing Regimen: “Medically-Sensitive”
Total Daily Dose If Taken 2x Daily
Weeks 1-4 25mg 12.5mg 2x daily
Weeks 5-8 50mg 25mg 2x daily
Weeks 9-12 75mg 37.5mg 2x daily
Weeks 13-16 100mg 50mg 2x daily
Example Dosing Regimen: NOT “Medically-Sensitive”
Total Daily Dose If Taken 2x Daily
Weeks 1-4 50mg: 25mg 2x daily
Weeks 5-8 100mg: 50mg 2x daily
Weeks 9-12 150mg: 75mg 2x daily
Weeks 13-16 200mg: 100mg 2x daily
CBD Oil and Drug Interactions
The “medically sensitive” dosage regimen seemed to work well for me and I did not have any strange side effects when starting the CBD oil. If you are otherwise concerned about potential drug interactions, feel free to read this article.
How to Take CBD Oil
One of the biggest issues that came up for me surrounded the topic of how to take CBD oil. Sublingual application, or placing the oil under the tongue, is the best way for the oil to absorb. This is because the oil can be directly absorbed through the mucous membranes under the tongue and directly into the bloodstream via the tiny capillaries that are plentiful in the mouth. This method of application also bypasses the digestive system and liver, which would lessen the effects of the CBD oil. Sublingual application allows for the oil to enter the bloodstream and quickly interact with the ECS.
The application itself wasn’t so much the problem for me, but I just couldn’t get used to the taste of the oil. Laugh if you will, but it is just very….herbal. I eventually devised a way to apply the oil in just a way that I avoided tasting it, but this was honestly the worst part of the oil for me. It’s not that it even tasted bad per say, more bitter.
CBD Dosage for Commonly Associated Uses
To treat chronic pain: 2.5-20 mg CBD by mouth for an average of 25 days.
To treat epilepsy: 200-300 mg of CBD by mouth daily.
To treat sleep disorders: 40-160 mg CBD by mouth.
CBD and PCOS
Remember all that science back there about the Endocannaboid system? Well, it’s gonna come in handy, you smarty pants! Now that you’re basically a pro and know all that there is to know about the Endocannaboid system (might as well have a PHD in it as far as I’m concerned), you know that there are receptors for the ECS all over your body. Us women have ECS receptors in our reproductive system which makes it easy to understand why the ECS would play a role in conditions like PMS, menopause, endometriosis and dysmenorrhea. I’ve always had really painful menstrual cramps and pelvic pain because of my PCOS, so that was one reason why I was interested in trying out CBD. In doing some additional research, I found out another interesting fact. You may know that PCOS is an inflammatory condition. It causes inflammation within the body in addition to insulin resistance. There is strong preclinical evidence that cannabinoids (take, for example, CBD oil) influence glucose and insulin sensitivity. While the medical literature specifically mentions patients with diabetes, I wondered if this could have implications for women with PCOS as well. Another interesting thing to note (for all you THC lovers out there) is that ‘insulin sensitivity will likely be impaired by psychoactive constituents of cannabis like THC, while cannabinoids including CBD and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THVC) may increase sensitivity to insulin. CB1 activation is part of a feedback mechanism that reduces the body’s response to glucose and insulin’. (4). Additionally, studies have shown that ‘cannaboids have been shown to protect the host through induction of multiple anti-inflammatory pathways. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory response and subsequently attenuate disease symptoms’ (5).
While I did notice a significant reduction in pain associated with my menstrual cycle, I cannot say for certain if my insulin or inflammatory responses were affected as I did not get bloodwork done before and after. This would be an interesting test to do later on though, and I would be curious to see how successful it is for other women with PCOS.
CBD and anxiety
In some ways, CBD oils work like a natural anti-anxiety drug. From our current understanding, it works in similar ways that pharmaceutical anti-anxiety drugs do, acting on the serotonin signaling in the brain. I have shared with you before on my blog and on social media that I suffer from anxiety. Part of this likely comes from the fact that I am a Type A person and that just comes with a general associated anxiousness. The other part is that many women with both PCOS and Hashimoto’s tend to suffer from anxiety and/or depression. I notice that when I have immune flare-ups, both my anxiety and my physical symptoms tend to get worse simultaneously.
In the trial of taking the CBD for my anxiety, the biggest difference I noticed was that I wasn’t as noticeably anxious. I often have physiological symptoms of anxiety such as a racing pulse and rapid heartbeat. While taking CBD I did not have these physiological symptoms and felt more ‘chill’ and at peace. I usually tend to notice many fleeting thoughts constantly going through my mind, but did not have this happen as overwhelmingly as it usually does. I’ve ready that CBD helps to modulate mood and bring you back to a more balanced state, and I think that’s a great way to describe what it did for me.
CBD and sleep
There has been some evidence that supplementing with CBD oil may improve sleep. In looking over the research, it seems this will be very dependent on why the person is suffering from sleep-related issues. If the issues stem from anxiety, chronic pain, or REM-abnormalities in those with PTSD, for example, CBD oil may be able to improve sleep quality and be helpful in reducing problems with sleep. There is also evidence that CBD stimulates alertness and reduces daytime sleepiness in smaller doses, which may aid in the consistency of the sleep-wake cycle.
As I have never really had issues falling or staying asleep, this did not particularly apply to me. I did notice that I felt like I had a deeper sleep and fell asleep very easily (though the latter is not unusual for me, so it is hard to say for certain if this was due to the CBD oil). I didn’t notice any improvement in alertness during the day, but I do suffer from extreme fatigue so this was not all that surprising to me. This also could have been due to the dosage, I may have needed a smaller dose to see this specific effect.
CBD and pain
CBD works as an analgesic (a pain reducer) in the body. It does this by using the body’s endocannabinoid system, as it is involved in pain perception. Using CBD as a pain reducer is probably where I had the most success in using CBD therapeutically. As I mentioned earlier, I often get severe migraines and joint pain due to my conditions. These come and go and I never quite know when I will get them. I noticed that I had less migraines and the severity of my joint pain on a daily basis was greatly reduced. It also helped with my menstrual cramps to some extent.
CBD and digestive issues
Some scientists believe that digestive issues like inflammatory bowel disease, IBS, and Crohn’s are caused by clinical endocannabinoid deficiency. This condition occurs when the body fails to produce sufficient cannabinoids. This can happen before most of us even know it’s happening, often in early childhood (8).
Cannabinoid receptors are distributed throughout the digestive system and the brain regions that are essential for the gut – brain axis. Cannabinoids like CBD are great for specific digestive issues because they act as an anti-inflammatory and can reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. CBD latches onto the cannabinoid receptors that are located in the intestines and activates them. Cannabinoids also reduce intestinal motility, intestinal spasticity, and how fast food can move through the digestive system. This can be helpful for those that have diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Generally, cannabinoids are associated with the reduction of inflammation in the digestive tract. They also reduce intestinal motility. Thus, they reduce the overall speed at which food or matter goes through the intestine. They also reduce secretion of fluids that may result from inflammation. This helps in preventing diarrhea, vomiting, and soothing nausea.
While I’m pretty open about sharing about my bodily processes over the internet, talking about my IBS is something that I’m still coming to terms with. I certainly have intestinal spasticity, but let’s say my digestion runs on the slow side. Because of this, I didn’t notice much of a difference in terms of regularity, but I did feel a bit less nauseous than I normally do when my digestive system starts to act up. The only thing I changed was adding in the CBD oil, so that had to be what helped. I’ve heard many other men and women use CBD oil to control nausea as well, so that could definitely be a huge benefit for anyone that struggles with that often.
Overall, I think that CBD oil could be a great option for those looking for more natural therapies. If you suffer from anxiety and/or depression, chronic stress, chronic pain, digestive issues, nausea, women’s health issues like PCOS or endometriosis, have trouble or sleeping, or have an autoimmune condition, I would recommend giving CBD oil a try. I have tried many holistic therapies over the years, but few have worked as quickly with as few (and by few I mean, I had absolutely no) side effects as CBD did.
Though I didn’t cover it here, there has been a lot of research done on how CBD can help with seizures, neurodegenerative conditions, and others as well. I always suggest that you do your own research before trying any product, but I tried to put as much relevant research in here as possible to give you a solid foundation!
Besides the taste of the CBD oil in general, I had a really great experience with the Biopurus 10%. Make sure you do your research and find a product that is top of the line. You want to make sure you are getting a quality oil so that you know that it is going to be effective. I found that For The Ageless had the best selection of high quality oils from Europe, but there are many good American equivalents like Charlotte’s Web oil, so feel free to start there on your product hunt. I wish you all the best in your CBD oil journey!
- Breus, Michael J. (2017, Sept 6). The Ultimate Guide to CBD and Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-ultimate-guide-to-cbd-and-sleep_us_59b013e9e4b0c50640cd63a0
- (2018). The Endocannabinoid Production in the Human Body. Retrieved from https://cbdoilreview.org/cbd-cannabidiol/endocannabinoid-natural-production/
- Devitt-Lee, Adrian. (2018, Jan 16). CANNABINOID-PHARMACEUTICAL INTERACTIONS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW. Retrieved from https://www.projectcbd.org/about/cannabis-pharmacology/cannabinoid-pharmaceutical-interactions-what-you-need-know
- Lindborg KA, et al. Effects of in vitro antagonism of endocannabinoid-1 receptors on the glucose transport system in normal and insulin-resistant rat skeletal muscle. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2010. Aug;12(8):722-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1326.2010.01227.x.
- Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Medicinal Chemistry, 1(7), 1333–1349. http://doi.org/10.4155/fmc.09.93
- Project CBD. (2016, July 13). CBD USER’S MANUAL. Retrieved from https://www.projectcbd.org/guidance/cbd-users-manual
- (2017, Dec). How the Endocannabinoid System Affects Women’s Health. Retrieved from https://www.hellomd.com/health-wellness/5a271593100a820006562eb8/how-the-endocannabinoid-system-affects-womens-health
- Visser, C. (2018). CBD Oil For Digestive Issues. Retrieved from https://cbdoilsandedibles.com/cbd-for-digestive-issues/
- Wilcox, A. (2016, July 28). The Endocannabinoid System For Dummies. Retrieved from https://herb.co/marijuana/news/endocannabinoid-system-dummies