Everything You Need To Know About CBD

Everything You Need To Know About CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the oldest supplements, yet one of the newest ones at the same time. As of late, many people have expressed their interest in using CBD oil for various health conditions but have also expressed concern around its legality and safety. In today’s post, we will discuss what CBD is, how it is regulated in Canada, the therapeutic effects of CBD as well as safety of CBD. 
So let's dive right in…..
Cannabis Sativa is a plant that has been used by many populations across the world for its therapeutic benefits of treating conditions like, epilepsy, migraines and chronic pain. Marijuana and Hemp are 2 strains of the plant, Cannabis Sativa.

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that are produced naturally in our bodies (endogenous cannabinoids) and can also be derived from plants (phytocannabinoids) which are known to modulate the endocannabinoid system in the body (ECS). 
The ECS has been implicated in a variety of disease states and is important for many bodily functions like chronic inflammatory conditions, immune homeostasis, anxiety and migraines. It helps us respond to stress, mount inflammatory responses and is also related in the regulation of appetite, metabolic health, mood, memory and muscle control. 
There are about 80 phytocannabinoid compounds that have been found in the marijuana plant alone. The most well understood phytocannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is found mainly in marijuana strains and CBD (Cannabidiol) which is found mainly in hemp strains. These cannabinoids encourage the release of our own endocannabinoids through the ECS in the body. 

What is CBD?

CBD is found in both Cannabis strains (Marijuana and Hemp) and is not psychoactive. THC, on the other hand is the psychoactive component of marijuana - a chemical that is known to create the “high”. THC has been shown to impair memory and coordination, while also increasing appetite and may also create a sense of paranoia in some people. 
CBD and hemp oils have become popular because of their low THC content, which gives the medical benefits without the “high” of marijuana. CBD is an extract from cannabis leaves or flowers and can be dissolved in an edible oil. The extraction process can affect the CBD:THC ratio. 
CBD, hemp and cannabis are often used interchangeably, making it confusing to understand all the different types. Below is a breakdown of the different types of oils: 
Hemp Seed Oils
  • Main components: Omega 6, Omega 3 fatty acids, Antioxidants
  • Part of plant extracted: seeds
  • THC Levels: none
  • CBD levels: Little to none
  • Uses: nutritional supplements, other uses of hemp are clothing and food
Hemp/CBD Oils
  • Main components: Mostly CBD
  • Part of plant extracted: Flowers and leaves of the hemp plant
  • THC Levels: <0.3%
  • CBD levels: 12-18% CBD, sometimes higher
  • Uses: Medicinal uses of CBD
Cannabis Oils
  • Main components: Mostly THC with some CBD and other phytocannabinoids
  • Part of plant extracted: Flowers and leaves of the marijuana plant
  • THC Levels: >0.3% (High amounts, about 80%)
  • CBD levels: Lower levels (10-15% CBD)
  • Uses: Medicinal uses of THC

CBD In Canada

Cannabis was legalized here in Canada in 2018. Initially, licensed cannabis products were only sold through a Licensed Producer (LP) for patients who had a medical prescription to consume cannabis or through legal recreational outlets like the Ontario Cannabis store.
However, as of October 17, 2019, the law changed to make CBD oil and other products more accessible to the Canadian market through implementing the Cannabis act.
CBD content, also known as potency is expressed as a percentage of milligrams per gram in cannabis. An example would be that 13% CBD means that it contains 130 milligrams of CBD per gram of cannabis. The CBD content may vary from product to product. All information on CBD content should be listed on all products that are being purchased from licensed producers. All vendors must have independent validation of the CBD and THC content and verification of overall product quality. 
CBD is commonly used as an oil or in capsule form. Edible oils are an alternative to smoking or vaping and generally contain large amounts of CBD. It can also be applied topically as a cream or a salve, inhaled or ingested as an oil.  CBD products can also come in the form of foods, also known as edibles (ex. Gummy bears). 
Now… let's discuss what everyone wants to know when it comes to CBD… 

What Are The Potential Benefits of CBD?

THC is mostly known for its euphoria feelings, nausea reduction and appetite stimulation. CBD is mostly known for its use in pediatric epilepsy, anxiety, pain, inflammation and PTSD. Most of the research on CBD oil has been studied using cell lines and animal models and much more research needs to be conducted to decipher conclusions on the effectiveness of CBD. 
  • Anxiety - Some research suggests that CBD oil can function to help alleviate anxiety and help to lessen PTSD symptoms
  • Sleep - Some studies show that CBD may help with falling asleep and maintaining sleep
  • Chronic Pain - CBD can inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain
  • Seizures - In 2018, the FDA approved the first ever cannabis derived medicine, Epidiolex, which contains CBD for childhood epilepsy syndrome (Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes) 

Is CBD Safe?

It has been shown that CBD is well tolerated and does not have psychoactive effects. A major concern with pain drugs are that they suppress the breathing centers in the brain stem, which can have fatal effects. Cannabinoids do not have this same effect on this part of the brain and thus is not a concern for CBD oil. Keep in mind that THC carries a higher risk of adverse events when compared to CBD. 

What Are The Risks Of Using CBD?

CBD oil can interfere with the effects of many prescription drugs due to its effect on liver enzymes. CBD oil does have a better side effect profile than THC-containing products. Some of the side effects associated with CBD oil include: anger, irritability, diarrhea, decreased appetite and sleepiness. Because the long term effects or safety hasn’t completely been reported yet there are many clinical trials currently underway. 
CBD can also act as a blood thinner and therefore can interact with other blood thinning medications. CBD oil is not recommended during pregnancy or while breast-feeding. 
CBD and Hemp oils are non-intoxicating phytocannabinoid substances that are growing in popularity, especially here in Canada. While many studies have suggested that CBD oil is helpful for pain and anxiety, one thing is for sure, more long-term research is needed to better understand potential efficacy and safety around its use. It is important to select products that are sold by licensed producers that disclose the amount of CBD and THC in all products. 
** Disclaimer: The advice is in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the care of a Naturopathic physician.