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What Is CBD Oil and Should You Try It?

The cannabis-derived compound is gaining popularity for providing holistic, side-effect-free relief.

Known for its therapeutic effects that decrease symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, and migraines, CBD (which is short for cannabidiol) is one of Mother Nature's trendiest remedies at the moment. While the use of the plant compound is gaining steam across the states, many folks are hesitant to incorporate it into their daily routine because of its association with the cannabis plant. The thing is, most CBD oil produced in the states is actually made from hemp (yes, the same hemp seeds you put in your smoothie bowls) rather than cannabis.

Another thing that sets CBD oil apart from cannabis is that CBD oil has no THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis that gets you high); plus CBD is legal nationwide. If you're wondering about how CBD can help alleviate day-to-day ailments, we spoke to Colorado-based dietician Donna Shields, MS, RDN, and co-founder of the Holistic Cannabis Academy and Shop Holistic CBD to get the low-down on this side-effect-free health trend.

What is CBD?

Cannabis plant
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"The mother plant, called Cannabis sativa, can be cultivated to grow marijuana (the plant containing THC, CBD, and other cannabinoid compounds) or hemp, a crop with many uses from food products to building materials," Shields tells us. The cannabis plant contains over 100 cannabinoids, one of which is cannabidiol, better known as CBD. The cannabis plant also contains psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol or THC—as well as hemp, which contains less than 0.3 percent THC. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive, so you won't get high from it. "In fact, CBD can help modulate the psychoactive impact of THC," Shields says. "Hemp-derived CBD products are available at retail stores and online; while marijuana-derived CBD products are regulated and available only at legal dispensary stores."

Who Should Try CBD?

CBD oil
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While there are over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, CBD is the most well-studied and most understood, Shields tells us, adding that CBD can be used for all types of pain because it's a potent anti-inflammatory. "Cannabis, including hemp-derived CBD, is personalized medicine, so each individual will need to determine his or her optimal format and dose. It's CBD that's responsible for reducing seizure episodes and provides anti-inflammatory benefits, helping to relieve pain that may originate from a variety of chronic health conditions."

"For people suffering from mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, it often can be valuable healing tool when used in conjunction with other modalities such as meditation, yoga and an awesome diet. So, while it's not a miracle drug or a cure-all for anything and everything that ails you, it can provide safe therapeutic benefits without the side effects that can occur with some pharmaceuticals. CBD is beneficial as a pain reliever because it does not have the side effects of pain relievers such as opioids and NSAIDs."

If you're up for trying your hand at the trend, CBD is available in many forms such as oil (which is usually added to beverages or taken on its own), in capsules, vape pens, topical lotions and skincare products, and even bath salts you can use to soak in. If you're opting for an oral supplement, make sure you're coupling it with fat to ensure full absorption, as CBD is fat-soluble. "Oral CBD products are typically produced using hemp seed oil, coconut oil, or other oils as the carrier. Hemp seeds are rich in fatty acids (and protein) so consuming them with CBD products can help enhance absorption," Shields clarifies.

And if you're going for an oil, one of the most common ways to ingest CBD, Shields recommends choosing the full-spectrum variety. "The term 'full-spectrum' refers to a CBD oil that has been produced through a process that retains a wide range of phytocannabinoids to include terpenes and flavonoids, providing a more well-rounded therapeutic product. This is different from a CBD product that has been produced using only CBD isolates. Hemp oil, commonly sold for a long time, is produced from the hemp seed only and is not a source of CBD."

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April Benshosan
April is a born-and-raised Brooklynite who has a passion for all things health, wellness, and tastebud-related. Read more about April
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