People use cannabis and its cannabinoid derivatives for a variety of reasons. Not all types, strains or forms of cannabis and hemp provide the full slate of effects for which a person uses it. Instead, different plant medicines derived from cannabis provide a different combination of these effects due to the unique proprotions of active chemical compounds they contain.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one such compound; so is THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. More people tend to be familiar with THC as it is the most prevalent and predominant chemical compound in most forms of the cannabis plant. It is also the one most associated with the psychoactive effects of cannabis, or the euphoric “high” attributed to it. For this reason, people who desire to receive certain benefits of cannabis without the psychoactive effects can find what they seek in CBD oil products.
There are a variety of CBD products on the market, including true full spectrum CBD oil, CBD softgel capsules, CBD concentrates, CBD gummies, CBD edibles and CBD e-liquids for vapes.
Which CBD product type is right for you? Let’s explore the various compounds, blends and delivery methods to help you decide!
Active Compounds in Cannabis & Hemp Plants
In order to understand CBD oils, it helps to understand the chemical composition of cannabis, including hemp. There are several chemical compounds in cannabis that are pharmacologically active. This means they produce certain effects in the body via the neuromodulatory system called the Endocannabinoid System, or ECS for short.
CBD is a type of cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are the naturally occurring plant medicines we find in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are also produced inside the human body. These types of cannabinoids are called endocannabinoids, while phytocannabinoids – the ones we derive from cannabis and hemp – are found in the above-ground portions of those plants, namely the flowers, leaves, and stems.
Endocannabinoids serve many important functions in the body and brain, including effects on mood, sleep, appetite and pain management; phytocannabinoids imitate endocannabinoids in their effects because they are molecularly similar and the ECS treats both types of cannabinoids the same. This allows us to use phytocannabinoids to intentionally promote, assist or boost the effects of their corresponding endocannabinoids. The fact that our bodies are already used to processing and utilizing endocannabinoids makes us naturally able to do the same with their plant counterparts.
Tetrahydrocannabinol is the predominant cannabinoid in most cannabis, except for hemp. CBD, on the other hand, is the predominant cannabinoid in hemp. But there are many, many more cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp plants – over 113 known cannabinoids currently – including the following:
Each cannabinoid serves a different set of functions and provides very specific, distinctive effects.
Other Cannabis and Hemp Compounds
Terpenes are another type of chemical compound abundant in cannabis and hemp. They are responsible for the varying flavors and aromas associated with these plants. Like cannabinoids, they also produce their own distinctive effects. These are the most common terpenes found in cannabis and hemp:
- Myrcene – Hopsy
- Limonene – Lemony
- Caryophyllene – Peppery
- Linalool – Citrusy, floral
- Eucalyptol – Minty
- Camphene – Piney
Other compounds found in hemp and cannabis include flavonoids and omega fatty acids, which provide their own characteristic health benefits.
What Is CBD?
As mentioned previously, CBD, or Cannabidiol, is one of the chemical compounds contained in cannabis. It is more prevalent in the hemp plant than in the cannabis plant and more predominant in the hemp plant than tetrahydrocannabinol. For this reason, CBD products are most often sourced from hemp plants than cannabis sativa or indica plants.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is the extract of CBD from the cannabis or hemp plant suspended in a carrier oil that can maintain the compound’s purity and integrity and prevent it from breaking down over time.
How Does it Work?
Like all cannabinoids, CBD is believed to work by interacting with certain neurotransmitters that then send specific messages to the brain. This electrochemical process then produces various effects akin to what a corresponding endocannabinoid might produce. For example, it might trigger the release of a hormone like dopamine or serotonin.
Benefits of CBD oil
The benefits of CBD oil can best be described in terms of both the benefits of CBD itself and the benefits of using CBD in the form of an oil rather than in other forms.
The scientific validation of the various reasons why people use CBD and the effects they report receiving from it vary, though studies into these benefits continue today. That said, the primary benefits associated with CBD use include:
- Pain relief
- Mental health benefits
- Cancer symptom relief, such as nausea and cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Cardiovascular health
Recent scientific research also suggests that CBD might be useful for improving sleep, reducing symptoms of psychosis (i.e., antipsychotic), as well as relieving the anxiety, panic attacks, depression and stress associated with substance abuse treatment.
Advantages of CBD Oil
By ingesting CBD oil instead of smoking or vaping cannabis, you prevent any potential strain or harm to the lungs and respiratory system. Instead, your digestive system processes the CBD and absorbs it into your bloodstream. In addition, you ensure that you’re taking in almost exclusively CBD, with no tars, carbons, fibers or other chemicals that can be a byproduct of vaping.
CBD-infused edibles, like gummies and baked goods, also get processed and absorbed in the digestive system. But, It can be harder to determine and maintain consistent dosages with edibles than oils. In addition, it can take much longer to feel the effects of edibles, making proper and consistent dosage more challenging. By contrast, you’ll generally feel the effects of oils much more immediately, as with smoking CBD flower or vaping CBD e-liquid.
With CBD oils, you also get only the active essences of the plant and, moreover, only the particular essence or compound you want – in this case, Cannabidiol/CBD. Any tetrahydrocannabinol in the plant, for example, is either completely or mostly removed in the process of extracting CBD to make CBD oil. It allows you to isolate the compound you’re interested in without others in which you’re not.
Types of CBD Oil
CBD oils you’ll find to buy online come in certain forms.
Pure Isolate CBD Oil
The most common and widely-recognized, perhaps, is pure isolate CBD oil. This is oil containing the extract of CBD exclusively (usually 95%-99% pure CBD). Isolate CBD contains essentially no other cannabinoids or other cannabis components. As such, its effects are restricted to those associated with and provided by CBD.
True Full Spectrum CBD Oil and Broad Spectrum CBD Oil
The other two types of CBD oil – true full spectrum CBD oil and broad spectrum CBD oil – contain more than just CBD itself. In fact, they contain all the other cannabinoids and other chemical compounds in the plant with one exception.
Broad spectrum CBD oil contains no THC, whereas a true full spectrum CBD oil does contain it in very small amounts.
The entourage effect is the biochemical equivalent of the concept that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, the combination of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, omega fatty acids and other compounds in the hemp or cannabis plant creates a powerful synergistic effect that enhances the benefits of each compound beyond the level at which you’d experience it by itself.
True full spectrum CBD oil, by containing the full range of compounds in a given plant, provides superior entourage benefits, potentially making it more effective than more isolated oils and, therefore, giving it prominence as the gold standard of CBD oil.