What is CBD

Concentrated liquid extracts from marijuana plants are becoming more and more popular as alternative medicine and the popularity of medical marijuana is soaring, and among the numerous products consumers are seeking are cannabis oils — the most in-demand of which is referred to simply as CBD oil.

Simply put, cannabis oil is the concentrated liquid extract of the marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa.

Similar to other herbal extracts, the chemicals in cannabis oils vary depending on how the extract is made and what chemicals were in the plant to begin with.   

Cannabis plants produce thousands of compounds but the most well recognized belong to a class called cannabinoids. There are several cannabinoids but the two that are most well-known among consumers are THC (tetrahydrocannabiol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

THC is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana and it is what people are searching for when they want a product that gives them a "high." Unlike THC, CBD isn't known to cause psychoactive effects, and is therefore attractive to those who want to avoid the high but who believe there are other benefits of CBD, according to Sara Ward, a pharmacologist at Temple University in Philadelphia. [Healing herb?  Marijuana can treat these 5 conditions]

CBD products that don't contain THC fall outside the scope of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's (DEA) Controlled Substances Act, which means CBD products are legal to sell and consume as long as they don't have THC. That's likely one of the reasons why CBD products, including CBD oil, are becoming more socially acceptable and increasingly popular. In 2016, Forbes reported that CBD products are expected to be a $2.2 billion industry by 2020.  Even brands like Coca Cola are announcing that they will start producing CBD Coca Cola drinks!  That should tell you something!

The psychological effects of cannabinoids can vary widely from person to person, and also depend on how they're consumed. That lack of predictability is one of the reasons why cannabis oil is a challenging candidate for developing into a medicine.

"Two people may eat a brownie [made with cannabis oil] and one may absorb massive amounts of cannabinoids and the other may not," Ward said. "How long it takes to work and how long it stays in the system differs greatly."  It's a little more uniform when the product is absorbed by smoking or vaping the oil, Ward said. 

People claim that cannabis oil can be used to treat a wide range of conditions. For example, according to Medical News Today, people use cannabis oil for conditions ranging from pain to acne; some even claim the oil can cure diseases like Alzheimer's and cancer.  

A review published in 2017 in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology described how CBD may work to protect the hippocampus — the part of the brain responsible for several important functions, such as learning, memory and navigation — during times of stress, and may also help prevent brain-cell destruction that results from schizophrenia. Another 2017 review published in the journal Annals of Palliative Medicine summarized a handful of studies that suggest cannabis oils containing THC or CBD, or both, may help with chronic pain management.

Cannabis treatment in people with certain forms of epilepsy has been more promising. There are some FDA approved cannabis-based drugs that are approved to treat two forms or rare and severe epilepsy.

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