The ABCs of CBD Oil

Valerie Bisharat CBD oil
Medical disclaimer: this blog post is for educational purposes only. It’s not medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult with your doctor before making any changes.

The morning after I first used CBD oil, I fluttered my eyes open and said to myself, “I think I fell asleep in this position. Did I even move an inch last night??”

This was curious because I struggled with sleep – both falling asleep and getting deep sleep – for much of my life. Practicing meditation resolved the falling asleep issue, but nothing I tried helped me get deeper, restorative sleep. Even if I slept 8-9 hours, I’d usually wake up tired.

Until CBD.

I can honestly say that since I started using CBD oil every day, I feel consistently well-rested. Better sleep is the main CBD benefit I’ve noticed and the results were immediate. (Keep in mind I take CBD oil – two drops under the tongue – in concert with other healthy habits, so feeling as good as I do now can’t be credited to liquid in a bottle alone.)

Now that I’m finally getting a good night’s sleep, I enjoy life more. I have so much more fire to give in the gym. I’ve fallen more deeply in love with lifting and have more workout stamina as a result.

Let’s be clear though: as a real food lover and supplement skeptic, I’m the last to tout supposed “cure-alls.” While I don’t claim that CBD is a magic potion, the rippling benefits that it provides somehow make it feel like it. And hey, I’m hooked.

It’s safe to say that over the next few years, you’ll see CBD sweep the country… and for good reason. When I polled my Instagram community about whether they were interested in learning about CBD, almost 100% voted that “yes,” I should write this blog post.

Let’s discuss what CBD is, why it’s linked to so many amazing potential health benefits, and how to get your hands on it.

So what exactly is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is a naturally occurring compound found in two different plants in the “cannabis sativa” family – the hemp and marijuana plants. We’ve found a way to extract that compound and bottle it, so to speak. When most people talk about CBD sold over-the-counter, they’re referring to CBD extracted from the hemp plant, not the marijuana one. CBD isn’t weed. Hemp isn’t weed.

Here’s the kicker: CBD offers many of the health benefits of marijuana without making you feel high.

In other words, CBD isn’t “psychoactive” because it only contains a tiny percentage of THC (0.3% or less), the compound in marijuana that makes you “stoned”. For reference, marijuana usually contains between 10-25% THC.

CBD is also legal in most states, except for Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and West Virginia, where it’s illegal. You should know, though, that CBD isn’t yet legal at the federal level, which makes its overall status a gray area. If you live in one of the U.S. states other than what I mentioned above, I personally wouldn’t be concerned (although this isn’t formal legal advice). There’s more information about how to find out the legal status of CBD where you live in the FAQ’s below.

CBD products come in many forms, including oils, capsules, oral sprays, topical calms, bath bombs, and gummies. Some are ingestible (meaning, you eat them) and others get absorbed through the skin. Since CBD isn’t federally legal yet, these products aren’t officially classified by the Food and Drug Administration as supplements, food, or pharmaceuticals, or over-the-counter drugs.

Last piece of unbelievably good news: research shows that unlike other substances, we don’t build up a tolerance to CBD. How snazzy is that?

What are the potential benefits of CBD?

CBD might sound like a cure-all because it works on what’s called the endocannabanoid system of the body, which is all about homeostasis or equilibrium.

That’s why research suggests that CBD has such potentially far-reaching health benefits as:

  • Alleviation of anxiety symptoms

  • Reduced pain symptoms

  • Decreased inflammation

  • Alleviation of depression symptoms

  • Reduced seizures in epilepsy patients

  • Reduced symptoms in patients with neurodegenerative disorders

  • Clearer skin

  • Improved symptoms in patients with schizophrenia

Pretty cool. Although not a substitute for eating healthy and moving your body, CBD can reduce stress, which helps with recovering from workouts, regulating hunger hormones, being consistent with your movement routine, promoting fat loss, and getting stronger.

This is the CBD oil I take (not sponsored)

There are lots of CBD brands out there, but just as I do with groceries, I like to ensure that the ingredients are wholesome.

Enter: PureKana (this isn’t a sponsored post – I’m just a fan).

PureKana products are the equivalent of heading to your local farmer’s market and getting produce free of pesticides.

Valerie Bisharat CBD oil

Brand: PureKana
Product: Premium CBD Oil Drops
Ingredients: Hemp extract, MCT oil, natural flavors
Flavors: Mint, Natural, or Vanilla (I like mint-flavored CBD)
Sizes: 30 ml
Concentration of CBD: 300 mg, 600 mg, 1,000 mg (I use the 300 mg)
Price: $54, $95, $154 respectively
How long it lasts: 5 weeks assuming 1 serving/day
Dosing: The label recommends to put a half dropper under the tongue and hold it there for 60-90 seconds. I take a touch more than that about 10 minutes before I get in bed

If any of you have sticker shock, as someone who isn’t a big spender, let me say: the physical benefits are worth making other tradeoffs in my budget. I’ve even joked that CBD is the best money I spend… it’s not far from the truth.

There are also cheaper options, but unfortunately in this situation, you mostly get what you pay for. I actually started experimenting with CBD using a different brand, and while it immediately helped with feeling more rested, I discovered that it was made using an extraction method that wasn’t too confidence-promoting (more on that in the next section). So I researched other brands online and found PureKana.

To rotate my supplementation, I’m now toggling between using that first brand (Charlotte’s Web) and PureKana.

Also, keep in mind that you may have to try a couple of different brands of CBD before you find one that works for you. Responses between people vary. One person’s CBD holy grail might not work for another and vice versa.

On ingredient quality

When it comes to CBD quality, there are two main phrases to remember: “CO2 extraction” and “third party testing.”

Let’s start with CO2 extraction. Basically, there are two primary ways to extract CBD from the hemp plant and CO2 extraction is the healthier option. It’s also more expensive so you’ll see those benefits reflected on the price tag. You usually won’t have to hunt for information on CO2 extraction as companies that employ that method tend to tout it.

If you’re curious, the alternative is solvent extraction, which involves soaking the plant in neurotoxic chemicals like ethanol, hexane, or butane. 🙃 That wouldn’t necessarily be bothersome if you were taking CBD, say, a couple times a year, but if it’s going to be a staple, CO2 extraction is something to consider.

Now, let’s talk third party testing. Since, like supplements, CBD products don’t get approved by the FDA before landing in your medicine cabinet, it’s important to find companies that send their products to third party labs for purity testing. Translation? Through tests, these labs determine if the ingredients in the bottle are in fact what the company says they are.

Of course, the PureKana oil above is made using CO2 extraction and is third party tested.

Finding oil that’s organic, pesticide-free, and herbicide-free is also great. Many companies that use CO2 extraction and do third party testing will also meet those criteria.

Let me know what you think!

I want to hear your thoughts on CBD! Will you try it? What are your experiences with CBD? Do you have any questions?

Leave it all in the comments!

Happy lifting...
Love and light,
Val

FAQ’s

Q: Will CBD make me high?
A: No. CBD is different from marijuana. Marijuana contains 10-25% THC, the compound that makes you feel high, and CBD usually has about 0.3% THC. At the concentration found in CBD, the THC doesn’t trigger a psychoactive response.

If you go to a medical marijuana dispensary, you can purchase marijuana products that contain CBD and will make you high, but you’d have to seek it out.

Q: In what states is CBD legal?
A: CBD is a new-ish industry, and laws are being debated and challenged in real time. Although this isn’t legal advice, consider Googling CBD laws in your specific state. As of this writing, the most comprehensive summary I could find of CBD’s legal status state-by-state is here.

Q: Can I buy CBD online?
A: CBD is available online, but before purchasing, consider looking into your state’s CBD laws. Plenty have people have purchased CBD online without issue, but in some cases packages have been confiscated.

Q: Can I fly with CBD?
A: No, according to TSA.

That said, TSA states that they don’t proactively search for CBD or even marijuana-related products. Even so, I won’t be flying with CBD in my carry-on or checked bag.

Q: I hear there’s hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD. What’s the difference?
A: Hemp and marijuana are two different plants in the cannabis sativa family. When people talk about taking CBD oil, most of the time, they’re referring to CBD extracted from the hemp plant, which isn’t psychoactive. But CBD is present in marijuana too, so if you seek it out, you can find marijuana products that contain CBD.

Q: Why do you take CBD in oil format?
A: I prefer oil over other formats like gummies or bath bombs because it’s sort of like choosing whole foods over processed ones. My oil is made from three ingredients – hemp oil, MCT oil, and natural flavors – while your average gummies will have items like corn syrup and artificial flavors.

Q: Has CBD been demonstrated to be safe to use?
A: A review of dozens of studies about CBD showed it to be safe in both chronic and high doses (up to 1500 mg per day).

Q: Is it safe for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers?
A: Currently, there aren’t any studies (at least none that I was able to find) exploring how CBD affects pregnant or breastfeeding women. Consider talking to a doctor you trust.

Q: How long did you use CBD for before writing this post?
A: Five months.

References:

  1. CBD isn’t psychoactive because it only contains a tiny percentage of THC (0.3% or less), the compound in marijuana that makes you feel high: 
    https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/medical-marijuana-2018011513085
  2. Marijuana usually contains between 10-25% THC: 
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/03/marijuana_potency_returning_smokers_want_mellower_pot_strains.html
  3. CBD is also legal in most states, except for Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and West Virginia, where it’s illegal (this isn’t formal legal advice – continue to stay updated on your state’s laws): 
    https://cbdschool.com/cbd-laws-by-state-2018/
  4. We don’t build up a tolerance to CBD:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/#B4
  5. May help with alleviation of anxiety symptoms:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23007604
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079847/
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26341731
    https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/D7FD68F40CF30CBB48A1025C66873F26/S2045796018000239a.pdf/pharmacological_properties_of_cannabidiol_in_the_treatment_of_psychiatric_disorders_a_critical_overview.pdf
  6. May help reduce pain symptoms: 
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/ 
  7. May help decrease inflammation: 
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/
  8. May alleviate depression symptoms: 
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26711860
  9. May help with reduced seizures in epilepsy patients:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29511052
    https://journals.lww.com/neurotodayonline/Fulltext/2017/01190/News_from_the_American_Epilepsy_Society_Annual.2.aspx
  10. May help with reduced symptoms in patients with neurodegenerative disorders:
    https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/biology-potential-therapeutic-effects-cannabidiol
  11. May help with clearer skin:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4151231/
  12. May help with improved symptoms in patients with schizophrenia:
    https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/D7FD68F40CF30CBB48A1025C66873F26/S2045796018000239a.pdf/pharmacological_properties_of_cannabidiol_in_the_treatment_of_psychiatric_disorders_a_critical_overview.pdf
  13. Flying with CBD oil is prohibited by TSA: 
    https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/items/medical-marijuana
  14. Review concluding CBD to be safe:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/#B4