Your Complete Hemp Oil Guide: What It Is, What It Does, and How to Use It
With the booming popularity of hemp oil, many consumers have more questions than answers. What is hemp oil? Is it the same as CBD oil? And what can it do for you?
In this guide, we will cover everything that you need to know about hemp oil, from where it comes from and how it’s made, to its uses and side effects. You will leave with the knowledge you need to decide whether to use hemp oil and how to do so.
What is CBD Hemp Oil?
Let’s start from the very beginning. Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, a species renowned for its abilities to alter our cognition and reduce pain. For many thousands of years, humans have cultivated cannabis plants for a wide variety of purposes, including pain relief, recreation, and fiber creation.
There are two broad categories of cannabis: industrial hemp and marijuana. Marijuana plants are those that are psychoactive, meaning that consuming them will lead to noticeable cognitive changes. For marijuana, this results in the “high” feeling that includes time distortion, difficulties with concentration and memory, and feelings of euphoria.
Hemp plants, on the other hand, are not psychoactive. When you consume a hemp product, you will not notice the marijuana high. Industrial hemp has long been used for the creation of food (hemp seeds and hemp seed oil) and industrial fibers. Only recently has it gained popularity for internal use with the hopes of providing relief for a variety of conditions.
The Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana: THC vs CBD
When it comes to the legal distinction between industrial hemp plants and marijuana, it all comes down to biology. Cannabis plants contain a category of phytonutrients termed cannabinoids, with the most famous being THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is the primary psychoactive compound found in marijuana.
For a cannabis plant to be categorized as industrial hemp, it must have a THC concentration of less than 0.3%. When botanists selectively bred for certain traits in the hemp plant, the decreasing concentration of THC serendipitously led to an increasing concentration of another cannabinoid: CBD, or cannabidiol.
This means that hemp plants are high in CBD and marijuana plants are high in THC. Once a cannabis plant contains greater than 0.3% THC, it is legally a marijuana plant.
Are Hemp Oil and CBD Oil the Same Thing? How CBD Hemp Oil is Made
Now that you understand what hemp is, the next question is this: is there a difference between CBD oil and hemp oil, or are they one in the same?
While these two terms are often used colloquially to refer to the same thing, which is an oil that contains CBD and sometimes other phytonutrients, there are some distinctions that you should be aware of.
Hemp oil can technically be any oil that’s derived from the hemp plant. This includes hemp seed oil, an oil extracted from hemp seeds that’s commonly used in cooking.
Hemp oil can also refer to an oil rich in CBD and other phytonutrients that’s extracted from the flowers, stalks, and leaves of the hemp plant. The industry term for this type of oil is full-spectrum hemp oil, or FSHO. FSHO is a type of hemp oil that contains high levels of CBD and the other phytocannabinoids and healthful plant compounds that are found in these parts of the hemp plant.
CBD oil refers to any oil that’s extracted from the cannabis plant that is rich in CBD. Most often CBD oil is extracted from hemp plants and further categorized into three categories:
- Full-spectrum hemp oil: FSHO is one of the three types of CBD oil. It’s the product of extracting the “full spectrum” of phytonutrients from hemp, including the full range of cannabinoids, terpenes, polyphenols, and more. This can include up to 0.3% THC.
- Broad-spectrum hemp oil: Broad-spectrum hemp oil is FSHO with all the THC removed so that the final product contains 0% THC. While the THC is removed, the rest of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytonutrients remain intact.
- CBD isolate oil: This type of product is CBD that’s been isolated from the hemp plant through extraction and purification, and thus is a CBD-only product. The health benefits of these products come exclusively from the CBD.
What is Hemp Oil Good For? The Benefits and Uses of CBD
We are at an exciting time in the world of cannabis-derivatives like CBD. As legality is slowly increasing throughout the United States, the shackles are being lifted from researchers who want to elucidate the benefits of cannabis in humans.
As it stands in 2019, there has been a lot of preliminary research designed to determine the possible uses of CBD in humans. Most of this research in the early stages, with very small human studies or no human studies at all. There are, however, some conditions for which CBD has been tested in human clinical trials, such as epilepsy, a condition marked by recurring seizures.
Because CBD oil is such a cutting-edge extract, scientifically speaking, more research is needed before conclusions can be drawn for many conditions. Fortunately, early research and user reports can help guide us in the possible uses of CBD hemp oil in human health and disease.
Here we will review some of the most common conditions for which people have turned to CBD oil for relief.
1. Stress and Anxiety
Even if you don’t struggle with an anxiety disorder, most of us experience elevated stress at one point or another. Whether this is due to financial difficulties, marital troubles, or an ongoing stressful work environment, targeting stress early is critical for reducing your chances of heart disease, insomnia, and other conditions.
Small-scale human studies have found CBD oil to confer benefits to those experiencing stress. In one study, healthy participants were given either 300mg oral CBD, 600 mg oral CBD, or placebo before undergoing a public speaking test. With public speaking causing most everyone some level of anxiety, this type of test can help to determine how CBD might help healthy people in stressful situations.
What the researchers found was that those in the CBD group both reported lower subjective feelings of stress and demonstrated a less severe stress response than those in the placebo group when comparing biological markers of stress.
Other studies have found similar promising results when examining the effect of CBD in those with anxiety conditions. One example is a retrospective case study published in 2019 that followed the progress of patients in a psychiatric clinic who used CBD for anxiety or sleep in addition to their existing medications.
Researcher found that 57 out of 72 patients experienced improvements in their anxiety scores during the first month of treatment, with this benefit remaining throughout the study. The dosage varied, but most patients were given 25 mg/day oral CBD (in capsule form).
2. Chronic Pain
Pain relief is one of the most commonly cited reasons for people trying CBD products. CBD topicals like lotions, salves, and gels are being used by people with aching joints and muscles, nerve pain, and arthritis. Even athletes are turning to CBD oil in the hopes of combatting inflammation and reducing pain.
People are turning to CBD largely due to current pain and chronic inflammation treatments being both limited in efficacy and safety. This makes it tough for those with chronic pain conditions, particularly neuropathic and inflammatory pain, to find symptomatic relief.
So, what does the science have to say about this increasingly popular use for CBD products?
Thus far, the studies finding analgesic (pain-relieving) properties have been in animals. In studies on rats, researchers have found that CBD may help to relieve both inflammatory and neuropathic pain. In one study, arthritic rats were given topical CBD treatment or placebo. Those given CBD experienced improvements in pain behavior and inflammation that were not seen in the control group.
As for human studies examining CBD and pain, we are all waiting in anticipation for published research. Until then, you can find countless anecdotal reports of successful use of CBD for pain conditions. If you are struggling to treat your chronic pain, CBD oil may help you, but there is no conclusive evidence yet.
Thanks to its anxiety-relieving properties and its ability to reduce pain, CBD might enhance mood in those who suffer from these disorders. Additionally, animal studies have found CBD to exhibit antidepressant properties in animals with anxiety and depression. While we are waiting on human research to determine if these benefits will carry over, the preliminary studies offer reason for optimism.
Many of us experience difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. If your troubles sleeping stem from another condition for which CBD might offer symptomatic relief, it may also help to improve your ability to sleep.
Take anxiety, for example. Anxious thoughts can lead to sleep troubles and even sleep disorders like insomnia. Because CBD might help people with chronic stress or anxiety find symptomatic relief, it may too help these same people sleep better.
Additional research has highlighted a possible role for CBD in helping those with sleeping disorders. Researchers have found CBD to help those with REM sleep behavior disorder, a disease marked by an inability to completely enter the paralysis step of REM sleep. Those with this disorder will often violently act out their dreams. Although this was a small study of 4 people, it gives reason for further research into CBD and sleep disorders.
As for the general healthy population, CBD does not appear to have a negative effect on sleep architecture. This is great news for anyone wanting to use CBD but worried about negative sleep consequences.
Epilepsy is a condition marked by recurrent seizures. Many epilepsy patients find little-to-no relief with anti-epileptic medications, with repeated seizures dangerous for health, happiness, and quality of life.
Researchers have known for many years that CBD can help those experiencing epileptic seizures. In fact, there is already a CBD-isolate drug called Epidiolex used in the treatment of seizures. Studies have found this drug to decrease the frequency of seizures in children by more than 50%.
CBD Hemp Oil Side Effects
When taken in small-to-moderate doses, few people notice any negative side effects from taking CBD. At larger doses, more typical for the treatment of conditions like epilepsy and schizophrenia, the following side effects have been noted:
The primary area to pay attention to when adding CBD to your supplement routine is to determine if it will have any interactions with drugs that you’re currently taking. CBD is known to raise the plasma levels of certain medications, such blood thinners.
If you are currently taking any medications, you may find that you need to lower your dosage when you add in CBD. If you are unsure if CBD will interact with your medications, speak with your doctor.
CBD Dosage: How Much CBD Oil Should You Take?
CBD dosage is not quite as simple as say the dosage for ibuprofen. How much you need can depend on your personal physiology, what outcomes you’re looking for, and the type of product that you’re using.
There are three main tips that we can offer:
- Measure dosage in mg, not in drops: Every CBD product is different in potency. This means that one dropper-full of one tincture can be different in dosage to that of another tincture. Because of this, you will want to evaluate your dosage based on the mg of CBD that it contains.
- Start small and work your ways up: There is no standardized dosage of CBD. Research suggests that the ideal dosage is vastly different for different conditions as well as in different individuals with the same condition. Start with a small dosage and slowly increase it weekly until you find the ideal dosage for you.
- Choose your delivery method: You can take CBD in three ways: orally, topically, or via inhalation. The mg CBD that you will need varies depending on the type of product that you’re using. Most research has been done on oral CBD, so dosage discussions typically revolve around CBD oil in tinctures or capsules.
So, what is a good beginner’s dosage? We recommend starting off with 25 mg once daily. If you are targeting anxiety, try taking it early in the day. With insomnia, use it shortly before going to bed. You may find that you respond better when you split your dosage up into two even doses, one in the morning and one at night.
After you’ve used this same dosage for one week, feel free to increase it if you haven’t experienced your desired effect. Certain conditions, like epilepsy and schizophrenia, often require a higher dose, so you may choose to more rapidly increase your dose if you are hoping for relief from one of these conditions.
What Type of CBD to Buy: Full Spectrum Hemp Oil or CBD Isolate?
Now that you’re a hemp oil expert, it’s time to get out there and pick your CBD oil. When picking a CBD product, the first decision to make is whether you want to try a CBD isolate or full-spectrum CBD oil.
Generally, research suggests that a full-spectrum hemp oil will offer the greatest benefit for most people. This is thanks to something called the entourage effect, which refers to how phytonutrients found in the cannabis plant work together synergistically, meaning that they work better together than apart.
However, there are some people for which CBD isolate might be the way to go. This is particularly true for those who are looking for the most cost-effective CBD oil product. Click here to read more about the differences between full-spectrum hemp oil and CBD isolate oil.
Where to Buy CBD: Picking a High-Quality CBD Hemp Oil Product
When it comes to the supplement world, not all products are created equally. Because supplements are considered drugs under FDA (Food and Drug Administration) guidelines, they are not subject to the same testing and standards as products like over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
This means that there will be CBD products out there that aren’t what they claim to be. They might claim to have 20 mg of CBD per serving, but actually only have 10 mg CBD. Or they might say organic, but not actually be sourced from organic hemp.
To be sure that you’re getting what you pay for, look for a company that offers a Certificate of Analysis (COA) on their product. This document displays lab results that measure things like the quantity of CBD, THC, and other phytonutrients. You’ll even find some COAs that test for impurities like bacteria and mold.
You should also pay attention to what your product is made from. While there will of course be CBD hemp oil, there will also be other ingredients, such as carrier oils, essential oils, and preservatives. When you read the label, you want to look for a product with ingredients that you know what are and that are good for you.
Essential oils are a healthy option to add flavor, and quality carrier oils include MCT oil, coconut oil, hempseed oil, and olive oil. Watch out for any ingredient that you don’t know what is as this could signal a lower-quality product.
What to Expect When You Take CBD Oil for the First Time: How Does CBD Oil Make You Feel?
For most of us, there is no immediate, in-your-face effect of taking CBD oil. Unlike THC-rich cannabis oil, CBD oil is not a psychoactive substance, and as such, our mental functioning remains the same as it did before taking it.
That said, many people have reported noticing differences in things like anxiety levels, their stress response, and pain. With research demonstrating that CBD can reduce how anxious people feel during public speaking, it would follow that it might help to reduce the baseline feelings of stress and anxiety following supplementation.
Are You Ready to Give Hemp Oil a Try?
It seems like more of us are struggling with things like stress, depression, and difficulties sleeping than ever before. If prescription or over-the-counter medications haven’t worked for you, or if you want to avoid their side effects, it might be time to experiment with natural supplements or lifestyle changes.
CBD is an exciting phytonutrient that has demonstrated potential in relieving the symptoms of many difficult-to-treat conditions. With few side effects and growing availability, CBD oil may be a good option to try for those looking for a natural alternative.