So, you’ve heard about CBD, perhaps in the media, online or maybe from a friend, and you’ve decided to buy a bottle of CBD oil for yourself and see if it can help improve your health. But what exactly is CBD, what conditions may it help to treat, and how can CBD oil be used?

This post will answer all of those questions and ensure that you maximize the potential of your product.

Understanding CBD
CBD stands for cannabidiol and is one of 113 known cannabinoids found in cannabis. These compounds are of interest because of their rarity and the fact that they function in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). From a medicinal perspective, one perceived advantage of CBD over cannabis as a whole is that it doesn’t instigate a psychoactive “high” – these effects are initiated by another cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

As a non-intoxicating, non-psychoactive and non-addictive substance, the medicinal potential of CBD is in many ways much greater than typical cannabis. CBD can be used to treat mental health conditions, for example, with more predictable results, and also as an effective medication for vulnerable patients, such as children with epilepsy. There are indications that consumption of THC can stifle brain development in youngsters, but this isn’t the case with CBD – contrastingly, CBD is a neuroprotective and may even regrow parts of the brain that have become damaged due to inflammation.

CBD is an antagonist of the two main cannabinoid receptors in the ECS but can make a “backdoor connection” to affect the binding affinity of these receptors. CBD is a positive allosteric modulator to the GABAA receptor, which is outside of the ECS but similar in that is a g-protein coupled receptor. Studies have found CBD to be an agonist of the serotonin 1A receptor, which may partially explain the cannabinoid’s mood-elevating and anxiety-busting properties.

Regulation of the ECS is paramount for good physical and psychological balance in the body, with the network influencing the immune system, mood, the reproductive cycle, the sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm), pain sensation, appetite and more. Whereas THC acts as a substitute to anandamide, a lipid-based neurotransmitter and the most abundant endocannabinoid, CBD helps to facilitate connections between endocannabinoids and the necessary receptors, largely by inhibiting enzymes. This has an arguably more natural effect on the ECS.

Benefits of sublingual absorption
The most popular way of taking a CBD tincture oil is under the tongue, typically with the pipette that comes with the bottle. Sublingual absorption allows for rapid absorption of the cannabinoids into the bloodstream – relief, therefore, comes much quicker than when the cannabinoids have to pass through the digestive system. This is very beneficial for patients who cannot afford to wait up to an hour before their medication begins to work.

Chronic pain patients are one such group who are well-served by CBD oil. Conditions that cause pain symptoms to flare-up in an instant, such as fibromyalgia, can have a crippling effect on quality of life, by reducing movement and independence. However, with CBD oil, this pain can at least be brought under control in just a few minutes. Interestingly, there are theories that fibromyalgia is caused by a dysfunctional ECS, which occurs due to deficiencies in endocannabinoid production. If further research confirms this, then CBD may be a very helpful remedy for fibromyalgia, as it naturally increases endocannabinoid levels.

Anxiety patients also benefit from a fast-acting treatment, as the symptoms can also emerge from nowhere and quickly become overpowering. Administering CBD oil under the tongue can help to reduce the severity of panic attacks, and also to prevent anxiety from arising in potentially uncomfortable settings. A social anxiety sufferer may find a public speaking event intimidating, but research with simulated tests has found that CBD helps to significantly improve speech performance, in part by limiting cognitive impairment.

Using CBD oil as an ingredient
Hemp seed oil and hemp seeds are often used in recipes, as they contain a myriad of health properties, not least the essential fatty acid omega-3. However, in addition to having medicinal uses, CBD can also be used to improve general health, by regulating the ECS and also helping to reduce stress. Studies have shown that chronic stress is an underlying cause of multiple diseases, including gastrointestinal problems, heart disease and depression.

When CBD oil is used as a cooking ingredient, either infused into butter or simply added to a recipe, it is consumed like an edible. With this in mind, the reaction time is not as fast as with sublingual absorption, but the upside is that effects can last twice as long. Some people like to use CBD edibles as a natural sleep aid, as the sedative properties last all night, instead of wearing off after a couple of hours.

Full-spectrum CBD products are preferable to CBD-isolate products, as these are made with a whole-plant extract from hemp, which contain other therapeutic and non-intoxicating compounds.

As CBD oil has a rather earthy flavor, some are hesitant about using it in salad dressings and other recipes. Therefore, it may be best to mix in some other powerful herbs to mask the taste of the oil.

Using CBD oil as a cream
There are CBD creams and other topical CBD-infused products which are designed for use on the skin, but there’s nothing stopping CBD tincture oil also being used for this purpose if necessary. While this may not be quite as efficient as using a topical, the wide range of uses for CBD oil makes it a perfect purchase for those who just want one CBD product.

The CB2 receptors in the skin can be activated to regulate the immune system and treat conditions such as acne. In 2014, the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Investigation published a study showing that CBD has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin, and that it works as a sebostatic on the sebaceous glands. Sebum, a protective oil, is produced by the sebaceous glands, but when these become inflamed, sebum production rises to detrimental levels, causing oiliness on the skin, while increasing the risk of infection as bacteria and dirt gets trapped in the pores. But by applying CBD oil to the affected area, the sebaceous glands can be calmed down, with sebum production restored to normal.

Acne is the world’s eighth-most prevalent disease, and treatment options have been few and far between, with some causing the skin to become overly dry as sebum production is halted. It appears that CBD helps strike a happy medium.

Final thoughts
We are yet to discover all of the potential benefits of CBD, and over the next few years, it’s possible that the cannabis compound will provide new solutions in the fights against depression, migraines and other debilitating conditions. But many patients are already making the most of products like CBD oil, safely experimenting and unlocking the wonders of medical cannabis.