CBD oil review – How effective is it for neurological disease?

Introduction to CBD oils

What is CBD oil? You may have heard of cannabidiol (CBD) online or through other media. It has been portrayed as an effective treatment for a variety of ailments ranging from anxiety to multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, and cancer treatment. Many people have questions about the widely popular CBD oils that customers can purchase online, usually without a medical cannabis license. It is important to point out that hemp-derived CBD is not medical marijuana, and therefore does not produce the high associated with smoking marijuana. 

Hemp is a plant in the same family as marijuana. Unlike marijuana, it contains very little of the psychedelic chemical THC and very high levels of cannabidiol.
Hemp is a plant in the same family as marijuana plant. Unlike marijuana, it contains very little of the psychedelic chemical THC and very high levels of cannabidiol. Image Source: Pixabay.com

Both hemp and marijuana are species of the Cannabis sativa family of plants and both contain the chemicals CBD and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, marijuana contains very little CBD and very high levels of THC, the ingredient in cannabis that gives users a “high”. On the other hand, grown hemp extract contains a high amount of CBD and much less THC. It is unlikely that CBD oil will appear on a drug test since these tests analyze for THC.

Thus, CBD does not give rise to the psychoactive effects that marijuana does. In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) deduced that CBD is a nontoxic and non-addictive substance, further reporting that due to the unlikelihood of CBD substance abuse, CBD should not be considered a scheduled drug. With more states relaxing their measures against CBD, the United States federal government has begun to provide guidance.

CBD oil is one of the most well-known products containing CBD. Agricultural hemp is farmed through a labor-intensive process that differs from the industrial hemp process used to cultivate hemp seed. The oil is made from CBD extracted directly from a cannabis plant and is then diluted with carrier oils, such as coconut oil and MCT oil. The modified CBD isolate can be ingested, applied topically, or inhaled as CBD oil vapor or CBD vape oil, as it is sold as. It should be noted that not all CBD products can be administered in all three ways. For instance, some CBD oil is too viscous to vaporize while others are designed specifically for vaping and should not be ingested. 

The general consensus is that the average shelf life of CBD oil is between 14 and 24 months, depending on how well it is stored. For best results, customers should store CBD oil away from heat and light and avoiding air exposure.

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It’s complicated. Technically, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation and declassified hemp CBD as a Schedule I controlled substance. While the substance does not have to be THC free, it must contain less than 0.3% of THC. However, products containing any amount of cannabis continue to be evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). 

CBD oil is extracted from cannabis plants and diluted with carrier oils. It is considered safe and does not cause psychedelic effects.
CBD oil is extracted from cannabis plants and diluted with carrier oils. It is considered safe and does not cause psychedelic effects. Image source: Pixabay.com

This means that any CBD oil for sale that is extracted from a hemp plant and makes therapeutic claims must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some manufacturers bypass this rule by marketing CBD products as dietary supplements, which are exempt from dosage and purity regulations and their statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This loophole means that the efficacy and safety of these products may not be fully evaluated. One of the most common issues with the safety of CBD oils is the unintended presence of heavy metals and pesticides. These contaminants can lead to headaches, body aches, and other ailments that counter the health benefits of CBD oil. Without FDA evaluation, most CBD oil products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

Without a therapeutic claim, CBD can be sold without FDA approval. However, sellers and buyers must still follow state and local rules. While CBD products can technically be purchased in all 50 states, some states have stricter restrictions than others. The laws surrounding CBD, its legality and its proper use are rapidly changing. Currently, no consensus exists among states. As such, potential consumers should consult local laws legislation to verify what is considered as legal consumption of CBD.  

The science behind CBD as Therapeutics

 The human body contains an endocannabinoid system composed of natural neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors,  along with cannabinoid receptor proteins. CBD works by binding to cannabinoid receptors, thereby impacting the receptor activity of the endocannabinoid system. 

A well-studied aspect of CBD is its ability to bind to the cannabinoid receptor CB1 in the central nervous system. This is the same receptor THC binds to cause a high. While THC activates CB1 signaling, CBD appears to dampen it. This opposite mechanism is why there are little to no psychedelic effects with CBD use. CBD binds to other receptors as well, which makes it a potentially useful therapy for a number of brain-related conditions.

Side effects of CBD oil are minimal. The most common CBD oil side effects include nausea, fatigue, and irritability. A larger concern is that CBD may interfere with how the body processes certain over the counter drugs, prescriptions, and dietary supplements. Because of this risk, customers should receive medical advice before starting CBD oils. Advice should be sought with a physician before use if they have a serious medical condition or use prescription medications.

CBD Oils for Epilepsy: Approved by the FDA

Epidiolex is the only FDA-approved CBD product.
Epidiolex is the only FDA-approved CBD product. Image source: Epidiolex 

While CBD oil use is common for a number of conditions, it has only been FDA-approved to treat certain epilepsy conditions. Humans have been using cannabis plants to treat epilepsy since the nineteenth century. As a therapeutic, CBD oil finally gained approval as the drug Epidiolex, the only FDA-approved prescription CBD. 

Epidiolex is used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome. More than 500 patients took part in three rigorous clinical trials in the lead up to FDA approval, and the majority of patients remained on Epidiolex even after the trials concluded. CBD’s anti-epileptic effect appears to occur through binding of CBD to a protein called GPR55, which can trigger seizures under normal conditions.

CBD oil has been tested in cells and in preclinical trials as a treatment for a number of diseases other than epilepsy. The most promising lab test results are associated with psychosis, anxiety, and pain. While studies are ongoing, no other CBD drug has yet been tested as rigorously as Epidiolex. 

Information about Epidiolex products.
Information about Epidiolex products.

CBD Oils for Psychosis, Anxiety, and Pain

Small scale clinical trials suggest that CBD may be effective to treat psychosis, specifically schizophrenia. In 2012, a group of scientists compared the use of CBD as a treatment with the standard treatment of amisulpride. In most cases, CBD performed equally well or better than amisulpride in controlling schizophrenic symptoms. CBD might be associated with elevation of anandamide, a cannabinoid produced by the body that may offer protection from psychosis.

Persons with anxiety may have lower than normal levels of serotonin in the brain, which can be the cause of depression in many people. CBD oil for reducing anxiety is based on raising low levels of serotonin. Most general anxiety studies have been restricted to animal model studies and more research with human subjects is needed. However, specific forms of anxiety seem to respond well to CBD oil and other CBD products. Persons suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found relief in symptoms such as nightmares and memory replay when taking CBD oil. 

CBD oil for pain has become increasingly popular among persons with chronic pain. It is believed that CBD reduces pain, inflammation, and overall discomfort. It is an attractive alternative to opioids, which can be habit-forming and cause more short term and long term side effects. The binding of CBD to a variety of endocannabinoid receptors contribute to anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving CBD oil effects. 

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While studies have been conducted to some extent for pain associated with medical conditions ranging from cancer, migraines, and arthritis, more human studies are needed to confirm how and to what extent CBD oil can be used for pain relief. The bottom line is that while there is a lot of experimental and anecdotal promise for CBD’s role in pain management for the body and mind, more evidence is needed before more CBD products are approved as therapeutics. 

The influence of genetics

Many of the conditions treated with CBD oils are influenced by genetics. By understanding the genetics behind things like susceptibility to pain and anxiety, customers can make more informed decisions when choosing supplements containing CBD.  

Because anxiety and depression are associated with low serotonin levels, they are often treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), with CBD oil emerging as a popular alternative. More studies are demonstrating that neurological disorders like anxiety and depression have a genetic basis. With the Nebula Research Library, customers have access to the most recent studies. 

For example, a genome-wide association study in 2019 identified a number of genetic variants associated with various anxiety or stress-related disorders. The cohort included 12,000 persons diagnosed with such a disorder and over 19,000 controls. Another genome-wide association study in 2018 tackled Major depressive disorder (MDD). This study identified an association between over 400,000 individuals of European ancestry and several genetic variants expressed in brain regions known for their role in depression.

Chronic pain is another area in which persons claim to see CBD oil benefits. Pain caused by medical disorders may be heavily influenced by genes. Potential customers for CBD oil may want to understand their risks for inflammation-associated diseases such as arthritis. 

A report in the Nebula Research Library.
A report in the Nebula Research Library.

Genetic variants can be general, including those for inflammatory proteins. Using the Nebula Genomics Research Library, customers can explore their genome as it relates to risks for specific conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and migraines. Others might be interested in understanding how genetics influence athletic performance, which may provide insights into the likelihood of future injuries and pain. 

Since CBD is a substance, potential customers are often interested in how it interacts with the body. Some heavy cannabis users (usually those that use THC from marijuana, not CBD oil) become dependent and develop a cannabis use disorder (CUD). Recent genome-wide association studies have identified genetic variants associated with CUD development. Persons with these risk factors may want to investigate therapy if they are currently taking cannabis products. CBD oil may help persons with CUD wean off of the psychedelic substance.   

Review of CBD Oil Purchase Options

Where to buy CBD oil? The purchasing and selling of CBD oils are under different restrictions that vary by state. Customers should verify the requirements where they live before purchasing CBD products. In some areas, prescriptions are necessary. 

If CBD is legal, customers often have a wide range of choices to purchase CBD oil either online or in special cannabis clinics and dispensaries.

Buying CBD Oil Online

Due in part to the wide availability of CBD oils online, there are a number of publicly available lists that claim to point users to the best CBD oils. Companies with such lists include Discover Magazine, Forbes, and Health.com. Many lists specify oils for specific ailments such as pain and anxiety. 

Kinds of CBD oil Available

When entering a website, customers are often presented with a variety of CBD oils for sale. Products differ most commonly in flavors and doses of CBD. Oil flavors are often fruit or mint based, but options for natural flavoring or unflavored oils are also common. 

The range of available CBD dosages highlights the deregulated nature of CBD products. The most common single doses are between 250 mg to 1500 mg. However, some companies offer serving sizes as low as 7.5 mg and high doses as large as 7500 mg.   

In terms of pricing, CBD oil most often ranges in price from $100 to $400 per bottle. Typically, the price depends on the dose. Fab CBD doses vary from 300 mg to 2400 mg. As one of the most affordable companies, their prices range from $39 to $129 per 30 mL bottle. On the other hand, cbdMD sells products as expensive as $399.99 for its 7500 mg strength bottle (30 mL). 

CBD is sold in various doses and flavors. Prices range from less than $100 to over $400.
CBD is sold in various doses and flavors. Prices range from less than $100 to over $400. Image source: cbdMD

cbdMD sells a variety of CBD oil tinctures, which differ from pure CBD oils. Most notably, CBD oils are mixed with an oil carrier while CBD tinctures contain an alcohol carrier. The alcohol increases the bioavailability of the CBD. 

Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web is a well known CBD oil company with a strong backstory and well-rated products.
Charlotte’s Web is a well known CBD oil company with a strong backstory and well-rated products. Image Source: Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web CBD oil is one of the most well known CBD companies. Charlotte Figi, the six-year-old girl which the company was named after, was cured of seizures through taking CBD. In addition to oils, Charlotte’s Web sells CBD gummies and topical creams. Their pure CBD oil ranges in price from $25 for 1 ml of 17 mg to $119 for 1 ml of 60 mg.  

Plus CBD Oil

Plus CBD Oil is another CBD company known for its highest quality and value over their product range. They are also passionate about hemp education and offer plenty of educational videos and articles on their website. They offer a number of different CBD products including balms, gummies, and roll-ons. Their drops are sold at $67.95 for 2 oz of 500 mg. 

Plus CBD Oil starts with a full spectrum CBD oil extract obtained from CO2 extraction process, which contains CBD as well as minor cannabinoids and terpenes. They sell either full spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD oil options. Their products also contain fatty acids that the human body needs to produce natural endocannabinoids. Some of these additional ingredients may contribute to what is known as the entourage effect. This effect is thought to maximize the effect of the CBD by combining it with other parts of the cannabis plant. Plus CBD Oil spends money on its own research and its products are third-party lab tested. All of these factors contribute to Plus CBD Oil’s reputation as a reputable CBD company. 

CBD Oil on Amazon

Customers cannot purchase CBD oil on Amazon. The online retail giant has expressly forbidden the sale of CBD items on its website, most likely due to the unstandardized legality of the product.  

Under the “Drugs & drug paraphernalia” section of their seller policies, Amazon specifically prohibits the sale of any products containing CBD:

“Listings for products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are prohibited, including but not limited to: Full spectrum, Hemp oil, Rich hemp oil, Products that have been identified as containing CBD by LegitScript”

CBD oil is not available on Amazon.com. If searched, customers will be directed to hemp oil, which does not contain the same properties as CBD.
CBD oil is not available on Amazon.com. If searched, customers will be directed to hemp oil, which does not contain the same properties as CBD. 

If you do search for “CBD oil” on Amazon, you most likely see results for “hemp oil”  or “hemp seed oil” that look similar to CBD products and even claim to give the same results as CBD oil (treatment for health issues such as pain, anxiety, etc). What is the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil? In most cases, hemp seed oil contains very little or no CBD. The oil from hemp seeds does have its own benefits, being nutritious and often good for the skin. However, these products do not contain the anti-inflammatory or pain relieving properties of CBD.

Nebula Genomics

At Nebula Genomics, our goal is to empower you to discover more about your genome including genetic markers that determine risks for conditions that CBD oils claim to mitigate. Perhaps you are considering CBD as an alternative treatment. By understanding your genes, you can assess whether you are at risk for diseases that may warrant you to start using CBD. 

The Nebula Genomics Research Library keeps you up to date with the latest research into genetics. With a relatively large influx of hemp research being conducted, it is likely that genome-wide association studies and others will become widely available. With our gene analysis tool, you can examine these genes (and many more) and identify relevant genetic variants that have been reported in the literature. 

Nebula Genomics offers the most comprehensive genetic testing through whole-genome sequencing. With our new 30x Whole Genome Sequencing service, we determine 100% of your DNA. This means that you are not limited to certain sections of your genome or specific analyses. 

You can sequence your DNA today and refer back to your results whenever you have genetic health questions that you’d like to analyze. As more CBD oil products become approved by the FDA and availability increases, customers will have more to explore. Understanding how your genes are involved in disease risk may help customers target their CBD oil product search. 

Genome sequencing allows customers the freedom to explore many genetics-related questions. Furthermore, our Whole Genome Sequencing data is of the highest quality and can be used by physicians and genetic counselors.

Some clinical genetic tests specifically focus on mental health. For an example, check out our Genesight or Genomind review.

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