CBD is suddenly everywhere — and it’s not hard to see why. It won’t get you high, has a good safety profile, and naturally treats dozens of conditions. But there’s a dizzying amount of choice out there, so we’ve ranked the 25 best CBD oils to help you get started. Whether you’re a rank beginner, or you’ve been experimenting with CBD for a while, we’ve got you covered.
In addition to acting on the brain, CBD influences many body processes. That’s due to the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which was discovered in the 1990s, after scientists started investigating why pot produces a high. Although much less well-known than the cardiovascular, reproductive, and respiratory systems, the ECS is critical. “The ECS helps us eat, sleep, relax, forget what we don’t need to remember, and protect our bodies from harm,” Marcu says. There are more ECS receptors in the brain than there are for opioids or serotonin, plus others in the intestines, liver, pancreas, ovaries, bone cells, and elsewhere.
If you haven’t been bombarded with CBD marketing or raves about it from friends, get ready. This extract—which comes from either marijuana or its industrial cousin, hemp—is popping up everywhere. There are CBD capsules, tinctures, and liquids for vaping plus CBD-infused lotions, beauty products, snacks, coffee, and even vaginal suppositories. Already some 1,000 brands of CBD products are available in stores—and online in states that don’t have lenient cannabis laws. This is a tiny fraction of what’s to come: The CBD market is poised to exceed $22 billion by 2022, per the Chicago-based research firm Brightfield Group.
Lisa Hamilton, a jeweler and doula in Brooklyn, NY, knows about the side effects. She recently tried CBD for the shoulder pain that plagued her five years after an accident. Her doctor certified that she was in chronic pain, which under New York State law allowed her to buy from a state dispensary. One Friday, she swallowed two 10-mg capsules, the amount recommended at the dispensary, then took another two on Saturday. “By Sunday, it felt like I’d gotten hit by a truck. Every muscle and joint ached,” Hamilton says. She cut back to one pill a day the following week, but still felt hungover. She stopped after that.
Luckily, it’s possible to procure CBD oil that has no THC in it. Products made from CBD Isolate or Broad Spectrum CBD can be good options if you want to avoid THC. In fact, some of the best CBD products for pain include topical salves that can be made from isolate CBD oil. Just be sure to check out third-party lab reports to ensure you’re getting exactly what you pay for. And keep your eyes peeled for future research on CBD for pain.
That leaves those touting CBD’s effectiveness pointing primarily to research in mice and petri dishes. There, CBD (sometimes combined with small amounts of THC) has shown promise for helping pain, neurological conditions like anxiety and PTSD, and the immune system—and therefore potentially arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and more.
Our bodies are thought to produce endocannabinoids by the billions every day. “We always thought the ‘runner’s high’ was due to the release of dopamine and endorphins. But now we know the euphoria is also from an endocannabinoid called anandamide,” its name derived from the Sanskrit word for bliss, says Joseph Maroon, MD, clinical professor and vice chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. We produce these natural chemicals all day, but they fade quickly because enzymes pop up to destroy them. That’s where CBD comes in: By blocking these enzymes, CBD allows the beneficial compounds to linger.
Dry Mouth: As is the case with many other hemp- and marijuana-based products, CBD oil often leads to a condition known as dry mouth (or cottonmouth). This is likely due to cannabinoids altering receptors in the lower jaw that trigger salivation. In most cases, mild discomfort and stronger-than-average thirst are the only issues associated with dry mouth.