Extraction: The method by which CBD oil is processed from hemp plants can be very telling. Some manufacturers extract and process the oil using toxic materials like propane or butane; in most cases, these oils are cheaply priced. Safer extraction and processing agents include ethanol, which cleans the hemp plant of unwanted toxins; and supercritical carbon dioxide extraction, which strips harmful materials from the plant by changing the carbon dioxide’s temperature and pressure settings.
Several weeks after a hysterectomy last spring, Bo Roth was suffering from exhaustion and pain that kept her on the couch much of the day. The 58-year-old Seattle speech coach didn’t want to take opioid pain-killers, but Tylenol wasn’t helping enough. Roth was intrigued when women in her online chat group enthused about a cannabis-derived oil called cannabidiol (CBD) that they said relieved pain without making them high. So Roth, who hadn’t smoked weed since college but lived in a state where cannabis was legal, walked into a dispensary and bought a CBD tincture.
There’s a growing consensus that cannabis is a highly effective treatment for many kinds of neuropathic pain. A 2015 study published in Neurotherapeutics states, “Clinical studies largely affirm that neuropathic pain patients derive benefits from cannabinoid treatment.” But much of the human-based research (like this study) on CBD and nerve pain has centered around the efficacy of the FDA-approved medication Sativex, which includes both THC and CBD. Research on the best CBD for pain isolated from THC is still limited when it comes to neuropathic pain. There are exceptions, though:
Dr. Cohen has found that chronic conditions including autoimmune diseases and pain syndromes can be helped with a 6-mg under-the-tongue tincture (the fastest delivery system) or a 25-mg capsule taken twice a day. Dosages for topical products like lotions are especially hard to determine—there’s no clarity on how much CBD gets into the system through the skin.
This is why Amanda Oliver, 31, a career consultant in Charleston, SC, pops a CBD gummy bear each night before bed. “I used to lie there tossing and turning as my mind raced from work projects to whether I had set the home alarm,” Oliver says. One piece of candy with 15 milligrams (mg) of CBD is enough to shut off her brain and facilitate sleep. She also swears by the CBD oil she takes at the height of her period, which she says quells her debilitating cramps.
The studies on CBD for headache pain are still in their infancy, but with promising results so far. A 2017 study published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research Journal worked with 26 people who were experiencing rebound headaches. The pain management results were better for the cannabis-nabilone formula over either ibuprofen or nabilone alone. (As a nerdy side note, the article is a great read if you’re interested in the history of cannabis as a pain reliever.)
This is the second time Moon Mother Hemp Company has placed among the top five brands on our ranking. The Colorado-based company, which was founded about a year ago, sets the bar very high for quality (including USDA-certified organic hemp) without charging the moon for its products. Their tinctures taste so good, you may be sad you don’t need more.
To make matters more confusing, nine states (including California, Washington, and Colorado) let residents buy cannabis-based products with or without THC. Nearly two dozen other “medical marijuana states” allow the sale of cannabis, including capsules, tinctures, and other items containing CBD or THC, at licensed dispensaries to people whose doctors have certified that they have an approved condition (the list varies by state but includes chronic pain, PTSD, cancer, autism, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis). Sixteen more states legalized CBD for certain diseases.
A study from 2016 worked with 214 people with epilepsy. The study participants added oral doses of 2 to 5mg of CBD per day to their existing anti-epilepsy medications. The study’s researchers monitored the participants for 12 weeks, recording any negative side effects and checking on the frequency of their seizures. Overall, participants had 36.5 percent fewer seizures per month. However, severe adverse effects were recorded in 12 percent of the participants.
In fact, not only will CBD not make you high, it has been proven to counteract the psychoactivity of THC. This property makes CBD highly useful as a medical treatment for a wide range of conditions. In terms of the CBD products you can buy, the amount of THC present varies from none at all in a pure CBD Isolate to a minimal amount (less than 0.3%) in a Full-Spectrum CBD product.
CBD has been in the news before, as a possible treatment for epilepsy. Research is still in its early days. Researchers are testing how much CBD is able to reduce the number of seizures in people with epilepsy, as well as how safe it is. The American Epilepsy Society states that cannabidiol research offers hope for seizure disorders, and that research is currently being conducted to better understand safe use.
Scott Shannon, MD, assistant clinical professor at the University of Colorado, recently sifted through patient charts from his four-doctor practice to document CBD’s effects on anxiety. His study, as yet unpublished, found “a fairly rapid decrease in anxiety scores that appears to persist for months,” he says. But he says he can’t discount a placebo effect, especially since “there’s a lot of hype right now.”
Hemp oil does have a number of uses and is often marketed as a cooking oil or a product that is good for moisturizing the skin. It is also used in the production of certain soaps, shampoos, and foods. It is also a basic ingredient for bio-fuel and even a more sustainable form of plastic. Hemp has been cultivated and used for roughly 10,000 years, and it definitely has useful purposes. However, a lack of cannabinoids, namely CBD, means that it has little therapeutic value.