CBD Oil – What It Is, What It’s For, and How It’s Made

CBD oil is all the rage these days! Ever since it was declared legal in all 50 states of the U.S., its popularity has skyrocketed and distributors have popped up all over the country. This substance can now be found in lotions, beverages, edible treats, and even exercise clothing. But what actually is CBD oil? And does it actually have beneficial effects, or is that all hype?

What is CBD Oil?

CBD was first discovered in the 1940s by a chemistry professor at the University of Illinois. CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is a naturally occurring compound found primarily in the flowers of Cannabis plants. Cannabis plants are known for possessing a wide spectrum of unique compounds known as cannabinoids. CBD is one of the most plentiful cannabinoids found in both marijuana and industrial hemp.

Although Cannabis is most commonly associated with marijuana and its “high”-inducing effects, those effects are primarily associated with THC, not CBD. According to the World Health Organization: “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

CBD oil is a product made from cannabidiol that has been extracted from Cannabis plants and then suspended in a solution with an inert oil such as hemp seed or coconut oil. 

CBD oil is sometimes marketed as hemp oil if the cannabidiol it contains was extracted from industrial hemp plants rather than marijuana plants. It is also sometimes known as cannabis oil. CBD oil made from industrial hemp tends to have lower levels of THC, which is important for people who are interested in exploring the benefits of CBD, but are wary of the effects of THC. CBD hemp oil is also more likely to be legal in states that have restrictions on Cannabis products based on THC content.

What is CBD Oil For?

CBD is currently the subject of many studies exploring how it can be used in a variety of therapeutic applications. Anecdotal accounts and a mounting body of research seem to strongly suggest that this powerful cannabinoid has effects that can support the health of both body and mind.

One of the most noteworthy, and most strongly-supported, benefits of CBD is its ability to treat epilepsy that doesn’t respond to other medications. Many studies have reported that CBD treatment was able to reduce and even stop seizures in epilepsy patients. It’s so effective that recently the FDA approved a CBD-based medication for these patients, Epidolex.

As a cannabinoid, CBD has a wide spectrum of effects on the human body because of the way that it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. Anecdotal accounts and some researchers have reported positive effects on the following complaints:

  • Pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • Inflammation
  • Acne
  • Dyskinesia
  • Psoriasis
  • Broken Bones
  • Mad Cow Disease
  • Depression
  • Bacterial Infections
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • ADHD
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance Abuse/Withdrawal
  • Heart Disease

Note that CBD oil can have a few minor side effects, including dry mouth, diarrhea, appetite changes, weight changes, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, fatigue, and in very rare cases, liver damage. Science has not yet determined an effective therapeutic dose for CBD, so it’s best to take a low dose when you’re just starting out and then gradually increase the dose until you feel the desired effect.

How is CBD Oil Made?

CBD oil can be made from industrial hemp or marijuana plants, as both are members of the Cannabis genus. 

The first step of the process of making CBD oil is to extract it from the source plants. This requires the use of a solvent. Substances such as butane can be used for this purpose, but given that it is not safe for human consumption, reputable CBD oil manufacturers use a process called supercritical CO2 extraction instead. 

Supercritical CO2 extraction involves heating carbon dioxide gas to 88°F and then pressurizing it to 1071 psi to induce a supercritical state. At this point, the CO2 is both a liquid and a gas and gains similar properties to a solvent. The supercritical CO2 is poured into a chamber that contains raw Cannabis plant material, and the cannabidiol gets sucked out of the flowers, stems, and leaves. Then the cannabidiol gets separated from the plant material and suspended in an inert carrier oil for bottling.

CBD oil is a safe, beneficial substance with lots of potential in both mental and physical health applications. Science is just beginning to understand what this powerful cannabinoid can do. If you would like to add CBD oil to your routine, it can be taken sublingually (under the tongue), in a pill, added to a favorite beverage, eaten via CBD gummies, or topically via application to the skin. For the strongest, fastest effects, CBD oil should be taken sublingually.