Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a supplement derived from the cannabis sativa plant. Once CBD is extracted from the plant, it’s mixed with a carrier oil—often olive, coconut or medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil—to create CBD oil, which is then consumed orally.
How CBD Oil Works in the Body
CBD works through the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a cell-signaling system. The ECS is made up of cannabinoids produced by the body naturally, receptors that respond to those cannabinoids and enzymes that help break them down and put them to use. When you consume CBD oil, your body responds the same way it does to its natural cannabinoids.
Research suggests the ECS plays a role in several physiological processes, including appetite, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, fertility, immune functions, memory, neuroprotection and pain modulation. People who consume CBD oil products often report relief for a variety of ailments, from anxiety to chronic pain.
How to Choose a CBD Oil
Because CBD oil is considered a dietary supplement and isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consumers need to do their own research to ensure the quality of the product they choose to try. Here are a few criteria to consider when shopping for CBD oil:
U.S. sourcing. The FDA doesn’t regulate CBD oil products specifically, but it does regulate the cannabis sativa plants grown on U.S. soil, requiring that they contain no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. (THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the most well-known intoxicating compound found in the cannabis sativa plant, and some states have yet to legalize it due to its mind-altering effects.) Buying CBD oil sourced in the U.S. ensures the product you’re using meets these legal requirements.
Third-party testing. By sending samples of a product to an independent and accredited laboratory for testing, a company can ensure safety and security standards are being met, which is important for supplements like CBD oil.
Certificate of Analysis (COA) availability. This document is supplied by the third-party laboratory to confirm whether the CBD product meets the specifications advertised on its label. It also acknowledges any presence of pesticides, heavy metals or molds, which can be harmful to human health. Look for a CBD brand that transparently provides COAs for their products on their website.
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How to Use It
Experts advise newcomers to start with a low dose of CBD oil, such as 25 milligrams a day, and gradually increase their dose to a level that provides the desired effects. It’s best to navigate this process under the guidance of a qualified physician, as reactions to CBD can vary per person.