For those of you considering medical marijuana as a treatment for your ills, I thought I’d get a little more into detail about the differences between Cannabidiol oil (CBD) and whole plant hemp oil. CBD is one of about 113 different cannabinoids found in marijuana, and are being touted as capable of helping users with a long list of illnesses and symptoms from epileptic seizures to schizophrenia, and even cancer. CBD has no psychoactive effects, meaning that symptomatic relief can be obtained without getting the ‘high’ that comes with THC. CBD Isolate is a single-molecule cannabinoid, whereas with whole plant CBD rich oil, you get the critical secondary cannabinoids and secondary medicinal ingredients as well. These cannabinoids interact with each other within the body, producing what is scientifically known as ‘the entourage effect.’ Simply put, the benefits of whole plant cannabis are greater than the sum of its parts. The entourage effect also makes CBD oil, whether single-molecule or whole plant, more effective when paired with THC. Put simply, the cannabinoids in CBD and THC work better together; if you’re choosing to use only CBD (no THC) in treating your afflictions, a much greater effect will be achieved if you use whole plant oil because the various cannabinoids from the whole plant interact well with each other in the endocannabinoid system of your body (yes! We have a system in our body that processes cannabinoids!).
Unfortunately, CBD Isolate is becoming more popular because it’s so much cheaper than whole-plant hemp derived CBD oil. Whole plant hemp CBD oil used for medical purposes has been documented to be better at treating muscle spasms than single-molecule oil, which is important to note for those who are just exploring or starting to use CBD oil, and Isolate doesn’t work as well in general from a medical standpoint. If you’ve been taking the isolate, and it’s not working for you, try switching to the whole plant oil and see if that makes any difference. Those with fibromyalgia and other conditions that cause painful muscle spasms may find it works better for their needs than isolate.
On the list of medical and psychiatric conditions that cannabis is purported to help with, is PTSD. A word of warning here. While CBD oil does not produce the ‘high’ that comes with THC, some studies have begun to show that using cannabis to treat PTSD may not be the best idea. Side effects of cannabis can include anxiety and paranoia, and for some, these side effects can actually trigger PTSD and its symptoms. Similarly, while it is being used successfully in some cases in the treatment of epilepsy, it doesn’t work for everyone. As with all medication, different people react differently to it, and what works for one person won’t work for another. Also be aware that whether you choose CBD-only treatment, THC, or a combination, you are just as susceptible to undesired side effects as with any other drug on the market. It’s also important that you understand that while it is being studied for use in treating cancer, there is currently no evidence that either CBD or THC can actually treat or cure cancer. It will take some time before studies will be able to make any real claims as to the ability of cannabis products to treat or cure cancer. By all means, discuss the use of cannabis with your oncologist, but please, don’t turn down other medical treatments in favour of cannabis; we’re just not there yet.
When sourcing your oil, be sure to look for whole plant CBD oil from high-resin strains grown for medicinal purposes, rather than from low-resin hemps grown for fiber and seed. Hemp is a super-bioaccumulator, which means it absorbs toxins from the soil including heavy metals, so it’s susceptible to contamination. If you’re using oils from plants that have been grown in contaminated soil, you may end up with a concentrated dose of toxins and heavy metals with a side of CBD oil. Often, LP’s will advertise the oils they sell as ‘full spectrum’ or ‘whole-plant’ if the oil is derived from the whole plant. If grown by a responsible LP, full-spectrum, or whole-plant sourced CBD oil, should not be contaminated, as these companies ensure that the plants are grown in healthy, uncontaminated soil, but it still pays to do your homework. Hopefully, in time, there will be stricter regulations and testing requirements for all LP’s that will ensure that your medicine is what it’s supposed to be.
Where you get your oil is perhaps even more important than which strain you decide to use. Not all cannabis products are the same. Buy only from those companies that test their products (flower, oil, shatter, or any other cannabis product) through third-party testing, and willingly allow access to those results. Even from one grow cycle to the next the flowers of any given strain can vary in terms of how much CBD and THC is in the flowers and oils. If you look up a strain on Leafly or Allbud, it will give you a rough idea of the THC:CBD content, however, from batch to batch, the content will fluctuate to some degree. Every bottle of oil and container of flower will be labelled with exactly how much of each compound it contains, and what you see on a Licensed Provider’s web page today may change tomorrow when a new batch is harvested. Take your time to do your homework and choose a reliable LP.
It’s important to remember that there has not been enough research done into how to use cannabis properly for the treatment of various illnesses, diseases, and disorders. For this reason, keep an open mind as you explore the options, be aware of the dangers of improperly labelled or untested products, and stick to reputable LP’s. While it’s tempting to buy the ‘cheaper’ oil you find on one website, if it isn’t tested by a third-party lab, you probably want to steer clear of it. Figuring out dosing, delivery method, and strain are enough of an issue without muddying the waters for you with an inferior, and possibly toxic, product. It’s worth it to do your due diligence before you embark on this exciting new journey of possibilities that may give you back your life.