CBD Oil 101: What is CBD, is it worth it, is CBD legal and my experience

Introduction to CBD Oil ( Cannabidiol Oil) for wellness. Everything you wanted to know as a CBD oil curious consumer. 

*June 2019 Update: With the passage of the new farm bill in December 2018 here’s what you need to know. Hemp products including hemp derived CBD oil containing less than 0.3% THC are no longer considered a controlled substance under federal law. Hemp is now deemed an agricultural commodity and DEA no longer has a claim to interfere with interstate commerce of hemp products that fit within this designation. State government may impose separate restrictions on growth and sale, but cannot interfere with interstate transport.

In May 2019, California Assembly Appropriations Committee passed AB 228 unanimously which ‘expressly permits the retail sale of hemp-derived CBD in foods and supplements and in topical applications’.

The FDA is currently exploring regulations of CBD.

You've probably seen CBD oil mentioned somewhere recently. It's been mentioned in food publications. In more mainstream media thanks to changing laws. But I'll bet you have questions and when you do a search, the results are conflicting and overwhelming. Same. As someone who works in the wellness industry, CBD oil has been on my radar for several months- with a personal interest. Over the past year I dove into adaptogens for stress relief (specifically ashwagandha) but the more I read about CBD oil, the more I thought it might be an even better solution for me. 

So this post is your intro. It's the research I've done to answer my own questions and hopefully give you an all in one place to see if CBD oil is right for your wellness routine. The long and the short of it is this: Chris and I have had an incredibly positive experience with CBD oil. CBD oil has done more for me than any wellness practice or supplement I’ve taken to improve my mood, sleep, anxiety and stress levels.

I'm a skeptic. I like research and I need proof and I need to know the why. CBD has earned a place in my routine and I hope the below information can help you find what you need. 


Introduction to CBD Oil ( Cannabidiol Oil) for wellness. Everything you wanted to know as a CBD oil curious consumer.

What is CBD Oil? Is CBD Oil "Weed oil"?

CBD oil is legal when it is derived from industrial hemp and therefore available everywhere. There is no THC in CBD isolate and in full spectrum CBD it contains less than 0.3% (trace) THC. THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that makes it illegal in some states. Marijuana on the other hand has 5-20% THC. There are many compounds in hemp and cannabis and over time, different industries have bred and isolated certain attributes for what they desire. Hemp and cannabis come from the same species of plant. But hemp has been used for a long time for fibers, food (hemp seeds/hemp hearts) and skin care. Hell, even George Washington grew hemp! It was considered a vital crop.

When you are purchasing CBD Oil the name designates it has no or only trace amounts of THC (depending on your brand and where you are purchasing). For example, if you are buying CBD oil from a medical marajuana dispensary, it's proooobably going to contain THC and is likely derived from cannabis, but should designate this on the packaging.

CBD oil derived from industrial hemp is not marajuana. It will not give you a 'high' because it is not psychoactive. Always follow laws in your specific state, period.


Why is hemp often grouped together with marijuana?

Unfortunately like many things, sometimes items get grouped together when they shouldn't be for the sake of messaging simplicity. In the 70's when the Controlled Substances Act was passed, hemp was lumped in with marijuana, creating the misconception it was a 'drug' and harming one of the oldest domesticated crops.

The brilliant, if not insane, PR campaign that was “Reefer Madness” of 1936 was a propaganda film showing alarmist things that may happen if people smoked marijuana. This began the change of public opinion and demonization of both hemp and marijuana.

I would be remiss if I did not also mention the racial undertones this topic carries which is deserving of much more space. There are brilliant articles written on this topic and I encourage you to spend some time reading.

But things are obviously changing. As marijuana becomes legalized in states, the acerage of hemp cultivation specifically has increased 140% from 2016-2017.  I think as people become more knowledgable about marijuana and hemp and their obvious differences, the lingering unnecessary taboo nature of hemp will disappear. 

I actually received an email from the VA Farmers Market newsletter in April of 2018 with an announcement that Virginians may begin growing and marketing hemp products through a simplified registration process under a Virginia research pilot program. I can confirm in 2019, pilot programs for growth have begun.


How do you take CBD oil?

We’ve got an entire dedicated article on how to take CBD oil and how much CBD oil to take. It also includes a free printable worksheet so you can track your ideal dose.

There are other CBD products available that can be applied topically etc, but for the purposes of this post, we're talking about CBD oil taken orally. 

To take CBD oil you’ll want a product that is either nanoemulsified or blended in an oil. This vastly increases bioavalibility (how much of the product your body will actually use) and therefore, you get more for your money.

Take the oil in the dropper, or in a spoon and place under your tongue. Hold it there for about 60 seconds without swallowing. Swallow the residual liquid.

You can also add the oil to salad dressings or other foods like smoothies. We love our recipe for Mint Chocolate Chip CBD Smoothies.


How does CBD Oil work in your body (what is the mechanism)?

Cannabinoids (CBD and THC) work differently with specific receptors in the body. CB1 and CB2 receptors relate to different things. THC attaches to CB1 receptors which deal with coordination, movement, pain, emotions, mood, thinking, memory and appetite. The effect? Feeling “high”. CBD does not attach to the CB1 receptor, and in fact, it is suspected that CBD’s presence in conjunction with THC, reduces the psychoactive effects of THC. That’s why, CBD in the absence of THC, or in the legal trace limit amount, is NOT psychoactive.

CB2 receptors are found mostly in the immune system. They affect inflammation and pain. There is also some current research indicating perhaps CBD also acts in encouraging the body to use it's own produced cannabinoids. 

CBD works with seratonin receptors and therefore creates an anti-anxiety effect.  For inflammation, CBD binds to TRPV1 receptors. You can really dig into the specifics, but for the 101 version, CBD binds to and activates receptors that result in a calming, mood boosting effect without psychoactive results.


What are the potential benefits of CBD Oil?*

Helps support anxiety relief from daily stressors

Helps support pain relief -another link to read here -(something I hope will be looked at more with the current opioid addiction issues)

Helps support recovery from exercise-induced inflammation

Helps support sleep improvement

There are ongoing studies related to the use of CBD oil and epilepsy

fda compliance


Is CBD safe while pregnant or breast feeding?

All of my research is turning up the answer we get to basically every question related to a supplement and pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding: there's not enough information to form a conclusion. Then again, will we ever see any studies with supplements and this population? Think about it- I'm not insuring anyone testing on this population.

I've read pieces that say CBD oil (again, remember- no THC) is safe in both cases and a good alternative to many prescription drugs and their side effects. HOWEVER, I can't find scientific evidence to give you this answer. I think if we wait a few years we'll see studies come out on this. 


Can I give CBD oil to my child?

CBD may have benefits for pediatric epilepsy BUT just like above, more studies need to be done for efficacy and safety in the pediatric population.  One of the most public facing topics related to kids and CBD is the story of Charlotte who suffered from a rare disease and only saw improvement through utilizing CBD. You may recognize the company that helped her…Charlotte’s Web.

What’s the difference between full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate?

Full spectrum CBD contains multiple other natural compounds including other cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant beyond the CBD compound.  CBD isolate is just the CBD compound period.

Full spectrum and isolate work different ways for different people and provide different results. For example, full spectrum tends to give me the results I want (a calming feeling, stress and anxiety reduction), while Chris gets better results from isolate (focus, less stress).

Many companies tout the CBD isolate as the highly science backed option because much of the existing studies and therefore, written literature with evidence, are tested with a CBD isolate vs taking into account the variants we don’t know a lot about in full spectrum.

Full spectrum has the benefit of what we call the “entourage effect”. This means that all the compounds within the total plant work together to amplify benefits.

What CBD Oil product do you take?

We reviewed all CBD products we’ve taken over one year. NOT SPONSORED. PERIOD.

Check to see our personal picks for full spectrum, isolate and gummies.

I know some people will look at that and think it's expensive but here's how I calculate if something is "worth it" or not. 

When Chris and I look at the noticeable benefits it has produced for both of us, we calculate how much we would have spent on other methods to produce the same result. For me, that means the cost of adaptogens plus massage plus the cost of time- when I feel anxious and shitty and stressed that significantly reduces my enjoyable and productive time. The cost of feeling happy and calm depends on the person. 

See our current and previously tested CBD oil products and recommendations.


What have you personally noticed while taking cbd oil?

When Chris and I start a new wellness routine we check in with each other to verify results. "Have I been X?" "How do you feel in X area?". It helps us figure out if a change is due to the new addition, a placebo effect, or something else. We did this with ashwagandha for verification. The other reason we do it? Chis is the person who will literally get the "5% of consumers have this side effect" they're studying from a medication and haven't released the official results to yet. BUT, Chris has had no negative side effects thus far. We also both agree, on a day when not taking it, you don't feel like the polar opposite to when you're taking it. There's no 'addiction'. There's no crazy swing backwards. So if you know you're going to have a relaxed day, you can totally skip. With that said, if you have it on you, and the day is just NOT going well, you can definitely take a dose and it starts to work in about 20 minutes.

In general we both feel CBD oil may be a good fit for you if you are stressed, anxious and also have something in particular you need to "get over" mentally. For example: if it stresses you out to have people over, take CBD oil, have people over- and what we experienced was feeling totally relaxed and calm about it and then you'll realize it was fine. It's kind of a mental habit breaker related to anxiety inducing activities.

What we personally experienced:

  • Better mood and tolerance for stressors: This is the biggest benefit for both of us. Highly noticible. Unimportant things that would bother me or stress me out just don't seem like such a big deal any more. My threshold for what causes me to really stress out has been raised. I'm more calm and happy.

  • Better sleep: If this is one of your main goals, I've seen suggestions to take it 20 minutes before bed. This was just a nice residual bonus for me after taking it in the morning. I also want to note this does not make me SLEEPY, just calm.

  • Reduced appetite: We think it may have curbed stress induced snacking or possibly seeking dopamine hits/rewards with food due to serotonin increase?

  • Reduced checking of social media/email: CBD oil can have serotonin boosting results, and checking social media produces a hit of dopamine. So was my increase in serotonin reducing my dopamine seeking hits? My other explanation is because CBD regulates mood, maybe we're not seeking external methods of 'medicating' for reward hits.

  • Works well with those with generalized anxiety/ ADD: Chris has ADD but does not take medications. This has helped without the extremely shitty side effects that can come with some ADD medications.

  • Reduced cold sores: Annoyingly, I am susceptible to cold sores under periods of high stress. However, since taking this I have had only ONE occurrence and this has been possibly one of the most high stress seasons of my life due to family illness/death. I have no other explanation as to why this happened, other than this has coincided with me taking CBD.


I'm interested in your experiences, questions and additional reading. Send it my way!

Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.