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Cannabis: CBD (Oil) And THC For Health?! The Scientific Verdict (2018)

May 19, 2018

Blog Post Summary:

Since a few years, cannabis-based products such as cannabidiol (CBD) oil have become really popular.

CBD is one of the most commonly known "cannabinoids". 

Cannabinoids are compounds that stem from cannabis plants - such as hemp or marijuana. More than 100 different cannabinoids have currently been identified. Cannabinoids are used to make cannabis-based products, such as CBD oil for consumption, or CBD wax, which can be vaped.

Not all cannabinoids in existence have not been thoroughly studied yet.

The goal of this blog post is to explain to you which effects of cannabinoids have currently been scientifically proven to exist. In other words, the blog post places less emphasis on personal experiences that people have.

You might be asking: "how do cannabinoids work in the first place?"

If you ingest cannabinoids from plants, they act on the cannabinoid system of your body.

Yes, your body has its own cannabinoid system. 

That cannabinoid system has all kinds of functions, such as regulating your hormones, immune system, pain perception, and relaxation.

CBD is not the only consumable cannabinoid treated in this blog post. Another cannabinoid treated here is called "THC". THC is the primary psychoactive substance found in "weed" - sourced from marijuana.

What is less commonly known is that both CBD and THC are psychoactive, albeit, in different respects. The psychoactive potential of CBD is much lower than THC, and different in kind.

Both CBD and THC can actually play a role in improving your health, through acting on the cannabinoid system in your body. Yes, indeed: even THC can yield positive health benefits!

I do not recommend, however, that CBD and THC supplement are to be used universally by everyone.

Instead, I claim that there are other strategies that should be prioritized the functioning of the cannabinoid system in your body works, before supplementing with cannabis-based products.

Examples of such strategies are exposing your eyes and skin to sunlight, exercise (if you're in good health), meditation, and reducing overall stress levels.

Why should everyone not use cannabis?

Besides legal issues, the biggest problem I identify with using CBD and THC are the current high costs. For example, if you want to ingest the same dosages as are used in most clinical studies, CBD oil supplements would cost you $20-$100 on a daily basis.

CBD does work very effectively as a supplement in many instances though:

Examples of that effectiveness are lowering fear and anxiety, helping with depression, improving heart health, and inhibiting chronic pain. CBD (oil) may also help you if you have a neurodegenerative disease, cancer, joint problems, psychological problems, epilepsy, or addiction.

The list of CBD's effects is impressive.

I'm thus not saying that CBD oil does not work--what I'm claiming instead is that the supplement is expensive for what it achieves. There are cheaper alternatives to CBD for some health goals. Using ashwagandha for lowering fear and stress is an example. Ashwagandha costs $20 per month, instead of $20 per day.

Furthermore, I also think there's a role for using THC for health purposes:

Cancer, (chronic) pain, eating disorders, and conditions with excessive inflammation come to mind. Those inflammatory processes underlie many modern diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes.

Rather than rejecting THC because it is (very) psychoactive, I consider the psycho-activity of THC a (sometimes) fortunate "side-effect".

In other words, the use of THC is merited in certain health conditions because of THC's possible healing properties. An analogy that can be made is giving morphine to people who are in pain - we're not denying morphine to suffering people because morphine is psychoactive either.

Overall, I conclude in this blog post that the most sustainable strategy use cannabinoids is to optimize the cannabinoid system in your own body by developing healthy habits. Only supplement with cannabis-based products when necessary.

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Cannabis: The Ultimate Guide To CBD (Oil) And THC (2018).


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Table Of Contents

1. Cannabis Introduction: What are CBD (Oil) and THC? 
2. How Cannabinoids - Such As CBD Oil - Work In Your Body. 
3. CBD Oil Benefits And (Possible) Side-Effects
4. CBD (Oil) Delivery Methods And Dosages.
5. CBD Safety: Interactions With Drugs.
6. A Role For THC In Health?
7. Increasing Your Cannabinoids Naturally.
8. Inexpensive CBD Oil Alternatives.
9. Conclusion.



Note: this blog post - like my previous blog posts - contains some nerd sections. These nerd sections contain more advanced explanations. You can skip these nerd sections if you just want to understand the basics about cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.



1. Cannabis Introduction: What are CBD (Oil) And THC? 

I treat and consider two main cannabis plants in this blog post: hemp and marijuana. These two plants have the same origin, and only exhibit small variations:[343]

First, marijuana:

Secondly, hemp:

Observe that these plants are hard to distinguish. It's therefore not surprising that the two plants have more similarities than just looks.

Both plants contain many different types of "cannabinoids". Cannabinoids are cannabis-like substances. 

When you consume either of these plants, their cannabinoids affect the biology of your body. By affecting the biology of your body, cannabinoids influence your health. More than 100 different cannabinoids have been identified in nature. Most of these different cannabinoids are contained in hemp and marijuana.[3]

Both the hemp and marijuana plants can be processed, which results in cannabinoid containing products and supplements which you can consume.

Don't worry.

I already know what you're thinking:

"this article is going to turn me into a drug-addict".

Nope! 

I've not created this blog post to prompt you to get you high. Instead, I'm considering what role cannabinoids can play an active role in improving your health.

Let's therefore consider the two main cannabinoids treated in this blog post:

  1. Cannabidiol - or CBD
  2. "Tetrahydrocannabinol" - or THC

Fortunately, you can immediately forget the difficult names. In this blog post, I'll just talk about their abbreviations, "CBD" and "THC".

Oh yes, one more thing:

Contrary to what many people think, even CBD oil does have (some) psychoactive properties. Examples of such psychoactive effects are making you more awake and relaxed. Nonetheless, CBD oil is psychoactive in the way that a cup of tea or coffee are psychoactive substances too.

The psychoactive effects of coffee and tea are subtle - just as with CBD oil.

The psychoactive effects of CBD's counterpart, THC, are more pronounced. THC is mainly found in the marijuana plant, and is the reason people get "high on weed". 

Why smoke weed, instead of eating it?

Smoking is one of the most effective ways absorb any compound thoroughly in your body. Smoking marijuana is thus generally more effective than eating it - if you want to get high.

But let's get back to THC...

How can you distinguish between products that mainly contain CBD or THC?

To answer that question, we have to consider the differences in cannabinoids in hemp and marijuana - the two plants you just saw displayed.

Different parts of these two plants are made up of different cannabinoids:

  • Of the cannabinoids in the marijuana plant's flowers, 10-20% consist in THC.
  • The other parts of the marijuana plant almost all consist of non-THC cannabinoids.
  • Of all cannabinoids in the hemp plant, only 0,3% is THC. This cannabinoid makeup is valid across all parts of the hemp plant.

The THC content is thus very different in hemp and marijuana - with only the marijuana's flowers naturally being high in THC.

Speaking of THC.

Should you ever want to take THC for your health?

Yes...

"But THC gets me high!"

Is getting high a "bad thing"? Not necessarily...

Getting high might be a side-effect that's associated with THC curative effects. For some diseases, THC makes the healing process more effective--even though THC makes you "high" as well.

How about the other main cannabinoid treated in this blog post, CBD?

"CBD Oil" derives its name from the cannabinoid CBD.

CBD is also the main substance that gives CBD oil, or other CBD-based products their healing properties.

Let's assume you want CBD oil that contains a negligible amount of THC (<0,4%).

In that case, the CBD oil has to be sourced from either the hemp plant, or the non-flower parts of the marijuana plant (the flowers contain THC).

CBD oil can thus be made of most parts of the hemp plant, including the leaves, stalks, and flowers. Most hemp-derived CBD oil contains about 0,3% THC. The rest of CBD oil is thus made up made up 99,7% of non-THC cannabinoids such as CBD.

While CBD oil can also be made from the non-THC parts of the marijuana plant this option is less frequently chosen. Most people who want to completely avoid THC and therefore often opt for hemp-based CBD oil. Hemp-based products come with greater assurance to be low in THC.

Before discussing the precise roles of CBD and THC, I do want to include a disclaimer: unless you have a very specific condition or disease, you probably don't need to supplement with cannabinoids.

Why?

There are natural ways to produce cannabinoids in your body, such as sunlight.[1; 4]

Yes...

You've read that right:

The human body has its own cannabinoid system.[2; 5]

That cannabinoid system is partially responsible for the good feeling you get from being in the sun.

I know some readers might be getting tired of my sunlight recommendation in every blog post. And yet, I make this recommendation because I sincerely believe that nothing replaces the sun.

True health leaders tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

Sunlight is a free (and essential) tool that you can use your health, and people cannot make money off this recommendation. That's one of the reasons I think you will not hear this recommendation everywhere. 

In most cases, I also believe you should develop more fundamental health habits before supplementing with either CBD or THC.

If you haven't read my articles on why you need sunlight, on sleep optimization, and improving your happiness, read those blog post before trying to supplement with CBD or THC.

Getting sunlight and improving your sleep quality is a lot less expensive than using a dose of CBD oil for improving your health.

Moreover, keep in mind that a cannabis supplement will never compensate for making fundamental mistakes in managing your health - such as a poor diet or avoiding sunlight.

But, let's return to the cannabinoid system in your body.

It's not just the sun improves how well your cannabinoid system functions. Physical exercise, for example, also affects your body's cannabinoid system.[6-10] 

You should not rely on exercise to pursue the good-feelings of cannabinoids because that strategy is unsustainable. Most people in modern society are already too stressed. Exercise adds stress on top of stress. 

A later section of this blog post will show you several different methods to improve your cannabinoid levels naturally. Supplementing with CBD or THC should not be the first health strategy you pick...

Keeping their bodies' cannabinoid system optimized.

If you choose to supplement with CBD or THC, there are thousands of different products on the market.

Let me simplify those offerings for you:

All cannabinoid-products can be allocated into two broad categories:

  • First, there are cannabinoid products without THC, which are built around cannabinoids such as CBD.
  • Secondly, there are products that do contain higher percentages (> 0,3%) of THC.

Both products can contain many other supporting cannabinoids (from the 100 cannabinoids that have been identified).

That's it. 

These are the only two cannabinoid product categories I'm considering in this blog post. So you'll either end up with 1) a CBD-based product;  or 2) a CBD+THC-based product.

When choosing a product, keep in mind one thing:

Just like supplements, not all cannabinoid products are of high quality.

Some cannabis products only contain the CBD cannabinoid in isolation. In other words, they exclusively contain CBD as a cannabinoid, with missing many of the more than 100 other supporting cannabinoids.

Avoid products that contain just CBD. 

You'll always want a "full-spectrum" cannabinoid product.

Besides CBD and/or THC, full-spectrum cannabinoids contain many of the 100 supporting cannabinoids. Full-spectrum cannabinoid also include other ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats - and produce the best overall health effects.[301; 342]

Most cannabinoid oil products also include an oil - such as coconut oil - to increase absorption. You'll want to avoid cannabinoid products that contain vegetable oils as their carrier oil.

If your cannabinoid oil product contains canola oil or sunflower oil, avoid that product. Cottonseed, grapeseed, soy, and corn oil should be avoided as well.

Fatty acids that are source from these plants massively decrease your health. 



(Nerd section: additional substances found in full-spectrum cannabinoid products are flavonoids, terpentenes, and chlorophyll.[11; 12; 350; ] Examples of terpentenes are humulene, linalool, and limonene.

Additionally, my depiction of there being only two main cannabis plants is an oversimplification. In reality, other cannabis species exist, as well as hybrids between species. The only way to really know the specific cannabinoid contents of plant, is to test individual strands.)



Oh yes, another important suggestion:

Please don't believe that cannabinoids are a "magic pill" that will make you fundamentally healthy.

In general that sentiment is incorrect.

Sometimes, however, cannabinoids can come close to being a magic pill. Cannabinoids - as a supplement - can bring massive health improvements, especially when used correctly in some very specific circumstances. Examples are if you have cancer or experience chronic pain.

But even if you have cancer or (chronic) pain, cannabis-based supplements should be just one tool in your toolbox. Don't rely on cannabis-based products thinking they will make you fundamentally healthy.

The previous habits I described to keep your body's cannabinoid system healthy are far more important.

And one last thing before we dive into cannabinoids. 

You might be asking: 

"Are cannabinoids legal in my country?" 

The answer is: "that depends..."

CBD oil is legal in many countries. THC is illegal in many countries.

In the US right now, the federal legal limit for THC is 0,3%. With some reservations, CBD oil can thus be considered "legal" (although reality is complicated).

Some brands of hemp-based CBD oil nevertheless exceed that THC limit, which you have to take into account when buying CBD. For example, even though hemp is generally low in THC (<0,4% THC), sometimes growing conditions create hemp-based products that are higher in THC.

Lab testing is the only definitive way to find out what the THC content of your cannabis product is. The best companies accompany their products with third-party lab testing results.

Nevertheless, always double-check your country's applicable laws before buying any CBD oil. The same is true for THC.

In my country - the Netherlands - CBD oil is fully legal. THC is a more complex topic here. The same is true for many other EU countries.

There are exceptions: in the UK, even CBD oil products have a very complex and problematic legal status. In Australia or New Zealand, moreover, you're only allowed to buy CBD oil through a pharmacy or a physician. 

There's no simple universal recommendation that I can make.

In your and my country, CBD oil can be legal today, and illegal tomorrow. Cannabis is just does not experience world-wide acceptance in way that another psychoactive substance such as alcohol or coffee do.

These legal issue are far too complicated to treat in this blog post: I would have to bore readers with the legalities in 150+ countries.

And I'm not doing that...

Why is clarifying the cannabinoid of specific countries so hard? Each country has different law regarding whether CBD and THC are:

  • legal or illegal.
  • whether the law is strictly enforced or not.
  • criminalized or decriminalized.
  • allowed in medical settings. 
  • complicated in status through import and export laws. 
  • treated differently on local and federal levels.
  • available for sale through different channels.

Etcetera.

Due to this complexity, there's no forthright method by which I can recommend one product that is universally legal no matter where you live on this planet.

Again: please consider the specific laws of your country before considering acquiring CBD or THC.

Finally, we can now explore the health effect of cannabinoids.

What's interesting is that cannabinoids have been used by humans for thousands of years.[13; 292] These compounds are thus nothing new under the sun. 

The thousands of cannabis studies that have been carried out last decades, however, are new. This article explores cannabinoids from a scientific perspective. My goal is not to report on what individuals say on what CBD oil or smoking weed brings to them.

Instead, my goal is to illustrate what health-effects cannabis-based products can bring you based on the latest science.

In other words, I'm considering the health benefits of cannabis-based products that can be medically proven within reasonable doubt.

In the future, cannabis-based products might turn out to have benefits that are not yet included in this blog post. That same future might also tell us that some benefits that I've ascribed to cannabis-based products are not as "rosy" as described in this blog post.

Future science will hopefully teach us more about cannabis...

This is how this blog post is built up:

In the next two sections, I'll explore the cannabinoid system in your body, and look at the benefits and (possible) side-effects of CBD oil. I'll then tell you how best to dose CBD oil and whether CBD oil can be taken together with different prescription drugs. 

Then it's time for THC - which has possible healing effects of its own. We'll look at the best way to use THC, while minimizing its (possible) side-effects.

Lastly, I'll give you strategies to increase the production of cannabinoids in your body - and how to replace the very expensive CBD oil supplements with (much) less expensive alternatives (in some instances)

Fasten your seat belt. Here we go again...

Let's first deep dive into the cannabinoid system of your body... 

2. How Cannabinoids - Such As CBD Oil - Work In Your Body.

The cannabinoids you consume affect the cannabinoid system of your body.[2; 5]

How?

Throughout your body - and especially in your nervous system - which contain cannabinoid "receptors". Receptors are places in a cell that can receive chemical signals. Signalling substances in your body - called "neurotransmitters" - can bind to these receptors, which then start a chemical process.

Cannabinoids you consume affect these neurotransmitters.

In plain language, the cannabinoid system of your body can get "activated" through cannabinoids you consume.

Your body's cannabinoid receptors that can get activated can be found everywhere: your brain, liver, bones, thyroid, immune system, and even testicles.[14-17]

"Cannabinoids are everywhere
in my body, human!"

Cannabinoids will thus influence your entire body instead of just your brain.

Your body's cannabinoid system regulates many biological processes, ranging from appetite to pain sensations, immune function, hormones, your energy levels, the activity of your nervous system, and your sleep quality.[56; 57; 197-202]

For example, the system determines which hormones circulate in your body and their levels, or helps you to get in a good mood without anxiety before an important presentation.[22; 156; 157]



(Nerd section: It's not just CBD and THC that are affecting your body, but other cannabinoids such as cannabinol exhibit effects as well.[11; 24; 25] Other examples of cannabinoids are cannabicyclol, cannabicitran, and cannabifuran.[43; 295-297]

In reality, moreover, CBD oil does not directly influence the cannabinoid receptors, but through intermediaries that bind to the endo-cannabinoid receptors.[214-216] THC and CBD also bind to different cannabinoid receptors in your body, and in different manners--which is one reason why these two substances have such different effects.[100; 101] For readability purposes, I'm not outlining all the different receptors in your body.

Many receptors are targeted by CBD and other cannabinoids, such as the cannabinoid receptor 1, glutamate, GABA, glycine, 5-HT (serotonin) receptors, different transient receptor channel potential channels, PPAR-γ, GPR55, and adenosine.[52-55; 102, 103] THC paints a different picture but equally complex picture.)



Now, you might be thinking: 

"Is the relationship between cannabinoid plants and our own cannabinoid system accidental?"

In other words, how and why did your human body end up with a cannabinoid system of its own?

There's evidence to believe that the relationship is anything but accidental.

The body's cannabinoid system is millions of years old - and has developed (evolved) over time.291; 293; 294]

Millions of years...

How can you imagine such a long time?

Somewhere in the middle of this picture - in small font - you can see the "Cambrian period":

Cannabinoid systems have existed in organisms since that Cambrian period. That Cambrian period ended about 500 millions years ago. 

Let's put that 500-million-year number into perspective:

Dinosaurs went extinct just 65 million years ago. Humans have only existed for 250.000 years, which equals only one quarter of a million years.

The cannabinoid system is thus truly old. That system has developed (evolved) over time through different types of species and plants.

Cannabinoid systems that could be found in animals 100 million years ago is thus not the same system as today. 

You know what's even more remarkable?

Plants have only existed for about 425 million years, so cannabinoids are even older than plants on this planet.

The species that pre-dated humans and plants, have thus co-evolved for millions of years - together with their cannabinoid system. Even though cannabinoids are hundreds of millions years old, they have not changed that much over time.[365]

In an almost mystical way, there are still similarities between the plants that contain cannabinoids, and the human cannabinoid system. By taking cannabis based products, you're therefore influencing an ancient system in your body.[363; 364]

In a sense, cannabinoids are a common ancestor that still connect humans and the plant world. 

Excited?

I certainly am!

The biological activity that cannabis products have on your health is thus not accidental, but expected.

Let's take a look at CBD (oil), the most important cannabis-based product that has become popular in the last decade.

3. CBD Oil Benefits And (Possible) Side-Effects.

Before we dive into CBD, I want to include a disclaimer: CBD is not addictive. It's "sister" THC, on the other hand, can be addictive (although not physically) and should thus be treated with somewhat more caution.[288-290]

I'll tell you about THC in a later section. First, CBD.

While I'm talking about CBD oil in this section, you can just as easily replace the oil with other CBD based products - such as CBD e-liquid for vaping. Different methods of consuming CBD products are treated in another section as well.

Let's start by considering CBD oils' benefits.

All benefits listed below are based on products that are high in CBD. Sometimes, CBD-based products are combined with low doses of THC. The CBD benefits that are listed below do not extend to products that are low in CBD, regardless of their THC content.

You thus need CBD to get the benefits listed below.

For your brain, CBD oil:

  • improves your "dopamine" levels, which is a signalling compound in your brain.[18-21] Dopamine makes you happier, improves your thinking ability, make you more confident, and aids your assertiveness.

  • aids in avoiding and treating depression.[48; 118; 181; 218; 220] While these effects have not yet been adequately demonstrated in humans, it's very probably that CBD oil can help you if you have a depression. Both animal studies and online reviews hint that an effect of CBD oil on depression should be expected.

    Many people using CBD report anti-depressive effects as well.

  • lower your anxiety.[39; 47-49; 58; 95] Having anxiety or fear at the right moments is fine. If I see a brown bear, I want to be afraid--otherwise I might get killed soon.

    Many people in modern society, however, experience excessive anxiety or fear at the wrong moments. That anxiety or fear doesn't help you perform--instead, they tend to ruin your productivity and mood.

    As of this moment, anxiety and fear disorders are frequently treated pharmacologically. CBD oil may yield an alternative. CBD oil, for example, can reduce anxiety with public speaking just as much as prescription medication commonly prescribed for anxiety.[86-91]

    Why? 

    Your body's own cannabinoid system is tightly related to how your body respond to anxiety and fear.[58] In essence, CBD relaxes you...

  • helps you cope with (chronic) stress.[59; 61; 66] Not only do cannabinoids lower the effects of the stress itself, but cannabinoids can also lower the chances of stressful responses being stored in your long-term memory.[66; 67] 

    Did you have a fight with your partner today, or did you fail miserably at your job?

    Take CBD oil to lower the chances of that negative memory becoming consolidated in your brain. You'll be less prone to ruminate on that stressful event.

  • makes you feel more awake during the day.[81; 82; 108] Yes, contrary to THC, which can make you sleepy, CBD oil can actually increase your wakefulness levels.

    You'll only need a low CBD oil dose to accomplish that wakefulness. If you're taking a low dose, daytime is the best time to take CBD oil.[110-112] 

    Taking a low dose of CBD oil during the night might even decrease the amount of deep sleep you get. Deep sleep is the restorative part of your sleep - together with the periods in which you dream.

    Which leads us to CBD's next benefit:

  • improves sleep quality.[109; 110; 120] You might be saying: "but you just said that CBD oil makes me feel more awake?"

    Yes, I did.

    If you take CBD oil during the day, it can improve sleep quality at night - keeping you asleep longer.[221] 

    There's another method by which CBD can increase your sleep quality, however. Higher doses of CBD oil directly make you sleepy--instead of awake. Taking CBD oil before bedtime is thus exclusively recommended if you use a higher dose.

    Avoid products that only contain THC, if you use cannabis for sleep purposes.[120] THC - on its own - makes you fall asleep quicker, but lowers your sleep quality

  • protects your nervous system.[53; 83] Your brain is also part of that nervous system. For example, CBD oil can help your brain create new cells, and protect existing cells.[223-226]

    CBD's neuroprotective effects might aid in avoiding poorer brain health in the long run - such as Alzheimer's disease. Cannabidiol (CBD), the main component of full-spectrum CBD oil, is even more protective for your nervous system than vitamin E.

  • may protect the energy production in your cells.[130; 133; 227] Unfortunately, this effect has only been proven in animal studies. 

    In the long run, CBD may play a minor role in avoiding diseases of aging - especially diseases of your brain.[350-354]

  • aids your memory, especially if you're under stress or in fear.[164-166] CBD may consequently be especially useful to consume before a test or presentation, to keep your mind sharp.

    CBD can also undo the negative effects that THC has on your memory.
    If you smoke a lot of weed - which predominantly contains THC  - your memory function will be impaired instead of improved.

In essence, CBD oil will make you relaxed yet awake:

Now you know why cats rule the world
A "conspiracy" theory that has yet to go viral... 

For your heart and blood vessels, CBD oil:

  • lowers blood pressure, by relaxing your arteries.[73-75] CBD oil seems especially effective in reducing an increase in blood pressure as the result of stress.  

  • might help in the prevention of stroke.[76] High-quality research on this subject is limited regarding this benefit, however.

    One main mechanism by which CBD oil might lower your chances for getting strokes, is by 1) reducing inflammation; and 2) improving how your body handles carbohydrates (sugars).[77; 78]

    Excessive inflammation, firstly, lies at the basis of many modern diseases - such as heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.

    Secondly, the same is true for your body's handling of carbohydrates: poor handling of carbohydrates frequently results in diabetes, which then makes you more susceptible to get other modern diseases. CBD oil helps preventing these negative effects.

Next, CBD's overall health benefits. CBD:

  • gives (chronic) pain reductions.[53; 54; 170; 171; 172] Why would you use CBD oil for pain reduction?

    Common prescription drugs such as ibuprofen and tylenol kill many people each year, due to overdoses.[219; 220] These drugs also have nasty side effects on your stomach. 

    CBD oil, however, has never killed anyone, nor does it result in any side effects at regular dosages. Using CBD for (chronic) pain can thus help you avoid side-effects or prescription medication.

  • possibly improving your skin condition. For example, CBD oil can counteract acne.[84] 

  • makes your bones heal quicker after a fracture.[213] Very simple benefit...

  • lowers inflammation.[54; 73; 77; 132; 246-250] Inflammation lies at the basis of many modern diseases. Inflammation is also often intertwined with experiencing pain. Lowering inflammation is one mechanism by which CBD oil can lower (chronic) pain.

    Because the aging process is intertwined with increasing levels of inflammation as well, CBD oil might indirectly slow your aging process.[251]

    Gut problems are another example where inflammation plays a role: CBD can be helpful in that instance as well.[252-254]

  • Alter hormonal functioning.[134; 135] The stress hormone "cortisol" is significantly reduced for hours after ingestion of CBD oil.

    The lowering of cortisol might be one specific mechanism by which CBD oil lowers stress.

In addition to overall health benefits, CBD oil is often used by people who have diseases. Let's look at where the use of CBD oil has proven validity.

What are some specific diseases where CBD oil may bring benefits?

  • Neurodegenerative disorders.[104-107] Neurodegenerative diseases are diseases of the nervous system.

    If you neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, or Multiple Sclerosis (MS), CBD oil might be worth a try.[109; 146-150; 152; 153; 180; 182] In some neurodegenerative diseases - such as MS - CBD might have greater beneficial effects in combination with THC.[146-150]

    For some neurodegenerative diseases CBD oil does not seem to work (at this point), such as Huntington's disease and ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).[143; 153]

    Keep in mind that much more research is needed to study the effects of CBD oil on neurodegenerative disorders. CBD might thus have benefits for many of these diseases that we just don't know of (yet).

  • In rheumatoid arthritis, CBD oil reduces pain, both when you're active and in rest. CBD oil also improves sleep quality for people with rheumatoid arthritis.[45]

  • For psychiatric disorders, such as psychosis or schizophrenia, CBD oil may yield cognitive improvements while giving you few side effects.[46; 51; 51; 73; 122]

    One side effect of anti-psychotic drugs - commonly taken for psychiatric disorders, is lowering dopamine, a paradigmatic signalling substance in the brain. CBD allows you to avoid these side-effects by replacing these prescription drugs.

    In some psychiatric disorders, however - such as bipolar disorder  - CBD oil does not seem to be working.[139; 152; 153; 182]

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.[62] Many people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are using cannabis to cope with their disease - and with good reason. Cannabis helps them sleep better, lowers the frequency of nightmares, and makes them less anxious during the day.

    The mistake many people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder make, however, is that they use THC-rich cannabis products, instead of relying on CBD and THC. The latter will probably yield much better results for anxiety and sleep quality.

    Marijuana - which [predominantly emphasizes THC - seems to create more negative health consequences for people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder than CBD.[63-65; 69] THC can even increase anxiety in higher dosages, if not combined with CBD.

  • Obesity. How? CBD oil improves how well your body handles carbohydrates (sugars).[76-80] 

    In other words, CBD oil makes body more prone to store carbohydrates you consume in muscle tissue as opposed to storing those carbohydrates as fat tissue.

  • Epilepsy. There evidence of CBD oil is really great for epilepsy.[121; 140; 141] CBD oil can literally reduce how frequently you get different types of seizures.

  • Addictions, such as alcohol, cocaine, or opioid drugs.[125-128; 222] CBD oil also treats the more common tobacco and cannabis (THC) addictions.

    There's even some proof that CBD oil reduces the (negative) memory's associated with existing addiction. CBD oil also lowers (possible) anxiety associated with additions, and decreases how often you're reaching for a substance you're addicted to.

  • Cancer can be treated with CBD oil. CBD oil's possible role in treating cancer is one of its most exciting developments. 

    For example, CBD oil may inhibit the size of brain tumors, slows the spread of colon cancer, kills cancer cells if you have leukemia or cervical cancer, and even positively affect breast and prostate cancer.[234-245; 341]

    While more research is needed (again), CBD's effect on cancer are already very promising.

"Dandelions, much tastier than hemp!"

The picture I'm giving you of CBD almost seems too good to be true.

So you might be asking: "are there known side effects of CBD oil use?"

Yes. CBD may give you side-effects, but predominantly at (very) high dosages:[82;140; 141]

  • Appetite loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Sleepiness (which might be beneficial as well)
  • Nauseau

Fortunately, my dose suggestions in a next section should keep you clear of any side effects. 

So, as a conclusion, CBD oil can fix your anxiety and help cure cancer...

Does my account of CBD (oil) sound too good to be true?

Yes..

That's because my account is too good to be true. 

In the next section, the CBD story turns somewhat sour. That section considers the delivery methods and dosages of CBD oil. It turns out that achieving the exact same dosages as the studies I'm quoting is expensive.

Very expensive...

4. CBD (Oil) Delivery Methods And Dosages.

Before diving into different CBD consumption methods, let's look at how CBD dosages are expressed.

CBD (oil) dosages are expressed as milligram (mg) per container.

For example, you can buy bottles of CBD with 200mg, 500mg, 1000mg (1g), etcetera. 

There are many different methods to get these milligrams of CBD into your body.

Opting for CBD oil and drinking the oil to let it absorb through your stomach is the simplest method. I'll call that method the "oral" method.

Alternatively, you can let the oil absorb under your tongue. Next there are CBD wax and e-liquid products, which are used for vaping. Then there are CBD-based products that can be smoked, or products that can be mixed through food.

You can even buy CBD nose sprays, or inject CBD. The craziest cannabinoid products I've seen are CBD candy for kids, CBD lib balm, and cannabinoid bath soaks...

Not all methods are equally effective for getting as many mgs of CBD into your body though.

With some methods you can ingest high level of milligrams of CBD, but very few of those CBD milligrams are actually absorbed. 

I'll treat these CBD consumption methods one-by-one.

Vaporizing CBD - a quick way to get
CBD into your bloodstream.

First, there's the oral route - ingesting CBD oil and simply letting it absorb through your stomach.

In many scientific studies, participants simply ingest the CBD oil orally, as they would ingest a pill. Let's look at doses used in these studies:

  • Doses of 300-600mg are great for anxiety.[31; 39; 86; 88] 300mg seems to be the best dose.[121]
  • Drug addictions are treated with the same 300mg - 600mg dose.[126]
  • For insomnia: 150 - 600mg.[151] 
  • To improve your mood, 600mg is great.[87-91]
  • For altering your hormonal function - 600mg does the trick as well.[134; 135]
  • Neurodegenerative diseases and autoimmune diseases see effective doses from 150 - 300mg per day.[137; 142; 146; 147]
  • Psychiatric disorders -  such as schizophrenia - show doses between 200 - 1200mg per day.[139; 145]
  • Heart disease merits doses of 300mg - 600mg.[75]
  • For mental well-being, building up to 800mg per day yields positive effects.[138; 139]

Notice that almost all daily therapeutic doses fall between 200 and 800mg of CBD oil.[262]

But:

Just one full bottle of CBD oil often contain anywhere between 100-1.000mg of CBD. And these bottles are expensive.

Using 600mg of high-quality CBD oil cost you at least $70 dollars each day. 

Yes. 

That's correct.

$70 per day...

Let's make some additional calculations:

If you use 300mg per day for anxiety purposes, a 600mg bottle will last you only through 2 presentations. That's $35 per presentation. For treating epilepsy, the 600mg bottle will not even last one day: you might need 800mg.

Why is taking CBD oil the oral route so expensive?

Orally-taken CBD oil is just not absorbed well - which then necessitates taking a very high CBD dose.[263]

You might also be asking:

"Do you need to take the expensive dosages used in the studies described above?"

Not necessarily.

Many people report having great results with taking CBD oil orally on dosages that are much lower than the 200-800mg used in scientific studies.

Many people do well on 10-40mg CBD oil each day. Nevertheless, if you use a 10-40mg dosage orally, you will probably not get the same benefits as participants used in studies with 200-800mg of CBD oil each day.

Remember that my article is concerned with what effects cannabis can have for your health based on the scientific research that exists right now. Low doses of CBD taken orally have not been studies extensively, and I cannot conclude beyond reasonable doubt that they really work.

Starting CBD supplementation with low dosages is great advice though:

If you consume CBD oil orally, you should always start with a low dose.

Why?

If you begin with a dose that's too high, CBD oil might counteract the goal you're trying to accomplish. Let's for example say you take CBD oil for anxiety issues. In that case, a high dose of CBD oil will increase your anxiety rather than decreasing it.[69-71]

I recommend everyone start with a low dose of 10mg, and see whether they feel anything. If you don't feel anything, up the dose to 20mg the week. If you do not feel anything at that point, increase the dose to 40mg the week afterwards.

If you need results quickly, you can opt to increase the dose every few days.

When you do feel something happening, stay at that dose for at least one week, before increasing the dose again.

How far should you go with orally dosing CBD oil?

A maximum dose of 10mg CBD oil per kg of bodyweight is considered very safe.[113-114]

A 70kg person would thus use a dosage of 700mg CBD oil as their maximum dosage - presupposing they take CBD orally.

Don't be scared of overdosing with CBD oil via the oral route, as long as you build up your dosage gradually.

Why?

Dosages as high as 25mg per kilogram of bodyweight have been tested.[140] In studying people receiving a liver transplant, dosages of up to 300mg per kilogram per day have been successfully used for a short period of time.[144] Doses of 1.500mg CBD oil per day are also well-tolerated by humans long-term.[82; 85] 

I only show you these high dosages to demonstrate that my 10mg per kilogram of bodyweight maximum dose is very safe and conservative. Only commit to higher than my proposed 10mg per kg dosage after consulting with your physician though. 



(Nerd section: in animal studies, doses of 20 - 120 mg per kg of bodyweight are used without any dangerous side effects.[85, 118; 119; 123; 124; 129] That's many times the maximum dosage used in humans.) 



But, you might still be thinking: "taking CBD orally will make me broke in no-time." 

There's some truth to that...

Taking 40mg of CBD oil each day is still expensive. There has to be an alternative, right?

Let's find out:

  • Tests on animals show that when CBD oil is ingested together with fats can increase its absorption 2-3 fold.[264] Because these are animal studies, however, we should not consider this strategy our primary option.

    I'd like to see the effects of fat consumption together with CBD oil studied in humans...

    Overall, this consumption method cannot be recommended (yet).

  • Human studies show that smoking can also increase the absorption of cannabinoids 3 to 5 fold.[255; 355-357] 

    How well this method helps you absorb is very hard to quantify, do to people's different smoking techniques. How long your puffs are, how long you hold the smoke in your lungs, how much volume you inhale, and how you breathe in general, all influence how many cannabinoids are absorbed.[358; 359]

    Smoking substances (can) also increase your toxin exposure, and is therefore not the primary recommended route to get CBD in your body.

    Of course, CBD is only toxic when combined with tobacco products. Many people combine cannabis with tobacco, but that combination might not be a winning one due to toxins. This consumption method is not perfect either...

  • Another method is allowing cannabinoids to absorb through your skin.[362] CBD seems to absorb pretty well through the skin, while THC does not. If your cannabinoid product contains alcohol, absorption rates increase. 

    It's not yet know how well the skin absorption method compares to simply ingesting CBD-oil.

    Since the last few years, cannabinoid skin patches have become more popular. At this point, it's very probable that the absorption of this skin-delivery method is probably not much higher than taking CBD orally.

    And a skin patch of CBD for one day can still cost between $20 and $40. We've found yet another CBD consumption method that's not perfect either.

  • Might putting CBD oil under your tongue, and keeping the oil there for a couple of minutes work? Yes! In some instances, just 2,5mg to 40mg of CBD oil can already be effective.[149; 150; 170; 260; 261; 265-268] 

    At this point, it's not fully clear how much better cannabinoids absorb under the tongue. My estimate - based on the dosages that are effective in studies - is that absorption is doubled or even tripled. 

    That's great news...

    We have a winner! Why does taking CBD oil under your tongue work better?

    If placed under your tongue, the oil no longer has to pass your digestive system. The CBD is directly passed into the bloodstream: you've got blood vessels under your tongue that can directly absorb the substances you keep in your mouth.

    By keeping CBD oil under your tongue it does not have to be broken down by your liver either. Your liver lowers how many net milligrams of CBD oil end up being used by your body.

    In essence, more CBD oil survives when you place it under your tongue.

"please give me my daily THC dose
under the tongue!"

But is placing CBD oil under your tongue the best method out there?

Perhaps not...

Vaping is another great delivery method of CBD we'll consider.

As far as I know, you cannot vape pure CBD oil, and you need a CBD e-liquid or CBD wax to accomplish the job. 

Vaping pure CBD do lead to much higher levels reaching your bloodstream than just swallowing the compound.[258] While there's no absolute certainty at this point, vaping can be up to 6 times as effective as ingesting CBD oil orally.

When you vape CBD, much lower dosages are already sufficient.[96; 97] instead of needing 200-300mg, you a few milligrams already be sufficient to get good effects..

The big difference between vaping CBD and taking CBD oil under the tongue, is how quickly the substance is acting:

Vaping gives you very quick results, but the results will also taper off more quickly. Taking CBD oil under the tongue will give you slower results, but the effects will stay for a longer period of time. That's why you might need to repeat the vaping dose of a few milligrams several types a day to keep your blood levels high.

How does vaporizing CBD work?

With a vaporizer device you can heat a substance that is then turned into a gas, which you inhale into your lungs. Remember that the lungs are one of the most effective ways to get substances absorbed into your body. Substances that enter the lungs can directly enter your bloodstream.

Vaping might also fundamentally alter your cannabis-consuming experience. Vaping allows substances to pass to your brain that are otherwise not absorbed if you take CBD orally.

Are there downsides to vaping?

Perhaps...

Vaping exposes your body to additional substances, such as "propylene glycol" or "glycerine". Some people do not respond favorably to these substances. 

Overall, nonetheless, the ability to vape CBD seems very promising:

The prices of e-liquid CBD products are about the same per mg of CBD product as traditional CBD oil.

So, is there a role for orally ingesting CBD at all?

Yes...

Cannabinoids stay in your body much longer when you ingest them orally. Even though fewer cannabinoids are absorbed through the oral route, you don't have to dose CBD very often orally.[360; 361] 

In some instances, less frequent dosing can be beneficial. If you cannot vape 5-10 times each day at work, oral CBD might be the (expensive) solution.

There's thus no clear all-round winner in regarding cannabinoid supplements, that is best in each and every circumstance.

For most purposes nevertheless, vaping cannabinoids or taking them under the tongue hold the best cards. 

Before you go off to buy cannabinoids right now, let me make another statement:

Dosing cannabinoids is complicated. The doses I've given for specific diseases or illnesses are not set in stone. All doses are a rough guideline.

In 99% of the instances, I cannot give you the perfect dosage for your symptoms or disease.

That perfect dosage is simply not known. What's more: the perfect dose cannot even be known. There's no exact science of giving the best CBD (or THC) dose. 

Why?

Remember the example of different people smoking CBD-based products in different ways. Smoking techniques influenced CBD absorption levels.

The full story is even more complex than that.

You see, all people also have different weights, different liver functions, different tolerance levels to cannabinoids, etcetera. 

Let me illustrate that point with an extreme example. One person, a woman, might be 20 years old, athletically fit, and weighing 55 kilograms. The second person might be a man, 40 kilograms overweight, 60 years old, having liver problems, and on 3 different types of prescription medication.

200mg of CBD oil taken orally will have very different effects for these two persons.

There's thus no universal dosage guideline that is applicable for everybody. You have to find the dose that works best for your personal circumstances. 

Again: always build your cannabis-based product dosage up slowly.

And just as important: always lower your cannabis-based product dosage slowly as well. Both upping and lowering the cannabinoid dosage thus takes time. If you quit cannabis-based products "cold turkey", you'll probably experience side effects from the withdrawal. 

The prime ingredient for smoking marijuana:
Not to be confused with hemp!

Lastly, let's look at how you can identify high-quality cannabis products:

  • make sure the product is organic. Any pesticides or toxins used on the hemp or marijuana will end up in your eventual cannabinoid product, such as CBD oil.

  • I've said this before, but make sure the cannabis-based product has a healthy carrier oil. MCT oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and hemp oil are all great. Vegetable oils should be avoided at all cost.

  • make sure the product is CO2 extracted. Remember that CBD oil is made by extraction from different parts of the hemp plant. Vegetable oils, alcohol, or CO2 processing are all methods to extract hemp oil from the plant.

    Some cheaper CBD oil extraction methods even produce petroleum residues, that end up in the product. My advice is to use CBD (oil) based on the CO2 extraction method, because of the possible toxic by-products that can result from the other methods.

  • get a product that's accompanied by third party lab results. Really. This point is especially important if you're an athlete, or are subjected to drug tests at your job. You don't want to make the mistake of thinking you're buying CBD oil that claims to contain only 0,3% THC, while in reality the product contains 1% THC.

    That mistake can finish your career - or at least make a successful career way more difficult...

    For example, a product that contains 1% THC, or even 0,6% THC, can already give you a positive drug test if you consume 600mg to 1g of CBD oil per day. Even high-quality CBD oil may give you a positive drug test if you take several grams each days (even though that's a very high dose).

    With vaping CBD products, high THC levels can be problematic as well.

  • Get full-spectrum CBD oil. You'll want to ingest all the cannabinoids that are naturally present in CBD oil, instead of just CBD (cannabidiol). 

    Products such as "CBD isolate" are not recommended. Remember that all cannabinoids in cannabis-based products work together.

  • Use products that absorb very well. Don't buy edible CBD products, as they are generally much more expensive per milligram. If you use CBD oil, let the oil absorb under your tongue. Alternatively, opt for vaping CBD.

That list should help you make a good choice. Next, let's look at how to avoid having cannabinoids interact with your prescription medicine.

5. CBD Safety: Interactions With Drugs.

Not everyone can just take CBD-based products. If you don't take any prescription drugs for your health, skip this section.

Prescription drugs you take might influence how CBD-based products functions in your body--and CBD-based products might also affect how prescription drugs are processed in your body.

You should be especially beware of using CBD-based products if you take prescription drugs

  1. for yeast and bacterial infections
  2. HIV or AIDS .
  3. for mental well-being, such as relaxants or drugs against epilepsy.

You'll also need to be careful if take any other prescription drugs such as:

Hormones, antibiotics, drugs for your heart, anti-acids for the stomach, different types of painkillers, diabetes medication, and drugs of the gastrointestinal system. 

In essence: you always need to consult your physician before taking CBD (oil), if you take any prescription drugs. The same advice is applicable if you consider taking THC-based products.



(Nerd section: Here I'll venture into some specific prescription drugs that are affected by CBD. Certain drugs that counteract yeast (ketoconazol; itraconazol), HIV or AIDS (ritonavir), bacterial infections (clarithromycin), promote higher blood levels of CBD oil.[82] 

Alternatively, some drugs will decrease how fast the blood levels of CBD oil rise, clearing the product faster from your body. Examples are epilepsy drugs (phenobarbital; carbamazepine; levetiracetam; felbamate; valproic acid; phenytoin), and different anti-bacterial infection drugs (rifampicin). 

Hexobarbital, a hypnotic drug that makes you relaxed, is also influenced by cannabinoids consumption.[115; 116] Another anti-epileptic sedative (or - benzo), clobazam, is also affected.[135] Antispychotics are also affected, such as risperidone.[117]

Paracetamol and antipsychotic drugs (specifically haloperidol) are not affected by CBD oil consumption.[82] 

Lastly, cannabinoids might alter how certain drugs are metabolized through the cytochrome P450 system.[269- 271] This system might affect several drugs--although many of these interactions have not yet been investigated specifically. Examples of such drugs are antihistamines, hormonal drugs, antibiotics, beta blockers or anti-arrhythmic drugs, epilepsy medicine, anti-acids for the stomach, calcium channel blockers, drugs affecting the proton pump, statins, beta-blockers, etcetera.)



Simply put: almost any prescription medication can be influenced by CBD-based products - even THC.

Next, we'll take a look at a controversial subject: should you add THC to your CBD?

The answer might surprise you!

6. A Role For THC In Health?

I want to re-emphasize a point I made earlier: THC-based compounds are illegal in many countries. I nevertheless discuss these compounds here, in the hypothetical situation that anyone might try them anyway.

I'm thus not recommending the use of THC, but just looking at which effects THC have on your health.

THC is the main active compound in marijuana based weed - that many people smoke. What effects will THC have on you in higher doses? This:

Your temperature drops, you become less active, your relax, and your memory becomes less functional.[11; 26] At least, these effects happen with high doses of THC that are not combined with much if any CBD. 

That's not the route I'm going to take here.

What I'm consider instead, is combining CBD and THC for medicinal purposes.

The main purpose of ingesting THC in that instance is not to get high - it's curative. Becoming "high" will just be a byproduct of the medical use of THC.

I don't think your judgment of the psychoactive effects of THC needs to cloud the judgment of THC's possible healing effects. I must admit - i had an "anti-psychoactive bias" before writing this blog post as well, assuming that only CBD could have have positive health effects because CBD is less psychoactive.

I was wrong.

I'll be honest: after looking at the research, there are very convincing reasons to ingest THC-based products under certain circumstances.

I do think that for therapeutic use, THC should always be combined with a high dose of CBD. This is where modern "smoking weed" goes wrong: weed maximizes the THC dosage, without adding much if any CBD to the mixture.



(Nerd section: This section does not only treat what is commonly understood as "THC". THCs can actually be subdivided into several compounds, such as "d-8-THC" and "d-9-THC", and "d-11-THC". "Regular THC" denotes the d-9-THC substance.

Marijuana research mainly focuses on d-9-THC, but d-11-THC might be even more interesting - being able to achieve quadruple therapeutic effects of d-9-THC.

The interactions between CBD and THC are extremely interesting. In some areas, the effects of THC and CBD counter each other, such as THC's possible side-effects.[27-32; 151] In some other studies, however, CBD increases the effects of THC.[11; 26] Cannabinoids essentially work synergistically, which is why full-spectrum cannabis products are recommended in this blog post.[297])



What's even worse?

The THC content of many street drugs such as weed have been steadily increasing, at the cost those drugs' CBD content.[33; 34]

The results is an imbalance...

These drugs do therefore not contain the higher levels of CBD to cancel some of the negative effects of THC.[28; 98; 99] For example, the ingestion of compounds with a higher THC to CBD ratio is associated with greater anxiety and depression levels.[31; 35-38; 60]

If you want THC to lower your anxiety levels, you have to keep the THC dose relatively low and your CBD dose high.

At most, the THC and CBD dose should be roughly equal.

My overall advice is to be careful.

While it's not established that ingesting cannabis products that are mainly based on THC causes you to be anxious or depressed, more people who are anxious and depressed do seem to be using such products. In other words, weed may be a way of dealing with anxiety or depression.

Does THC have other downsides?

Yes.

Smoking weed - thus using mostly THC - also increases the chance you getting a psychotic illness.[40-42] Schizophrenia is an example of such an psychotic illness. Keep in mind that some people are far more vulnerable to the negative effects of THC than others.[174] 

Any time CBD with THC are combined, the side effects of cannabis also increase, compared to taking just using CBD.[151]

THC can exhibit specific side effects that are not associated with CBD.

Short-term (possible) THC side effects are:[173; 174; 175]

  • having a dry mouth
  • hallucinations
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • short-term memory impairments

 In the long-term, THC can:[174; 175; 299; 328; 329 331]

  • increase anxiety
  • alter your brain development, which might impair your learning ability
  • reduce your life satisfaction
  • lower your lung function and the health of your heart.
  • decrease the functioning of your immune system.

These side-effects mainly happen at higher dosages.

Euphoria is often cited as a side-effect as well--but can only be considered a side effect if you're biased against the psychoactive effects of drugs. I do not consider euphoria a side effect unless you consider the "high" from THC inherently unpleasant.

But let's look at the bright side.

THC has many therapeutic effects as well. THC:

  • lowers inflammation, through, for example, lowering the activity of an overactive immune system. An overactive immune system is related to both excessive inflammation and autoimmune diseases.[299; 318; 326]  If you have an autoimmune disease, THC may be a godsend. 

    Let's look at Multiple Sclerosis, for example, a neurodegenerative disease. THC may help not slow the progression of that disease, but can help with reducing pain and improving movement capacity if you have Multiple Sclerosis.[314; 315]

    Another example is that THC inhibit the progression of Alzheimer's disease.[316; 320; 321] Inflammation also plays a quintessential role in Alzheimer's as well. 

    How about other types of inflammatory diseases? If you have lung problems - THC helps reduce inflammation there as well.[300]

  • decreases (joint) pain - for example, if you have osteoarthritis or chronic pain.[173; 322-324] THC can thus be replaced as a replacement of painkillers, and may even help you quit prescription painkillers.[325]

    A combination of CBD and THC seems to work best for reducing pain.[228; 229; 231; 232]
    In some types of pain, such as abdominal pain, post-operative pain, THC does not seem to be working.[309-312] 

    You'll thus have to determine whether THC is your best option for managing pain based on your own experience.

    Cannabinoids do exhibit the danger of being (psychologically) addictive by those who use them long-term to treat their (chronic) pain.[230] Psychological addiction mainly pertains to THC or synthetic cannabinoids that are devoid of CBD.

  • lowers pain associated with certain diseases such as fibromyalgia, cancer, and nerve pain.[307-308; 317] That gives you even more reasons for taking THC to manage pain.

  • may help with gut issues, eating disorders, under-eating, and nausea.[302; 327] In plain terms, THC makes you hungrier, and allows you to eat more. THC also protects your gut, and helps move foods through your digestive system.[319] 

  • treat addiction, for example, if you're addicted to prescription painkillers.[366] This property of THC might be especially useful because there's a prescription painkiller epidemic right now.

  • may help with mental pathologies such as autism or bipolar disorder, although more research is needed on this subject.[303-306] 

  • may protect your heart and blood vessels. Yes, I know THC did also have lower heart function listed as a side-effect. At low doses, THC seems to protect the heart, while the ingestion of high-THC and low CBD cannabis seems to be associated with an increase heart problems.[328-332; 345- 348]

    Yet another reason to combine CBD and THC...

  • may lower the risk of cancer, inhibit cancer growth, and even destroy cancer. This is one big reason why THC can very positively affect your health.[333-338; 340] Consider the word "may" very carefully here though: this effect has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt!

    Nevertheless, there are thus clear indications that both THC and CBD have anti-cancer effects. Many users of cannabis products also report these effects.

    THC's benefits for cancer don't stop with inhibiting cancer itself. THC also has indirect benefits:

    THC can help with managing the side-effects of cancer treatments, such as pain.[170-173; 339] This evidence provides a strong argument for the combination of THC and CBD in the treatment of cancer, instead of focusing on just CBD.

If you use a full-spectrum cannabinoid product, moreover, the psychoactive effects of THC might be decreased as well.[12; 344]

Why?

CBD lowers the psychoactive effects of THC.

THC - taken on its own - is a double edged sword.

THC can make you feel great in the short term, but there is a long-term price to pay. In the long-run, for example, THC lowers the amount of deep sleep and dreams you experience, makes it harder to fall asleep, and makes you sleep fewer hours.[112; 176; 177]

For me, THC's effects on sleep make the substance already worthless if you're healthy.

THC may also lower your immune system's function.[178; 179] In some diseases, THC's suppression of an overactive immune system can beneficial--but if you're a regular healthy adult, these effects are not needed.

THC can cause (negative) hormonal disruption, such as increasing the estrogen hormone.[256; 257] Most people in modern societies already estrogen levels that are too high.

Now, there's a catch:

Many of the side-effects are reduced or absent when you combine THC with CBD. Moreover, THC can even increase the effects of CBD.[12; 298]

I do think the interaction between THC and CBD make a very strong case for always choosing a full-spectrum cannabis product that always contains CBD, whether or not that product contains THC.

Just be aware of the price you're paying when using THC based products that are low in CBD and other cannabinoids. High THC products in the absence of CBD are somewhat unnatural, and may come with side-effects.

Next, we'll take a step away from supplementing with CBD or THC - and look at other strategies by which you can regulate the cannabinoids in your body.

7. Increasing Your Cannabinoids Naturally.

You've previously learned about the very important cannabinoid system of your body. 

But guess what?

You might not know that many modern diseases are associated with having low cannabinoid levels:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, ADD, autoimmune diseases such as MS, psychiatric illnesses, depression, anxiety, and addiction.[157; 189-194; 203] The careful reader will notice that many of these conditions are also treated by ingestion of cannabinoids, such as CBD oil. 

Besides disease, there are other reasons why your body's cannabinoid system matters. For example, the cannabinoid system regulates how your body deals with rewards and anxiety.

If your cannabinoid system does not function well, you're more prone to be anxious or depressed.

Remember that your body's cannabinoid system regulates everything from your hunger, energy levels, immune system, pain perception, libido, to sleep quality.[197-202] 

I previously advised to use sunlight and exercise (if non-stressed) to improve how well your body's cannabinoid system functions.[6-10; 182] Back then, I also promised to give you additional strategies to optimize the cannabinoid system in your body.

Here these strategies are:

  • Stress (negatively) influences the cannabinoid system in your body.[9; 155; 256; 158] For that reason, smoking weed is so helpful to calm you down. Instead of using THC and CBD, you could opt for other strategies that fundamentally de-stress you, such as walking, meditating, spending time in nature, or going to bed earlier.

    All these de-stressing strategies can help your body's cannabinoid system.

    Your cannabinoid system also regulates how well deal with future stressful events. High levels of cannabinoids lower the chances of fearful memories from being formed.[183; 184]

    If your cannabinoid system does not function properly, you'll be more prone to ruminate on fearful memories - and be more anxious.

  • Eat sufficient amounts of fatty acids.[159; 168] Examples are fats from coconut oil, avocado, butter from grass fed cows, and other animal fats sourced from beef, game, fish, and shellfish. Cannabinoids in your body are literally produced from healthy fatty acids.[160]

    If you consume a lot of unhealthy oils, such as canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, or corn oil, immediately remove them from your diet. These oils only destroy your health, and never have any health-advantage.

  • Getting exposed to cold.[162; 163] Although cold exposure has not yet been proven to be effective in human beings, animal studies do show that exposing yourself to cold can improve the amount of cannabinoids in your body.

    Cold showers and baths can function as cold exposure, as well as dunking your face in cold water.

    I've written a long guide on cold exposure in the past. A big takeaway is that you should be careful cold and slowly build your cold tolerance, if you're either stressed or in bad health.

"Don't need weed,
need cold and meat!"

  • Eat your spices, vegetables, and dark chocolate, drink your coffee and tea. While many plant foods do not give you the same psychoactive effects that THC has, they can nonetheless positively affect your body's cannabinoid system.

    To be more precise, in a minor way, these foods give some of the same benefits as CBD oil does.[167; 169; 185; 187]

    Be careful with consuming coffee and chocolate later in the day though: both consumables can lower sleep quality if consumed less than 10-12 before bedtime.[188; 189]

    I also suspect that overdoing coffee will be negative for the cannabinoids in your system in the long run.

    Why?

    Exercise shows the same pattern: some exercise is good, but exercising very intensely or frequently damages your body's cannabinoid system. Too much coffee also heightens your stress hormones - especially when coffee is taken on an empty stomach.

There you have it. Several strategies to keep the cannabinoid system of your body healthy.

Oh yeah, one last strategy: don't get dependent on THC (weed).[196] In the long-run, that substance can decrease the functioning of your cannabinoid system. Avoid psychological addiction to THC by always combining THC with CBD.

THC and CBD - the full spectrum product - is what nature meant cannabis products to be.



(Nerd section: there are many other methods that can be used to increase the endocannabinoid system in your body. Examples are supplements such as Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), magnolia extract, the use of hormones such as cortisol and or adrenaline, drugs such as aspirin, benzos, or morphine, I do not consider these useful nor viable strategies for those who are attempting to improve their health.[205])



8. Inexpensive CBD Oil Alternatives

A full 600mg bottle of CBD oil will last you 2 days, if you use the scientifically validated dose of CBD oil for decreasing anxiety during a presentation.

That's true at least, if you take the oral route of consumption. Putting CBD oil under your tongue or vaping CBD might be cheaper, but these options are still expensive.

What's the solution? 

Buy alternatives...

While you might not be able to buy alternatives for all goals that CBD oil purports to accomplish, some instances are really simple.

Let's go through three different issues for which many people take cannabis-based products.

  1. Let's say you have fear or anxiety issues. In that case, try kava extract[272-277], theanine,[278; 279] and ashwagandha[280; 281] before supplementing with cannabis-based products

    These supplements - even taken together - will probably cost you $70 a month, instead of costing you $70 per day if you want to take the recommended CBD dosage in most of the studies regarding fear and anxiety.

    Or you could just get sunlight again, to reduce your stress levels, to improve the cannabinoid levels in your body. Even learning to meditate has been proven to reduce your anxiety and fear levels over and over again as well.[282; 283]

    To learn meditation, you only pay a high price once, instead of every day.

  2. Do you have (chronic) pain? Start eating or supplementing curcumin before you try CBD oil.[284-287] Curcumin is an extract of turmeric, a spice.

    Curcumin only costs you several dollars each day at a maximum dose, instead of costing you more than $50 if you want to use the dosage recommended by CBD oil studies.

    It doesn't matter whether the pain originated after a surgery, pain from osteoarthritis, or acute pain - curcumin works brilliantly.

    Are you a cheapskate like me? Combine a tablespoon of organic turmeric powder with lots of black pepper. That solution is even less expensive. Drink as a spice shot. The black pepper helps your body absorb the curcumin in the turmeric.

    As an added bonus, curcumin also decreases the inflammation that's associated with pain.

  3. Do you want to improve sleep quality, or wakefulness? Then I've got a free e-book long guide with 50 tips

    The 50 tips are ordered hierarchically, and CBD oil is only located at #33. That means that there are 32 other tips that I consider more effective for improving your sleep quality during the night, and wakefulness during the day.

    You thus have lots of alternative strategies to try if you want to sleep better or have more energy during the day.

Try curcumin before you test the much
more expensive CBD and THC for pain.

Want to use cannabis anyway, without spending a lot of money?

Then lastly, there's another possibility: grow your own cannabis plants.

Make sure it's legal before you decide to produce your own cannabis plants. Nevertheless, you can find many guides online on how to select specific cannabis strands.

Creating your own cannabis plants is a much cheaper alternative than buying this stuff online. I don't have any experience with this option yet though, so I'm not the best guide in this specific process.

I do know that you can create your own cannabis-based CBD and THC products that cost pennies per day.

That's it:

All you need to know about cannabis-based products, such as CBD and THC...

Sign up below if you want a sharable infographic PDF that summarizes this article:

 

9. Conclusion:

There are instances in which cannabinoids can be extremely helpful. Cancer and epilepsy come to mind. 

In many other instances there are many (much less expensive) alternatives that I would suggest trying first, before spending their preciously earned money on CBD oil - or THC.

My message is thus simple: get your sunlight first, make sure you sleep well at night, optimize your diet, and develop many other healthy and happy habits

Use cannabinoids after you've develop more fundamental health-habits. But don't underestimate cannabis-based products either.

Cannabis can play a major role in improving your health in some instances.

Also remember that my guide on CBD and THC mostly focuses on the benefits of cannabis-based products that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Many effects of cannabis still have to be discovered (in more detail). 

Lots of users of cannabis on the internet report receiving absolutely spectacular benefits from cannabis-based products.

On the one hand, I'm skeptical towards claiming that cannabis can cure almost any illness. On the other hand,  scientific studies will hopefully validate amazing benefits in the future - proving me wrong.

I'm already assuming that this science-focused guide will look very different if it is rewritten in 2020 or 2025.

In the absence of a nuclear war or an AI hegemony, the future will give us all the answers we'd like to see about cannabis.

For other articles, see:

Why Vitamin D Supplements Are A Poor Choice: Why You Need Sunlight Exposure Instead

The Ultimate Blue Light Filtering Glasses Guide 

Beat Insomnia. Everything You Need To Know About Sleep Quality.

The Ultimate Bone Broth, Gelatin, and Collagen Protein Guide (2018)

How To Be Happy: Why Health Is Essential In The Pursuit Of Happiness

Show References


*Post can contain affiliate links. Read my affiliate, medical, and privacy disclosure for more information


 

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