CBD oil has recently made headlines in newspapers, magazines, and social media athlete pages. It is repeatedly touted as a versatile supplement that could help improve the quality of your (and your pets) life both immediately and long term.
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What is CBD Oil?
First, the acronym ‘CBD’ stands for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is a naturally-occurring chemical compound found in the flowers, leaves, and stalks of the hemp plant.
Hemp is NOT marijuana. It is a close cousin of marijuana, but without as much THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical compound in marijuana that causes the high) so it is not psychoactive.
CBD oil is made by isolating the individual CBD compounds through extraction and then distilling them in alcohol to remove impurities. They’re usually then suspended in a carrier oil. Plants have been used by humans throughout history to improve physical and mental health and to mitigate the damage to our bodies by disease. Specific plants have long been used in medicine, magic, and folklore, and many sets of prehistoric remains have been found with ritualistically-carried herb and plant matter on their bodies and in their camps.
The discovery of the ECS, or the endocannabinoid system, provided solid biologically-backed evidence of what humans have known since we were barely human: that plants have a profound ability to control, enhance, and heal our bodies and our minds.
While CBD oil itself has only been used in research studies and laboratories since the 1940s, cannabis-derived medicines have been popular for centuries.
The earliest known use was a tea in ancient China rumored to cure rheumatism and gout. Most famously, Queen Victoria reportedly used CBD to alleviate her menstrual cramps in the late 1800s.
CBD oil is unique in that it interacts with the ECS, a system that intercepts ingested CBD molecules and translates them in a way our body can understand, and which functions the same way in all animals regardless of complexity.
The ECS is a massive network of cell membrane receptors involved in several physiological processes like sleep and digestion.
It was first discovered in the 1990s by L.A. Matsuda while he was researching the various ways THC affects the body and brain. Soon after, the National Institute of Health began researching the use of CBD oil, with promising results, and eventually filed for a patent from the federal government.
Because CBD was not widely available for research for so long, the connection to our endocannabinoid system is still being researched in depth. Relatively little is known about everything it affects- but scientists can already see how incredibly vital it is to our health and long-term wellness.
The ECS plays an incredibly important role in creating memories, stabilizing mood, and regulating hormone production. It can help your brain and body learn to adapt to stress, both chronic (like work deadlines and traffic) and acute stress (particularly helpful in survival situations).
It can control the ability (or inability) to reproduce. It can affect all our body’s primary functions including depth and quality of sleep, digestion and proper absorption of nutrients, and the way our immune system protects us from illness.
An insensitivity to CBD could play a role in chronic illness and may point to how and why our bodies suddenly develop diseases like cancer.
CBD oil essentially encourages our bodies to work with our ECS to maintain internal homeostasis, which is the balance across all our major regulatory systems (the nervous system, for example, or circulatory system).
It helps our body synchronize the chemicals and hormones we produce and use every day, can help manage many medical conditions (including anxiety, depression, epilepsy, cancer, and chronic pain and inflammation), and improves overall health and well-being.
Many people say they feel better, younger, and in better general health when regularly using good-quality CBD oil.
CBD is safe, effective, and quickly and easily metabolized by all mammals. It is virtually impossible to overdose. There is no risk of becoming chemically dependent on (or addicted to) CBD oil. No serious side effects have been reported. On rare occasions mild diarrhea or slight drowsiness has been linked to high dosages.
How Do You Use CBD Oil?
The CBD oil that consumers can purchase in stores and online come in many forms; tinctures, capsules, and edibles are most common.
Tinctures are often used sublingually, which means they are placed under the tongue for 60 seconds and then swallowed, and can be absorbed into the body significantly faster than capsules or edibles.
Sublingual CBD oil can provide by far the most efficient relief : you could start feeling the effects of a CBD oil tincture in as little as 10 or 15 minutes versus the 30 to 45 minutes, on average, for other methods, particularly those that require digestion.
CBD oil for pets comes in a similar array of choices, including baked into fun treats (like bacon chews!) and infused into solid oils, with more products being introduced all the time!
There are two types of CBD oil available for pets: CBD isolate, which is nothing but the CBD (which is preferred by those that want extreme purity in their product) and full-spectrum CBD oil, which is usually made with hemp oil.
As a warning, THC, the psychoactive chemical compound in marijuana, is illegal in a number of places and is highly toxic to animals. It absolutely should not be present, in any amount, in pet-friendly products.
There are also other interesting methods of introducing CBD into your day, including some that don’t even depend on oral ingestion. You can ‘vape’ your CBD. There is no shortage of hygiene and beauty products that include CBD, including face masks and hair conditioners!
For leg cramps, a CBD-infused lotion you apply at night before bed. For kids, a tropical-fruit-flavored once-a-day gummy. For dogs, a processed-cheese-covered pill that makes it easy to track dosage.
It will likely become a more popular ingredient in many unexpected things as more people fall in love with the benefits. A quick online search should provide you with a plethora of options.
Of course, the most popular (and most widely available) CBD products right now are the oil tinctures and capsules or pills. These provide an easy, effective way of getting CBD oil into your body, they’re easy to fit into your day, and they make dosing simple. Many times you can find a pill with the exact dose you need so there is no measuring or math needed!
The label and instructions of any product you choose should have dosing information listed. If not, the company you purchased it from should have that information readily available.
The general formula for dosage is based on body weight : .25 milligrams per 1 pound of body weight. Some widely-accepted online calculators recommend starting with 1 milligram and building up to 6 milligrams per 10 pounds of body weight.
A standard starting dose of 25 milligrams twice a day can be effective for treating minor common ailments (like fatigue, headaches, or body aches), inducing good-quality sleep, and maintaining control over your appetite (particularly if your end goal is weight loss).
You may eventually come to need a higher amount of CBD oil to achieve the results you desire. It’s simple to figure out! To safely increase your dosage, just start slowly and work your way up to the desired or suggested dose.
Adding 25 milligrams to your daily amount, then maintaining that for several days, then adding another 25 milligrams, is a good way to begin raising the amount of CBD oil you take every day.
It’s important to give your body plenty of time to acclimate to each dosage level, and waiting several days to further increase the dose is a good way to gauge how your symptoms are responding. You may find your body functions best at a specific dose at a specific time of day.
If you are using CBD oil to control a debilitating medical condition, the doctors and scientists at the world-famous Mayo Clinic have developed a handy chart of standard starting doses for several including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Huntington’s disease.
Treating these diseases usually involves starting with a much larger dose of CBD oil than the average consumer needs. These higher dosages and the effects it has on these illnesses have been studied by researchers, published in medical journals, and used by many patients with positive results.
These studies themselves (and even simplified easy-to-read results and supporting documentation) are widely accessible online. If you have questions about treating a specific condition, talk to your doctor.
Your situation may be different than those presented in the study and it’s important to get personalized care.
It is most important to remember to use your CBD oil every day. Consistency is key. Many people find their worst symptoms are alleviated in 3 to 7 days; most find maximum relief in about 2 weeks when taking CBD oil twice a day every day.
Many people find they have a relapse period if they forget their oil; symptoms may come back quickly and fiercely. You may have rebound symptoms even after you restart your CBD oil regimen. This can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, so it is definitely better to just keep taking it regularly!
A good idea when beginning your CBD oil treatment regimen is to keep a journal. You can try using a severity rating system to easily observe trends: five stars for ‘good’ days with few symptoms and one star for ‘miserable’ days, for instance.
Include the date, the time (you could have different notes for morning and night doses), your symptoms and moods, your quality of sleep, and how much CBD oil you took. You may wish to include other details about your day, such as what you ate, where you are in your menstrual cycle, unusual interactions with the people around you, and so on.
Taking consistent notes may help you identify which symptoms your CBD oil is affecting, what you still need to be working on, when it is time to change your dosage, and when it is time to consult a professional for further assistance.
By taking such meticulous notes, you can also help your doctor see evidence of your improved condition so they can give you further advice and treatment plan options. While it absolutely can be an effective stand-alone option, CBD oil is often used in conjunction with other lifestyle changes.
CBD, diet and exercise can nicely complement traditional eastern (like acupuncture and massage) and mainstream western medicine (like medications and surgeries).
Make sure to check in with all of your medical professionals, including any specialists, before starting any new supplements or beginning a new medication in case there is the potential for interactions.
Your medical team can advise you on any further precautions to take before you begin. They could also suggest periodic testing and monitoring to help keep track of your progress.
Always make sure to buy your CBD oil from a reputable source that strives to maintain constant control over the growing, harvesting, and manufacturing processes - that level of commitment could help ensure the purity of their product.
Are Pet and Human CBD Oil Interchangeable?
In short, YES - human and pet CBD oil can be virtually interchangeable, with a few important side notes.
Animals can suffer from the same medical conditions that humans can and the treatment can all begin in the same place: with high-quality CBD oil. Arthritis, lack of appetite, anxiety, cancer- all these things and more affect pets as often (and as severely) as they do humans. CBD can be just as safe and effective for your pets as it is for you!
The endocannabinoid system (the ECS) functions very similarly in all animals. Even the most primitive animals have cannabinoid receptors! The sea squirt, for instance, is a very simple animal that evolved to genetically express cannabinoid receptors in its digestive tract more than 600 million years ago!
Most widely-produced CBD oil products are safe for both humans and all types of pets, but the products specifically created and marketed for human consumption are subject to more stringent regulations than those for animals.
Like all food- and health-related substances (including dietary supplements and over-the-counter herbal preparations and medicines), manufacturers are required by the Federal Drug Administration (the FDA) to adhere to more rigorous testing procedures and stricter labeling guidelines to ensure universal safety and purity.
Because of this set of higher standards and the financial and practical burden put on companies to meet them, you may find that human products are more expensive than products marketed for pets.
Check the bottle! The primary ingredients list should be identical on both the human and the animal version - it should say pure CBD with no included THC or terpenes.
The main ingredient in essential oils, terpenes are other compounds naturally produced by plants and insects that make plant life smell sweet, and are generally seen as impurities (unless they are added in afterward for flavor in the form of essential oils, in which case your bottle should specify that).
The ingredients list should also say which carrier oil is used (fatty vegetable-based oils like MCT coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, and hempseed oil are common). A carrier oil is important (especially when essential oils may be added- undiluted essential oils can be dangerous when not used correctly) because it dilutes the CBD, which your body may not be able to process in full-strength.
Be aware that, while grapes can be dangerous for dogs to ingest, grape seed oil as a carrier oil is considered perfectly safe.
Another potential concern for humans using CBD oil meant for pets is the flavor additives. Human CBD oil is often pure and unflavored; those meant for pets are often flavored to entice the animal to eat it without argument.
Traditional CBD oil has an earthy flavor to it, so many manufacturers add animal-friendly flavor to the oil. It may however be unpalatable for humans to have, for example, liver-flavored CBD oil sitting under their tongue.
The flavor additives may also contain flavor-enhancing ingredients like stevia and various essential oils (mint is a particularly common one). While these ingredients are generally safe for human consumption, they may cause mild digestive or respiratory upset in some people if taken internally.
Make sure to check the ingredients list and the label, and, as always, get your CBD oil from a reputable source that guarantees purity. Follow the manufacturers guidelines on storage, use, and expiration.
Check with your doctor or veterinarian to see if you and your pet are candidates for cannabidiol use. It could be the invigorating, revitalizing, life-changing solution modern humans (and their pets!) need to function at their peak!