Apr. 20. 2018
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped® and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

The so-called mood-boosting CBD (cannabidiol) oil has been popping up in everything from food products to supplements to lotions and more.

So what exactly is CBD oil, what are its benefits and how do you use it? Let’s talk about the basics of CBD and learn how you can incorporate CBD oil into your routine, or not.

What Is CBD?

Let’s break it down — CBD is a phytocannabinoid derived from two varieties of the cannabis sativa plant: hemp and marijuana. The main difference between the two is that the CBD oil in hemp comes from the large stalks and bark of the plant and has very little traces of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive chemical that causes a “high” feeling or mind-altering effects. It’s also worth noting that hemp has much greater CBD content than marijuana.

CBD oil from hemp has less than .3 percent of THC, so there is a very little effect. On the other hand, CBD oil from marijuana comes from the buds and the flowering parts of the plant and has much larger amounts of THC.

CBD oil from hemp is different from hemp seed oil, which is mainly used for cooking, so don’t be fooled into thinking you’re buying CBD when the label says hemp seed oil. When shopping for CBD, you want to look for an organic, full-spectrum oil from hemp. Unlike other CBD oils out there organic, full-spectrum varieties contain phytonutrients, essential fatty acids, flavonoids and antioxidants from the whole hemp plant that work together to enhance the effects of CBD. This is what’s known as the “entourage effect.”

Is CBD Oil Illegal?

CBD oil from marijuana is legal only in certain states, including California, Colorado, and Oregon, whereas CBD oil from hemp is legal across the U.S. and can be grown and shipped anywhere. To purchase CBD oil from marijuana, you would need a medical marijuana card or prescription from a doctor. Either way, consult your doctor first to see if CBD is right for you and to ensure that it plays nicely with any medications or other supplements you’re already taking.

Dr. Taz Bhatia, a board-certified integrative medicine physician, says, “CBD can prolong metabolization of drugs in our system, especially those metabolized by the liver. This may actually work to help reduce drug dosing, but we still need to be mindful when patients are taking certain medications.” Dr. Bhatia says CBD can affect the following medications, so be sure to speak to your doctor before you consider using CBD: Blood thinners; antipsychotic medications for bipolar disease, schizophrenia, and autism; cholesterol and blood pressure medications; medications for gastrointestinal reflux and ulcers; and epilepsy and seizure medications. 

The Health Benefits of CBD Oil

Why is the health and wellness community talking about and using CBD? CBD oil is gaining in popularity in the health and wellness world as a way to reduce anxiety and depression, support a healthy heart, alleviate chronic pain, as well as treat common symptoms related to cancer and cancer treatment. But some supplements also couple it with melatonin to help you sleep better. As the research continues to grow about the effects and benefits of CBD, we can paint a better picture of how to incorporate it into our daily routines and use it for specific medical purposes. But until then, here’s what we know so far…

What Science Tells Us

  • CBD could help treat arthritis by eliminating the inflammation that’s associated with it. (1) People living with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis have used CBD oil to help treat chronic pain. You can apply CBD oil or cream to areas where you need pain relief.
  • Taking CBD may help anxiety, anxiety-induced insomnia, and social anxiety disorder. (2)(3)(4) If you suffer from insomnia or anxiety, CBD oil may help you sleep better at night. Studies have shown cases of people who suffer from PTSD and severe anxiety benefiting from the sleep-inducing effects of CBD oil. You can add a drop of CBD oil to your cup of tea or bedtime smoothie.
  • CBD may lower chronic pain and reduce inflammation by interacting with neurotransmitters. (5)(6)(7)(8) While most studies on the effect of CBD on neurotransmitters were done on rats, research suggests that sensorial and affective dimensions of pain can be toned down by CBD.
  • CBD may be a promising treatment for intractable epilepsy. (9) In a study, five Israeli children with epilepsy were given medical CBD oil to help reduce the frequency of their seizures. Not only did the CBD oil help them decrease the rate of seizures, but they also saw an improvement in their communication and motor skills as well as sleep.
  • CBD has also shown anti-cancer properties and may help fight cancer cells from forming as well as serve as a therapeutic agent for leukemia. (10)(11)  Studies suggest that CBD can inhibit the progression and growth of breast cancer cells, but more research in humans is needed to confirm its abilities.
  • CBD has shown anti-nausea effects. (12) While this study was done on rats, it shows how CBD can potentially be used to reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • CBD has also shown promise as support for a healthy heart, as well as beneficial effects on diabetes. (13) CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects can help promote vasorelaxation, which means reducing the tension in blood vessel walls.

Where Can You Buy CBD Oil?

You can find CBD from hemp online or in health food stores. It’s available as a powder or oil and can be made into a skin care cream or gel for topical application. Additionally, it can be taken as a capsule or sprayed directly onto the tongue. (1) Some food products, like chocolates and gummies, also include CBD. But if this is the first time you’re considering CBD oil, use the oil dropper so you can easily adjust the dose.

Some people may find that a full dose can make them sleepy or tired, so if that’s the case with you, go with half the dosage. CBD in supplements are also another great option, especially if you don’t like the taste of the oil. Oftentimes, you’ll see CBD supplements come with turmeric or vitamins to help you reap other nutritional benefits. Here are some CBD products we found interesting:

1. Charlotte’s Web Hemp Oil Extract

This particular hemp oil comes in two flavors: Olive oil and chocolate mint. You can mix it into your morning coffee or smoothie, or prepare it with homemade energy balls and snacks.

2. CBD Biocare Full-Spectrum Oil

If you don’t want any THC in your body, CBD Biocare has zero levels of the psychoactive chemical, and because its oil is extracted from the entire hemp plant, you get its other health-boosting nutrients.

3. Sagely’s CBD + Turmeric Capsules

Think the full “entourage effect” in pill form. These CBD supplements don’t have any traces of THC or preservatives and are non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan.

4. This Is Not Pot Chocolate

Not a fan of the oil or capsules?  Try this stress-relieving CBD-infused chocolate, which has ashwagandha, as well as organic cacao nibs, organic cocoa butter, and organic maple sugar.

Are There Side Effects of CBD?

While there are many emerging studies showing signs of CBD’s health benefits, research is limited on its long-term effects. If you try a CBD oil and start to see unwanted side effects, stop taking it immediately and see your doctor. Remember, CBD oil is just a supplement to a healthy lifestyle. You can reap the same anti-inflammatory, stress-reducing benefits by following a well-balanced diet filled with vegetables and fruits and a regular exercise routine. Because when you make time to take care of yourself, the rest of your health follows.

Bottom Line:

We have a lot to learn about CBD and more studies are needed to determine its effects on our overall health and specific medical conditions. I’ve personally tried it and I can’t tell if it was a placebo effect or if it truly did help ease my anxiety when taken as needed — time and further studies will tell!


  1. Burgess, L. CBD for arthritis: Benefits, use, and side effects.
  2. Crippa, J. A., Derenusson, G. N., Ferrari, T. B., Wichert-Ana, L., Duran, F. L., Martin-Santos, R., . . . Hallak, J. E. (2011, January). Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report.
  3. Shannon, S., & Opila-Lehman, J. (2016). The effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report.
  4. Schier, A. R., Ribeiro, N. P., Silva, A. C., Hallak, J. E., Crippa, J. A., Nardi, A. E., & Zuardi, A. W. (2012, June). Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug.
  5. Genaro, K., Fabris, D., Arantes, A. L., Zuardi, A. W., Crippa, J. A., & Prado, W. A. (2017). Cannabidiol Is a Potential Therapeutic for the Affective-Motivational Dimension of Incision Pain in Rats.
  6. Costa, B., Trovato, A. E., Comelli, F., Giagnoni, G., & Colleoni, M. (2007, February 05). The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
  7. Xiong, W., Cui, T., Cheng, K., Yang, F., Chen, S. R., Willenbring, D., . . . Zhang, L. (2012, June 04). Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors.
  8. Ethan B. Russo and Andrea G. Hohmann. Role of Cannabinoids in Pain Management. (2013).
  9. CBD-enriched medical cannabis for intractable pediatric epilepsy: The current Israeli experience. (2016, January 06).
  10. Velasco, G., Sánchez, C., & Guzmán, M. (2016, March). Anticancer mechanisms of cannabinoids.
  11. Massi, P., Solinas, M., Cinquina, V., & Parolaro, D. (2013, February). Cannabidiol as a potential anticancer drug.
  12. Rock, E. M., Bolognini, D., Limebeer, C. L., Cascio, M. G., Anavi-Goffer, S., Fletcher, P. J., . . . Parker, L. A. (2012, April). Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic component of cannabis, attenuates vomiting and nausea-like behavior via indirect agonism of 5-HT(1A) somatodendritic autoreceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus.
  13. Stanley, C. P., Hind, W. H., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2013, February). Is the cardiovascular system a therapeutic target for cannabidiol?

Let’s Hear It

What do you think about CBD oil? Have you tried it? Do you know anyone that could benefit from its effects? Keep the conversation going for the entire community by commenting below. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this trending — and to some, controversial — topic.

McKel and Team NS