You have heard all about the healing benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), and are looking to try it for the first time. And so comes the tricky part: finding answers to all the questions running through your mind. How exactly is CBD oil made? Does it carry any health risks? More importantly, can it become addictive?
Don’t worry though — anyone with no previous experience with the stuff would likely have the same concerns. Cannabis, after all, is one area that has posted a mystery to the general public for decades. Even as legalization continues to spread, the plant and its derivatives are still demonized by most. So let’s try finding answers to your questions, starting with the most pressing.
Can You Become Addicted to CBD Oil?
In a nutshell, no. A more satisfying answer requires a good understanding of addiction, and what makes a substance habit-forming in the first place. The human body is hard-wired to crave the things it needs to survive. That’s why you feel refreshed after drinking a glass of water following a thirsty spell — your brain produces dopamine (a feel-good chemical) as a reward.
Addiction can be defined as a state where the body develops a dependency on a particular substance in spite of the hazards it poses. In theory, you can get addicted to anything that triggers a release of dopamine. Continual use of such a substance will make the brain classify it as a need, thus causing you to crave more of it. Addiction is classified as an illness because these cravings alter the brain’s chemical makeup and structure.
It’s well known that the THC in cannabis causes a euphoric high, and can, therefore, lead to dependence. But that’s not true for all the chemical substances found in the marijuana plant. As a matter of fact, CBD and THC share little in common as far as addictive potential is concerned.
Not All Cannabis Ingredients Are Created Equal
CBD is among the numerous chemical substances found in the cannabis sativa plant. These are collectively known as cannabinoids, due to their ability to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Like any other bodily system, this is a network of receptors that manages a set of functions. Scientists first discovered cannabinoid receptors in 1988, and thereafter classified them into 2 categories (CB1 and CB2).
CBD and THC are the two most prominent cannabinoids in marijuana. Although they have the same exact chemical formulation (21 carbon, 30 hydrogen, and 2 oxygen atoms), their molecules are arranged in different ways. That leads to dissimilar interactions with the body, which explains why THC produces a psychoactive effect while CBD does not.
To elaborate, THC can bind directly with CB1 and CB2 receptors thanks to its molecular structure. The creation of these bonds triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, which creates an intoxicated feeling in the short term. Repeated use of THC will inevitably lead to addiction.
In stark contrast, CBD cannot bind directly with either kind of receptor. Its presence actually encourages the body to utilize more of its own cannabinoids, thus negating the bond between THC and CB1/2 receptors. This, in turn, neutralizes the psychoactive effects caused by THC.
It’s worth noting that for all their differences, these two compounds offer similar health benefits. But that’s a subject for another day; the whole point here is to determine whether CBD oil is safe for you. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:
-Because cannabidiol is non-psychoactive, CBD oil cannot get you high.
-As such, you have no reason to be worried about the risk of addiction.
-Using CBD in isolation means you stand little chance of failing a drug test.
So Now What?
Time to address the other elephant in the room: the presence of THC in CBD oil. On paper, every cannabidiol product will contain traces of THC. The percentage will, however, vary depending on the plant source.
Most of the products found online are usually derived from industrial hemp. This has been studied to have a lower concentration of THC in relation to CBD. It’s also worth noting that the latter can be extracted in two different ways, specifically:
-CO2 Extraction: This involves filtering plant matter (stalks and stems) through a series of pressurized, temperature-controlled chambers.
-Chemical extraction: Here, the plant matter is stripped of cannabinoids by running it through liquid solvents like ethanol, butane, hexane, etc.
Although the former technique is more expensive, it does a much better job of separating CBD from THC. That means traces of the latter in the finished product will be minimal, as is the risk of contamination.
So it’s worth doing your research before buying CBD oil (or, for that matter, any cannabidiol product). Any manufacturer worth their salt will specify how much THC there is in a particular extract — this should be no more than 0.3%. Still, you will want to ensure that the product has been tested by a third party.
Too Much of a Good Thing…
…Can be disastrous. While the use of CBD oil doesn’t present the risk of addiction, the notion that you cannot overdose on it is grossly misinformed. In reality, consuming too much of the stuff in too short a timeframe can be fatal.
And for what it’s worth, one man’s miracle cure can be another’s poison. So do tread with caution when using cannabidiol extracts for the first time. In particular, it’s recommended to work out your optimal dosage before proceeding.
Typically, the label will have a chart outlining the ideal dosage based on body weight and state of health. If that’s not the case, you will want to start with a small amount and wait to see the effect CBD has on your body before increasing the dose. It might help to document your experiences in a journal for more clarity.
Speaking of clarity, be sure to talk to your doctor before purchasing any products. CBD is known to interact with certain medications; you don’t want that to cause headaches later on. Also keep in mind that for all their potential, CBD products aren’t designed to cure any illnesses.