Terpenes: The Equally Effective Yet Underrated Cannabinoid Counterpart

While cannabidiol may be the main active ingredient in a CBD tincture, it’s not the sole compound. Even in some CBD isolate products, there are a few additional ingredients. This includes the carrier oil and more importantly – terpenes. Many beginners who experimented with a few products or read up on some cannabis literature have a general understanding of what CBD is. However, they may only have heard of terpenes in passing, if at all. What is a terpene, and how do they contribute to the efficacy of a CBD product?

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes, also known as terpenoids, are organic compounds found in cannabis. While terpenes have become associated with marijuana in recent years, they are by no means unique to the cannabis plant. They are also found abundantly in various plant species, vegetables, herbs and even in some insects.

Various organisms within the plant and insect kingdom developed the aromatic compound over thousands of years as a survival mechanism to ward off predators. Different species developed their own unique terpenes depending on their climate, soil and types of predators in the environment.

Terpenes have an aroma that keep predators at bay. This same aroma is what gives CBD tinctures, vape juices and edibles their distinct flavor and texture. While the terpene smell may be pungent to predators, they are actually quite aromatic to people.

Terpenes Versus Cannabinoids: Similar yet Different

Terpenes and cannabinoids are similar at the molecular level. They are both secreted from the resin glands of the cannabis plant. The main differentiating factor lies in a molecule in terpenes called isoprene. This is a molecular 5-carbon ring that is not present in CBD or other phytocannabinoids. This is what gives the terpenes their aroma. Cannabinoids, on the other hand, are odorless.

Why CBD Products Require Terpenes

Most CBD tinctures disclose their terpenes on the bottle or on the manufacturer website. While casual and beginning users may only pay attention to the CBD concentrations, seasoned users give equal attention to the terpene profile. The reason for doing so goes far beyond the flavor. More studies are beginning to reveal a synergistic effect between cannabinoids and terpenes. This is known as the entourage effect, which we have discussed in prior posts.

One 2011 study1 discovered that terpenoids exert an effect on cannabinoids, and especially the psychoactive compound THC. In turn, this affects the cannabinoid’s effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and CB receptors. The study showed that a terpenoid called myrcene increased the effects of THC-rich cannabis, which in turn increased its effect as a sedative and painkiller.

Terpenes in Aromatherapy

Terpenes from other plants, fruits and herbs are popular extracts for use in aromatherapy. One study showed that the terpene linalool — found in lavender — may relieve stress when inhaled. Linalool is also a common terpene in cannabis. There is also anecdotal evidence that eating mangoes extend the psychoactive effects of THC because mangos get their distinct aroma from the aforementioned myrcene terpene.

This alludes to the idea that terpenes may have standalone benefits independent of cannabinoids. We’re actually surprised that this hasn’t warranted more attention from the cannabis and medical industry.

Terpenes’ Role in Cannabis Breeding

Most terpenes also inhibit or catalyze the formation of certain cannabinoids in cannabis. Growers use this knowledge when breeding plants to produce a yield with a desirable cannabinoid profile, such as high CBD and low THC.

Some users notice different flavors and degrees of high even when using cannabis from the same harvest. The difference is due to the terpenes, which can differ significantly even among plants of the same chemovar. This is a near-unique feature of cannabis, whereas a lime, for example, will always have the same terpene profile as that of other limes.

Terpenes Versus Terpenoids: Is There a Difference?

Terpenes are organic hydrocarbons. Terpenoids, on the other hand, are terpenes that have undergone oxidation from a curing process. You can think of terpenoids as a “dried out” version of terpenes. Terpenoids, in this sense, are also said to be synthetically derived. Different curing processes give them different aromas and properties.

The Types of Terpenes

There are an estimated 20,000 known terpenes. About 100 to 200 of those are found in cannabis. Only a small handful of those have been extensively studied. In this regard, terpenes are much like cannabinoids; CBD and THC get all the rave even though there are dozens of other phytocannabinoids. It’s the same with terpenes. Below are the medicinal qualities of some of the more commonly known terpenes.


This terpene has an earthy and clove-like aroma. It’s also one of the most abundant and widely-studied terpenes in cannabis. Myrcene is also in various other plants and fruits, such as lemongrass, hops, thyme and mangos.

Studies2 show that myrcene has antinociception properties, meaning it blocks pain sensory neurons. Another study3 revealed that it may treat pain in patients who don’t respond well to conventional pain medication.


As the name implies, this terpene is also found in lemons. As you can probably guess, this terpene has a lemon and citrus aroma. Studies4 show limonene may act as a lipid-lowering compound, meaning it reduces both LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Another study5 suggests it may combat oxidative stress that leads to insulin resistance and fat accumulation around the liver.


You can also find this terpene in black pepper. Want to guess its aroma? Yes, it’s the smell of black pepper. Beta-caryophyllene is also found in other spices like cinnamon, oregano and basil. In one study6, the administration of beta-caryophyllene expanded the lifespan of worms by 11-22 percent! Granted, humans are not earthworms, but it’s nice food for thought.

Another study7 suggests that beta-caryophyllene may preserve cognitive function by reducing neuroinflammation, or inflammation in the brain. Researchers are also carefully evaluating this terpene after studies8 reveal it may hold anti-cancer properties.


If you’re familiar with the scent of lavender, then you have an idea of what linalool smells like. Like myrcene, studies9 show linalool has antinociception properties, making it a useful natural pain reliever. Another study10 suggests linalool has anti-anxiety benefits. Rats that inhaled the oil exhibited more social interaction and less aggressive behavior towards other mice.


This terpene is also in pine needles, so it almost has that smell of a freshly cut fir or conifer tree. One study11 revealed that a-pinene may be useful for treatment against a particular bronchitis virus that’s immune to antibiotics. Furthermore, research12 shows the terpene may have an inhibitory effect on hepatoma carcinoma cells, which contribute to cancerous tumor growth.

Primary Terpenes and Secondary Terpenes

You may also hear some industry insiders refer to terpenes as either primary or secondary. All the aforementioned terpenes are primary, meaning they exert a dominant influence on the cannabis’ smell and medicinal qualities. In other words, they play a leading role in the infamous entourage effect.

Cannabis also contains secondary terpenes. These are present in smaller traces and have a subtler influence. Some secondary terpenes include phytol, borneol, terpinene and phellandrene. Despite the secondary status, these terpenes still contribute to the overall entourage effect.

Terpenes in CBD Isolate and Full-Spectrum Oils

Between CBD full spectrum and CBD isolate oils, the former is usually the more favored of the two. The presence of multiple cannabinoids and terpenes contribute to the synergistic effect. CBD isolate means the tincture is 99 percent CBD and nothing else. This means it contains zero terpenes or only negligible traces. However, if you prefer CBD isolate, know that there are terpene-infused CBD isolate oils out there. This is known as CBD terpsolate.

Where to Find Terpene-Infused CBD Oils

Please exercise due diligence when buying any CBD products. Only acquire oils, edibles and dabs from certified vendors. The list below are some suppliers we have vetted ourselves. These suppliers carry terpene-rich CBD tinctures, vape juices and more.

  • CBD FX: This retailer carries a number of full spectrum CBD oils and other related products. Some of the tinctures come in distinct flavors (e.g. Platinum Rose, Pineapple Express) using unique terpene blends.
  • CBD Distillery: Not all CBD suppliers these days carry CBD isolate since full spectrum is believed to be superior. This site not only carries CBD isolate, but also CBD terpsolate in various flavors.
  • Koi CBD: This store carries CBD oils and vape juices in various common flavors, such as orange, lemon-lime, and spearmint.
  • Hemp Lucid: This site specifically discloses that its tinctures consist of CBD isolate with the terpenes left intact.

Terpenes Are Just as Relevant as CBD

Now that you understand how terpenes work, you can appreciate this vital cannabis compound and not just focus solely on cannabinoids. Terpenes also have standalone benefits, hence their popularity in aromatherapy. Remember that the cannabis plant is extremely complex, and its dozens of documented medical and recreational benefits are not due to a sole compound.

Medical References

Russo E. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. Br J Pharmacol. 2011;163(7):1344-1364. [PMC]
Rao V, Menezes A, Viana G. Effect of myrcene on nociception in mice. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1990;42(12):877-878. [PubMed]
Russo E. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008;4(1):245-259. [PMC]
Kim J, Lee H, Jeong S, Lee M, Kim S. Essential oil of Pinus koraiensis leaves exerts antihyperlipidemic effects via up-regulation of low-density lipoprotein receptor and inhibition of acyl-coenzyme A: cholesterol acyltransferase. Phytother Res. 2012;26(9):1314-1319. [PubMed]
Victor A, Jayachitra J, Shenbagam M, Nalini N. Dietary d-limonene alleviates insulin resistance and oxidative stress-induced liver injury in high-fat diet and L-NAME-treated rats. Eur J Nutr. 2012;51(1):57-68. [PubMed]
Pant A, Mishra V, Saikia S, et al. Beta-caryophyllene modulates expression of stress response genes and mediates longevity in Caenorhabditis elegans. Exp Gerontol. 2014;57:81-95. [PubMed]
Javed H, Azimullah S, Haque M, Ojha S. Cannabinoid Type 2 (CB2) Receptors Activation Protects against Oxidative Stress and Neuroinflammation Associated Dopaminergic Neurodegeneration in Rotenone Model of Parkinson’s Disease. Front Neurosci. 2016;10:321. [PMC]
Legault J, Pichette A. Potentiating effect of beta-caryophyllene on anticancer activity of alpha-humulene, isocaryophyllene and paclitaxel. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2007;59(12):1643-1647. [PubMed]
Peana A, D’Aquila P, Chessa M, Moretti M, Serra G, Pippia P. (-)-Linalool produces antinociception in two experimental models of pain. Eur J Pharmacol. 2003;460(1):37-41. [PubMed]
Linck V, da S, Figueiró M, Caramão E, Moreno P, Elisabetsky E. Effects of inhaled Linalool in anxiety, social interaction and aggressive behavior in mice. Phytomedicine. 2010;17(8-9):679-683. [PubMed]
Yang Z, Wu N, Zu Y, Fu Y. Comparative anti-infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) activity of (-)-pinene: effect on nucleocapsid (N) protein. Molecules. 2011;16(2):1044-1054. [PubMed]
Chen W, Liu Y, Li M, et al. Anti-tumor effect of α-pinene on human hepatoma cell lines through inducing G2/M cell cycle arrest. J Pharmacol Sci. 2015;127(3):332-338. [PubMed]

CBD for Children: Will This Bring Child Protective Services to My Door?

CBD has so many beneficial uses for people; the dozens upon dozens of scientific studies and first-hand accounts speak for themselves. This is why some parents want to administer CBD to their children, especially if their young ones are experiencing some form of ailment. What exactly does the law say regarding CBD for children? Will a social worker come knocking on your door if word gets out that you’re treating a child’s illness with CBD?

This post will discuss the legality of cannabidiol products for minors and the adults that buy and possess them. For information on the medical applicability, see our post on CBD for kids.

Is CBD for Children Legal?

When it comes to cannabis, there is hardly ever a uniform answer. As is often the case, the answer falls in a gray area, which means we can’t provide a straight-up “yes” or “no.” We have already mentioned this in previous posts, but it bears repeating: Refer to state laws to determine if CBD oil is safe to purchase and use.

See the National Conference of State Legislatures for a state-by-state breakdown of marijuana laws. The page was compiled on November 2018, so it’s one of the most up to date as of the time of this post. The laws governing state marijuana laws also apply to children.

CBD Use by Children Has Landed Parents in Legal Limbo

Unfortunately, there are real-life horror stories of child protective services showing up unexpectedly after parents give their child a CBD product. We present these stories not to scare you, but to show you why it’s important to follow the marijuana laws in the state of your residence. There have been cases of parents believing they were within legal bounds only to discover the hard way they are violating state law.

Please keep in mind that the two stories we present below are not typical and represent some of the more extreme cases. The vast majority of parents who responsibly administer CBD to their children have never faced such situations.

The Selva Family

Aliana Selva is a 6-year-old California native with severe epilepsy. Her parents Jo and Maria administered her the anticonvulsant drug Keppra on the advice of a doctor. The drug, unfortunately, altered her mood, causing her to go from shy and sweet to aggressive and irritable. The parents eventually switched to CBD as they were desperate for a more side-effect-free alternative. Jo relayed the news to a school administrator when she was called after Aliana had a convulsion in class. Several days later, The Selvas received a phone call from Child Protective Services (CPS).

Long story short, Aliana was taken away by police. The parents were charged with “severe medical neglect.” Eventually, Aliana was returned to her parents after the case was dismissed by Juvenile Dependency Court.

The Zartler Family

The parents of 18-year-old Kara Zartler were brought to court after revelations they used cannabis to treat their daughter’s autism. This case is especially interesting because Kara is legally an adult. However, due to her medical issues, her parents are still considered her legal guardians.

The Zartler family is from Texas, which allows low-THC cannabis for medical use. Autism, however, isn’t one of the approved conditions under the state’s medical marijuana program. Fortunately, for the family, the court ruled that the Zartlers cannabis treatment for their daughter is in itself insufficient for disqualifying guardianship. They were permitted to continue use of cannabis for treating Kara.

Advice for Parents

Before administering CBD to a child, we recommend checking out the child custody section from Americans for Safe Access (ASA). It contains detailed information about how to minimize the possibility of a Child Protective Service agent knocking on your door.

To summarize, ASA outlines these steps for parents:

  • Keep no more cannabis in the home than is necessary for medical use.
  • Keep all cannabis products out of plain sight. Store them all in labeled bottles or jars.
  • If you are a grower who keeps cannabis plants around the property, install fencing to restrict your child from access.
  • Keep out of reach and sight any equipment or tools for cannabis-making, such as butane and burners.
  • Unless directly asked by a CPS agent or family court judge, there is no reason for you to disclose to these entities that you are giving your child CBD. In fact, there’s no reason to disclose the information to anyone. The only exception is to doctors — and that’s only if you’re on a medication that may be inhibited by cannabis use.

All of the above also applies if you or another adult is the user and not your child. There are also instances of CPS getting involved because the parents themselves were users. This brings us to our next section.

Advice for Cannabis Users with Children

So far, we discussed the potential legal ramifications for parents who give their children CBD. However, what if it’s the parents who are using cannabis? Unfortunately, due to the stigma of marijuana, parents have lost custody simply because one or both parents were users. This is especially the case in states that have yet to adopt some form of marijuana program. This is also becoming increasingly common in divorce court where one parent will cite the other’s cannabis use as reason for getting primary custody of the children.

You should be in the clear if you are using the cannabis in accordance with state law. In other words, the courts shouldn’t hold it against you. Nevertheless, we suggest following the same safety tips above. In addition:

  • Refrain from using cannabis in the presence of your children, even if medicating as prescribed by a doctor. This goes for CBD and hemp medicine as well.
  • If both parents are users, create a schedule so only one parent at a time is medicated.
  • If you cook with marijuana, label the food and keep them away from your children.

What to Do if CPS Shows Up at Your Door?

In the unlikely event a CPS agent contacts you for a welfare check, we advise cooperating fully. At the same time, know your rights. You may need to speak with an attorney knowledgeable in your state’s marijuana laws. If the agent removes your child from your home, you have two days to file a petition. You will be expected to give a statement, and the CPS worker will give his/her own statement explaining the reasoning for deciding to remove your child. The judge will decide whether your child can remain with you until the next court date.

Keep All Documentation

Here’s another CPS story involving the David family. The father Jason was giving his son Jayden CBD for treating Dravet Syndrome, a form of epilepsy. He shared his son’s progress with local reporters, one of whom notified authorities, prompting a visit from CPS. Jayden, however, was never taken from his home after Jason was able to show all proof of documentation regarding his son’s illness and treatment. What’s ironic is prior to taking CBD, young Jayden was hospitalized 45 times and on over 20 pharmaceutical drugs. Yet, none of this ever prompted a CPS visit.

Anyways, the takeaway lesson here is to maintain all paper records of your child’s medical diagnosis and all invoices and prescriptions for CBD. This applies regardless of state of residency.

Marijuana Possession Alone Not Grounds for Child Removal

We must also point out that cannabis use alone often isn’t enough for a CPS agent to remove a child from a home. This is especially true for states that permit recreational marijuana use. Some parents fear that a CPS worker’s own individual bias may come into play during a welfare check. Many of them, after all, may not have a knowledgeable understanding of cannabis and only recognize the plant’s federal classification as a controlled substance.

There are, however, judicial processes that limit CPS’ authority.

Armand Montiel, a representative for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, made this statement to put parents’ mind at ease:

“If all you have is the subjectivity of the social worker, the child will not remain outside the home. We’re very careful.”

Of course, some defense attorneys and parents who had personal run-ins with CPS may disagree with this assessment. This is all the more reason to educate yourself on state law. California, for example, has Proposition 64, which permits adult recreational use. This provides a legal buffer and should protect parents as long as there is no other questionable activity taking place in the household.

Final Word

The reason we mention all of this isn’t to be all doom and gloom. After all, we are cannabis advocates. Remember, instances involving Child Protective Services over cannabis use and CBD for children are the exception and never the norm. 99 percent of parents who possess CBD products will never be confronted with such situations. However, we do want to put the information out there so you can minimize risks of a welfare check occurring at all. Should one do occur, you’ll know how to increase odds of a favorable outcome.

Vape Pen Tutorial: How to Safely Use an E-Cigarette

Have you been taking CBD tinctures for a while? Perhaps you feel you have enough familiarity with CBD to graduate to the next phase of use: vaping with an e-cigarette. You know what a vape pen looks like, but you have no idea how to operate one. For beginning vape users, e-cigs can appear simple and complex at the same time. Worry not; you came to the right place if you are just learning how to use a vape pen for the first time. By the time you finish this post, you’ll have plenty of confidence handling the portable thingamajig that turns CBD into inhalable vapor.

Parts of a Vape Pen

First, let’s get acquainted with a vape pen and the individual parts that make up the unit. The typical vape pen consists of these components:

  • Battery: The power system consists of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery like that in your mobile phone.
  • Atomizer: This is located between the battery and the mouthpiece; it’s the component that heats the oil into vapor. The atomizer is also referred to as a cartomizer or clearomizer.
  • Tank/cartridge: This takes the form of a single-use disposable cartridge pre-filled with CBD oil. The other is a tank that you manually fill with vape juice. This post will go over the step-by-step process for using a vape pen with a cartridge, though we’ll also explain how to use a refillable tank.
  • Sensor and software: This is the electronic component that regulates temperatures. This part differs depending on whether the vape pen is a push-button (manual) or buttonless (automatic) model. We’ll go more into detail in the next section.

How to Use a Vape Pen: The Step-by-step Process

Once you understand how the components work, the rest is intuitive. Though individual models may differ slightly, the steps below apply to most typical e-cigarettes.

  1. Just like most smart devices, you will have to charge the e-cigarette when you take it out the package. Most charge using a standard USB connector. An indicator light will indicate when the battery has ample juice. A full charge takes only an hour or two.
  2. If you have a disposable cartridge, remove the rubber top and screw it onto the vape pen.
  3. If you have a buttonless model, the device will automatically turn on when you take the first inhale through the mouthpiece. If you have a push-button model, activate the device by pushing the button. Most models require pressing it a certain number of times to prevent accidental activation.

Of course, even simple instructions can be complex if not accompanied by visuals. The video below is a fairly good tutorial for beginners. This tutorial is especially recommended if you’re learning how to use a push-button vape pen.

Tips for First-Time Users

  • Limit each inhale through the mouthpiece to about five seconds.
  • There is no need to hold your breath after each inhale.
  • Inhale some clean air between each puff. This helps push the CBD vape particles into the lungs
  • Wait a few minutes between puffs and monitor how you feel. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseated, wait until you’re completely alright before taking another draw.
  • Some users recommend dry running a new vape pen without the cartridge. This supposedly burns off any harmful metals within the device that may enter your lungs.

Push-Button or Buttonless Vape Pen?

Which variety is better? Since this post is geared towards beginners, we recommend newbies sticking with the buttonless variant. Usage requires fewer steps and is easier to get right into.

More experienced users, though, may prefer a push-button model, which has multiple temperature settings. Increase voltage power of the atomizer by pressing the button. Most models have a light that changes in color to correspond to a specific temperature.

Why does temperature setting matter? Some oils have greater viscosity and may not adequately produce a desirable vapor output. The result is less consistency when using particular cartridges or vape juices. After experimentation, some users find that certain temperatures work better for particular CBD oils. Buttonless vape pens, while beginner-friendly, have a uniform temperature setting with no option for adjustment.

Best Heat Settings for Vaping

If you ask a dozen push-button e-cig users what’s the ideal temperature, you’ll get a dozen answers. People prefer different consistencies and vapor levels. If you’re seeking an answer from an authority figure, then consider the opinion of Dr. Ian Mitchell, an emergency physician at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia. In his estimate, the ideal heating range is 175 – 200 degrees Celsius. He also notes that most vape pens use a slightly higher 210 degrees Celsius as a set point.

According to one Netherlands study, an e-cig setting of degrees Celsius yielded better cannabinoid concentrations at 77 percent, compared to just 24 percent when the temperature was set at 170degrees Celsius. We believe this study is a good reference to go by. We must add, though, that some users actually prefer heating settings at the lower 170degrees Celsius. While this vaporizes less cannabinoids, it still vaporizes most of the terpenes. This may provide a better vaping experience for sensitive users who easily feel the cannabinoid effects at low doses.

Some users have also tried to adjust temperatures in order to acquire a higher yield of CBD and less THC, or vice versa. However, the boiling point of these two cannabinoids only differ by about 10degrees Celsius. Push-button vape pens don’t have temperature settings in those small increments.

How to Refill a Vape Pen Cartridge

Just as we recommend beginners start with buttonless vape pens, we also suggest they begin with disposable cartridges. At some point, though, users may also elect to use refillable cartridges that they fill with their own e-juice of choice. If you go this route, then follow this easy step-by-step guide for filling and refilling a fillable cartridge.

  1. We recommend using a syringe with a blunt needle tip, which you can acquire inexpensively at your local pharmacy store.
  2. Fill the syringe with the vape juice of your choice.
  3. Unscrew the vape pen’s mouthpiece. This exposes an opening in the cartridge.
  4. Use the syringe to inject the juice into the opening.
  5. Screw the mouthpiece back on.

Again, if you need visuals, watch this video to see how it’s done. If you want to know how to use a vape pen for oil, this is how you go about it.


Heavy Metals in Vape Pens

There have been some recent concerns that vape pens leach toxic heavy metals that the user ultimately and unknowingly inhales. One 2016 study suggests e-cig users are at risk of exposure to the metals nickel and chromium. It’s believed that metal leaches from the heating coil and mixes with the vapor.

At present, there are no studies that link e-cigarette use to increased risk of cancer or other disease. Another study1 found that metals emitted from vape pens include chromium, copper, cadmium, lead and nickel. The researchers concluded, however, that the amount is unlikely to generate adverse health concerns. It did caution, though, that metal traces may differ depending on the type of vape pen used.

In another study published in the Frontiers In Physiology, researchers detected no significant levels of trace metals from vapor in an e-cigarette when heated to 350 degrees Celsius. Researchers concluded that metal traces, however, increased dramatically when heated to 800degrees Celsius. Most vape pens do not provide that high of a heating level. Even if they do, the heat will produce extremely dry and distasteful vapor that no user in their right mind would enjoy.

The studies kind of go both ways. To keep the risk of metal toxicity to a minimum, we suggest only purchasing vape pens from reputable sellers. Avoid customized and homemade contraptions.

Concerns About Thinning Oils

Vape juices contain some form of thinning agent since CBD oil is too viscous to turn into vapor. The thinning oil either comes in the form of propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerin (VG). There have been some health risk concerns regarding the former.

While deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization, one study has found that PG accelerates apoptosis (cell death) in the brains of mice. A small number of users have also reported side effects, such as sweating, thirst and sore throat.

Another study, though, showed that inhalation of PG had no significant adverse effects on dogs. At present, there are no human studies.

While we believe PG is safe, it doesn’t hurt to err on the side of caution and aim for vegetable glycerin as the thinning oil of choice for vape juices.

Where to Buy Vape Pens, Cartridges and Vape Juices

The above concerns are why we only recommend purchasing CBD products from reputable suppliers. See our Where to Buy page for sites we personally vetted ourselves. There are a few other trustworthy sites, such as CBD FX, which carries vape pens and vape kits. Another site is Hemp Bombs, which carries pre-loaded vape tank cartridges and e-juice additives with desirable VG/PG ratios.

Final Thoughts

Once you learn how to use a vape pen and take your first hit, the process becomes as easy as 1-2-3. Vaping is a great transition after you have been using CBD tinctures or capsules for a while. While some people are hesitant to make the switch, trust us when we say vaping is more beginning-friendly than you realize.

Medical References

Farsalinos K, Voudris V, Poulas K. Are Metals Emitted from Electronic Cigarettes a Reason for Health Concern? A Risk-Assessment Analysis of Currently Available Literature. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015;12(5):5215-5232. [PMC]

CBD Vs THC: Two Cannabinoids with Very Different Effects

There are hundreds of known cannabinoids in a cannabis plant; some estimates place the number around 400. The most well documented are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC). Anyone seriously considering cannabis use should know the difference between CBD and THC. Even some long-term users don’t know the difference or only have a rudimentary understanding. If you fall into either of these categories, then you arrived to the right place. This CBD versus THC primer explains everything in a layman-friendly manner.

CBD Versus THC: The General Understanding

If you ask most cannabis users what the difference is between CBD and THC, you’ll likely get a response like the following: THC gets you high and CBD does not.

This response is accurate, but very generalized. The difference goes far deeper once you examine these phytocannabinoids at the molecular level. Studies reveal that the two have overlapping benefits as well as different side effects. The legality regarding the CBD and THC also differ depending on state of residence.

Let’s examine the two separately before circling back and comparing the two back-to-back.

What Is CBD?

CBD is the non-psychoactive compound available primarily in hemp. See our section on “What Is Hemp?” for a detailed explanation. Most CBD oils are derived from industrial hemp, which consists of the fibrous portions of the cannabis species: cannabis sativa. Industrial hemp is often the go-to source for CBD oils and tinctures since it contains high CBD concentrations and little THC. Various dispensaries have committed to various crossbreeding cultivations to produce a hemp yield with just the right CBD to THC ratio.

Benefits of CBD

CBD has various science-backed benefits. Let’s have a look at some of the medicinal properties.

  • CBD treats inflammation and pain – source1
  • CBD treats somnolence (excessive drowsiness) – source2
  • CBD treats seizures – source3
  • CBD treats anxiety – source4
  • CBD treats depression – source5
  • CBD lowers risk of heart disease – source6

Aside from the countless studies and clinical trials, there are also dozens upon dozens of anecdotal evidences from users across the world. This also includes various reports from parents who treated their children and even pet owners that treated their canine with CBD.

CBD Effects on the Cannabinoid System

CBD exerts an influence on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and more specifically, the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Unlike other cannabinoids, CBD does not bind directly to the CB receptors. Instead, it inhibits certain metabolic enzymes from breaking down the body’s natural endocannabinoids. In other words, CBD increases the body’s natural output of endocannabinoids.

As you will later see, this manner of influence on the ECS system differs from how THC interacts with the CB receptors.

Legal Status of CBD

This is where readers have to perform some supplemental research of their own. When it comes to hemp-derived CBD, the products are legal to buy, sell and use in all 50 states. The keyword here, though, is “hemp-derived.” As we mentioned earlier, hemp is the fibrous portion of the plant with minute to no traces of THC. Hemp oil and hemp-derived CBD oil have been legal in all states since 2014, thanks to the passage of the Farm Bill. The bill defines industrial hemp and legal CBD differently from the Drug Enforcement Association’s definition. Long story short, if you’re a user, you can use hemp CBD in any form, including consumption via edibles, vaping, etc.

There is also another variety, which is marijuana-derived CBD, and this is a whole different issue altogether. Marijuana-derived CBD is cultivated from the flower and buds of cannabis and contains higher THC traces.

We can’t tell you the precise legality of marijuana-based CBD because it depends on your state of residency. In some states, marijuana-derived CBD remains outlawed. In others, it’s permitted for medicinal use with a doctor’s prescription, while others allow recreational use. Even in states where medical use is permitted, prescription may be limited to certain diagnoses, and this differs by region.

See Americans for Safe Access for a breakdown of CBD laws by individual state.

What Is THC?

As most of you may know, this cannabinoid is responsible for the high and creating altered states of consciousness, hence why it’s favored among recreational 420-friendly folks.

THC is found in far greater concentrations in the female cannabis plant. The hemp plant, just so you know, is the male. While the word “marijuana” is used as a general term for cannabis by non-users, users and industry insiders use the term to specifically describe the female plant.

Cannabis plants, by the way, can also be hermaphrodite and have both male and female organs!

THC concentrations specifically come from the flowers and their buds, which are known as “colas.” The THC is contained within the colas’ trichomes, which appear as crystal-like splotches.

Benefits of THC

Some of the benefits of THC overlap those of CBD. Let’s look at some of these medicinal qualities.

  • THC Treats Pain – source7
  • The THC-infused drug Dronabinol alleviates nausea – source8
  • THC reduces the time it takes to fall asleep – source
  • Contrary to popular belief, THC does not harm the lungs regardless of whether it’s ingested or vaped. In fact, it might enhance lung capacity – source
  • THC has anti-cancer properties and may slow the growth of brain tumor cells – source
  • THC in low doses relieves anxiety. Higher doses, though, may have the opposite effect – source

THC Effects on the Endocannabinoid System

Unlike CBD, THC has a more direct effect on the ECS. THC mimics the behavior of the body’s natural endocannabinoids and binds mainly with the CB1 receptors located primarily in the brain. To be more precise, THC acts as a presynaptic cell. Instead of traveling via synapse from a neuron to a receptor site like a regular neurotransmitter, it travels in the reverse direction and binds to cannabinoid receptors.

By binding to CB receptors, it may delay the release of neurotransmitters that control our mood and states of mind. This accounts for the psychoactive high. THC occupying the CB receptors also limits the ability of natural endocannabinoids to do the same. While this results in various benefits like the ones described earlier, it can also have a host of side effects, especially among first-time users.

The delayed release of neurotransmitters may translate to slower reaction time to external stimuli. It may, for instance, slow your reaction time when driving, playing a sport or taking a test.

Legal Status of THC

Any cannabis product containing over 0.3 percent THC is considered a controlled substance and is illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. THC is treated as a controlled substance, much like heroin and cocaine. It is classified under federal law as a Schedule I drug. This means it is highly addictive while providing little to no medicinal value, even though we just presented studies that claim otherwise.

While THC is illegal under federal provisions, a bill called the Rohrabacher-Farr Act was signed into law in 2014. It essentially states that the DEA cannot interfere in matters regarding cannabis laws at the state level. For this reason, you have to refer to the laws governing your respective state of residence.

When discussing CBD legality earlier, we brought up the difference between hemp-derived CBD and marijuana-derived CBD. The laws regarding the latter essentially pertain to THC since the marijuana plant contains far higher concentrations of the psychoactive compound.

State laws differ drastically. Even in states where medical and/or recreational use is permitted, there may be specific laws regarding the amount you can possess. For growers, there are additional measures regarding the number of plants you can keep in the home or transport from one location to another.

CBD Versus THC: Side-By-Side Comparison

Let’s review CBD and THC, so you can see how they are similar and the areas where they differ.


  • CBD comes from industrial hemp, which is the male cannabis plant.
  • THC comes from the marijuana female cannabis. The extract is mainly acquired from the plant’s colas, or cluster of flowers and buds.


CBD and THC have some overlapping benefits. Separate studies show, for example, that both may suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines and reduce pain. Both also aid in various sleep disorders.

Effects on the Endocannabinoid System

  • CBD does not bind directly with CB receptors. Instead, it enhances natural endocannabinoid availability by inhibiting certain metabolic enzymes.
  • THC acts as a presynaptic cell and binds directly with CB1 and some CB2 receptors, mimicking the action of natural endocannabinoids.

Side Effects

  • We didn’t discuss the side effects of CBD because they are rare, minor and dissipates within days. Some users may experience sensations like dry mouth, slight nausea and mild diarrhea. CBD is non-addictive.
  • You need to be far more careful with dosage regarding THC. Side effects include the same as CBD; some users may also experience anxiety, the jitters or depression. This is especially true if you’re prone to mood imbalance. Unlike CBD, research suggests users can become physically addicted to THC and develop withdraw symptoms.

Legal Status

  • Hemp-derived CBD is legal to buy, sell, and use as long as THC content remains below 0.3 percent.
  • State laws differ regarding marijuana with THC. States outlaw it altogether, permit medical use with prescription only, or allow medical and recreational use.

CBD Versus THC: Know the Difference Before Your First Cannabis Use

Most CBD products available in health stores and e-stores come from hemp. This is the case with our personal CBD supplier recommendations at our “Where to Buy” page. If you choose to experiment with THC, then you have to look up your state law. If your state permits recreational use, then you can acquire THC products at local dispensaries.

Medical References

Russo E. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008;4(1):245-259. [PMC]
Murillo-Rodríguez E, Millán-Aldaco D, Palomero-Rivero M, Mechoulam R, Drucker-Colín R. Cannabidiol, a constituent of Cannabis sativa, modulates sleep in rats. FEBS Lett. 2006;580(18):4337-4345. [PubMed]
Perucca E. Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Hard Evidence at Last? J Epilepsy Res. 2017;7(2):61-76. [PMC]
Blessing E, Steenkamp M, Manzanares J, Marmar C. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-836. [PMC]
de M, de O, Coutinho D, et al. Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2014;13(6):953-960. [PubMed]
Stanley C, Hind W, O’Sullivan S. Is the cardiovascular system a therapeutic target for cannabidiol? Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013;75(2):313-322. [PubMed]
Greenwell G. Medical marijuana use for chronic pain: risks and benefits. J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother. 2012;26(1):68-69. [PubMed]
Abrahamov A, Abrahamov A, Mechoulam R. An efficient new cannabinoid antiemetic in pediatric oncology. Life Sci. 1995;56(23-24):2097-2102. [PubMed]

CBD for Kids: Can Children Safely and Legally Consume Cannabidiol?

Children face many of the same ailments that adults do, sometimes to even a greater degree. This includes illnesses like chronic pain, epileptic seizures and insomnia. In most instances, they also respond to the same treatment, though careful measures must be taken regarding dosage. This naturally leads to the topic at hand: CBD for kids. Is it safe for minors to consume CBD in any form? Is it legal?

Can Children Legally Consume CBD?

In case you’re wondering, the laws regarding CBD use applies to minors the same way it applies to adults. In other words, there’s no federal age requirement. This means you have to refer to the cannabis laws pertaining to your respective state.

We recommend visiting the National Cannabis Industry Association for a state-by-state break down of cannabis laws. Parents are known to travel or completely relocate to a cannabis-friendly state in order to lawfully administer CBD to an ill child.

In any case, we recommend speaking with your child’s pediatrician before giving CBD oil a try. Cannabidiol may interfere with some medications.

Can Minors Purchase CBD?

Purchasing CBD in a brick-and-mortar dispensary is a whole other issue altogether. As with purchasing alcohol, you have to be at least 21-years of age. Most dispensaries won’t even permit anyone under that age to enter their premise without an older adult. Even some cannabis sites ask visitors to confirm their age before being allowed to browse the site.

Next, let’s take a look at some of the conditions CBD oil may be useful for.

CBD for Kids with ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder affects roughly 5 percent of American children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Boys are three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed. Roughly 60 percent of children with ADHD will also face the condition as adults.

What role does CBD play in ADHD, if any? Studies in this area are still limited, though one study1 does show that cannabidiol holds promise for alleviating ADHD symptoms in adults.

There are not any studies we know of that examine the efficacy of CBD on children with ADHD. There are, however, plenty of anecdotal evidence from satisfied parents swearing by its effects.

CBD for Kids with Epilepsy

Scientific evidence of CBD for childhood epilepsy is more abundant. According to 2015 data, epilepsy affects roughly 470,000 children nationwide, or 0.6 percent of America’s youth.

We dedicated an entire post on CBD oil for seizures. Research supports the use of cannabidiol oil for children with frequent seizures. In one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 120 subjects underwent a 14-week treatment of CBD oil or a placebo. The subjects consisted of children and young adults diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, a form of epilepsy triggered by fever or hot weather.

The results? The average number of convulsive seizures decreased from 12.4 to 5.9 per month for the CBD group. The placebo group saw an insignificant decrease from 14.9 to 14.1. 5 percent of subjects in the CBD group also became completely seizure-free.

In June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration also officially backed the use of CBD for kids with epilepsy. A CBD product called Epidiolex was greenlighted for treatment of the epilepsy conditions Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Epidiolex can be prescribed to children two years of age and older.

CBD Oil for Children with Anxiety

According to a CDC mental health report, 3 percent of children 3-17 years of age face chronic anxiety. Of course, the majority of children and adults alike face some degree of anxiety induced by external circumstances. However, chronic and persisting anxiety is not normal. Fortunately, there is evidence suggesting CBD may alleviate incessant fear and worry in children.

In one study2, CBD oil proved effective for a 10-year-old female patient with pediatric anxiety. The anxiety occurred as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder stemmed from sexual abuse. The cannabidiol not only quelled her anxiety but also proved beneficial for her insomnia.

The study only involved a single subject, so obviously further studies are warranted before we can definitively recommend CBD oil for children with anxiety. However, other studies3 show that CBD is effective as an anxiolytic drug, meaning it treats anxiety in its various incarnations, from panic attacks to obsessive-compulsive disorders.

What About Social Anxiety?

This is a specific area of anxiety we wanted to discuss since social anxiety affects roughly 5 percent of children and teens. This can make it exceptionally difficult for kids to make friends and coexist with their peers at school. Social anxiety typically develops in children in their early to mid-adolescence (around ages 13-15). Teen girls are also more prone to the disorder. Symptoms include withdrawn behavior, anxiety about going to school, extreme self-consciousness and even suicidal thoughts in severe instances.

Is CBD oil a legitimate form of treatment for children suffering from social anxiety? There aren’t studies in this area that specifically involve minors as subjects. However, there is one research that demonstrates CBD’s effectiveness for alleviating anxiety in social situations.

In the study4, subjects with social anxiety participated in a public speaking activity. Public speaking is a common phobia for most individuals. Half of the subjects took 600 mg of CBD, the other half took a placebo. The CBD group exhibited less stress during their speaking performance. Monitoring showed they had a lower heart rate and lower blood pressure during their stint compared to the placebo.

CBD isn’t a cure-all for social-anxiety-prone teens. However, it may quell anxiety just enough to get them to move beyond their comfort zone.

Methods of CBD Administration for Kids

CBD oil is the most commonplace cannabis products. You may certainly administer it to your child. You can pour a few droplets onto their Captain Crunch or Lunchables. Some parents apply the under-the-tongue method for increased bioavailability, though this may prove difficult for younger children who may protest or refuse to hold still.

To really get your young ones to enjoy the supplement, we suggest CBD gummies for kids. CBD gummies are akin to Flinstone vitamins. The latter is known for motivating children to take a daily vitamin with its sweet chalky taste. It’s the same idea with CBD gummies for kids. It’s no different than eating regular gummy bears.

Can Children Legally Vape CBD?

Children are permitted to use CBD oils and edibles in accordance with state laws. Using a vape pen, though, is a different matter altogether. Individual states have their respective minimum vaping age. In 41 states, the minimum age is 18. The remaining states include Utah, Alaska and Alabama, where the age minimum is 19. The minimum age is 21 in California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey and Hawaii.

Local municipalities, though, may impose their own restrictions and enforce vaping and smoking bans for anyone under 21.

Simply put, for children under 18, vaping is prohibited. This applies whether or not the e-juice contains nicotine.

CBD Dosage for Children

What are dosage guidelines for minors? A lot of variables are at play, including sensitivity, bodyweight, and severity of ailment. In one study5, 214 child patients with epilepsy were given large CBD doses, as high as 50 mg/kg every day for 12 weeks. Convulsive seizures went down by a third with minimal adverse effects observed.

The study shows that CBD in large doses is relatively safe for minors. Even so, we recommend starting with the minimal dose needed to see results. For the average adult, suggested dosage is about 1/8 of a teaspoon three times daily. For children, start with 1/20 of a teaspoon three time a day. This totals to about 35-40 mg of CBD per day. If using a dropper, this comes down to about four drops each serving.

This should be adequate for general ailments, such as insomnia, pain, or anxiety. If taken for epilepsy, dosage may be up to 10x fold, depending on doctor recommendation.

Be Sure to Monitor for Side Effects

Due to their smaller size, younger children require smaller doses. For the same reason, they may also be more prone to side effects. We suggest seeing our post on potential CBD side effects. Adverse reactions apply to children just as they do to adults. Parents must take special care to monitor their children during CBD administration, especially during their initial trial.

We must emphasize that side effects are not commonplace. Remember we just mentioned that children with epilepsy were given doses up to 50 mg without showing signs of adverse reactions. Nevertheless, everyone is different, and some kids may be more sensitive.

CBD Oil May Improve Children’s Lives

We need to see more studies regarding the effects of CBD on children. The few studies available, though, are promising. If you choose to go this route, please follow the laws of your residing state. Just as importantly, only purchase CBD oil or gummies from a trustworthy supplier. Poor-quality oils and edibles may contain THC, which may heighten risk of side effects.

See our Where to Buy page for a list of reputable suppliers.

Medical References

Cooper R, Williams E, Seegobin S, Tye C, Kuntsi J, Asherson P. Cannabinoids in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A randomised-controlled trial. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2017;27(8):795-808. [PubMed]
Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Perm J. 2016;20(4):108-111. [PMC]
Schier A, Ribeiro N, Silva A, et al. Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 2012;34 Suppl 1:S104-10. [PubMed]
Bergamaschi M, Queiroz R, Chagas M, et al. Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219-1226. [PMC]
Devinsky O, Marsh E, Friedman D, et al. Cannabidiol in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy: an open-label interventional trial. Lancet Neurol. 2016;15(3):270-278. [PubMed]

CBD Oil Effects: Cannabidiol’s Influence on the Endocannabinoid System

The benefits of cannabidiol oil are well documented. Medicinal uses are far-reaching, and scientific studies have proven cannabidiol to be effective for pain relief, insomnia, anxiety, seizures and much more. How does CBD achieve these effects at the anatomical level? Let’s examine CBD oil effects and the mechanisms that result in the sought-after reliefs.

A Lesson in the Endocannabinoid System

To understand CBD oil effects on the body, you need to understand how the human anatomy works. It all comes down to the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is not unique to humans; it’s found in virtually all vertebrate species.

The ECS is located throughout the body and not concentrated in a single area. It consists of these three major components:

  • Cannabinoid receptors
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Metabolic enzymes

Cannabinoid Receptors

Cannabinoid receptors are located on cell surfaces and detect changing conditions taking place outside of the cell. It transmits information to the cell, and the cell responds and adapts accordingly. The two primary receptors include CB1 and CB2.

CB1 resides mostly in the brain and nervous system. When you ingest or vape THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid binds with CB1 receptors, leading to the high and stoned sensation.

CB2 resides mostly in the immune system, including immune cells and macrophages. This receptor mainly regulates pain and inflammation.


Endocannabinoids, also known as endogenous cannabinoids, are molecules that bind to CB1 and CB2. The body produces endocannabinoids naturally and on demand as needed.

Various types of endocannabinoids exist. One of the more researched forms is a molecule called anandamide, which facilitates pain reduction, healthy sleep cycles, anxiety relief and more. Some people have referred to anandamide as the “bliss molecule” due to its antidepressant-like effects.

Endocannabinoids are retrograde signalers.  Most neurotransmitters only travel in one direction, from a presynaptic cell to a postsynaptic cell. Endocannabinoids direct information from the post- to the presynaptic cell. The signaling informs the latter to produce more or less of certain chemicals and hormones.

Metabolic Enzymes

These enzymes metabolize endocannabinoids right after they’re used and no longer needed. Unlike hormones and neurotransmitters, endocannabinoids are never stored and reserved for later use.

These three ECS components regulate everyday bodily functions, such as our circadian rhythm, appetite, mood, memory, pain, and pleasure/reward system.

How Do Cannabinoids Fit In?

Researchers are just beginning to understand the complex role of cannabinoids on the endocannabinoid system1. To keep the explanation simple, cannabinoids mimic the behavior of endocannabinoids and bind to cannabinoid receptors in a similar fashion. Cannabinoids derived from cannabis are known as phytocannabinoids, though they’re typically referred to as cannabinoids.

As it turns out, thendocannabinoid system recognizes and responds to phytocannabinoids the same way as internally-produced endocannabinoids.

Phytocannabinoids Versus Endocannabinoids

Despite having near-identical influences on the ECS, phyto- and endocannabinoids2 do have some differences. One may wonder, for example, why it is that humans don’t get high naturally from endocannabinoids. It comes down to the metabolic enzymes, which do not break down THC the way it does with endocannabinoids. This allows THC to remain in the body for prolonged periods and exert psychoactive influences.

Unlike endocannabinoids, which only interact with CB receptors, phytocannabinoids may also interact with other receptor types, neurons and neurotransmitters.

Effects of CBD on the Endocannabinoid System

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system in a different way than THC and other cannabinoids. For starters, it does not bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors. The effects on the cannabinoid receptors are more indirect. One way it does this is by stopping the metabolic enzymes from breaking down the body’s natural supply of endocannabinoids.

Studies3 show that CBD inhibits the fatty acid amide hydrolase, a type of metabolic enzyme that causes anandamide inactivation.  In other words, CBD increases availability of endogenous cannabinoids. This is why CBD does not produce the high you get from THC; there is no direct interaction between cannabidiol and cannabinoid receptors. The benefits of pain relief and relaxation is from the greater bioavailability of anandamide and other endocannabinoids.

CBD Oil Effects on Non-Cannabinoid Receptors

As mentioned, one way phytocannabinoids differ from endocannabinoids is the ability to interact with other receptors. Cannabis is a pleiotropic substance, meaning it affects the ECS via multiple molecular pathways.

CBD, in particular, has been shown in studies to interact with opioid receptors in the brain. This explains the medical research4 supporting CBD use for managing opiate withdrawal.

Another study5 reveals an interaction between CBD and vanilloid (TRPV1) receptors. This receptor acts as an ion channel and mediates pain, inflammation, and body temperatures. TRPV1 also mediates the effects of various medicinal herbs.

Some people also take CBD for cancer management. This is because CBD also binds with peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARs). Studies6 show that CBD activates these receptors and induces tumor regression in the lungs.

These are just some of the non-cannabinoid receptors CBD has some level of influence on. Some estimates indicate that CBD interacts with as much as 65 types of receptors. You can see now why the effects of CBD are far-reaching and why hemp as medicine is gaining traction.

Does Taking Phytocannabinoids Inhibit Endocannabinoid Production?

Some folks have expressed concerns that taking too much CBD from an external source may suppress the body’s natural ability to produce endocannabinoids. Taking anabolic steroids or TRT, for example, certainly hurts the body’s ability to produce testosterone naturally. Is it the same when taking CBD oil?

There are no studies that suggest this may be a possibility. CBD doesn’t even bind directly to CB receptors. Remember, as we mentioned, CBD actually elevates certain endocannabinoids by inhibiting metabolic enzymes.

What Causes the Calm-Inducing Effects of CBD?

Most people who take CBD oil report a feeling of ease and the ability to forget about their problems for the moment. What attributes to this feeling of immense relaxation?

One other non-cannabinoid receptor is the 5-HT1A receptor, which according to studies7, regulates serotonin, or the “feel-good” hormone.

Aside from regulating serotonin, the 5-HT1A receptor has also been linked to other biological and neurological responses, such as anxiety, sleep, appetite and pain perception. This explains why CBD use also helps improve deficiencies in these areas. The 5-HT1A can actually produce both an excitatory and inhibitory response, depending on the triggering chemical or molecule.

CBD has an inhibitory response on 5-HT1A. This inhibits the receptor’s ability to signal the slow-down of serotonin production, thus leading to more output of the calming hormone.

What About THC and Anxiety?

CBD, for the most part, does not induce anxiety. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of CBD products with THC. Some people have reported feelings of extreme paranoia, disorientation and inability to complete even the simplest of tasks, such as walking straight or sending a text. These sensations are not uncommon among first-time users who try a friend’s THC-laced Rice Krispies Treat or other edibles.

Why does this happen with THC, but not CBD? What is taking place at the ECS level? Remember that unlike CBD, THC actually binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. This causes a surge of neurotransmitter releases, including serotonin, dopamine and GABA. GABA is especially relevant in this instance; this neurotransmitter inhibits the firing of certain neurons, including the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Norepinephrine induces alertness; in excess, it can also cause anxiety. GABA, therefore, induces relaxation by suppressing norepinephrine.

In some people, suppressed norepinephrine can cause a rebound effect. This leads to an overstimulation of the brainstem’s limbic forebrain, which regulates arousal and overexcitement. In turn, this leads to excess cortisol release, causing stress and anxiety. While not everyone who ingests THC experiences this phenomenon, those who do say they don’t ever want to go through that again. The lesson here is to stick with CBD-only products from reputable suppliers.

To avoid a bad experience, only buy from licensed suppliers. Our Where to Buy section contains a listing of reliable CBD manufacturers.

CBD Effects on Epilepsy

One other notable use of CBD is reducing the frequency and severity of epileptic seizures. Researchers are exploring CBD as a viable alternative; roughly one-third of epilepsy patients do not respond to traditional anticonvulsants. This is where CBD for seizures comes in as a viable alternative.

CBD also interacts with glutamate receptor agonists, sodium ion channels and GATA-binding factors (GATA2) in the brain. These are the same systems that traditional anticonvulsants target by binding themselves to these neurons and altering the ion flow. Epileptic seizures are triggered by abnormal electrical activity, which is believed — at least to some degree — to originate from the ion flow between ion channels, glutamate receptors and GATA2.

CBD Effects Are Complex and Warrant Further Studies

The studies of CBD oil on the human anatomy are still limited. There are still interactions with the ECS system that we haven’t even yet begin to understand. What we do know so far, though, is that CBD appears to have a positive effect based on scientific studies and anecdotal experiences from thousands of sworn users.


Medical References

PACHER P, BÁTKAI S, KUNOS G. The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy. Pharmacol Rev. 2006;58(3):389-462. [PMC]
Fisar Z. Phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids. Curr Drug Abuse Rev. 2009;2(1):51-75. [PubMed]
Bisogno T, Hanuš L, De P, et al. Molecular targets for cannabidiol and its synthetic analogues: effect on vanilloid VR1 receptors and on the cellular uptake and enzymatic hydrolysis of anandamide. Br J Pharmacol. 2001;134(4):845-852. [PMC]
Ren Y, Whittard J, Higuera-Matas A, Morris C, Hurd Y. Cannabidiol, a nonpsychotropic component of cannabis, inhibits cue-induced heroin-seeking and normalizes discrete mesolimbic neuronal disturbances. J Neurosci. 2009;29(47):14764-14769. [PMC]
Costa B, Giagnoni G, Franke C, Trovato A, Colleoni M. Vanilloid TRPV1 receptor mediates the antihyperalgesic effect of the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol, in a rat model of acute inflammation. Br J Pharmacol. 2001;143(2):247-250. [PMC]
Ramer R, Heinemann K, Merkord J, et al. COX-2 and PPAR-γ confer cannabidiol-induced apoptosis of human lung cancer cells. Mol Cancer Ther. 2013;12(1):69-82. [PubMed]
Resstel L, Tavares R, Lisboa S, Joca S, Corrêa F, Guimarães F. 5-HT1A receptors are involved in the cannabidiol-induced attenuation of behavioural and cardiovascular responses to acute restraint stress in rats. Br J Pharmacol. 2009;156(1):181-188. [PMC]

CBD Oil & Drug Tests: What Athletes and Employees Need to Know

Most people at one point had to pee in a cup as part of a drug test. If you’re an athlete, then you most certainly have plenty of experience with this. Some people applying for a new job (or who are employed in certain industries) are also required to do this. While we at The Universal Plant find this practice to be somewhat discriminatory, we realize it’s the nature of the reality we live in. Naturally, hemp extract consumers are left wondering whether CBD oil in a drug test can cost them that job opportunity or sports scholarship.

Let’s examine this issue and determine whether CBD use makes you test positive for banned substances.

IS CBD Allowed in Sports?

This post is relevant to athletes whether they play at the pro league or at the junior varsity level. Should they be worried if they use CBD in any form? Of course, every sports organization has their own policy regarding what does and doesn’t constitute a banned substance. If you compete in sports even at the regional level, enquire whether they have any anti-doping policies in place.

Let’s look at some organizations and their stance regarding CBD use.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

WADA is the international testing standards set forth by the International Olympic Committee. It’s also the parent organization of smaller orgs like the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

As of September 2017, cannabidiol is no longer a prohibitive substance. All hemp-derived products are permitted as long as THC levels do not exceed 150 nanograms per milliliter.

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) & Other Leagues

CBD is currently not in the NCAA’s 2018-2019 official list of banned drugs. However, the policy also states that any substance not on the list that is chemically related to an item on the list is also banned. Since THC is on the list and is chemically related to CBD, that means the latter is also prohibited. There is, however, a push to modify the NCAA drug policy to more closely reflect that of WADA.

Other national leagues like the NFL, NBA, MLB, and UFC all have their respective anti-doping policies and governing bodies that classify prohibitive substances and performance-enhancing drugs.

CBD Use in the Workplace: Safe or not?

Obviously, we can’t provide a universal “yes” or “no” regarding CBD use at work. You have to consult with your employer to make that determination. We can say that CBD does not make you high, and if your job does not perform drug testing you’re in the clear. Should you be worried if your company performs regular testing? Maybe. There is no such thing as a CBD oil drug test since urine tests don’t specifically analyze for cannabidiol. We will discuss this further in the next section. However, if you’re consuming full spectrum hemp extract, there’s a small chance of trace amounts of THC metabolites showing up in a drug test.

Does Testing Detect CBD?

Perhaps you consume some CBD gummies during lunch break or consume a CBD capsule to ward off the midday fatigue. If this describes you, you can relax. A typical urine, blood, saliva, or hair test does NOT analyze for CBD.

Most companies use the standard 5-panel drug screen test, which analyzes for cocaine, barbiturates, opioids, methamphetamine, and marijuana (THC). Some may opt for the more extensive 10-panel drug screen test, which includes all of the above and methadone, propoxyphene, benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants, and methaqualone.

Yes, marijuana is among the banned substance. However, this does not mean every known cannabinoid under the sun is banned. In fact, most tests only detect for the psychoactive THC and its primary metabolite, 11-nor-deltag-caboxy-THC, or THC-COOH. This is the substance that binds with CB receptors in the brain to produce the sensation colloquially described as being “high” or “stoned.”

Aside from THC, testing may also detect for hashish, a more potent and concentrated form of THC. It may also look for synthetic cannabinoids, which are man-made and created to artificially mimic the effects of cannabinoids on the CB receptors. Synthetic cannabis also goes by the names Spice and K2.

Most employers acquire testing from a lab approved by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). According to SAMHSA guidelines, cannabis products should contain no more than 50 ng/ml THC in order to pass its tests.

Bear in mind that CBD oils, edibles, and e-juices contain THC levels below the legal 0.3% limit and far below the SAMHSA-recommended 50 ng/ml. The minute traces of THC will usually not show up on drug tests. We must emphasize the word “usually” because there are exceptions.

When May CBD Use Cause a Positive Result?

Let’s explore the rare instances when CBD use may lead to a failed result. First, we must point out that CBD will never be detected as THC in a standard urine test. However, there is the possibility that hemp products advertised as THC-free may contain the psychoactive compound.

In one study1, a single volunteer consumed hemp seed oil twice a day for 4.5 days. In a subsequent workplace urine drug test, he turned up positive for THC and THC-COOH. We must emphasize, though, that this study involved a single participant, so take it with a grain of salt. There is also limited information regarding the hemp oil taken. The study did not identify the manufacturer or disclose the product’s extraction methods.

It’s also possible that drug tests may yield a false positive if you consume CBD far above the daily average intake. Typical users normally consume about 120 mg to 160 mg. However, users taking CBD for severe pain or other ailments may consume doses upwards of 1,000 mg to 2,000 mg. In this instance, a false positive result is more probable but still unlikely. Even if a false positive turns up, there will be subsequent tests done, which should rectify the error.

How to Avoid a Potential Positive Test Result

Only buy from reputable CBD suppliers. Certified CBD manufacturers follow strict extraction methods and protocol to ensure THC traces below the legal limit. We advise avoiding purchasing products directly from an adult dispensary, which often contain THC levels above 1%. While this amount is still unlikely to result in a positive under standard testing conditions, some employers or drug testing labs may opt for a cutoff limit below the SAMHSA-recommended 50 ng/ml.

For a listing of vetted suppliers, we suggest seeing our Where to Buy section. Whether CBD isolate or full spectrum, none of the products contain THC over the 0.3% limit. As long as you stick to these sources and not homebrews, you have nothing to worry about.

We’ll conclude with this: if you know a drug test is coming up, don’t take any products – CBD or otherwise – if you can’t verify the ingredients.

What About Vaping and Drug Tests?

As long as you stick to a reputable supplier, a failed drug test is a non-issue for CBD oil users and edible consumers. However, what about CBD vape oils for vaping? Some e-cigarette users have expressed concerns of failing a drug test due to the higher bioavailability of vaping.

Does this concern hold merit?

Let’s examine the ingredients in a typical vape oil. Like CBD oils, e-juices contain CBD isolate or full-spectrum cannabinoids, terpenes, and a carrier oil. They also contain thinners in the form of vegetable glycerol (VG) or propylene glycol (PG). Some also have nicotine.

Like CBD oil, e-juices are derivatives of THC-free hemp. As long as you buy from a licensed supplier, you have nothing to fear from vaping. Tests also do not look for VG or PG; these are not banned substances.

What About the Nicotine?

Most tests do not detect for traces of nicotine. In fact, some states have laws in place protecting workers from being unlawfully terminated by their employer for smoking outside of work. However, other states offer no such protection, and employers can lawfully terminate an employee if nicotine shows up in a test.

See this list of the states that have protection laws in place for smokers.

We’re digressing a bit from the topic. The issue at hand is CBD vaping and not cigarette smoking. If you live in a state with a protection law in place, then you have nothing to worry. If you live in a state that has no such protection, then you may want to inform your employer ahead of time that you vape CBD oil and do not smoke. To avoid this problem altogether, use a CBD vape juice containing zero nicotine. CBD e-juices with nicotine are intended for smokers trying to quit and use vaping as an alternative. You can also refrain from vaping for about 10 days.

Drug tests don’t analyze for nicotine directly since the substance is difficult to detect. Instead, it looks for cotinine, a substance your body produces when processing nicotine. Cotinine can remain in the body for four to 10 days after discontinuing nicotine use, hence the 10-day recommendation.

Final Thoughts on a CBD Oil Drug Test

Our 420-friendly folks have nothing to fear as there is no such things as a CBD oil drug test that specifically looks for non-psychoactive cannabinoids. Most employers and even a growing number of athletic commissions are becoming more accepting of CBD use. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we must emphasize one last time to stick with reputable CBD manufacturers to guarantee negative test results.

Medical References

Struempler R, Nelson G, Urry F. A positive cannabinoids workplace drug test following the ingestion of commercially available hemp seed oil. J Anal Toxicol. 1997;21(4):283-285. [PubMed]

All About CBD Capsules: How Do They Compare to Other CBD Products?

Most supplements come in powder form stored inside a capsule. This makes it easy for users to consume the recommended dosage. CBD capsules are no exception. Just as there are CBD oils and edibles, some products also come in capsule form.

Is there any advantage of taking capsules over oils (tinctures)  or gummies?

Does the capsule form increase bioavailability?

For CBD users, these questions warrant further investigation.

What Are CBD Capsules Made Of?

Let’s take a look at the average supplement capsule. These miniature containers are made from either gelatin or cellulose. The latter consists of polymers from vegetable shortenings and are also known as veggie-caps. This is also the go-to option for users who wish to completely avoid all animal-derived products (like vegans).

For the typical gelatin capsule, the ingredient is simple animal protein and is the same material that Jell-O or other gelatin desserts are made of. Contrary to popular belief, capsules do not contain plastic whatsoever.

Some capsules may contain additional ingredients, but in their simplest forms, they only consist of one of these two primary materials. Now let’s talk about the possible effects of capsule materials on the body.

Potential Side Effects of Capsules

Both gelatin and cellulose are made from natural ingredients found in everyday foods. Gelatin, in fact, is an abundant protein that makes up our muscles, hair, and nails. Both options are safe; only a very small minority of users will experience side effects.

For gelatin capsules, adverse reactions may include minor upset stomach that may lead to burping, bloating, or gas.

There are no known side effects of consuming cellulose in the form of capsules. However, too much cellulose from food may cause diarrhea, gas, and other gastric upsets.

What’s Inside a Capsule?

The main ingredient inside the capsule is the CBD/hemp extract. They are available in both isolate and full-spectrum form. If in the latter form, then the capsule contains additional cannabinoid extracts. Other ingredients include terpenes, which gives the cannabinoids their distinct flavor, though flavoring is obviously a non-factor when consuming a capsule. Also have other medicinal properties and work synergistically with the other cannabinoids present to produce more medicinal value.

The contents inside the capsule may be in powder or oil form. If the contents are oil-based, then it will contain MCT oil as a carrier (or possibly another carrier oil), much the same way as CBD tinctures. In this case, the capsule is a soft-gel cap commonly seen in some OTC medicines like DayQuil.

If in powder form, the contents normally consist of crystalline powder extract from hemp oil using a CO2-extraction method. Some brands may contain excipients (fillers) to fill out the capsule. Common excipients include starch, calcium, and lactose. Make sure to look at the ingredients to see if there are any fillers you want to avoid (i.e. if you’re lactose intolerant, you want to avoid those containing lactose as a filler ingredient).

DIY CBD Capsules

Some users resort to making their own capsules. This is actually an easier process than most people think. You can purchase empty capsules in bulk at a low price. Though not as popular as oil, CBD is also available in powder form. Some people buy CBD powder and encapsulate them at home.

CBD Powder for DIY CapsulesThe CBD Distillery sells powder in bulk for this reason.

What’s the point of this when you can just purchase pre-made CBD capsules? There are a couple reasons for this.

For vegans, the ones that meet their personal preferences may utilize animal-based gelatin caps. Others find it cheaper to purchase lower-cost bulk CBD powder and perform their own encapsulation.

Capsule vs Oil

Should you gravitate towards the capsule form or opt for the more common oil form? There is no study we are aware of that compares the bioavailability of CBD as oil vs as capsule. It really comes down to individual preference.

CBD oils typically contain MCT oil as a carrier. but there are other carrier oils as well. Administration is also taken under the tongue rather than a straight-up ingestion. The arteries below the tongue absorb the oil, enabling the contents to bypass the lengthy digestive process and enter the bloodstream directly. Results usually kick in within 15 to 30 minutes.

What about capsules? The typical gelatin and veggie-caps take about 20 to 30 minutes to completely dissolve. Of course, a number of additional factors can affect the dissolve time, such as:

  • Whether you consume the capsule with food
  • Your stomach’s pH balance
  • Your water intake

The capsule does protect the CBD contents inside from the harsh stomach acid and bile. Nevertheless, the journey through the digestive tracts may inhibit bioavailability.

Again, there are no studies comparing the two, but we wager that CBD oil has a slightly higher bioavailability. This is assuming, of course, that you take the oil under the tongue rather than swallow it.

The Advantages of Having It In Capsule Form

The biggest advantage of capsules is the convenience. They are easily portable, and you don’t need to mess with a dropper. You can also be sure of the exact dosage you get every time without having to count the number of drops. Plus, it offers a more discreet way of getting your CBD dose.

It’s also said that capsules may be the better option for nicotine smokers. Long-time smokers lack the salivary production and absorptive mechanisms in the mouth. As such, the whole under-the-tongue method with tinctures may not be as effective.

Their bioavailability is also improving thanks to new technology and production practices. One brand we know of includes lecithin and black pepper extract, which is believed to boost bioavailability. Another product adds natural botanicals like clove and rosemary, which may increase the endocannabinoid system’s ability to receive the incoming CBD.

In essence, we recommend CBD capsules over CBD oil if the following applies to you:

  • You’re a long-time smoker
  • Consuming MCT oil makes you nauseous
  • You value convenience and/or normally consume CBD on the go
  • You’re not so good at keeping track of dosage
  • You already consume other supplements in pill form. Just add it to your 7-day pill box along with your other daily pills. Consult with your doctor, however, if you’re on medication. CBD may interact with certain drugs.

Capsule Absorption Rate

Do capsules generally have better or less bioavailability compared to food or tablets? There are no specific studies that examine the bioavailability rate of CBD capsules as far as we’re aware of. There is, however, a study that compares the absorption rate of capsules with tablets.

The study examined the bioavailability of two folic acid supplements, one in tablet form and another in capsule form. Subjects took the supplement in one form or the other. Blood samples taken one week later revealed comparable levels of folate in the bloodstream. It should be noted, though, that the capsule did have a slightly longer absorption time.

The study result is a good indicator that capsules may have a bioavailability similar to that of CBD-infused tablets and perhaps even edibles.

Delayed-Release CBD Capsules

You may have heard of some supplements using time-released capsules. The capsule erodes in the stomach gradually, causing a steady release of the CBD rather than all at once. This way, the body reaps the effects throughout the day.

This type of encapsulation is also known as enteric-coated capsules. “Enteric” means pertaining to the intestines. As suggested in the name, these capsules resist dissolving until they reach the intestines.

One of the benefits of delayed release is that you only have to take one serving a day. While the effects won’t be as strong, it won’t wane after just a few hours. Some researchers are also developing ultra-long time-released capsules designed to release its contents over the course of days and even weeks. Researchers at MIT have developed a star-shaped capsule that releases its contents over a span of two-weeks.

This may prove beneficial especially for CBD products with THC. The psychoactive compound is known to cause jitters and anxiety, especially among sensitive users. A time-released dose may provide the pain-relieving and relaxation-induced sensations minus the side effects.

Studies1 have confirmed that time-released capsules work the way they’re intended to once in the body. However, there are no studies specifically done on time-released capsules and how they compare to standard ones or other cannabis products.

Where Can I Find CBD Capsules?

Not all CBD suppliers sell capsules; some limit their inventory to oils and edibles. We included here a list of vetted suppliers that carry CBD in pill form.

  • CBD FX – This site carries full-spectrum CBD capsules. Each capsule contains 25 mg of CBD sourced from hemp oil.
  • Endoca – This supplier carries capsules made from animal-free cellulose. Its products are available in CBD or CBD + CBDa. If you’re not familiar, CBDa stands for cannabidiolic acid, which studies suggest may benefit the gastrointestinal tracts when taken with CBD.
  • CBD Drip – This brand carries full-spectrum hemp in both capsule and soft-gel form. It also carries single-serving packs – perfect for your purse or pocket.
  • CBD Distillery – Carries both CBD isolate and full-spectrum supplements in your choice of capsules or soft-gels. Servings range from 25 mg to 30 mg per capsule/soft-gel.

Final Thoughts on Capsules

CBD capsules are a great way for beginners to introduce themselves to cannabis. It’s another choice you have in addition to oils, edibles, and vape juices. Consider capsules if you value convenience or wish to be discreet when taking CBD in the public sphere. Adding it to your daily dietary regimen is no different than incorporating a multi-vitamin tablet.

Medical References

Zur E. Compounding slow-release capsules: a comprehensive review and an Excel spreadsheet for faster calculations of excipients. Int J Pharm Compd. 2013;17(1):10-22. [PubMed]

CBD Oil Side Effects (Are There Any?)

The benefits of CBD are well documented. We did an entire piece on the medicinal qualities of hemp with the clinical trials to back the claims. Still… can too much of a good thing be bad for you? Too much vitamin C, for example, is known to cause upset stomach and skin flushing. Can CBD – for all of its benefits – cause adverse reactions? We’ll explore some of the potential CBD oil extract side effects and whether users should be concerned or exercise precautionary measures.

CBD Oil Is Generally Safe

Before discussing some of the side effects of using CBD, we want to emphasize that CBD, by and large, is mostly safe. A review of clinical data1 found CBD to have a “favorable safety profile.”

The data reviewed patients who consumed CBD for treating epilepsy and other psychotic disorders. While some subjects did experience side effects, they were mild in comparison to traditional pharmaceutical drugs for treating said medical conditions.

In another study2, patients given doses up to 600 mg of CBD experienced no adverse effects. We should note, though, that doses were administered orally, which has a lower bioavailability compared to vaping or other delivery methods.So, with that in mind, we won’t assume vaping 600 mg of CBD is just as safe.

Side Effects of CBD Oil

CBD oil is not 100% side-effect-free. Some people have more sensitive CB receptors and may respond with unpleasant symptoms. In most cases, the adverse reaction dissipates once the body adjusts.

The aforementioned review of clinical data did find that patients experienced mild symptoms associated with CBD use. This includes:

  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in Appetite (usually an increase)

CBD Interactions with Drugs

are there drug interaction and cbd oil side effects - assorted pills on wooden background
Assorted prescription pills

Does mixing CBD with pharmaceuticals result in unwanted side effects? If you’re on medication, inform your doctor if you’re going to begin CBD supplementation.

CBD use can interfere with your body’s ability to metabolize medicine. This may slow down the breakdown of the drug, causing it to remain in your system longer than necessary. Studies3 show, for example, that CBD use may actually increase the effectiveness of blood thinners. While this may sound like a good thing, the amplified effects may cause complications if you don’t adjust your dose accordingly.

Why does this occur? When taken orally, CBD is metabolized by a liver enzyme known as P450-complex. The same enzyme also metabolizes most pharmaceutical drugs. If the enzyme is busy metabolizing CBD, then it has to delay the metabolization of the medication.

CBD may interfere with any medication that is processed by the liver. There are too many to list, but some examples include:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Fentanyl
  • Antihistamines
  • Macrolide antibiotics
  • Calcium channel blockers

Any CBD oil side effects you experience may not necessarily be from the CBD itself but from the increased potency of the medication due to the delayed metabolization.

CBD Side Effects from Vaping

Vaping CBD may carry its own set of side effects independent of what you might experience from oral CBD. The side effects here stem from the additional additives and not necessarily from the CBD. CBD vape oils and e-liquids commonly contain propylene glycol (PG) as a thinning agent.

The heating coil of lower-quality vape pens produces excess heat, which may convert the PG into tiny polymers that could cause lung irritation.

A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that airborne PG can induce asthma and exacerbate allergy conditions. Side effects include watery eyes, wheezing, coughing, and skin irritation.

Heating PG at an extreme temperature converts it to a cancer-causing compound known as carbonyl. The Universal Plant never recommends any CBD vape products that have PG in it. If you do decide to purchase product with PG in it, to avoid respiratory implications, always stick to high-quality e-cigarettes from reputable suppliers. Properly made heating coils do not burn at the temperature needed to convert PG into carbonyl.

What About Side Effects of Terpenes?

If you’re not familiar with terpenes, this refers to a class of oily substances secreted by the cannabis plant. Many plant species actually produce terpenes, but in recent years the term has largely become associated with the cannabis industry.

CBD makers denature the terpenes, turning them into various terpenoids, each with their own distinct flavor. Some terpenoids also interact with the cannabinoids, which can amplify or hinder their effects. Breeders are constantly at work to try to produce terpenoids with desirable flavoring and bioavailability-assisting traits.

Since some terpenes enhance the CBD’s potency, they may also enhance the side effects. The same goes for the side effects associated with the psychoactive compound THC. Industry insiders have referred to this as the “entourage effect.”

As far as the terpenes themselves causing side effects, there aren’t any studies at this point suggesting they cause adverse reactions.

Side Effects from Other Ingredients

You also need to be mindful other additional ingredients. For CBD oil, that includes the carrier oil. For vape juices, this also includes thinners.

Carriers almost always include some sort of MCT oil, such as coconut or palm kernel oil. For the most part, these oils are healthy and have minimal side effects. Adverse reactions are minimal and usually only experienced briefly by first-time users. Minor side effects include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and upset stomach. These sensations are also more likely to occur if you consume the oil on an empty stomach.

For vape juices, additional ingredients include thinners, either in the form of vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol. Let’s examine these two separately.

Vegetable glycerin (VG)

Side effects appear to be minor and usually include a mild headache, nausea, and vomiting.

Propylene Glycol (PG)

We discussed PG earlier and how it may convert into dangerous cancer-causing agents. In addition, a 2014 report4 found that vapor-based PG may cause dry cough and mouth and throat irritation. Some people also report skin irritation when their skin is exposed to PG in vapor or liquid form.

CBD Side Effects ≠ THC Side Effects

Okay, now let’s talk about THC, which has some more noteworthy side effects. As the psychoactive compound, this is the cannabinoid that produces the high and trippy sensation. What are some of the side effects of THC when taken above the 0.3% legal limit?

One of the most widely reported reactions is anxiety. This is due to THC’s biphasic effect. This means it produces a sensation in a low dose and the opposite sensation in higher concentrations. Whereas a small dose may calm the nerves, a higher dose induces the jitters, mood swings, and mild paranoia.

Some of the other side effects include:

  • Dry mouth – this is because there are CB receptors inside the mouth
  • Dry eyes – THC dilates blood vessels in the eyes, leading to dryness and redness
  • Lethargy – some people actually find this feeling helpful as it helps them relax. However, during the day, it can impede day-to-day activities. High THC content is found in the cannabis strain indica, which is known for its sedative effects.

Some lesser-reported side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Vertigo
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Increased heart rate

Some of these side effects, such as dry mouth, is also associated with CBD. However, any overlapping effects appear to be far more pronounced and frequent among THC users.

According to studies, prolonged THC use may also increase risk of some psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.

CBD Oil Side Effects from Full-Spectrum Products

Of course, CBD and THC are only two of the estimated 100+ cannabinoids. What if you’re using a full-spectrum product? Do any of the additional cannabinoids cause side effects of their own?

Some of the other cannabinoids common in a full-spectrum oil include cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). Studies on these cannabinoids are limited. Many of the benefits also overlap with CBD. We can deduce, therefore, that any potential side effects include much of the mild reactions associated with CBD use.

The only standalone side effect we are aware of is an anorectic effect associated with THCV. This means it may reduce appetite. In most cases, this is a good thing as it may be a beneficial weight loss aid. However, some people also take cannabis for pain relief as part of their cancer treatment. Chemotherapy often causes appetite loss. With that in mind, any substance that causes further loss of appetite may be counterproductive. CBD, by contrast, is known to stimulate appetite, hence why cannabidiol is often said to give you the “munchies.” It’s another reason CBD is useful for cancer patients.

Where to Buy CBD Oil

To minimize side effects of CBD oil, always buy from a certified and reputable supplier. Buying a homemade oil from a friend of a friend is probably not the safest bet. You can’t be certain of the carrier oil or thinner used, or the presence of additional ingredients that may cause unwanted reactions.

Reputable suppliers always list the ingredients, which usually consist of no more than the cannabinoid extract, carrier oil, terpenes, and thinner if it’s a vape liquid.

Visit our Where to Buy section for a list of sellers we vetted and verified.

Final Thoughts on CBD Oil Side Effects

We don’t deny that some people will experience side effects. However, we wager that 95% of users won’t have such problems. For those that do experience unpleasant sensations, the effects are mild and temporary. The point we are trying to get across is that CBD is safe. You have nothing to worry about as long as you buy from a reputable supplier and stick to recommended dosages.

Medical References

Iffland K, Grotenhermen F. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2(1):139-154. [PMC]
Welty T, Luebke A, Gidal B. Cannabidiol: Promise and Pitfalls. Epilepsy Curr. 2014;14(5):250-252. [PMC]
Grayson L, Vines B, Nichol K, Szaflarski J, for the. An interaction between warfarin and cannabidiol, a case report. Epilepsy Behav Case Rep. 2017;9:10-11. [PMC]
Callahan-Lyon P. Electronic cigarettes: human health effects. Tob Control. 2014;23(Suppl 2):ii36-ii40. [PMC]

CBD Vape Oil: The 411 on Vaping CBD

If you have read our previous posts, then you’re probably more than familiar with CBD oil (i.e. CBD tinctures). It’s the most prevalent and beginner-friendly CBD product out there. However, you also have a choice of CBD edibles, topicals, and not to mention a range of dabs for vaping. CBD vape oil is a popular choice for individuals comfortable using a vape pen. If you want to explore beyond the typical CBD tincture, then consider what benefits vaping oil may offer.

What Is CBD Vape Oil?

CBD vape oil is not a whole lot different from the conventional CBD oil. Whereas the latter is intended for oral ingestion, vape oil is for – as you can probably guess – vaping with an e-cigarette or other type of battery.

Can’t you just vape regular CBD or hemp oil tinctures? Yes, you can and some people have actually tried it. However, just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should. The carrier for CBD tinctures isn’t optimal for use with a vape pen. The carrier is usually PG, VG, hempseed oil, coconut oil or other MCT oil, which are sometimes too viscous for an e-cigarette’s heating coil to effectively burn.

CBD vape oil has a thinning agent, which we will discuss in the next section.

Most people who have attempted to use regular CBD oil intended for oral in a vape pen have reported a foul taste. It also leaves a residue on the heating coil, which becomes a hassle to wash off.

Likewise, just as it’s not optimal to vape regular CBD oil, it’s also not optimal to ingest CBD oil intended for vape. Again, you can do so, and some people mix the e-liquid with a beverage like apple juice or an energy drink. However, oral ingestion is not optimal for reasons we will get to later on.

The lesson? Use CBD products in the manner they are intended for. Sometimes the product is actually made for multiple forms of delivery. If this is the case, the product packaging will say so.

How Is CBD Vape Oil Made?

CBD Vape oil productsFor the most part, CBD vape oil is made the same way as regular CBD tincture oils. We suggest seeing our primer on CBD oil, which includes a section on how dispensaries produce the extract that is used for all CBD products.

Essentially, manufacturers use ethanol or grain alcohol (or some other solvent like CO2 or butane) to extract the CBD and/or other cannabinoids. A carrier oil is added along with additional ingredients like flavoring and, if lost during the extraction process, terpenes.

CBD vape oil is pretty much the same. However, to make the solution 100% vapepen–friendly, most manufacturers add a thinning agent. This includes one of two primary thinners: vegetable glycerol (VG) or propylene glycol (PG).

Some people opt for homemade concoctions by mixing their own CBD oil, thinner, and other flavors. However, it takes tons of experimentation to find the right formula that not only works well with your battery but also tastes great and produces the desired effect. We recommend first-time users stick to professionally-made CBD vapes.

Nicotine in CBD Vape

Occasionally, manufacturers will add nicotine to their CBD vape oil. This is where users have to exercise some due diligence. The reason a CBD vape may include nicotine is because it provides a safer and tobacco-free alternative for cigarette smokers. A study1 found that smokers that vaped CBD decreased cigarette smoking by 40%. A second group that vaped a placebo did not decrease their number of cigarettes smoked.

Unless you smoke and are trying to wean off this nasty habit, we suggest sticking to nicotine-free vape oils. If you go to any of the retailers we recommend, you won’t have to worry about nicotine. However, if you go to a more recreation-friendly establishment, you may have to beware of added nicotine.

CBD Vape Oil Vs Oral CBD Oil

Why should you vape CBD when it’s less of a hassle to just ingest it?

It all comes down to bioavailability. When you ingest anything, whether it’s food, medicine, or whatever, a sizable portion of the compounds will be destroyed by your stomach acids.

A study2 found that oral CBD oil has a bioavailability anywhere from 6% to 20%. This means if you consume 100 mg, only 6 mg to 20 mg will reach your bloodstream and interact with the endocannabinoid system and CB receptors.

This is why CBD oil makers recommend ingestion via sublingual consumption. This is where you place the drops under your tongue and let the contents dissolve. The mucous membranes absorb the oil, allowing it to bypass the digestive system. This is believed to increase bioavailability by an estimate of up to 35%.

What about vaping? When you inhale CBD as vapor, the contents directly enter the lungs where it diffuses into the bloodstream. The bioavailability is far higher than any ingestion method. According to the aforementioned study, the absorption rate is about 56%. Another study3 yielded a more modest rate between 34% to 46%.

Either way, you get more bang for your buck.

Is CBD Vaping Bad for Your Health?

Are there health risks associated with vaping CBD? Can something generally good for your health have hidden dangers?

This is a common concern. While drastically different from smoking, the two are similar in the sense that you’re inhaling vapor into your lungs.

There have been several reports of users falling ill after vaping CBD, the effects of which were not observed in users that ingest the oil.

In early 2018, the U.S. Army released a warning cautioning against the use of CBD oil vape. The notice came after 60 soldiers were hospitalized and treated for dizziness, disorientation, and seizures. The hospitalized soldiers were regular e-cig users. It’s believed the soldiers used a vape oil containing synthetic cannabinoids.

Another concern is that lower-grade vape oils may contain cuticle wax. This is the outer fatty layer that covers much of the cannabis plant’s surface. Cuticle wax is also found in hemp plants. When you smoke marijuana as a joint or bong, the heat burns away the oil, making it a non-health hazard.

However, vaporizers utilize heat at a much lower temperature. The cuticle wax may not completely burn away. This leaves behind waxy remnants that may make their way into your lungs. While there are currently no studies confirming such, it’s speculated that the wax forms into solid granulomas inside the lungs. This may lead to long-term respiratory diseases.

Is This a Cause for Concern?

With reports of servicemembers falling ill and the potential health ramifications of cuticle wax, is it safer to stick to CBD tinctures? We don’t believe so. We do believe, though, that the risks are all the more reason to acquire CBD vape oils from a reputable supplier.

Certified dispensaries and CBD makers only use natural hemp extracts and never artificially-produced cannabidiol. As far as cuticle wax is concerned, determine whether the manufacturer uses a process called winterization. This is a method that removes any oil from the plant that contains higher melting points.

Call the company to confirm whether they winterize the oil. If the representative is unable to answer the question or doesn’t even know what winterization means, then we suggest looking elsewhere. As always, you won’t have to worry about this if you go with one of The Universal Plant’s recommended CBD manufacturers

Use a High-Quality Vape Pen

Just as you should only purchase high-quality vape oil, you should also only purchase a high-quality vape pen. This applies whether you use a reusable or single-use disposable pen.

Inferior batteries produce far more heat than necessary. The vape pen’s heating coil should produce high temperatures, but not so high that it over sublimates (vaporizes) the thinning agents. When the thinning agent propylene glycol is exposed to extremely high heat, the molecules break down and convert to carcinogenic compounds, most notably formaldehyde. This is one of the cancer-causing properties in cigarettes.

As a general rule, we don’t like to recommend vape products with PG in it, even if the manufacturer advertises a VG/PG split of 70/30.

CBD Vape Oil Vs CBD Vape Juice

Aside from CBD vape oil, you may also have heard of CBD vape juice, which is also intended for use with a vaporizer. Is there a difference? The two terms more or less describe a class of e-liquids containing either CBD isolate or full-spectrum CBD extracts.

We suggest seeing our article on CBD vape juice. Manufacturers for the most part treat the two terms interchangeably. There’s no need to get caught up in the semantics. They both refer to CBD e-liquids that you vape instead of ingest or pour on your food.

Where Can I Find CBD Vape Oil?

As we mentioned, we cannot overemphasize the importance of obtaining CBD vape oil from an established brand. The links below are brands we have vetted ourselves and meet our smell test.

  • Medix CBD – does not carry vape oil but does have pre-loaded disposable vape pen cartridges
  • Hemp Bombs – carries vape oils of different flavors and potency levels

Like CBD oil, most CBD vape is made from hemp. You have no worries regarding risks for intoxication by THC content. E-liquids are also available as pure CBD extract or full-spectrum.

Final Thoughts

CBD oil vape provides a more bioavailable alternative to CBD oils. While we recommend beginners start with the latter, you may eventually choose to upgrade and explore other modes of administration that better fit your situation and preferences. Rest assured that vaping is safe as long as you follow dosage recommendations and stick to trustworthy suppliers.

Medical References

Morgan C, Das R, Joye A, Curran H, Kamboj S. Cannabidiol reduces cigarette consumption in tobacco smokers: preliminary findings. Addict Behav. 2013;38(9):2433-2436. [PubMed]
Huestis M. Human Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics. Chem Biodivers. 2007;4(8):1770-1804. [PMC]
Paudel K, Hammell D, Agu R, Valiveti S, Stinchcomb A. Cannabidiol bioavailability after nasal and transdermal application: effect of permeation enhancers. Drug Dev Ind Pharm. 2010;36(9):1088-1097. [PubMed]