"We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption."
― John Adams
A hot and trending topic, CBD has taken the world by storm in last few years. From relieving anxiety, improving sleep, and easing chronic pain; there seems to be an endless list of things this single compound can help with. Within the last few years alone the market for CBD products has exploded, with products ranging from bath bombs and CBD-infused aftershaves popping up.
I kept seeing CBD products popping up on social media and noticed my local convenience store selling CBD gummy bears at the cashier station. “If this stuff is really popular, there has to be something to this stuff, right?” I thought.
Never one to shy away from the unknown, I decided to dip my feet into the vast, deep, world of all-things CBD to see if these products could deliver on their marketing promises.
Would CDB help me sleep? Could CBD help me relax? Would minor aches and pains really be helped? What I found was both enlightening and shocking: CBD is already a billion-dollar business. In 2022 the CBD industry is expected to be worth $1.8 billion dollars, and by 2025? The world of CBD is expected to reach 23 billion dollars. Yes, those are billions with a “B”!
Setting aside the market value of CBD, I dove into what exactly CBD is, and what health-promoting potential it holds. With more and more US states decriminalizing cannabis for medical and recreational use, research into the various compounds of cannabis is now exploding. Researchers are freer than ever to study the cannabis plant and its many compounds like CBD.
CBD stands for cannabidiol and is one of the major phytocannabinoids found in the plant Cannabis sativa:
CBD does not contain the psychotropic effects of the other major compound found in cannabis; 9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Out of the 113 other identified cannabinoids in cannabis, CBD accounts for up to 40% of the plant itself.
CBD interacts with what is known as the ‘endocannabinoid system’ inside the human body. Broadly speaking, this is a network of nervous system receptors that are activated when in the presence of a cannabinoid-containing substance. You can think of the endocannabinoid system as a biological communication system inside the body.
Scientists currently know about two parts that make up the human endocannabinoid system: CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. The CB1 receptors are located primarily in the central and peripheral nervous system, and the CB2 receptors are found mainly in our immune cells.
Together, the CB1 and CB2 receptors make up our endocannabinoid system.
One reason CBD has people excited is that CBD doesn’t provide the psychoactive “high” associated with cannabis and is legal in the United States to sell for personal therapeutic purposes.
While research is now exploding, initial research into the human endocannabinoid system hints that it may be involved with everything from our immune system, pain-sensation, memory, and even mood.
To this effect, I was surprised to learn that in 2018, the United States FDA approved Epidolex, a prescription-only drug derived from CBD for the treatment of epilepsy. Later that same year, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) rescheduled that drug from a schedule 1 drug, to a schedule V drug.
It appears that even major pharmaceutical companies are jumping on the cannabidiol bandwagon.
The short answer is, yes. CBD is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid from the cannabis plant.
In the United States, the federal government makes a distinction between cannabis that contains THC (marijuana) and cannabis grown with low/no THC, aka “hemp”. In 2018, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, otherwise known as the Farm Bill made CBD federally legal if derived from hemp and the product contains no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight.
While CBD may be federally legal to produce and sell in the United States federally, many individual states have enacted their own laws regarding the status of CBD.
In some states such as North Dakota or Minnesota, a doctor’s approval and a medical marijuana card is required to buy CBD. If you live in the United States and are interested in CBD, it’s best to check your state’s local laws before trying to purchase any product containing CBD.
Internationally, the United Nations does not have CBD scheduled under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances or other UN drug treaties.
This doesn’t mean that CBD is legal around the world, however. Some countries such as New Zealand have CBD classified as a medicine and require a doctor’s prescription to legally obtain. No matter where you live, it’s always best to check the local laws governing your part of the world before deciding to try CBD.
As I mentioned above, CBD research is ongoing and exploding. Preliminary studies are finding that the cannabinoid CBD might have a vast range of possible uses. The three most popular reasons for taking a CBD product include pain management, anxiety reduction, and improved sleep.
Some of the other possible things CBD that can be used for that I won’t be covering in-depth today include:
CBD is becoming popular among people looking for an alternative to traditional pain relievers such as NSAIDs, acetorphan, and opiates. In fact, CBD is even being examined as a possible intervention to assist in addiction, including opiate pain medications themselves. A review of current research into this topic found:
“CBD is an exogenous cannabinoid that acts on several neurotransmission systems involved in addiction. Animal studies have shown the possible effects of CBD on opioid and psychostimulant addiction, while human studies presented some preliminary evidence of a beneficial impact of CBD on cannabis and tobacco dependence”
But does CBD help with pain itself, and can CBD used to alleviate everyday aches and pains? Surprisingly, current research seems to support that it can. A study in 2017 looked at the endogenous cannabinoid system as a pathway to treat inflammatory and neuropathic pain:
“An overwhelming body of convincing preclinical evidence indicates that cannabinoids produce antinociceptive effects in inflammatory and neuropathic rodent pain models. Cannabinoid receptor agonists, endocannabinoid-regulating enzyme inhibitors, and other pharmacological strategies to manipulate the endogenous cannabinoids system decrease the hyperalgesia and allodynia induced in diverse inflammatory and neuropathic pain states.”
Even more, CBD appears to be able to reduce the amount of opiate pain medications someone suffering from chronic pain needs to take. A recent study from 2019 found that out of 131 test subjects, over half of them were able to reduce or eliminate their need to take an opiate-based pain medication over an 8-week period:
“Over half of chronic pain patients (53%) reduced or eliminated their opioids within 8 weeks after adding CBD-rich hemp extract to their regimens. Almost all CBD users (94%) reported quality of life improvements.”
What about anxiety and stress? Is there any convincing evidence that CBD might be useful to reduce daily stress or even help those with more severe anxiety disorders? While research is still ongoing, preliminary studies indicate that it can.
A study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2011 found:
“Relative to placebo, CBD was associated with significantly decreased subjective anxiety (p < 0.001), reduced ECD uptake in the left parahippocampal gyrus, hippocampus, and inferior temporal gyrus (p < 0.001, uncorrected), and increased ECD uptake in the right posterior cingulate gyrus (p < 0.001, uncorrected).
These results suggest that CBD reduces anxiety in SAD and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas.”
What’s more, a review published in 2015 of 49 studies found:
“Overall, preclinical evidence supports systemic CBD as an acute treatment of GAD, SAD, PD, OCD, and PTSD, and suggests that CBD has the advantage of not producing anxiogenic effects at higher dose, as distinct from other agents that enhance CB1R activation.
In particular, results show potential for the treatment of multiple PTSD symptom domains, including reducing arousal and avoidance, preventing the long-term adverse effects of stress, as well as enhancing the extinction and blocking the reconsolidation of persistent fear memories.”
We’ve established that CBD has exciting potential for pain and anxiety, but given how important sleep is to our overall health, can it also help in that area as well? The research in this area isn’t quite as robust as that for pain and anxiety. Despite this, there is a bit of evidence to suggest it can.
Research indicates CBD’s ability to reduce stress and anxiety may be useful for those suffering from stress-related and PTSD-induced insomnia. A case report from 2016 concluded:
“The main finding from this case study is that CBD oil can be an effective compound to reduce anxiety and insomnia secondary to PTSD. A review of the literature suggests some benefits from the use of CBD because of its anxiolytic and sleep-inducing effects.”
In a clinical trial done in the early 1980’s, CBD was administered to insomniacs and epileptic patients. The study concluded:
“Doses of 40, 80, and 160 mg cannabidiol were compared to placebo and 5 mg nitrazepam in 15 insomniac volunteers. Subjects receiving 160 mg cannabidiol reported having slept significantly more than those receiving placebo.”
While research into sleep and CBD by itself isn’t as comprehensive as the studies done for anxiety and pain, there’s plenty of evidence to warrant further research. Given the fact that so many people have trouble sleeping due to anxiety and stress, better sleep may be a positive benefit from the use of CBD.
There are several ways to get CBD into the body, some conventional (capsules) and other more novel (transdermal). The most popular methods of using CBD include:
Some of the above methods are easier to practice than others. Having to rub a cream or setup a device to inhale CBD can be messy and complicated, compared with taking capsules or using a sublingual solution under the tongue.
The issue doesn’t stop there; different methods of CBD use carry with them different levels of bioavailability. Among the most popular routes to consume CBD the following percentages appear to be absorbed for use by humans:
“CBD has a low bioavailability when consumed orally (<5%). This is one of the reasons sublingual oils and vapes are more popular instead of CBD capsules. Where CBD oil drops and vapes have a bioavailability of approx 30%/55%”
It sounds like if we want to maximize our experience with CBD, we want to either use a sublingual oil or a vapor/e-liquid. But why sublingual in oil? Why does the CBD need to be mixed with an oil to be effective when taken orally?
It turns out that just like its illicit cousin THC, CBD is also fat-soluble, and combining CBD with an oil or lipid substance can greatly increase oral absorption:
“This is also demonstrated in animal studies; co-administration of lipids with oral CBD increased systemic availability by almost 3-fold in rats and a pro-nanoliposphere formulation increased oral bioavailability by about 6-fold.
As CBD is a highly lipophilic molecule, it is logical that CBD may dissolve in the fat content of food, increasing its solubility, and absorption and therefore bioavailability as demonstrated by numerous pharmacological drugs. Thus, it may be advisable to administer CBD orally in a fed state to allow for optimal absorption.”
So if we want one of the best routes of ingestion with the least amount of fuss, it sounds like we want to use a CBD+oil solution, and take it sublingually. This brings us to the next part of this article, why we would want to make our own CBD oil instead of purchasing a commercially produced CBD oil tincture.
We could make the argument that CBD being a relatively new fad leaves it open to poor quality products, poor extraction techniques and dubious potency testing. While those arguments are valid, the real reason I decided to make my own CBD oil tinctures comes down to one simple reason: price.
After I decided I wanted to give CBD a try, I began looking at the most highly rated and regarded products. Without singling out any specific vendor, I found prices ranging anywhere from $50 USD to $80 USD for a 30ml bottle with some as high as $150! Most of these 30ml bottles claim they contain anywhere from 30-60 “servings”.
I kept seeing two strengths in the 30ml bottle size, 500mg and 1,000mg. The 30ml bottles all came with a 1ml dropper, which would then give me either 16.6mg or 33.2mg per dropper.
When I looked at the ingredient list that some vendors had available, I saw that MCT oil was the most common carrier oil used.
This makes sense, as MCT stands for ‘medium-chain triglyceride’ and is has a much simpler digestion process versus conventional long-chain fatty acids. In short, MCT is easier for cells in the intestine to absorb without bile or pancreatic enzymes. Medium-chain triglycerides therefore can move directly from the gut into the bloodstream and liver.
What this means for you and I is that by bypassing the normal enzymatic digestive processes, using MCT for the oil-soluble CBD molecule, we can effectively get more CBD into our bloodstream.
I’ve been using MCT oils on and off over the years, so I knew that MCT oils weren’t terribly expensive. If the CBD products I was looking at were so costly, could it be the CBD isolate that’s driving up the cost? After all, CBD tinctures are essentially CBD isolate and MCT oil.
After doing a bit of internet sleuthing, I was shocked to discover that CBD isolate is available in bulk from wholesale distributors at a fraction of the price CBD oil vendors are selling. The website I sourced my CBD isolate from; Industrial Hemp Farms had 10 grams of CDB isolate for $70. That is 7,000mg of CBD, enough to make seven, 30ml bottles at the highest 1,000mg strength.
Let’s do some quick math and see how this all would play out, with the necessary ingredients:
That comes to a grand total of $93.97 USD. If we made all seven 30ml bottles, each 1,000mg bottle would cost me $13.42 USD to produce. Commercial CBD products cost anywhere from four to six times more!
Of course, I’m not including a few additional costs that we’ll cover below. Even after factoring those costs into my DIY CBD oil, it’s still far cheaper than anything being advertised on social media or the internet.
Now we’re getting to the fun part, making a CBD oil tincture at home! Making the tincture is a straightforward and simple process that only contains a few materials and steps. After seeing the cost of commercial products, I’m shocked that more people aren’t deciding to go this route. Of course, the convivence factor cannot be overlooked.
***NOTE*** I am not a doctor or a medical health professional. Remember to always speak to your physician before using or trying any new supplement, treatment, or drug. Always check local laws regarding CBD before getting started.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look first at the materials and ingredients you’ll need to get started:
That’s it; that’s really all it takes to make a bare-bones, basic CBD oil tincture. In a future article, I may expand to include more advanced steps including flavorings or terpenes for a ‘full spectrum’ tincture. In this article, we’re only going to be covering how to make a basic CBD isolate tincture without any additional ingredients.
The materials and hardware needed to get started are minimal. Many people may already have small 30ml dropper bottles around their home already that can be cleaned and re-used.
If not, dropper bottles are widely available online and at craft supply stores. I’m going to be using a clear dropper bottle for this demonstration so that the tincture can be more easily seen. Amber/brown bottles prevent UV from entering the oil tincture and are a better option for long term storage.
For a scale, I recommend a scale with a sensitivity of at least .01 grams. This will get you to within 100mg of your target. Obviously, a scale that can weigh down to the milligram would be ideal, but those scales can cost a bit more money and be a bit harder to find.
I’m going to be using the Fuzion Digital Kitchen Scale, 500g/ 0.01g. I picked this scale up off Amazon for $14.99 USD. So far, I haven’t had any issues with the scale, and fit its accuracy to be quite acceptable.
I also find wearing latex or nitrile gloves helpful during the tincture-making process. It’s unlikely that any CBD isolate powder would absorb into the skin easily, but I think it’s better to be cautious. Also, if you happen to spill any of the MCT oil, the gloves can keep your hands clean and oil-free.
While not necessary to get started, a small spoon to scoop the CBD powder and funnel can come in extremely handy. If you don’t have a small funnel-like the one I’ll be using, you can make one by folding a small piece of paper. Additionally, a small measuring cup with measurements in milliliters can be handy for getting the MCT oil into the dropper bottle.
There are only two ingredients into this CBD oil tincture: CBD isolate and MCT oil. There are a dizzying number of online vendors selling CBD isolate by the gram, and it can be tempting to just go with the first online vendor you find.
I highly recommend you look for a vendor that has their CBD tested for purity and isn’t shy about describing how their isolate is manufactured.
I’m using CBD isolate from Industrial Hemp Farms, which contains 99.6% pure CBD.
The only other ingredient is MCT oil. There are many brands of MCT oil on the market, and I’m going to be using Brain Octane Oil. While there are cheaper MCT oils available, this brand was available to me locally at my grocery store at a discount/sale. Being from the company Bulletproof, its quality wasn’t something I had to worry about.
Before getting started, decide on the strength of your finished tincture. I’m going to be using 1,000mg or 1 gram of CBD isolate in 30ml of MCT oil. This will give me approximately 33mg of CBD per milliliter of tincture. You can always start lower at 500mg or .5 grams, which will result in a final product containing 16mg per milliliter.
Place your empty dropper bottle onto the scale and make sure to “zero” out the weight. Scales have a handy feature called “tare” that will subtract the weight of whatever is sitting on it, bringing the scale read out back down to zero.
Carefully open the container with the CBD isolate, and using a small spoon or other utensil transfer small amounts of the powder into the empty bottle.
I recommend adding a little bit at a time to avoid accidentally dumping to much powder into the bottle and having to start over.
Add 30ml of MCT oil to the dropper bottle. I’m going to be using a small plastic measuring cup with milliliter markings. These can be found in most grocery stores or pharmacies. Many measuring cups used for cooking and baking also have markings for milliliters:
Using a measuring cup isn’t necessary, but it can make the process of filling the bottle easier and less messy:
Screw the dropper cap onto the bottle and vigorously shake for at least 1 minute. We want to ensure that the CBD has fully dissolved into the oil. You can optionally give the bottle a warm water bath for a few minutes to help speed this process up, as heating the mixture can reduce the viscosity of the oil, allowing for easier mixing.
And that’s it! You’ve now made a basic CBD isolate oil tincture that can be used as any commercially bought oil tincture. Because the resulting tincture doesn’t have any flavorings or sweeteners, you may find the taste a bitter.
In a follow-up article, I may go over some more advanced techniques to add flavorings or natural sweeteners to a CBD tincture.
As CBD becomes more popular as an alternative therapy and treatment for various ailments, it’s become clear that retailers are cashing in. The tincture recipe demonstrated above is a very basic oil and CBD mixture, without any flavorings, sweeteners, or other cannabinoids. The tincture outlined above is an example of something that could save someone money and give them a better understanding of what goes into the products available today.
I haven’t been using CBD long enough to fully validate its usefulness, a forthcoming article may be in the works describing my personal experiences using CBD, as well as more advanced ways to use CBD. What I can say is that CBD is not psychoactive, and from my experience, CBD does seem to impart mild anti-anxiety effects in myself.
Many people feel that adding additional cannabinoid compounds into a CBD product enhances its potency. This is known as the “entourage effect”:
"Other numerous secondary metabolites of cannabis, the terpenes, some of which share the common intermediary geranyl diphosphate (GPP) with the cannabinoids, are hypothesized to contribute synergistically to their therapeutic benefits, an attribute that has been described as the ‘entourage effect’."
You can think of terpenes as highly aromatic natural flavorings that gives cannabis its unique smell and taste. There is ongoing research and debate as what role these chemicals play in the effectiveness of cannabinoids. Many people find adding a more complete chemical profile to their CBD (known as full-spectrum) more effective, providing this ‘entourage effect’.
This belief in the ‘entourage effect’ isn’t without controversy; an article in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology stated:
“Claims of a cannabis entourage effect invoke ill-defined and unsubstantiated pharmacological activities which are commonly leveraged toward the popularization and sale of ostensible therapeutic products. Overestimation of such claims in the scientific and lay literature has fostered their misrepresentation and abuse by a poorly regulated industry.”
(Editor's note: if you're interested in a different view on the entourage effect, read Everything You Need To Know About The Health Effects of CBD Oil & THC. Our writer Bart believes most cannabinoids have independent biological effects. Having said that, the entourage effect is the only (small) disagreement Bart has with David's work. Overall, David's work is ingenious and he's done a great service to humanity!)
Considering that CBD products are largely unregulated and carry a massive profit potential, it wouldn’t surprise me if the entourage effect was exaggerated to increase CBD sales. More rigorous scientific study still needs to be done.
One issue with many “full-spectrum” CBD products is that they can by law in the United States contain up to 0.3% THC; which may cause a user to fail a standard drug test.
If you need to pass a drug test and live where CBD products are legal, using a CBD isolate product/tincture like the one demonstrated above is the only safe way to legally use CBD.
It would be impossible in one article to cover every area of CBD. My hope is that I can give people a better understanding of the compound and demonstrate the cost-savings by making simple oil tinctures at home. I’ve talked to numerous people who have claimed that they would love to try CBD and were deterred by the price/dizzying array of products.
CBD products don’t have to cost a small fortune, nor do they need to be confusing.
Armed with a bit of knowledge, nearly anyone can experiment with CBD to see if it benefits them.
And as more places around the world decriminalize marijuana, the doors to further research on cannabis continues to widen. From gummy bears to dog treats, CBD is finding its way into nearly every corner of the consumer market. The future here isn’t just bright – but likely also green.
Want to use a sublingual pre-made CBD oil anyway? Then get CBDPure so that you don't have to rely on the DIY process.
This blog post was written by David Baker. David has years of biohacking experience with an emphasis on testing gadgets. He's also got 15 years of amateur bodybuilding involvement.
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