by C. Mac McMillan, PharmD

By now, you may have heard of CBD oil or cannabidiol oil, but still have your concerns. How can something so healthy and so good for you be so controversial at the same time? You may have thought about trying someone else’s CBD oil, or have tried it and maybe felt there was no big difference in the way you felt afterwards. If this is the case, you are not alone.

Cannabidiol oil therapy is very individualized. This means the dose and dosage form that work for one person may not work for you. One of the biggest fears of patients afraid to try CBD oil is they do not want to get “high”. But getting high only comes from tetrahydrocannabinol or THC which is the chemical that causes the psychotic effect in marijuana. Marijuana and hemp both come from the same species of the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa); the difference is hemp naturally grows up to 15 feet tall and has very narrow stalks to support it. Marijuana was purposely cultivated to be short and bushy to increase the amount of THC that the plant would produce. Holding a leaf from either plant in front of you would not be enough to visually tell the difference.

So, how do you determine which form of CBD is good for you? That depends on both your quest for overall wellness and the target area which you feel needs the most attention. For instance, if you are anxious because you have a big day coming up where you have to speak in front of a group of people and you want to keep your nerves calm, you may want to use a low dose patch to give you a slow release of CBD for half of the day. If you feel like you need to get a good night’s rest but don’t want the groggy feeling in the morning that many prescription sleep aids leave you with, you may want to try an oral capsule. There are topical and transdermal forms available to treat both conditions on the skin as well as those that can penetrate deep into muscle areas. There are also bath bombs that you drop in your tub that calm your mind and relax your body all while enjoying a hot bath. Transdermal CBD is so versatile that it often comes alone in salve or with other pain relievers like menthol, camphor, arnica and lidocaine, to name a few. When paired up this way, the CBD is the driving force that allows deep penetration and pain relief for six to eight hours, long after some of the traditional products on the market have worn off.

CBD is an old remedy that is relatively new as it reenters the market, and with the overall health benefits being realized, many people are seeing real results when they give it a try. For years it was rumored that cannabis was causing more help than harm to the human body, but it was hard to pinpoint anything scientific as long as it carried a negative social stigma. This was due to those who purposely cultivated and abused the species for the psychotic euphoria. It wasn’t until the endocannabinoid system (ECS) was discovered in the early 1990’s that the medical community began to realize we were really on to something. Furthermore, unbiased information is helping those who are interested to better understand that this ancient plant that grows like a weed really has two forms, and hemp—the one that contains very minimal amounts of the psychotic chemical THC—was actually used for its fiber strength in the paper, clothing and textile industries. But can a few bad apples really spoil the whole barrel? Yes! And they did! Now, healthcare providers are working delicately to undo years of miseducation about the plant and allow it to reenter the marketplace as a very beneficial nutritional and overall wellness supplement.

How do you choose the CBD oil product that’s good for you? Align yourself with a healthcare practitioner who knows about CBD oil and offers you options to address your issues. Realize that all CBD oil manufacturers are not created equal. There are many different processes in which CBD oil is extracted from the cannabis plant and the better the process and the better the plant, the better the quality. Good quality CBD oil is roughly $0.13-0.18 per milligram and is usually shown on the package as the total strength in the whole package. It may vary in price with additional enhancers that make the overall product more powerful. Make sure you use good products and be leery of high doses of CBD that are very cheap. Just like vitamins and other supplements are not regulated by the FDA, neither is this. Develop trust in a company that offers high quality products that contain what’s on the label and stands behind their products.

Really high doses do not necessarily make CBD oil work better. Over stimulation of the ECS can happen if very high doses are taken for very long times. Once a steady state of relief is achieved, you may find just as much benefit from a low-dose or micro-dose of the product on a consistent basis. In the long run, this will save you money and be better for your health.

It is legal to purchase CBD oil from the hemp plant in the state of Florida as an over-the-counter product without a medical marijuana card if the total percentage of THC is less than 0.3 percent. Medical marijuana cards are needed for other stronger products in which a higher level of THC is perceived as being beneficial. There are a great deal of studies that show that THC is not needed to increase the health benefits of CBD oil. As always, consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner before making changes to your prescription and over-the-counter medication regimens and make sure that they know all that you are taking daily so that an appropriate therapy can be developed especially for you.

C. Mac McMillan, PharmD, is the owner of Your Health Pharmacy, located at 2 North Federal Hwy., Ste. A, Pompano Beach. For information, call 954-283-7075, email [email protected] or visit