As more people begin to explore the medicinal and recreational benefits of cannabis, CBD is gaining popularity. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabis compound known for its relaxing and pain-relieving properties without the accompanying high. It can be vapourized, added into edible recipes, or taken as an oil.
Because of its non-psychoactive properties, CBD use is on the rise among cannabis lovers. In a study that surveyed 2,400 U.S. cannabis users, 75% said they used CBD products. Of those consumers, 41% said they use it daily.
Katherine, 30, was once a daily cannabis user but has found that taking CBD oil was so effective for her that it’s limited her need. “I use it to help me sleep and to help with my mental health,” she says. “It’s a nice kind of thing to carry around with me in case I start feeling anxious. It relaxes me.”
An early adopter of CBD oil, Katherine prefers a hemp-based oil without THC. “I find that something like a one-to-one ratio of CBD to THC can also be nice, but it’s not the kind of thing I can personally take and then go to work.”
With a hemp-based CBD oil, she’s able to take a few drops in the morning to keep her feeling calm, then go about her day without feeling foggy or high. Because the oil doesn’t have an immediate effect, she can look ahead in her schedule—say, in advance of a particularly stressful meeting—and time her dose to begin its calming effects at the right time. “If I’m making edibles oil is my preferred method for adding cannabis to recipes,” she says.
The first place she ever purchased CBD oil was at a hemp store before cannabis was legal in Canada. “I’ve purchased the oil either from online providers or from natural food stores,” she says. “It’s almost like a regular grocery item to me now.”
That kind of casual attitude towards CBD is right in step with a report released by the World Health Organization in 2018, stating that the compound has a “good safety profile,” with “no adverse health outcomes.” In fact, the report leaned more heavily towards its potential for growth as an effective treatment for various ailments.
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Susie, 26, has been living with depression since she was a teenager. After years of trying different medications, the symptoms she was suffering worsened.
“It got to the point where the pills that were supposed to make me feel better were making me feel suicidal,” she said. “I knew something needed to change.”
Working with her doctor to come off her antidepressants—which resulted in a few weeks of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms—Susie was prescribed CBD oil. “It was like night and day,” she says.
For her, the CBD oil was subtle but effective. It allowed Susie to regain a routine, and get back to her work and social life with more balance and fewer symptoms. “Before, on the medication, it was like I was always in a fog,” she says. “I didn’t feel like myself. With CBD oil, I can microdose throughout the day if I need to, and it doesn’t impact my work or my ability to connect with people.”
Susie is not alone in her switch from pills to cannabis. From that same study of cannabis users, “42% have stopped using traditional medications and use cannabis instead,” with depression and insomnia being the top medical conditions treated by CBD. Being able to work with her doctor as a registered medical cannabis patient makes high-quality oil easy to obtain and to adjust when she needs it, without the rollercoaster of emotional and physical changes she might have experienced in the past.
“I can’t imagine going back to the kinds of drugs I was on before,” says Susie. “This just feels more natural. It feels more me.”