A Product Test and Review: Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil

I was recently approached by a company by the name of Dose of Nature to test and review one of their medical cannabis products.  I get a lot of questions these days about "medical marijuana," so I was happy to try what I could without needing a prescription of my own.   And let me just say here and now that it is not within my medical scope of practice to prescribe or recommend medical marijuana for any patient.  You need an MD to make these recommendations.  It is silly but true.  We are the herbalists after all.  But that is beside the point.  It is extremely important to understand however that the term medical cannabis has many different meanings and forms.  We are all very aware of the concept of smoking or ingesting marijuana and getting “high.”  But the compounds in the cannabis plant primarily responsible for this high, TCH, are not contained in the formula that I was asked to review.  The cannabis plant is an extremely complicated medicinal herb and the research that is coming out on the different active compounds found in this plant are nothing short of extraordinary.   And Cannabidiol or CBD is one of those compounds and is the focus of this article.  CBD products are not the ones that lead to the typical mind altering experiences that many people know so well.  And because of this CBD products are legal in all fifty states without the prescription or recommendation of any medical professional.  

Let me first begin with my experience with the product itself and then get into some of the science behind it.  This is a liquid product that is taken with a dropper.  It is made of a CBD concentrate and blended with Extra Virgin Hemp Seed oil.  I squirted the oil under my tongue and swallowed the rest.  It had a nice taste with a little spicy bite in the back of my throat.  If you have ever sampled higher quality Olive Oils you may have noticed the same kind of bite.  This is a good thing actually. That’s the good stuff.  It lets you know that there are some active compounds within the oil.  I urge you to take a little swig of your current olive oil and see if it has that same bite.   If not, go buy some better oil!   So from an herbalist’s perspective, right off the bat I was pleased to notice the bite.   I have taken the recommended dose every day for the past three weeks or so and am almost through my bottle.  I generally take it in the evening before bed because I do notice that it has a very mild mellowing effect.  The best that I can describe this feeling is like someone placed a very thin calming veil over my head.  I feel totally aware and not impaired in any way, just a little more calm.  I feel no side effects of any kind otherwise. 

The big deal here with CBD’s are their anti-inflammatory effects.  This is an area of research that is really showing some serious promise.  In fact a whole new class of anti-inflammatory medications could likely arise from these compounds if the research continues. I have had the pleasure of consulting directly with a friend and colleague of mine Dr. Chris Rasmussen, MD, who publishes a fantastic blog entitled InflaNATION.  Stay tuned for his upcoming book as well.  It will be a must read!  He has recently published some fantastic research articles on this very subject.  And the medical literature is showing clear evidence that CBD and other medical cannabinoids are superb anti-inflammatory compounds specifically for the heart and vascular system.  Though the mainstream medical model is still holding steadfast onto the Cholesterol model of heart disease, the medical literature is showing more and more that things like heart attacks, strokes, deep venous thrombosis (clots in the legs) and pulmonary embolism (“heart attack” of the lungs) all owe their existence to rogue inflammatory conditions in the body.  If you want to have a heart attack or any other conditions listed above (and more) then you invite inflammation.  One key way to inflame your body is to engage in a diet and lifestyle that promotes blood sugar imbalance.  Diabetics and Pre-Diabetics (Insulin Resistance) for example are inflamed by the very nature of their condition.  And when I say “inflammation” I am not talking about that swollen knee you may have, but rather little molecules called cytokines that are made by the immune system that circulate throughout the body and literally work to destroy whatever they touch! 

To borrow a citation from a recent post of Dr. Rasmussen: 
Cannabidiol has been shown to be effective in protecting endothelial function and integrity in human coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAECs). The study demonstrated that CBD reversed the harmful effects of high glucose on HCAECs by inhibiting:
  • ·         Reactive oxygen species production by mitochondria
  • ·         NF-κB activation
  • ·         Transendothelial migration of monocytes
  • ·         Monocyte–endothelial adhesion in HCAECs[1]

This is all just a really fancy way of saying that a well-respected medical journal on Physiology and Heart health endorsed the benefits of CBD for Insulin Resistant people presenting with vascular disease.  Vascular Disease is of course the leading cause of death worldwide.  And anyone with Insulin Resistance / Diabetes will more than likely die of Vascular Disease in the end, not to mention suffer more disability while on the way.  This study suggests that compounds like CBD may act as an “antidote” of sorts to this condition. 

But what if you are not in the Diabetic spectrum of the population?  Well the research out there on the subject frequently studies a particular inflammatory cytokine called NF-kB (listed above).  NF-kB plays a major role in other conditions as well and particularly in autoimmune disease which is something that I work a lot with in my clinic here.  There are actually more people in this country right now suffering autoimmune disease than there are people having heart attacks!  In fact CBD therapies have shown true promise in autoimmune conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.  And furthermore, the NF-kB pathway is the final step for cellular death.  So the more this pathway is active the more cells will be dying at any given moment in time.  This pathway can also be particularly potent when talking about brain health as well.   Just look at the growing epidemic of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Brain health is a major concern for the aging population.  NF-kB is at the root of all of this.  So it would make a lot of sense to do everything that you can to squash these inflammatory pathways from running away with themselves. There iscurrently no known pharmaceutical drug that can do this!  So it is the opinion of this particular author that you put down whatever stigma you may assign to the notion of medical cannabis and look at the true benefits!

So getting back to what I felt when taking the CBD oil…  I personally have a known autoimmune situation myself going on that comes up from time to time.  This is not a disease but I do have antibodies which target and attack an enzyme in my brain that converts Glutamate, which is overly stimulating to brain tissue, into GABA which is calming.  It is quite possible that the CBD oil is dampening some inflammatory conditions that may be impacting this system.  In essence the oil may be allowing me to function more optimally by turning down the overactive, NF-kB driven immune response against that enzyme in my brain.  On the other hand, we are only scratching the surface here with how these things work.  But more and more research is pointing to positives.  Even the mind altering compound THC has considerable research demonstrating the protective and beneficial properties for many systems in the body.  There is still a tremendous amount of work needed to be done. It is all rather exciting. 

…cannabis is a source not only of D9-THC, CBD and D9-THCV but also of at least 67 other phytocannabinoids and as such can be regarded as a natural library of unique compounds. The therapeutic potential of many of these ligands still remains largely unexplored prompting a need for further preclinical and clinical research directed at establishing whether phytocannabinoids are indeed ‘a neglected pharmacological treasure trove’ (Mechoulam, 2005).[2]

In closing, I want to be clear here that I am still a little uneasy about suggesting that people go out and inhale hot smoke into their lungs on a frequent basis.  This could very well be inflammatory to the body.  The research on this is still not clear.  It could be that the anti-inflammatory attributes of the compounds found within the smoke negate some of the inflammatory impacts of the smoke itself on the lung tissue.  But that is admittedly speculation on my part.   There are however so many other ways of getting these beneficial compounds, like CBD, into your system without smoking the herb itself.  Liquid formulas like the Dose of Nature Red Strap CBD Oil is a great way to get the benefits described above while avoiding the potentially harmful impacts of smoking or the often times debilitating and illegal (in most States) “high” that Marijuana induces. 


[1] Mohanraj Rajesh et al., Cannabidiol attenuates high glucose-induced endothelial cell inflammatory response and barrier disruption. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. Jul 2007; 293(1)
[2] Journal of British Pharmacology (2008) 153, 199–215; 2008 Nature Publishing Group