‘CBD Nation’ trailer hints at a great Documentary

The documentary film CBD Nation premiers August 25th on Amazon Video, iTunes, and other streaming services.  Forbes described the film this way:

Featuring leading experts in cannabis and medicine, including Raphael Mechoulam—the Israeli scientist who discovered THC, the endocannabinoid system and the therapeutic efficacy of CBD to treat medical conditions—the 83-minute film exposes 60 years of often ignored published reports and ongoing research.

The trailer gives a pretty good idea of what is covered.  Maybe this will help even more people recognize that cannabis does have healing properties.

Testing your DNA for Cannabis-related Traits?

A company called “Strain Genie” claims to be able to analyze your DNA and tell you how cannabis will affect you.  You may get information on how well you metabolize CBD as well as suggestions as to which terpenes you might most benefit from.  You don’t need to use marijuana to benefit from this.  Many of the results are relevant to hemp/CBD users as well.

StrainGenieIf you have used another service to analyze your DNA in the past you can save money and upload your raw data from that service to Strain Genie. If not, you can pay a lot more to spit into a tube and send it back to them. As I am writing this the costs are $150 if you send them your saliva or $30 if you upload your 23andMe raw data.

I had already tested my DNA through 23 and Me, so I opted for the $30 plan.  The report I got is awfully close to the sample report that they show on their site.   My results were a little more confusing, though.  Take these two sections:StrainGenieWarnings

Apparently I have a gene that slows the metabolism of substances like CBD, and I also have a gene that results in my breaking down CBD especially quickly.  What happens when these genes fight it out?  This information was not particularly helpful for me – since it seems like a wash.  They did modify their recommendations about what cannabis products I should choose.  They stated “Edibles Warnings Found! Based on these results, we will not recommend any edible products (including tinctures) below.”  What they did recommend are THC products that are also high in CBD, even though they knew that I live in an illegal state. StrainGenieRecommendations

Strain Genie seems to be part of the same company as Woahstork, a cannabis delivery service.  This service appears to be available in selected states only.  I’m not sure how closely Strain Genie’s recommendations match up with Woahstork’s selection of products, but Strain Genie pushes you pretty hard to sign up for the other service as well.

Is it worth it?  If you have already analyzed your DNA somewhere else, then it’s probably worth the $30 fee.  It gave me the idea of adding alpha pinene to the terpenes in my “Make your own CBD oil” blends.  They suggested that this might help my memory because I have slightly elevated risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. I’m not sure I’d plop down $150 for these somewhat-limited results.  A better bet would be to wait for 23 and Me to go on sale (which it does from time-to-time) and then get their more comprehensive genetic results.  Once you have those results you can send the raw file to Strain Genie along with $30.

CBD for Anxiety and Sleep in a Real World Setting

An intriguing study from the United States has found that low dose CBD decreased anxiety in mental health patients with an anxiety diagnosis.  It seemed to help sleep as well, but less so.

shutterstock_710293651Much existing cannabis research has been in Israel and Europe.  Restrictive Federal laws in the U.S. have prevented widespread study of the potential uses of cannabinoids.  Some clinician/researchers at a holistic mental health clinic in Colorado recently published a retrospective case study of patients with anxiety and sleep disturbance who had been prescribed CBD as part of their treatment.  The setting is a little unusual.  The authors described it this way:

Wholeness Center is a large mental health clinic in Fort Collins, CO, that focuses on integrative medicine and psychiatry. Practitioners from a range of disciplines (psychiatry, naturopathy, acupuncture, neurofeedback, yoga, etc) work together in a collaborative and cross-disciplinary environment. CBD had been widely incorporated into clinical care at Wholeness Center a few years before this study, on the basis of existing research and patient experience.

While the setting is unusual, there aren’t too many places where you could study the use of CBD in multiple patients.  The authors reviewed the cases of 103 patients who had been administered CBD over the previous year. 82 of the patients had a documented anxiety or sleep disorder.

According to the authors:

These results demonstrated a more sustained response to anxiety than for sleep over time. Patient records displayed a larger decrease in anxiety scores than in sleep scores. The sleep scores demonstrated mild improvement. The anxiety scores decreased within the first month and then remained decreased during the study duration.

Doses in the study were relatively low, ranging from 25mg per day to 175mg per day of CBD taken orally. Sleep quality was measured using the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index and anxiety was measured using the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale. Some patients reported drowsiness during the first 2 weeks of treatment and this side-effect diminished over time.

The authors caution appropriately that these results might be due to placebo.  Future studies will need to compare low dose CBD to placebos in double-blinded studies.  This study is an interesting first step that confirms many of the anecdotal reports of CBD’s effectiveness for anxiety.

Reference: Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: A large case series. Perm J 2019;23:18-041. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/18-041

Dosing CBD

How much CBD or hemp oil should you take?  Nobody really knows.  There are standard doses for people using the prescription form of CBD called Epidiolex to treat seizures, and these doses are very high.  Most people taking CBD for anxiety and chronic pain take much lower doses.  The video below by the “CBD Professor” is pretty good at laying this out.  At least he doesn’t pretend to know what dose you should take.

He refers to an article by Christine Ruggeri, CHHC on the Dr. Axe site that is worth reading too.  It does suggest a range of doses, but emphasized that dosing really is an individual process.  

In nature CBD does not exist in isolation.  It is found in cannabis, in both hemp and marijuana.  There is evidence that it works better when accompanied by other constituents of cannabis, such as THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenes.

CBD OilsStart by buying CBD from a reputable source that provides certificates of analysis (COAs).  Read the dosing suggestions on the label and follow the principle of “start low and go slow.”  Many experts suggest starting at the lowest dose suggested on the label and very gradually increasing if you don’t get the desired effect in a couple of weeks.  Consider trying an even lower dose after a while.  There are anecdotal reports of “reverse tolerance” where people can sometimes decrease the dose after they have been taking it for a while. Compare CBD isolate products with full spectrum and broad spectrum products.  When you find something that works, stick with it.

How to make CBD Oil for Morning and Evening

(This is a continuation of previous posts on How to make CBD Oil and How to make Broad Spectrum CBD Oil.)

If you are making your own CBD oil you can tailor your blends of terpenes to include terpenes that are activating for morning use and terpenes that are sedating for evening use.  I’m not suggesting adding anything that does not naturally occur in cannabis. Some people sell CBD for evening use that is blended with melatonin.  I think that’s stupid. Melatonin is cheap (in the U.S.) and there’s no need to start adding it to CBD.  It’s also not a good idea to take melatonin except right before bedtime.  Taken at the wrong time of day it can actually give you jet lag.shutterstock_547722112

Adding naturally relaxing/sedating terpenes such as myrcene and nerolidol is different. It is a way to mimic some of the chemical makeup of a sedating cannabis strain in a THC-free CBD oil.  In my most recent batch of CBD oil I made three slightly different blends.  I used the basic technique in How to make Broad Spectrum CBD Oil, including blending in some Kanabia Golden Harvest oil in order to get an entourage effect from added CBD-V, CBG, and THC-V.  (This is the only oil with such high levels of these cannabinoids and code cannap15 still gets you 15% off.)  I made the oil stronger by using more CBD isolate than in my last batch; and less MCT oil.  The contents of the final result is below.  The bold ingredients are the ones that distinguish activating from sedating:

AM-Activating: 29mg CBD/ml.
Hemp-derived terpene blend, harlequin terpene blend, Durban Poison terpene blend
D-limonene, b-carophyllene, linalool
CBD-V, CBG, THC-V (from Kanabia oil)

Neutral: 29mg CBD/ml.
Hemp-derived terpene blend, harlequin terpene blend
D-limonene, b-carophyllene, linalool
CBD-V, CBG, THC-V (from Kanabia oil)

PM-Sedating 29mg CBD/ml.
Hemp-derived terpene blend, harlequin terpene blend, myrcene, nerolidol
D-limonene, b-carophyllene, linalool
CBD-V, CBG, THC-V (from Kanabia oil)

As you can see the only differences are the addition of Durban Poison terpenes in the morning and the addition of the sedating terpenes myrcene and nerolidol in the evening. The result is three slightly different CBD oils. I definitely notice the extra sedation in the evening.  I sometimes get “couch-lock” where I end up dozing in my recliner rather than asleep in the bed.

I’m not sure yet about the activating blend.  It doesn’t make me sleepy, but I’m generally drinking a cup of coffee in the morning too. Leafly describes Durban Poison as:

This pure sativa originates from the South African port city of Durban. It has gained popularity worldwide for its sweet smell and energetic, uplifting effects. Durban Poison is the perfect strain to help you stay productive through a busy day, when exploring the outdoors, or to lend a spark of creativity.

Another option for an activating blend would be to add individual terpenes that are thought to be activating. You can buy combinations of food-grade terpenes that are sold as either sedating of activating as well.

Have you made different blends of CBD oil?  What is your formula?  Please comment below.

New Study on CBD, Anxiety, and Pain implicates Serotonin and other Mechanisms as well as the Endocannabinoid System

A 2019 study has found that CBD’s effect may not be restricted to it’s effect on the endocannabinoid system. CBD also acts on receptors that bind the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT1A) that is involved in anxiety and on receptors that bind vanilloid (TRPV1) that is involved in pain.  The researchers found dose ranges that prevented anxiety-like behaviors and pain behaviors in rats.  The study is complex, but they reported that a range of  5-10 mg/kg had some effect on pain and anxiety.  This is described as a low dose, but it amounts to 340-680mg for a 150 lb human,  much higher than the dose that most people take of hemp-based CBD.  You would need to drink a bottle of CBD oil every 1-3 days to get the effect that they found in this study. Smoking or vaping 1-2 grams of high CBD hemp flower per day would also approach this range.

shutterstock_732789853It had previously been proposed that CBD’s effect on anxiety, pain, and depression are because it affects the endocannabinoid system.  CBD partially binds to the CB1 receptor in a manner that slightly interferes with THC’s ability to bind with the receptor.  It also acts on anandamide – an endocannabinoid produced by the body.  CBD keeps the anandamide from being destroyed – keeping it around longer.

Dr. Gabriella Gobbi’s team at McGill University believe that CBD may become an evidence-based application of cannabis in medicine, offering a safe alternative to THC and opioids for chronic pain, such as back pain, sciatica, diabetic, cancer and post-trauma pain.

What does this mean in practical terms?  It may mean that people taking CBD isolate for pain and anxiety should consider a higher dose if what they are taking doesn’t work. Previous studies have found that CBD is effective at a broader range of doses if it is taken along with other cannabinoids, so full spectrum hemp oil may work at lower doses.


Drug Testing and CBD

Some people medicating with CBD are subject to workplace drug testing.  The intent of such testing is to assure that people don’t work while under the influence of intoxicating drugs.  This works well for drugs that are water soluble.  Drugs like cocaine and heroin wash out of your system within 2-4 days.  LabCorp reports that THC is detectable for 2-7 days after a single use and 1-2 months after chronic use. 1.  This puts people who use medical cannabis (hemp or marijuana) at a disadvantage.


A negative initial test for THC. Note the faint pink band.

Urine drug testing is usually a two step process. The first step is an inexpensive immunoassay test. Immunoassays measure the formation of antibody-antigen complexes.  They can produce false positives.  If you test positive for THC you will usually then be given a more-expensive gas chromatography test that can tell more precisely what is in your urine.

People taking CBD isolate should not test positive on any urine drug screen.  If your job has a strict policy and tests frequently then you should probably only take CBD isolate. Multiple studies have found that CBD isolate works, but that the dose needs to be very precise.  CBD that is accompanied by other substances naturally found in cannabis works over a much wider dose range.

The image to the right shows the results of a $1.00 home urine drug test (Easy@home brand from Amazon) that uses the same technology as the initial tests used in many workplaces.  If no bar at all shows up next to the “T” then it is considered a positive test.  Any bar at all is supposed to represent a negative test. The example shown is the result when I was using CBD isolate supplemented by a small amount of CBD hemp flower twice a week. It’s technically negative, but the lower band is awfully weak. That’s probably because hemp flower contains THC-A that converts to THC when smoked or vaped. This is in addition to the small amount of THC that is usually in flower.If it is essential that you pass urine drug tests then you should probably avoid hemp flower.



It’s comforting to know that I currently test “negative” for THC, but I’m not confident that every lab technician would read this as a negative result (even though they should). To the left is an example of the instructions for a different brand of test that uses the same technology.

Should you test at home?  You shouldn’t need to if your job doesn’t test, or if you only use CBD isolate products.  If your job tests, and you use full spectrum hemp products, (even hemp oil from places like Amazon that don’t explicitly list CBD as an ingredient) you should consider testing yourself from time-to-time.

1. https://www.labcorpsolutions.com/images/Drugs_of_Abuse_Reference_Guide_Flyer_3166.pdf

How to Make Broad Spectrum CBD Oil (not as cheap)

In my last post I shared an easy way to make CBD isolate oil. This is CBD oil with no ingredients except CBD and oil.  There is evidence that CBD may work better when other natural compounds (cannabinoids and terpenes) are also present (the “entourage effect“). Full-spectrum hemp oil contains mostly CBD but also smaller amounts of these cannabinoids and terpenes.  The amount of delta 9 THC is required by law to be very low (less than 0.3% in the U.S. and less than 0.2% in the E.U.).  Cannabinoids are fat-soluable, however, so they tend to build up in the body over time. It can take up to a month to flush THC from the bloodstream.  Some people taking higher doses of full-spectrum hemp oil have reported failing workplace drug tests.

Broad-spectrum hemp oil is CBD isolate with terpenes and/or other cannabinoids added back in.  There’s no THC so you are very unlikely to fail a drug test. Here’s how to make your own.

Basic Instructions – for making Broad Spectrum CBD Oil

Follow the directions from the post “Make your own CBD Oil (cheap)” but buy an extra

Terpenes and cannabinoids to add to CBD oil

Some of the ingredients you might add to CBD oil

60ml (2 oz) empty bottle (for a total of 4 instead of 3).  You will still be making 6 ounces (180ml) of CBD isolate oil in this first step.

In addition to this you will need:

  • A small bottle of food-grade terpenes from a high CBD cannabis strain.  I’ve found both ACDC and harlequin terpenes on Amazon. These come in tiny bottles and you only need a few drops for each 2oz bottle.
  • A bottle of a broad spectrum CBD oil such as “Kanabia” Golden Harvest (use code cannap15 for 15% off).  This oil has relatively high levels of CBD-V, CBG, and THC-V along with CBD.  You will be diluting this so that the total of these three cannabinoids are not as strong in your final oil.
  • A bottle of beta-caryophyllene (optional).  This terpene is also a cannabinoid that binds to the CB2 receptor. It smells and tastes like purple gum drops.
CBD, CBD-v, CBF, and THC-V

Kanabia CBD+ Oil

Add the contents of the bottle of Kanabia oil to the CBD isolate oil that you made in the mason jar. (If you already divided the oil among different small bottles you can either divide the Kanabia oil evenly among the small bottles or re-combine the contents into a mason jar.)

Add 16-20 drops of terpenes to the mason jar. (Add more later if you choose.  Read the instructions.)

Add 20 or more drops of beta-caryophyllene to the mason jar (optional).

Stir or shake well and then divide evenly into the 4 empty bottles using the small funnel.  (The small bottles won’t be quite full because the Kanabia oil bottle was only 50ml.) Approximate dosing remains the same, except you now have a broad spectrum oil that includes CBD along with smaller quantities of CBD-V, CBG, and THC-V, terpenes, and possibly extra amounts of the super-terpene beta-caryophyllene.

[Edit – April 24, 2019: Part 3 of this series is live: How to make CBD Oil for Morning and Evening.]