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Understanding Hemp Oil

On December 20th 2018, the United States saw an updated version of the Farm Bill passed and the Cannabis crowd went wild. For some, releasing the hemp plant from the Controlled Substances Act seemed to bring on emotionally and politically charged rage. For others, a sense of “canna-curiosity” emerged. Since then, there’s been a lot of confusion led by misinformation and assumptions that only beg the question for all of us in limbo: What the heck is hemp oil? Is it ganja or a medical miracle?

December 20th 2018: The Farm Bill

The 2018 Farm Bill fills in the gaps left by the 2014 Farm Bill and clarifies that hemp plants and all hemp-derived products are legal. Specifically, section 10113 of the 2018 Farm Bill defines hemp more broadly than the 2014 Farm Bill did. This updated version eliminates any question that products derived from hemp are legal, so long as the THC concentration does not exceed 0.3 percent. I’ll explain this a little further, but first let’s define a few things so you have a clear understanding of what’s what.

What is Hemp?

It’s really not about the plant, but what’s inside the plant. This is where people get confused. So, what’s the magic in the hemp plant causing all this controversy? CBD is short for cannabidiol, a cannabinoid compound found in hemp and marijuana—both part of the plant family known as Cannabis. Confusing? I understand. That’s why we’re here. Let’s break it down, slowly:

  • “CBD Oil” is short for cannabidiol
  • CBD is a cannabinoid compound found in hemp and marijuana
  • Hemp and Marijuana are two separate plants from the Cannabis plant family

It may be classified as a “new drug” in the US; however, CBD oil history goes back a lot further, to around 1940—when it was discovered by accident. Years later, in 1946, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam identified CBD’s three dimensional structure and that’s why he’s often credited as the scientist who discovered CBD (Ministry of Hemp). Further research continued in the 1960s on primates. This ultimately led to the first CBD oil meant for therapeutic use released by the British Pharmacopoeia. In 1980, Mechoulam made another breakthrough in CBD history when he ran a study that showed cannabidiol could be a key factor in treating epilepsy (Ministry of Hemp).

           But can it get you high? NO…

You might ask why hemp was ever illegal in the first place and the truth is I just don’t know. There is a lot of misinformation out there, so I’d rather not spend time piecing it all together and dwelling on the past when the future looks so bright. My guess is that it was thrown into the Controlled Substances Act simply because it fit under the Cannabis family umbrella. Today, we have a better understanding of it all.

Hemp vs Marijuana (CBD and THC):

We’ve established that both hemp and marijuana are part of the Cannabis plant family. They are not the same plant, but CBD oil can be extracted from both. So why can’t you get that euphoric high? Because it’s not the plant that causes those mind-altering effects. It’s about what’s inside the plant. The other popular chemical compound, THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the one that gave Cheech his Chong.

  • Marijuana (Cannabis indica) has short, fat leaves. It contains high levels of THC, the most popular cannabinoid compound associated with a psychoactive “high” that people get when they ingest or smoke it. A marijuana plant does have CBD in it, but very low levels. It is a THC-dominant plant,with levels of 15% or more.
  • Hemp (Cannabis Sativa) has long, skinny leaves. It contains very low levels (0.3%) of THC—an amount so low it would be impossible to feel any psychoactive effect or get a “high.” The reason behind this is in hemp’s high CBD content, which acts as THC’s antagonist and essentially makes the minimal amount of THC nonexistent.
Is it Cannabis? Chemical Makeup Psychoactive?


Yes Low THC
(< 0.3%)
Marijuana Yes High THC Yes

(Ministry of Hemp)

*There is a THC-free hemp oil for people who are subject to regular drug screening. For the hemp oil with THC present, the amount is so low (0.3%) that it’s impossible to feel any psychedelic effects, but it could show up in a drug test.

Benefits of Hemp Oil:

There are many benefits to taking hemp oil and the list is steadily growing. From symptom relief in cancer and multiple sclerosis, this natural remedy has even been linked with treating acne. Researchers even believe that hemp’s ability to act on the endocannabinoid system and other brain signaling systems could potentially provide benefits for those with neurological disorders. The list is endless…

Insomnia: In a 2017 review of sleep and cannabis in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports, research suggests hemp may have a positive effect on sleep by interacting with receptors in the brain that govern the body’s daily sleep/wake cycles (Gill).

Anxiety/Stress: In a nutshell, anxiety is a condition characterized by restlessness and excessive worry. Not only can hemp lower anxiety, but it also helps reduce the symptoms associated with a wide range of psychological conditions and brain disorders.

Recovery/Pain: While more research needs to be conducted, some research shows that it may be a useful approach to supporting overall joint comfort and pain management. Studies have shown a great deal of promise. Hemp can offer an alternative for people who have chronic pain and rely on more dangerous, habit-forming medications like opioids.

Inflammation: Multiple studies have been conducted on hemp as an anti-inflammatory and many athletes swear by it. Inflammation and oxidative stress “feed off” each other, which proves quite difficult to manage. Hemp seems to be a promising starting point given its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory actions on immune cells (Floyd’s of Leadville).

Seizures: Although not approved for treating, hemp has been shown to reduce seizures in adults and children with various conditions linked to seizures (Natural Medicines).


Side Effects of Hemp Oil:

You should never diagnose yourself. Ever. Aside from the fact that it’s dangerous, you might be missing something you’re not qualified to see. You might be in a state of denial about your symptoms or you might be overthinking them altogether. So, I will say this as best as I can without sounding too bossy: Do NOT take hemp oil until you’ve seen a certified Functional Medicine Nutritionist who can tell you all the why’s and how’s and do not’s. As with most things, CBD oil is not entirely safe. There are side effects:

  • Start slow and increase the amount over time. Overdoing it and using too much hemp oil before your body is ready can cause side effects such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, dry mouth, anxiety and changes in mood.
  • Choose a safe, organic hemp oil from a trustworthy and transparent source like your practitioners at Forum Health Clarkston. Anyone can sell it and its as under-regulated as our supplements and food. The cannabis plant readily absorbs heavy metals, pesticides, and other chemicals found in soil. A good analysis by a third-party lab will check for pesticides and heavy metals, microbial organisms, fungus, mold, and other impurities along with CBD and THC percentages.
  • Know what you are taking with hemp oil because some medications do not mix. Again, this is just another reason to go through a certified practitioner when deciding if hemp oil is for you. Hemp may inhibit your liver’s ability to break down other drugs. This causes them to stay in your body a lot longer, which may increase the medication’s side effects and/or cause liver injury.

Hemp Oil Uses and Products:

Hemp oil is available in many ways from tinctures and concentrates to capsules. It can be made into a topical treatment to smooth over skin. It’s in candy and smoothies—some people even mix it in their morning shakes. You can spray it on your tongue or even smoke it through a vape. You might want to avoid vaping it because vaping isn’t really all that good for you—at all, really. Vaping is bad for you, so maybe try a different form. You have many to choose from:

  • Oils: The most potent and unprocessed form because the hemp oil is removed directly from flowers, stalks, and seeds of the hemp plant during extraction. Most oils are ingested through a dropper under the tongue.
  • Concentrates: Typically a much stronger dose of hemp oil, this way is not ideal for beginners. Concentrates can also be ingested by placing drops under the tongue.
  • Capsules: This might be the most convenient way to ingest the oil, but it comes with less control of the dose. Capsules or pills can be taken with water.
  • Topical: Meant to benefit skin, joint and muscle health, and are absorbed through the skin. There are also patches available, which allows the hemp to be delivered directly into the bloodstream.
  • Edibles: Chocolates, coffees, baked goods, gums, and candies are very popular.
  • Powders: Added to juice, water, or smoothies and shakes, this is another way to ingest hemp oil.
  • Sprays: Ingested by spraying right into the mouth. The hemp concentration is typically lower this way.

Final Thoughts

With the latest passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp oil is set to become a nation-wide home remedy for anxiety, depression, and many other debilitating conditions. Like anything we put in our bodies, we need to know where it came from. It’s important to find an oil that was extracted using organic methods, and is free of GMOs, synthetics, fillers, and other harmful ingredients. At Forum Health Clarkston, we help you decide whether hemp oil is right for you. Give us a call today to get started: 248-625-5143.


Adrian Schirr

Forum Health Clarkston

7300 Dixie Hwy. Ste. 500

Clarkston, MI 48346




“CBD and Inflammation: Why Athletes Are Ditching Ibuprofen For CBD.” Floyd’s of Leadville. June 12th, 2018.

Cole, WIlliam. “What Exactly is CBD Oil & How Can it Fight Anxiety?” Mind Body Green. 

“Consumer Information and Education.” Natural Medicines.

Dr. Axe, Josh. “CBD Oil Benefits, Products, Side Effects and How to Use.” Dr. Axe. 

Gill, Lisa. “Can CBD Help You Sleep?” Consumer Reports. February 5th, 2019

“Hemp vs Marijuana: What Makes Hemp Different from Marijuana?” Ministry of Hemp.

“2018 Farm Bill Legalizes Hemp Obstacles to Sale CBD Products Remain” National Law Review. March 5th, 2019.



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