Part VII: CBD Oil… Hype, Harm, or Heck Yeah!

Now that my CBD (cannabidiol) oil series is coming to an end with the much-awaited final review of current research on its efficacy, it’s important to take a step back, connect the dots, and consider the many factors that can influence outcomes in these clinical trials and, more importantly, in your own body! This is exactly what this article will accomplish­­. It will also provide you with a sneak peek into some of the latest research. So, let’s dive in!



The Importance of Considering the Many Factors that Influence Any Health Modality

I’ve been in the health space for many years and have seen many herbal and supplement “darlings” come and go. The desire for the “panacea” in a bottle, whether in the form of a pill or “elixir,” is always an attention grabber…and great money maker!

Inevitably, the current “medical miracle” loses popularity as people discover one man’s cure doesn’t necessarily mean it will be theirs. As a result, the industry then moves onto the next “cure-all” to capitalize on.

That being said, there are some truly amazing nutraceuticals that have legitimate and well-founded evidence and efficacy. Ahh…but therein lies the rub!  If something truly does have an effect, it can also have unwanted SIDE effects.

For the above reasons, I feel it is imperative to dive deep into all aspects of an intervention before starting it. These include: its mechanism(s) of action, regulations, standards, outcomes reported from preclinical and clinical research, and whether the “whole entourage” brings more harmony than an isolate. This is especially indicated when separating facts from fiction.

Two other very important concepts also need to not be overlooked. These are:

  1. Biochemical Individuality

  2. Epigenetics


Genes Load the Gun, Environment Pulls the Trigger on Disease

Sorry for the violent analogy, but this headline is quite a popular saying in integrative medicine. The underlying meaning is that overall health is based on the interaction between one’s specific genetic makeup and their unique environmental influences. It is this interrelation between biochemical individuality and epigenetic factors that determines whether a substance, such as CBD oil, will support or subdue health.

Everyone has an explicit genetic makeup. This can result in mutations leading to predetermined diseases, but more often it is related to the universal variances in single nucleotide switches on DNA that impacts a genes’ functioning based on one’s environmental exposures. (source, source, source) As an example of the latter, I previously discussed how essential oils, medications, lifestyle, and one’s genetically programmed “sensitive disposition” can all interact to modulate health outcomes.

Due to this complexity and the natural human drive to find a “quick fix” to the inevitable angst of living in an imperfect world, these important indicators of a modality’s efficacy are often overlooked or ignored. Biochemical individuality and its relationship to nutritional needs, lifestyle practices (including self-care and rest), emotional traumas, and prenatal influences is a very intricate ball of yarn to unravel.


Biochemical Individuality, Epigenetics, and Considerations for Using Cannabis Compounds

When specifically focusing on CBD oil and cannabis, one must also take into account the fact that cannabinoids impact many body systems simultaneously. This is due to their far-reaching actions on the endocannaboid system (ECS) and various other receptors. As an example, the psychoactive constituent of cannabis, delta-9-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), influences two cannabinoid receptors; whereas, CBD has other mechanisms that are at play.

This means that although both CBD and THC have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, individuals can respond differently to each compound based on how their body processes them in relation to their genetic variances and environment. Due to this fact that the compounds of cannabis possess different mechanisms of action, many experts are advocates for using the full spectrum of cannabinoids to provide synergistic and balancing effects on the body.

Many also are unaware that certain medications and nutritional compounds can modulate the body’s own production of cannabinoids. This knowledge provides an avenue to an amazing “environmental” manipulation for the efficacy of their use. In the article, Care and Feeding of the Endocannabinoid System: A Systematic Review of Potential Clinical Interventions that Upregulate the Endocannabinoid System, the authors provide a wonderful summary of how different pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals impact the ECS and modulate endogenous cannabinoid production. If you skim it, you will soon discover another reason why essential fatty acids are needed in a good balance.

Please keep all of these above points in mind when reading about the studies and applications of CBD oil, cannabinoids, and the full spectrum hemp and cannabis products.


Bottom line: Your body is unique and different from everyone else’s. There will NEVER be one thing that works for EVERYONE.

This is why functional and naturopathic medical doctors spend years studying how lifestyle medicine interacts with genetic makeup to optimize your health plans. You just can’t get that individualized touch from Dr. Google or “figuring out all the pieces of the puzzle on your own!

Please click here to learn more about my approach to individualized supplementation. I will have some slots opening up for new clients in a few months. To get on the waiting list, please contact me here. 


Sneak Peek into the Conclusion of my CBD Series: What the Studies Say About CBD Oil

I already gave you a sneak peek on outcome-based clinical trials for cannabinoid-related medications, discussed the current CBD medical indications, and provided resources and tables on how different compounds in cannabis can synergize for harmonizing body responses.

There is no way in this vast amount of research that the final article reviews will be comprehensive without giving up my career, social obligations, and sleep. Whereas the previous herbal all-star turmeric had over 150 clinical trials, a quick search on the NIH’s (National Institute of Health) website lists over 500 clinical trials on CBD oil!

One study reported the results of an online survey from 2017-2018 using a self-selected convenience sample (n?=?2409) to characterize whom, how, and why individuals are currently using CBD. The authors reported the following:

Results: Almost 62% of CBD users reported using CBD to treat a medical condition. The top three medical conditions were pain, anxiety, and depression. Almost 36% of respondents reported that CBD treats their medical condition(s) “very well by itself,” while only 4.3% reported “not very well.” One out of every three users reported a nonserious adverse effect. The odds of using CBD to treat a medical condition were 1.44 (95% confidence interval, 1.16–1.79) times greater among nonregular users of Cannabis than among regular users.

Conclusion: Consumers are using CBD as a specific therapy for multiple diverse medical conditions—particularly pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. These data provide a compelling rationale for further research to better understand the therapeutic potential of CBD.

Therefore, coming up, I’m going to end my article series on CBD oil with highlights from research on its main uses for pain and brain health. Don’t worry, other uses will also be “peppered in.”

Stay tuned!

Please feel free to comment below!


BreakFree Medicine moves beyond symptom control and into whole health care (healthcare) combining naturopathic and functional medicine concepts. It considers….

Please note, this website is not endorsing any CBD or associated products.

This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)

Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.