Being an active advocate within the essential oil world, I’ve had numerous questions recently from my readers and friends asking for my thoughts on CBD, whether or not it is an essential oil, what my thoughts are about how it is made, what my thoughts are over the legal controversy polarizing the US, and if there are any essential oils that contain similar qualities.
To be fully transparent with you… while I applaud and cheer on everyone who seeks natural solutions as much as possible to help them on their health and wellness journey, I do not recommend CBD oil to anyone. I cannot ethically recommend CBD oil with the way the law is written today. I know many people who have had some amazing results using it, and I celebrate with them for finding success in their health story… but for me and my family… we choose not to use it for 3 reasons:
- I don’t agree with how it is made, and truly feel it is over-hyped after essential oil enthusiasts were largely silenced into compliance by the FDA for making medical claims.
- The legal “loopholes” are misleading when you break down and understand the law as it is written
- There are a few alternatives that we have had a lot of success with, proving CBD oil is not some exclusive miracle oil, as many advocates have been pushing.
There is a lot of controversy regarding the legality behind CBD, especially when many tests show some brands of CBD oil contain alarming amounts of THC, which is blatantly illegal in the eyes of the DEA and in states where it is not declared legal. On the other hand, several tests have found numerous brands to be selling entirely synthetic CBD oil as “natural” or “pure.” You would think with sourcing regulated so thoroughly that there would be more oversight into what is required, but it turns out there are no government regulations for marketing and labeling CBD oil, as of 2018.
Is CBD an Essential Oil?
No. CBD and Hemp oil are both extracts and absolutes. They are not created through a distillation process. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy explains the process to creating extracts and absolutes as:
“Some plant material is too fragile to be distilled and an alternative method must be employed. Solvent extraction is the use of solvents, such as petroleum ether, methanol, ethanol, or hexane, to extract the odoriferous lipophilic material from the plant. The solvent will also pull out the chlorophyll and other plant tissue, resulting in a highly colored or thick/viscous extract. The first product made via solvent extraction is known as a concrete. A concrete is the concentrated extract that contains the waxes and/or fats as well as the odoriferous material from the plant. The concrete is then mixed with alcohol, which serves to extract the aromatic principle of the material. The final product is known as an absolute.”
There is a side note when it comes to the solvents used to create extracts and absolutes…
“All the solvent components should be considered harmful and flammable, and some of them, such as hexane and benzene, may be neurotoxic. Both naphtha and petroleum ether are considered potential cancer hazards according to their respective Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provided by manufacturers. Moreover, products sold as naphtha may contain added impurities (e.g. to increase stability) which may have harmful properties of their own.”
“Although Cannabis oils are usually concentrated by evaporating the solvents that were used for extraction, this does not completely eliminate residual solvents. As a result of sample viscosity, the more concentrated an extract becomes, the more difficult it will be to remove the residual solvent from it. In such a case, applying more heat will increase solvent evaporation, but simultaneously more beneficial components (such as cannabinoids or terpenes) may be lost as well.”
On a personal note, I do not use CBD because of all this… primarily because of how it is created and how “quality” CBD oil primarily depends on the efficiency of the company’s marketing team. Hemp grown legally in the US must be done through the university system, and from what I’ve seen through marketing claims, it is very difficult to find a reliable source that discusses farming methods to know whether harmful chemicals are used through the farming process.
I do hope the companies selling it are doing so through legal methods: acquiring the product through the educational system as dictated by law. I am disgusted by all the disregard for consumer and merchant safety when it comes to how CBD oil is marketed.
I am concerned about the solvents used… knowing they can’t separate the solvents from the CBD without removing beneficial properties of the CBD. Using olive oil is a good nontoxic way to create CBD instead of using solvents, however it takes much more of the CBD to be effective when created this way.
Because of this, I will NOT be advocating for CBD oil any time within the foreseeable future, even after the legal murkiness is resolved… especially when there are alternatives available that work just as well with similar structure.
Are there alternatives to CBD?
Yes!! There are several essential oil alternatives to CBD oil…
Each and every one of the below listed constituents are found in more places than just CBD. I did link each of the constituents for you to click on to see exactly what they are because I cannot legally discuss the medicinal wonders they’re able to accomplish to keep within FDA compliance.To briefly break down the science… the major components in cannabis material used to create CBD are:
- Also found in Angelica, anise, basil, bergamot, black pepper, cardamom, celery seed, cinnamon, citronella, clary sage, clove, coriander, elemi, eucalyptus (camaldulensis, citriodora, globulous), fennel, fir, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, hinoki, hyssop, juniper, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, lime, mandarin, Manuka, marjoram, myrtle, neroli, nutmeg, orange, oregano, palmarosa, patchouli, peppermint, petitgrain, pine, ravintsara, rosemary, sage, spearmint, spruce, tansy, tarragon, thyme, valerian, and ylang ylang essentail oils
- Also found in Angelica, basil, bergamot, black pepper, cardamom, carrot seed, celery seed, cinnamon, citronella, clary sage, coriander, dill seed, elemi, eucalyptus (camaldulensis, citrodora, globulous, intense, saligna), fennel, fir, frankincense, galbanum, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, helichrysum, hyssop, juniper, laurel, lavender, lemon, lemon balm, lemongrass, mandarin, marjoram, neroli, nutmeg, orange, oregano, palmarosa, peppermint, petitgrain, pine, ravintsara, rosemary, sage, spearmint, tangerine, tansy, thyme, valerian, and ylang ylang essential oils
- Also found in: allspice, anise, Angelica, basil, bergamot, black pepper, carrot seed oil, celery seed oil, cinnamon, citronella, clary sage, coriander, cypress, elemi, eucalyptus (camaldulensis, citriodora, globulous), fennel, fir, frankincense, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, helichrysum, hinoki, hyssop, juniper, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, lime, mandarin, marjoram, myrtle, neroli, nutmeg, orange, oregano, peppermint, petitgrain, pine, rosemary, sage, spearmint, tansy, tea tree, thyme, and turmeric essential oils.
- Also found in Angelica, basil, bergamot, black pepper, cardamom, carrot seed, celery seed, cinnamon, cistus, citronella, clary sage, clove, coriander, eucalyptus (globulous), fennel, frankincense, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, helichrysum, hinoki, hyssop, juniper, laurel, lavender, lemon balm, lemon, lemongrass, lime, mandarin, marjoram, Melissa, myrtle, neroli, nutmeg, orange, oregano, peppermint, petitgrain, pine, ravintsara, rose, rosemary, sage, spearmint, tangerine, tea tree, thyme, turmeric, valerian, and ylang ylang essential oils
- Also found in: allspice, Angelica, basil, black pepper, carrot seed, celery seed, cinnamon, citronella, clary sage, clove, coriander, copaiba, cypress, eucalyptus (globulous), fennel, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, helichrysum, hinoki, hyssop, lavender, lemon balm, lemon, lemongrass, lime, mandarin, marjoram, Melissa, myrtle, neroli, nutmeg, orange, oregano, patchouli, petitgrain, pine, rose, rosemary, sage, tansy, thyme, and valerian essential oils.
- Also found in Angelica, copaiba, basil, black pepper, cardamom, carrot seed, cinnamon, citronella, clove, clary sage, cypress, eucalyptus (globulous), fennel, fir needle, geranium, ginger, ginseng, grapefruit, helichrysum, hinoki, hyssop, juniper, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, lime, Manuka, marjoram, melissa, myrtle, nutmeg, orange, oregano, palmarosa, peppermint, petitgrain, pine, rosemary, rose, sage, spearmint, thyme, valerian, and ylang ylang essential oils
- Also found in Angelica, balsam fir, basil, black pepper, cardamom, carrot seed, clove, cypress, eucalyptus (globulous), fennel, fir needle, geranium, ginger, ginseng, grapefruit, helichrysum, hinoki, hyssop, juniper, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, marjoram, mellissa, nutmeg, orange, oregano, petitgrain, ravintsara, rosemary, rose, sage, and ylang ylang essential oils
- Also found in allspice, Angelica, basil, black pepper, cinnamon, citronella, clary sage, clove, davana, eucalyptus (globulous), geranium, ginger, helichrysum, hinoki, lemon balm, Manuka, marjoram, Melissa, ocotea, orange, ravintsara, rosemary, sage, spearmint, tansy, tea tree, and ylang ylang essential oils
elemene (this article is particularly interesting too)
- Also found in allspice, Angelica, anise, basil, bergamot, black pepper, celery seed, cinnamon, citronella, dill seed, frankincense, ginger, grapefruit, hyssop, lemon balm, lemon, lime, mandarin, orange, oregano, palmarosa, petitgrain, ravintsara, rose, rosemary, spearmint, tansy, valerian essential oils
As you can see… there are several essential oils available with each of those constituents that could easily step in as a CBD replacement, specifically Angelica, basil, black pepper, ginger, orange, oregano, and rosemary.
What about Cannabinoids?
A cannabinoid is defined as any ligand, molecule, or class of molecules that acts on either or both of the currently identified cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. These two receptors produce significantly different physiological responses when activated. CB1 activation, caused by THC and other similar cannabinoids, results in a psychoactive drug high. CB2 activation by beta-caryophyllene (BCP) supports a healthy inflammatory response, soothes discomfort, and positively affects mood, without the psychoactive side effects.
There are three distinct classes of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids are produced naturally by the body: amines and amides. Their primary function is to modulate normal physiological functions. This gives different endocannabinoids the ability to produce different neurological responses. Endocannabinoids are similar to some phytocannabinoids, but vary greatly in their chemical structure.
Phytocannabinoids are molecules that are produced by plants, such as Cannabis and Copaifera (copaiba). The Cannabis species produces the commonly known molecules THC and CBD, while the Copaiba produces only BCP. Although BCP differs significantly from other cannabinoids in its structure, it reacts only with the CB2 receptor, which defines it as a cannabinoid. Because it is chemically distinct from other cannabinoids, it cannot cause a positive result on a drug test.
Beta-caryophyllene (a cannabinoid) is found in Copaiba, Black Pepper, and Helichrysum essential oils.Copaiba and Black Pepper essential oils contain cannabinoids that won't risk popping positive on drug testsClick To Tweet
CBD manufacturing and marketing is out of control, just how essential oils were pre-FDA compliance crackdown in 2015. I personally foresee the future of marketing CBD to be very similar to the way essential oils are now marketed, which means anyone who could stand to make a profit off the sale of the product needs to refrain from making any medical-related claims, or the blogger/marketer could potentially be punished financially and legally, and censored.
The quality control for CBD is seriously lacking. Just like the essential oil industry, the only pieces of information that needs to be on the label is the amount, the company’s distribution office location, and a general description of what is in the bottle. 100% of everything else is solely 100% pure marketing. Knowing your source is crucial. If the source is within the US, it must be done through the state-run university system in states that have specifically legalized it for recreation or medicinal use. And then you need to jump through hoops and be “qualified” to purchase or possess CBD unless you’re in a state that has it legal for recreational use.
The constituents in CBD oil are found throughout nature, and are not exclusive to the cannabis plant. Looking through the chemistry, and the science that shows how these various oils interact in our bodies, there are a few essential oil alternatives to CBD that should provide the same benefits… specifically copaiba and black pepper. With those options available, I don’t personally see a reason to use CBD at all, and I continue to choose not to for our family. There are too many variables that don’t make sense to me, and I feel that all the benefits of CBD oil are largely touted as a “miracle” oil is mainly because of the censorship that has already been in place throughout the essential oil community.The constituents in CBD oil are found throughout nature, and are not exclusive to the cannabis plant. Copaiba and Black Pepper EO are great alternatives!Click To Tweet
Where We Buy Essential Oils
One thing that drives me nuts is marketing. You’d think I’d have a poetic appreciation for it, considering my degree in business and the amount of investments I’ve made into business/marketing courses outside of college. Marketing drives me nuts because it is tricky to regulate and a pain to research through. As per the FDA/FTC, there is no definition or regulatory body for essential oils – the industry as whole that includes manufacturing AND education/certifications! So when a bottle says 100% Pure Copaiba Essential Oil… its 100% marketing! The only things that need to be labeled is a general description, the address of the distributing company, and the amount that is in the bottle. Nothing more. With there being no legal definition of “essential oil” the label itself can be insanely deceiving.With there being no legal definition of 'essential oil' the label itself can be insanely deceiving. Click To Tweet
Because of this, we choose Young Living to purchase our oils from. They have an impressive Seed to Seal Guarantee that showcases their transparency, numerous in-house and 3rd party quality control testing programs, and dedicated farm-to-table approach to farming, distilling, and bottling. No harmful chemicals are used throughout the whole process, and the distillation is conducted at low pressure and low heat for an extended amount of time to unlock more constituents than most other brands. We’ve personally compared them to several other brands and were surprised by the superior quality. Now, that’s the #1 brand we recommend.
To order from Young Living, you will need an account. You can learn more by heading over to our membership page for a step-by-step guide in your country to set up your account to be able to purchase real copaiba and black pepper essential oils.
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