With the legalization of marijuana in Canada, there have been so many questions about products like CBD, and specifically how to use it therapeutically for health issues like pain, anxiety, and digestion. Unbeknownst to many, there’s a non-marijuana alternative called copaiba essential oil, which is helpful for those who don’t want to use a previously (and recently) illegal product. I’ve used both CBD and copaiba essential oil to support my anxiety, and they’ve been complete game changers for me (click here to read about my history with debilitating anxiety, and the top 7 things to help you reduce anxiety naturally), but that brings up a TON of questions on CBD vs copaiba essential oil.
Do they work the same in the body? Is one better than the other? How do they even work in the first place? I’m answering all those questions and more in this post.
What is CBD?
CBD, or Cannabidiol, is one of over 140 compounds called cannabinoids (the majority of which we know next to nothing about) that are present in the cannabis plant (aka marijuana).
THC is another well-known cannabinoid (more on that below), but there are others, too, like THCV. THCV is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid (just like CBD) that has been shown in studies to be effective for weight loss and diabetics, as it suppresses the appetite.
It’s important to note that the endocannabinoid system, that involves the interaction of receptors around the body with cannabinoids (both that our body naturally makes AND takes into our bodies from the outside), was only discovered in the 1980’s and first described in scientific literature in 1994, so it’s a VERY new branch of science that is still proving itself.
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that does NOT make you feel high, something that I didn’t know before I started using it myself. I had very little exposure to marijuana growing up, and didn’t seek it out because I really don’t like the feeling of being high.
You can take CBD by smoking specific strains of marijuana that are high in CBD (but will still contain THC), either directly or by vaping it, or by ingesting CBD oil or other edibles, including foods made with the oil or tinctures made from the extract.
Research on CBD so far has shown:
it reduced chronic inflammation and pain in some mice and rats (source), which implies that it can be used to support symptoms of fibromyalgia, migraines, and other inflammatory pain conditions. In fact, a very recent study on a small group of participants with fibromyalgia showed that 50% (HALF!) of patients were able to stop all other pain medications in favour of medical marijuana (source)
it can be used as an anti-psychotic, with effects similar to prescription drugs, especially in those with schizophrenia (source)
that it may help to combat cancer and the spread of tumours by suppressing the growth of cancer cells and promoting their destruction (source)
to help reduce acne, since it’s been show to lower the production of sebum, the oily type substance in the skin that can lead to breakouts. Scientists think this is based on it’s anti-inflammatory action (source)
it may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, which is sometimes referred to as Type 3 diabetes or diabetes of the brain, by preventing the development of social recognition memory deficits ie. affected patients could recognize familiar faces longer (source)
in dozens of different studies, cannabis and CBD has been shown to reduce symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases like Crohn’s and Colitis, sometimes putting them into complete remission, along with helping reduce the pain and appetite changes associated with Irritable Bowel Disorder (compiled source). I can’t even begin to explain how amazing CBD has been for me and my IBS and food allergies, and how it’s completely given me my life back when my anxiety is triggered by an upsets stomach from something that I ate, even though I eat as clean as possible.
And finally, we get to the reason I’m writing this article:
It’s been my personal experience that yes (a big, emphatic YES!!!), CBD helps with all those facets of anxiety. You can read about my journey with using CBD on a personal level in the sister post by clicking here.
CBD or THC?
95% of marijuana (prescription or not) contains moderate or high levels of THC. In fact, most producers specifically breed strains that are higher and higher in THC.
THC is the most researched cannabinoid, and is the one that makes you feel high AF. Snoop Dogg is a big fan of THC 😂(did you know he has his own line of marijuana products?)!
THC does have amazing and researched therapeutic benefits, like reducing nausea and increasing appetite for those with severe digestive disorders or undergoing cancer treatment, as well as helping with sleep, but for some, the side effects outweigh the benefits.
You also need to know that if you choose to use a marijuana product that is high in CBD, it will always have some percentage of THC present, so yes, you could trigger a positive drug test, even if you’re not using this type of product to “get high”.
What’s also helpful to know is that CBD and THC are antagonists, meaning that if you’ve taken in too much THC, you an offset it’s negative effects by using a product high in CBD, and it will help the effects wear off much faster than just waiting it out.
How does CBD work?
CBD (and THC + other cannabinoids) work differently on different receptors on the surface of cells throughout our body. Remember when I described the endocannabinoid system above? It didn’t evolve in our bodies to interact with cannabis, but rather our OWN BODY creates it’s own cannabinoid compounds, which of course don’t work as strongly as cannabinoid compounds from outside the body (like CBD and THC).
Anandamide is the most researched cannabinoid that our body produces itself, and it’s important to memory, motivation, higher thought processes, movement, pain, fertility, and appetite. This implies that it could be another major factor for depression, along with the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.
There’s been clinical evidence and hypotheses for over 10 years that migraines, fibromyalgia, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (amongst others) may be due to a clinical deficiency in cannabinoids (source), meaning that your body doesn’t make enough of these compounds on it’s own to keep symptoms in balance. Just like any other nutrient deficiency, you can take that nutrient in external forms (like a B12 vitamin when you’re exhibiting symptoms or have found in a lab test to be deficient in B12).
Cannabis, from marijuana, can provide these cannabinoids to your body, which is very helpful when a deficiency might be causing symptoms.
Back to CBD and how it works …
There are 2 main receptors on cells throughout your body that react with cannabinoids (whether made in your body or taken in from outside): CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are found mainly in the brain and nervous system, but also the lungs, liver, and kidneys.
These receptors mainly bind with THC (the cannabinoid from marijuana that causes you to feel “high”), and can reduce symptoms like pain, nausea, and depression. The CB1 receptor also binds with anandamide, which might be why using THC-rich marijuana products might be a better fit for those with depression-like symptoms, as that’s what anandamide helps to balance.
THC directly binds with CB1 receptors, which is very different than how CBD works.
CB2 receptors are found mainly in the immune system and it’s glands, such as the spleen, tonsils, thymus, and other immune cells, but they’re also found in the gastrointestinal system (i.e digestive system).
CBD can affect CB2 receptors (without directly binding to them) in multiple different ways, including:
CBD directly activates the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, which contributes to it’s anti-anxiety effect (source)
directly binds with TRPV1 receptor, which influences pain perception. Interestingly enough, this receptor also binds with eugenol, a compound which is present in high amounts in clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, basil, and bay leaf essential oils (clove essential oil is recommended for pain, especially tooth pain - it was used as a numbing agent in dental surgeries before modern anesthesia was discovered!)
CBD might deactivate the GPR55 receptor, which may lead to a decrease in bone reabsorption (therefore, increasing bone density) and the proliferation (increase) in cancer cells (source)
CBD can activate PPAR receptors, which, again, has been linked to decreasing proliferation of cancer cells, along with making it potentially useful for Alzheimer’s disease
CBD inhibits the breakdown and re-uptake process of anandamide (the body’s natural cannabinoid that promotes balance in the body AND mind), which means it blocks the ability of the body to break down and absorb anandamide, therefore boosting it’s levels (source)
CBD interacts with the GABA-A receptor, and changes it’s shape, which amplifies the effect of GABA, a calming transmitter already found in the brain (source)
In 2015, it was discovered that CBD affects CB1 receptors much the same way as GABA-A receptors, by changing their shape and weakening the effect of THC (source). This implies that if you take THC and have a negative effect from it (like how it triggers panic and anxiety when I take it, or if you plain smoked too much), you can take some CBD to offset the effect quicker than letting the THC wear of naturally.
Science is on the cusp of discovering a third type of endocannabinoid receptor, but research is still ongoing and therapeutic effects, if any, are still being determined.
The difference between prescription and non-prescription CBD & marijuana
Now that marijuana is legal in Canada, is there any point in getting your medical marijuana prescription, like I have? Well, let’s look at the pros and cons.
First off, getting your prescription for medical marijuana isn’t necessarily hard, but it’s not as simple as just asking your primary doctor (unless they happen to prescribe it, which most don’t). If you’ve had a doctor who, in the past, has asked you why you want a second opinion when you’ve advocated for yourself, or has threatened to stop seeing you as a patient because you “ask too many questions”, chances are that they won’t be very open to you asking about medical marijuana, either.
It’s not that doctors don’t want to help, it’s just that the majority of them haven’t been educated on this subject, and many are resistant to change, or just plain old don’t have the time to do the research themselves. Like any other paradigm shift in the healthcare system, I expect this to take years, if not decades, to see real change.
The path to seeing an MD specializing in marijuana is the same as getting referred to any other specialist, and I share my recommendations in the free download below.
If it’s such a pain in the butt, why would you even go through this process? For me, it came down to 2 things:
With going through the medical system, I was able to get supervised help and professional recommendations from someone who knows my entire health history and symptoms. My doctor has been incredible to work with (even seeing me by online video conferencing software so I didn’t have to drive to another city! This was SO helpful when my anxiety wouldn’t let me leave the house), and I share in the guidebook that you can get by clicking the button above who I personally work with.
Don’t all flock to him at the same time now, I don’t want him to be booked up solid for the rest of his regulars ;)
Part of this process means you’re required to meet your doctor for regular follow-ups, even if you’re doing great. This isn’t overly cumbersome, though, I don’t have to see my doctor for another year! It’s kind of like renewing your prescription for birth control 😂
A prescription for medical marijuana, and the costs incurred with buying your preferred method of medicating (smoking, vaping, or ingesting), is a tax deductible medical expense!
That’s right, I get money back on my taxes that I spent on my CBD oil.
It’s not overly common, but there are even a few insurance companies that allow you to get reimbursed for your expenses, just like any other prescription.
And that brings us to the major con: the cost. When my anxiety was really bad, so I was using more than my now maintenance dose of CBD, my costs, out of pocket, were about $100 a month.
I’m a very small woman, about 105 lbs, so my dosage is not super high. It’s my understanding that others have to use much more than I do, and costs can be upwards of $300 to $500 a month. This can be prohibitive to some, plus there are now extra excise taxes to the government, even on prescription marijuana (versus recreational).
If you’re suffering that badly, you’ll find a way to pay for a solution that works, but I understand that I have an upper-middle class income, so that amount per month doesn’t break me. However, some people who would benefit the most from medical marijuana can’t afford it, just like any other meds, which is heartbreaking.
There are only a few health insurance companies covering the costs of medical marijuana, helping to provide some financial support, but I hope more and more companies consider it, especially as more medical research shows the benefits.
Now we come to the second thing to consider: quality.
I come from the essential oil world, where companies can list “100% pure” on their label, and what’s inside is anything but. So excuse me while I’m highly skeptical of all the new companies popping up, and their subsequent motives.
After doing a LOT of Googling and not finding much for the recreational market, I can’t even begin to speculate the quality controls in place when you’re buying your marijuana or CBD products from non-medical producers. From what I can see, it’s fairly easy for marijuana products to be tainted with heavy metals, mold, and other contaminants from a sub-optimal growing process (for example, it’s easy for mold to grow if humidity levels are not controlled properly) or from chemicals being added, like pesticides.
A great company will do third-party lab testing to ensure it’s free from contaminants, and might even be GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified. And of course, a lot of quality customer reviews doesn’t hurt!
As per medical marijuana here in Canada, there are some guidelines in place, and expect them to keep evolving as this brand new system and industry grows.
For example, earlier this year a new restriction around the types of pesticides used were released after 2 companies tested positive for unauthorized pesticides. As a result, there is now a specific list of pesticides that medical marijuana growing facilities are allowed to use (source).
However, because the industry is so new, the best place to ask your questions about quality control is to ask your potential supplier directly. If they are a quality company, they won’t be shy about providing their process, although most inquiries need to be sent by email to provide a paper trail for the company.
When I used to think about the side effects of pot, I’d think about the usual suspects. You know who I’m talking about:
I was like, I’m a Mom and run a business, I can’t afford to be all spaced out, all day, every day, eating Cheezies on the couch … even IF my anxiety is better! Turns out, that’s how you feel when you have THC in your system. You actually DON’T feel high from CBD!
However, there are some other side effects you do need to be aware of, just like anything else you might use for medication purposes, or you can read ALL of the published literature and possible side effects by clicking here:
Short term side effects, taken directly from Health Canada, include:
impaired ability to:
anxiety, fear or panic
if smoking, damaged blood vessels caused by the smoke
decreased blood pressure, which can cause people to faint
increased heart rate, which can be dangerous for people with heart conditions and can lead to an increased risk of heart attack
Long term side effects (again, directly from Health Canada), many of which are still being researched, include:
addiction (although this has been largely dispelled!)
ability to think and make decisions
if you choose to smoke marijuana products, you could have risks like:
chronic (long-term) cough
increased mucus buildup in the chest
Using cannabis while pregnant can result in lower birth weights, as well as long-term developmental issues in the child, such as decreases in:
ability to pay attention
reasoning and problem-solving skills
increased risk for future substance use
Note that for side effects like anxiety, fear, or panic, that these come mainly from THC, so if you use CBD, you’re unlikely to feel those. That being said, everyone responds to marijuana differently, even if two people take exactly the same product for the same health issue.
If you are on other medications, your pharmacist can let you know of any possible interactions.
Different ways to take it
Before I started using CBD oil, I knew it was important to me to be able to control the dosage. In the few times that I had smoked marijuana (like 15+ years ago), I felt good sometimes, and other times, if I smoked a tad too much (I’m talking about a quarter that a normal person would smoke), I would end up on the bathroom floor having a freakout.
Now I know it’s the THC, and almost no amount of it is good for me, but I didn’t know that at the time!
Knowing what I know now, here are some of the ways (because people are constantly inventing new ones!) to take in CBD or medical marijuana:
This is the old school way, where you roll up the marijuana bud into a joint, or smoke it using a bong or pipe. I think this is what my Mom was worried about when I first told her I wanted to look into CBD oil … that there would all of a sudden be bongs all over my house! P.S. unless it goes with my mid-century modern/Scandinavian design preferences, there was fat chance of that 😂.
Smoking is the hardest to control your dosage, as it depends how much you smoke and how deeply you inhale.
It also has other side effects similar to cigarette smoke, including lung tissue damage.
When you vape, you do smoke the marijuana bud, but you have to use an electronic device like a vape pen or handheld unit. These range in price, but some can be quite expensive (upwards of $300 to $500 dollars).
The benefit of these units is that it heats up the “medication” to a specific temperature every time, which keeps the amount of active cannabinoids fairly consistent, and has been shown to increase the amount versus old school smoking. However, dosages that you absorb will vary depending, again, on how deeply you inhale.
Because the vaping device doesn’t get as hot as conventional burning methods (joints, pipes, bongs), the combustion compounds aren’t as high, meaning you get a smoother taste and less chance of lung irritation side effects.
Vaping, especially vape pens, can be much more discreet than firing up a joint, which is great if you don’t want to draw too much attention when you’re in public situations.
Whether you choose to vape or smoke, ingesting cannabis this way has a quick reaction time, taking effect sometimes in less than 15 minutes. The effect is short term as well, lasting up to 2 hours. This is a great thing for people with anxiety and panic attacks, as they can lessen the symptoms very quickly.
Tinctures, Oils & Pastes
The CBD oil that I take is considered an extract. You take dried cannabis, complete a CO2 extraction (where liquid carbon dioxide is use as a solvent to remove compounds from something, this is something they use for essential oils as well), then mix the extracted solutions with a carrier oil (like medium-chain triglyceride oil, or MCT) to normalize the strength and dosage.
A tincture is where you take dried cannabis, soak it in alcohol, which dissolves the active compounds. You can then dilute it to normalize the strength and dosage.
A paste is a very concentrated form of cannabis, and most commonly comes in a tube
With both tinctures and oils, you use these both sublingually (under the tongue) and orally, which gives them a fairly quick effect while lasting for much longer than smoking cannabis. It can take 15 to 30 minutes to start to feel the effects, with tinctures and oils lasting around 4 to 6 hours, and pasts lasting upwards of 8 or even 12 hours.
Some tinctures can also come in spray forms, where one spray will give you a specific dosage.
I take my CBD oil, hold it under my tongue for 30 seconds to a minute, then swallow. If you’re using a tincture, it will dissolve in water, and you an put it in a small glass of water and drink it, if that’s easier for you.
Tinctures and oils taste strongly of marijuana, and can take some getting used to. For a spray form of a tincture, some companies will add sweeteners or flavours to help them taste better.
Some companies make CBD creams, balms, or salves that you can apply directly to your skin. This is best for localized relief of specific areas of the body, like certain patches of skin or sore joints.
Topical methods are great to provide targeted relief, especially for the skin and joints, and the effects can last for 6 to 12 hours, however it can take 1-2 hours for the effects to start.
Finally, we get to the fun part for some people: edibles. This means you eat the cannabis with no sublingual effect, so while it can take 1 to 2 hours to take effect, it can last 4 to 6 hours.
The most popular edibles includes gummy bears and chocolate, as well as peanut butter, jams, and even salsa! Or you can make your own pot butter or cooking oils, too.
With ready made products like candies or sweets, you don’t even taste the cannabis. However, if you make your own butter or cooking oils, it would be best for savoury applications, especially for recipes that already include other herbs, like butter for bread rolls or spreads for a sandwich.
These can be more expensive for the same dosage, since the company is taking more steps for you, and be sure to not overeat … or you might cause more than just an upset stomach!
At the time of writing this article, medical marijuana edibles have not been added to the list of approved products under Canada’s new medical marijuana regulations. However, you can find recreational edibles from various websites based in British Columbia, although I’m unsure if these companies are operating illegally. Some sites I’ve seen have shut down operations until further notice.
If you live in the US or worldwide, you might live in a country or state where you can buy edibles, so try it out!
CBD oil vs. Copaiba essential oil
You might be reading this and LOVING the benefits of CBD oil especially, but perhaps you’re against using marijuana, or maybe in a job where drug testing will lead to disciplinary actions if there’s THC in your system. Since you can’t isolate just CBD, there will always be a small amount of THC in a natural CBD-rich strain (that you take as an tincture/oil or smoke).
No fret, copaiba essential oil to the rescue!
Copaiba essential oil is an essential oil made from distillation of the sap from the copaiba tree, which can be found in the rainforests of South America.
Each essential oil has it’s own specific mixture of compounds that it’s made of, and copaiba made by doTERRA (the company with the purest and most tested essential oils in the world) contains about 55% beta caryophyllene (BCP).
Note that BCP is also present in other essentials oils, specifically black pepper (21%), Melissa (13%), and Ylang ylang (13%), as well as a few others at much lower percentages.
Why is it important that copaiba essential oil contains beta caryophyllene in high amounts? Because BCP directly interacts with the ever important CB2 endocannabinoid receptors that we talked about at length above!
This means that, much like CBD, copaiba can support the liver, cardiovascular, digestive, neurological, and respiratory systems, as well as providing antioxidant support to the body … BUT WITHOUT HAVING ANY MARIJUANA OR THC IN IT.
If you live in a country where CBD or cannabis products aren’t legal, you can legally use copaiba essential oil.
To find out how I use copaiba on a daily basis to support my body and moods, along with:
- the process to get your medical marijuana prescription and license
- what doctor I chose to work with (and how to find one yourself)
- what brand I trust for the highest quality CBD oil
- exactly how and when I take CBD oil versus copaiba essential oil
Enter your name and email below to get my “Everything you need to know about CBD and copaiba” guidebook!
If you’re suffering with mood issues, or any of the physical ailments I mentioned above, consider using CBD or copaiba. Do your own research, and keep searching for a solution. I promise that you CAN have your life back, sometimes it just takes a little bit of experimenting to find out what works best for your body.
If you know someone else who is suffering, please forward them this article. If I can help even one other person get off the mood rollercoaster that is anxiety and depression, I’ll consider this post worth it (for the HOURS it took in research and writing it).
No would should have to suffer, especially that we have solutions with limited side effects.
As I wrote in my more personal article on my 10+ year struggle with anxiety:
If you’re suffering, my heart goes out to you. I know how it feels, and I see you working so hard just to get through the day. It will get better, and it won’t last forever. Ask for help, even if it’s terrifying, and know that yes, the world WILL miss you if you’re not here in it.