About a year ago I dove into the world of herbal supplements after doing a good amount of research on dietary supplements in general, and my journey has continued in 2021 along the same, wellness-seeking lines. Also, let me get real: if there’s any beauty- or wellness related trend out there, I’ll happily try it out.
This is the short form version of how CBD oil entered my daily life, and I’m not alone. The CBD industry is growing stronger and stronger, projected to be worth USD16 billion in 2025 in the US alone. From being an obscure offering found in grimy vape shops just a few years ago, CBD is now featured in anything from smoothies to lotions to dog treats. It’s claiming to undo most of the things you wouldn’t want to experience, from anxiety to depression to sleeplessness and provide numerous health- and wellness benefits.
Living in Switzerland since years, I am accustomed to the relaxed relationship the Swiss culture (and legislation) has with marijuana. It is not uncommon to catch wafts of weed when moving around in parks during the warmer months of the year, and from what I have heard, there was a time when coffeeshops were even around too. While my own experiences with marijuana are positive, I don’t smoke it habitually, but similarly also don’t hold any bias against it or CBD.
That being said, I have been aware of CBD for years, before it really hit the mainstream, but I never really considered it as a prospective part of my wellness regime. Then Kim K held a CBD themed kids birthday party and it was everywhere. Alas, time for me to try it!
What is CBD oil and what is CBD good for?
Cannabidiol is one of several non-intoxicating chemical compounds found in the plant cannabis. When we talk about cannabis, the most common association obviously is marijuana as a recreational and/or prescription drug depending on its legal status in the country in question. Let’s be clear: THC is the compound that makes you high, and this is the difference between marijuana and hemp: the former contains THC, the latter don’t. CBD is an entirely different compound.
Why do people take it? As already mentioned, the supposed benefits of CBD – known to the cannabis community for years – count just about everything you can think of. Some of the more promising claims revolve around its anti-inflammatory properties. Of course, a few circumstances has made it hard to produce solid research as well as a reliable standardization of product quality for over-the-counter products. Funding for research of natural remedies is typically hard to raise as there is no financial incentive to patent a specific drug – big pharma isn’t so interested in plain old herbs. Anyone who’s ever smoked a joint knows, of course, that this doesn’t mean they don’t have an effect.
With this hyped momentum, a lot of new brands are entering the high-end market with premium offers for CBD oils. The brand whose CBD oil I have been trying out, lyvs (pronounced “lives”), is one of them. At the time of writing this, I have been trying out their full product range for about 3 weeks. I have to say, I am impressed with the products and experience so far and consider CBD a legit supplement.
Let the experiment begin... Trying CBD oil for the first time
What I got: I received 3 little bottles, representing the full product range of lyvs, the main difference being the amount of CBD (they contain respectively 6%, 12% and 24%). Thanks to the vivid memory of an experience with edibles circa 2015 that basically morphed the concept of time completely and made my then cat, Nugget, almost speak to me like a human, my first instinct was to carefully google how to dose CBD oil.
How Much CBD Oil Should I Take?
How Much I Took: The first few days I took the oils I proceeded to dose them rather conservatively, and also believed I felt some effects. For reference, I am female (if you should have any doubts at this stage), 173cm and I weigh around 60kgs.
Once I had validated that no crazy hallucinations were occurring, I grew bolder, leading up to Sunday evening when I basically took the dog for a walk, went to the gas station to pick up a bottle of wine, and went home and emptied the half-full dropper of my 12% oil under my tongue not just once, but twice. More about how that made me feel later.
For reference, I found this calculator that can help you figure out how to dose your CBD, but rest assured: you can’t overdose CBD oil, so don’t worry about it too much.
How Does CBD Oil Make You Feel?
What It Was Like: I had already once felt the very slight (perhaps placebo) rush of relaxation on previous uses, but all of the sources I had consulted had clearly stated that proper dosage can vary and you need to experiment a bit. What better time to hit yourself hard with relaxation than a Sunday night in quarantine?
I sat back down with my glass of wine and read a few articles online. And while the wine definitely relaxed me in that wine-kinda way that can also tend to make my thoughts spiral or bring my mood slightly down, something else was at play.
CBD in its full power is not about what you feel, but rather what you don’t feel: it’s a release of worry, concern, overthinking- and analyzing and anxiety without the reality distortion or weirdly sharpened perception of your surroundings that weed gives you – and no risk of that dreaded paranoia.
The Experience, Summarized: It feels like a good body high extended to your brain, if that makes sense: I feel calm, positive, grounded and unperturbed by things that otherwise can give me low-key anxiety, like remembering a forgotten, unpaid electricity bill, an email I dread responding to at work, or the online-shopping inflicted buyers remorse over the 3rd pair of distressed denim purchased this month, straight off the back of multiple camel colored blazers. It’s not that I don’t care about these things; I just perceive them in a more matter-of-factly, less emotive way. For someone who’s quite prone to anxiety – especially in lockdown – this is a welcome relief.
Can You Drive While Taking CBD Oil?
When I started my CBD journey, I was in the second week of having our new car, which essentially meant having a constant desire to take it out for a spin. This obviously prompted the natural question: Can you drive while taking CBD? And should you?
Whether you can or should drive while taking CBD is complicated to answer, but I think it deserves a bit of thought. Chemically speaking, the answer is clear: CBD itself is non-intoxicating. While the legal status of CBD varies from country to country, it is in many places considered fully legal to ingest CBD prior to or while driving.
However, my own instinct is to not mix CBD and driving, for a few reasons.
Many products, including lyvs, offer lab analyses for the specific batch of product (on the bottom of the lyvs bottles you’ll find the QR code that, when scanned, links the report). Again, depending of the legal status of cannabis/CBD where you live, there will be requirements regarding which, if any, level of THC (the compound that makes us feel high when smoking marijuana) is tolerated in the product – in Switzerland this tolerance is capped at 1%.
...And Can You Take CBD Before Driving In Switzerland?
So you’re able to check the lab report of your product, and CBD is fully legal in Switzerland and does not in any way impair you for driving. Does this mean you can drive while taking CBD in Switzerland? Or any other country for that matter?
While I trust the lab reports for lyvs which are done here in Zürich for the purposes of simply knowing the product, I don’t trust that I – or anyone – should be taking CBD before or while driving. The reason is clear: All European countries including Switzerland has a zero-tolerance for THC when it comes to driving. It doesn’t matter whether the THC is ingested legally via a CBD product or illegally smoking marijuana. Zero tolerance means zero tolerance.
Besides, a recent New York Times article describes how police drug testing isn’t able to tell apart THC from CBD – and while I don’t know whether this also is the case in Switzerland, I don’t particularly care to find out. As a result I have been taking it during the evening hours, or on days with nowhere to physically go due to lockdown.
Why should I try CBD Oil?
Here are a few of the most common reasons why you’d want to try CBD oil. If any of these are relevant to you I recommend that you give CBD oil a try.
Anxiety / Stress: Many people, including myself, report that CBD oil helps alleviate their anxiety and overthinking. The fact that CBD oil did indeed help calm my busy mind was the biggest benefit of all! For this reason alone I would recommend that you try it if you are ever dealing with anxiety in any way.
Better Focus: Another common benefit of CBD oil is the increased ability to focus. For me this wasn’t the biggest benefit, but I definitely did feel a positive impact.
Pain: Several studies (here, and here) show that CBD can be effective in managing different types of pain. Although it is unlikely to manage pain effectively on its own, many people report good results when pairing it with regular painkillers.