Science and Nature

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Is CBD Oil Worth the Cost?

As marijuana legalization spreads across the country, the plant’s byproducts are becoming more prevalent as well.  CBD oil is one of those, and it is increasingly touted as a diverse, effective medicinal aid.  But what is it, what are the pros and cons of using it, and is CBD oil worth the cost? CBD is an abbreviation of Cannabidiol, and it is one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant (cannabis sativa).  The most commonly known cannabinoid in the marijuana plant is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that makes a user “high.” 

CBD, however, is not psychoactive, which means that using it as a stand-alone compound does not cause any mind-altering effects.  Instead, proponents of CBD tout its many health benefits, and it is becoming a very popular remedy.  Once isolated, the compound can be combined with a neutral oil, like hemp seed or coconut oil, as a medium for delivery.  That oil can then be applied directly, turned into a gummy for oral consumption, or added to a cream for topical application.

Pros of CBD Oil

Long medical history

According to the National Institutes of Health, the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes dates back to 2900 BC in a Chinese encyclopedia of agriculture and medicine called the Shennong Ben Cao Jing.  You can find considerable documentation of continued use by various cultures throughout the centuries, and there are literally thousands of years of people believing in the medicinal value of cannabis.  In that context, it is a very recent practice to isolate CBD from the psychoactive element of cannabis and explore its benefits as a stand-alone chemical compound.  In other words, almost 5,000 years of medicinal applications of cannabis have brought us to a period where it is possible to separate the medical benefits from the recreational high.


A 2007 study found that CBD has substantial anti-inflammatory effects. CBD is developing a reputation as a cure-all because inflammation is associated with so many different types of pain. It has the potential to alleviate any number of potential ailments.  And the benefactors are not just people; there is a growing market of CBD treatments for pets as well.

Anxiety reduction

Serotonin is a chemical in the body that affects mental health.  People who suffer from depression and anxiety often have low levels of serotonin.  Low serotonin levels have traditionally been treated by drugs such as Prozac or Zoloft, but CBD is increasingly becoming a more modern alternative.  A 2010 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reported that CBD reduced anxiety in people suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder.  Similar to inflammation, anxiety is a broad symptom that affects millions of people, so the potential of CBD to address such widespread issues explains its rapidly increasing popularity.


CBD oils and creams are ubiquitous in states that have legalized medical marijuana, and they are increasingly available throughout the country.  Many are available without a prescription and at a cost that is affordable to many, especially when compared to the cost of many prescription drugs.

Cons of CBD Oil

Not FDA approved

In 1970, the United States classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, a category for drugs with no acceptable medical use and a high potential for abuse.  Other Schedule 1 drugs include heroin, LSD and ecstasy.  Because of this classification, federal studies of potential benefits of cannabis and its byproducts have been virtually non-existent. 

National opinion on cannabis seems to be changing rapidly, and while some state laws have evolved accordingly, federal law does not yet reflect that shift.  Therefore, the Federal Drug Administration has not tested and reported on cannabis in general and CBD specifically for nonprescription products.

Possible side effects

Absent detailed FDA studies and vetted data, potential side effects are typically identified through anecdotal evidence.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that diarrhea and fatigue are common for some users.  The relative lack of formal medical studies also means that it is possible CBD could interfere with some prescription medications.  WebMD lists possible side effects of dry mouth, low blood pressure, lightheadedness and drowsiness, with less common reports of liver injury.

Varied effectiveness

When dealing with non-prescription medicine, one of the challenges is managing the optimal dosage.  Body types differ in obvious ways like weight, and less obvious ways like bioavailability.  Bioavailability is a measurement of the body’s ability to convert a substance, in this case CBD, into the bloodstream so that it can be used rather than expelled.  Two people who share the same physical dimensions of height and weight may still have different bioavailability rates. 

The delivery method impacts absorption as well. A CBD gummy ingested orally may might deliver only a fraction of its CBD content, while a topical oil or ointment can deliver much more but in a localized fashion based on application area.


Laws and regulations around cannabis and CBD oil seem to be changing every day.  And while daily changes are an exaggeration, frequent changes are a reality.  The variances from state to state make online purchasing difficult, if not impossible. In states where medical and/or recreational marijuana has been legalized, the resale competition in the CBD market is significant. 

As a consumer, the con here is that you have to do your own research to determine legality in your state.  The national trend is certainly toward increased legality and availability, but the timeline is widely disparate.  Laws differ from state to state, and federal and state laws rarely align.


Honestly, the cost of a CBD oil product could be considered a pro or a con, depending on where you are shopping and how effective the product proves to be for your need. What tips this point into the con category is the lack of consistent pricing. Prices often range between 5 cents to 20 cents per milligram. This means that a small 500 mg bottle could cost you anywhere from $25 to $100.


So is CBD Oil worth the cost? There are a lot of “ifs” needed to answer this question. The primary consideration is probably if CBD oil is legal in your state – be sure to check that first. If it is legal, and if you find the price point acceptable for a trial run, there does seem to be both anecdotal and scientific evidence of its effectiveness for treating a variety of ailments. If your body responds well, then it’s likely you’ll find it worth the cost.

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