Dear Mark: CBD Edition

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’ll be answering your CBD questions from the past few weeks. CBD, or cannabidiol, is exploding in popularity, but there are many unknowns. People have a lot of questions and there aren’t many definitive or comprehensive guides, so today I’ll do my best to make sense of it. We’re all piecing things together based on limited data—which, I suppose, is the fundamental human experience.

Let’s go:

What’s the difference between hemp and CBD?

Hemp is a (recently legalized) industrial form of cannabis used in the production of paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, and overpriced Bob Marley shirts sold along Venice Beach. Hemp seed can be eaten (and is a fantastic source of magnesium, one of the best). Hemp is the plant.

CBD is cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in both hemp and cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD won’t get you high.

Due to legal issues, most big name online retailers won’t allow sellers to list “CBD oil” or “CBD” products, let alone CBD content. Descriptions like “full spectrum hemp extract” often mean CBD is present in the hemp oil, but it’s tough to know exactly how much. I recommend investigating the product, searching for the company that makes it, and seeing if they give more explicit details on their website. Even then, make sure the company is the actual seller on Amazon or else you may end up with a counterfeit product sold by wholesalers.

The best bet is to buy directly from the product website.

Is there oil for diabetics??

Although there aren’t any human trials that give CBD to diabetics to see what happens, there are some reasons to think it could be helpful:

Lowering stress. As stated in previous posts, CBD is an effective anti-stress agent. Stress is awful for anyone with diabetes. It increases blood sugar levels. It induces insulin resistance. And if you’re a stress eater, it can increase cravings for high-carb junk food that you really shouldn’t be eating in the first place. In other words, stress exacerbates all the physiological conditions a diabetic is already experiencing.

Improving sleep. Perhaps the most popular use of CBD is to improve poor sleep. Just about the best way to induce some serious glucose intolerance is to get a bad night’s sleep. A diabetic already has poor glucose tolerance; it’s pretty much the defining characteristic of diabetes. What’s worse, a bad night’s sleep has been shown to make a person more susceptible to the allure of junk food.

Inadequate sleep is a strong and independent predictor of type 2 diabetes risk. The less sleep you get, the higher your chance of developing diabetes.

Anything that reduces stress and improves sleep will improve a diabetic’s health. If CBD does that for you, it’ll probably help someone with diabetes. So in a roundabout, not direct way, CBD oil has the potential to help reduce the risk of diabetes and improve the symptoms.

Good MDA folks … does anyone have any experience using CBD oil in lieu of an SSRI to help with anxiety and panic? I’m using CBT techniques to deal with anxiety and panic episodes, and cutting back on my dosage of my SSRI with the intent to eliminate over the next couple of months. I was considering giving CBT oil a try (organic, full spectrum), starting out with just a drop or two and building up to a therapeutic dosage. Also, does CBT oil cause fatigue for anyone? It’s the last thing I want to happen as it’s a big reason I want to eliminate taking the SSRI?

Give it a try, making sure you keep your doctor in the loop.

There are several parallels between anti-depressants and CBD. Both antidepressants and CBD interact with the endocannabinoid receptor systems in the brain. Both antidepressants and CBD can stimulate neurogenesis and counter the depression-related reduction in brain-derived neurotrophic factor.

Any compound that’s used for sleep has the potential to increase fatigue. Sleep is fatigue at the right time. Fatigue is sleep at the wrong time. In an Israeli study of 74 pediatric epilepsy patients using CBD to quell their seizures, 22% reported unwanted levels of fatigue, so it’s a common complaint. Just consider that these were kids taking fairly high dose CBD to quell seizure activity, and that you may not have the same issue taking lower doses at a higher body weight.

Does CBD oil break my fast?

The dosages involved in most CBD oils include at most 1/8 teaspoon of carrier oils, so that’s not enough calories to impact your fast in any meaningful sense.

I haven’t seen any evidence that CBD itself inhibits or impedes ketosis, autophagy, or fat-burning. So, no, there is no indication that CBD oil breaks your fast.

How do I figure out how much cbd is in hemp oil?

As I indicated earlier, it’s impossible to know unless you buy a hemp oil that explicitly states the CBD content.

CBD oil is so expensive. Are there any other options for getting CBD?

You could make your own. It’s actually legal to buy “CBD flower,” which basically looks exactly like the cannabis or weed you’d buy on the street or at a legal dispensary, only it contains little to no THC and tons of CBD. One recipe I saw involved slow-cooking an ounce of the CBD flower in a cup of coconut oil for 8 hours, then straining out the solids. Whatever method you use to cook it, it requires fat, as cannabinoids are fat-soluble.

Here’s a place you can buy CBD flower online. (Note: I don’t have any experience with that company or any other that markets CBD flower or CBD products, so buyer beware.) There are many such places. Just search for them.

CBD is everywhere these days. Should I definitely use it?

Not necessarily. Like anything, it has its uses, there’s great potential, and as new research comes out I foresee the discovery of new modes of action and new applications. However, in all fairness, it’s being overhyped when promoted as a cure-all or panacea.

For what it’s worth, I’m not using it myself. I don’t feel the need, haven’t felt a “CBD deficit.” Don’t assume it’s yet another essential supplement that you simply must have. The basics are the important things—sleep, food, exercise, community, love, micronutrients.

CBD is best used for people who have an established need for it. Chronic pain patient who wants to stop using so many opioids? Great candidate. Kid with epilepsy for whom keto and meds aren’t working? Give it a try. Anxiety and insomnia? Better than just going with narcotics right off the bat. (But as always, work with a physician for any medical issue.)

That’s it for today, folks. If you have any more CBD questions, write them down below and I’ll be sure to answer them!


Rudnicka AR, Nightingale CM, Donin AS, et al. Sleep Duration and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Pediatrics. 2017;140(3)

Mcneil J, Forest G, Hintze LJ, et al. The effects of partial sleep restriction and altered sleep timing on appetite and food reward. Appetite. 2017;109:48-56.

Fogaça MV, Galve-roperh I, Guimarães FS, Campos AC. Cannabinoids, Neurogenesis and Antidepressant Drugs: Is there a Link?. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2013;11(3):263-75.

Tzadok M, Uliel-siboni S, Linder I, et al. CBD-enriched medical cannabis for intractable pediatric epilepsy: The current Israeli experience. Seizure. 2016;35:41-4.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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8 thoughts on “Dear Mark: CBD Edition”

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  1. Thanks for this, Mark! I take CBD here in Canada and was confused by the Hemp oil marketing in the states at first. Also love this line: “The basics are the important things—sleep, food, exercise, community, love, micronutrients.” YES.

    The main reason I take CBD (actually, a CBD-THC, 5:1 mix) is to help me sleep, but it also seems to help any injuries heal faster. I find the effect of straight CBD oil quite subtle (and it doesn’t do much for my sleep, truthfully); the mix is not so subtle, so I’ve had to self-experiment with dosage very mindfully.

    1. Dana, I’m in Canada also (Ontario). Where do you buy your CBD?


  2. Hi, I think it is also important to note in your section on « should I definitely use it? », that there are many drug interactions between CBD and other pharmaceuticals that use the same enzymes in the liver for detoxification, such as drugs for depression, anxiety and epilepsy. Hopefully people know to check with their MD to verify and closely monitor levels of pharmaceuticals in the blood when starting a regime that includes CBD.

  3. Thank you so much Mr. Sisson.

    “Sleep is fatigue at the right time. Fatigue is sleep at the wrong time”

    Never thought of it that way, that is a great line!

  4. Couple months ago I was telling my biz advisor that “I am on the verge of tears all the time; I’m holding hysteria down with a high-torque industrial wrench…” Huge, possibly company-threatening problems running up to a product launch; widow running a MFG co by myself; house problem needing expensive repairs; I’d rought 1/2-blind, 3/4-deaf, quite demented 94-yr-old mother to live (in a locked ward) near me after the LAPD picked her up when she went walkabout… …. you know… the usual modern-day stresses: only worse?!)

    Looked online for ‘non-drug stress reduction. Researched and found CBD oil; researched further and found a couple of highly respected outfits (in Colorado, where else?!). Don’t like oil, ordered full-spectrum 30 mg ‘softgels.’ Took one the first night it arrived.

    O.M.G.!!! The stresses are about the same (Mom died in Nov.; MAY have a fix for the product problem… which involves huge work for me — but it MAY be a fix)… but I’m calm, I’m smooth, I’m sailing through my days, doing what needs doing and then starting the next thing that needs doing. I do NOT notice any effect except the lack of stress response. No more sleepy (no less sleepy; but I get good sleep most of the time); no change in attitudes or ‘self-impression — merely calm and smooth….

    Still just one capsule around 7 at night, when I sit down the read on the computer…

    Got a friend to try it — migraine sufferer with anxiety and a little depression. She’d been having a few migraines. She didn’t notice a difference in headaches, but she DID notice that her depression lifted (on the 5th day taking it). She now buys it too. (CBDistillery, they have a veteran discount, occasional sales, and they lab-test all their product. Hope it’s okay to mention them. My only connection is I send the money and they send me CBD!

  5. CBD oil can be life-changing, as it was for my family, or it can be underwhelming. There can be a lot of trial and error involved in finding a product and a dosage that works for you. It’s also expensive! I was paying a lot for a very high-quality CBD oil for my daughter, whose disabling anxiety and mood swings stabilized within three days of starting CBD. I would have kept paying anything to keep her stable, but I’ve been an herbalist for almost 30 years and decided to try making my own. It’s a time-consuming process, but not difficult – I use the process Mark briefly describes above, low-and-slow heat. If you can source high CBD-hemp and are up for a few messy hours in the kitchen, DIY is a great way to go!

  6. Slightly off-topic – I’ve been using CBD oil for one of my cats who is anxious and experiencing, as they say, “inappropriate elimination.”

    2 weeks and all is well! We have a local shop here in Michigan which sells it and has a line specifically for animals.

  7. Can we stop demonizing one molecule and claiming that one is necessarily better than the other (especially in print advertising)?

    THC?CBD?CBN?CBG – the list goes on and on. They can support a healthy lifestyle, but they won’t cure the common cold. My doctor recommends zinc for that.

    Why is accessing non-GMO certified hemp products so fking difficult on this continent?

    I could name 100s of studies that say tomatoes are psychoactive (or that they’re not), and it still wouldn’t matter because people still drive their damned death machines (aka semi-robotic vehicles) everywhere and then blame the lack of access to jeans as an excuse for not walking.

    Anyway; si vous voulez du chanvre édible, la Manitoba Harvest est la meilleure aux dernière nouvelles; mais est-ce certifié biologique? WHO CARES I’LL EAT IT ANYWAY! GROKKIN’ AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE!