“Storage almost full,” my iphone nagged repeatedly, yet with back-to-back dance recitals and a school band concert, I could not be bothered.
I deleted a few apps – fortunately there’s always a surplus of those – and was back in business, high on the contagious pride overflowing from my girl’s every smile.
Exactly one year ago this week, also nearing 100% capacity was my daughter’s social calendar. She was at the top of her game. Happy and loving life!
Every ounce of joy bore enormous gratitude that we were beyond the hard days spent treating autism and PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome).
Until one fateful instant when everything came to a halt and her PANS was triggered again.
She regressed before our eyes. From that moment, my phone instead began to fill with videos of neurological tics, oversized pupils, loud vocalizations and heartbreaking OCD behaviors.
The summer was wrought with panic, fear and countless medical appointments.
After what felt like endless searching, a positive DNA Connexions test revealed Lyme and Bartonella as additional culprits.
Our year’s been filled with research and supplements and treatments.
But her daily pain, anxiety, rigidity, OCD and other symptoms caused by brain inflammation still needed improvement.
To be comfortable around friends again, to live more moments like the ones in my camera roll, we needed more wins.
CBD Oil quiets the storm
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a major non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. When derived within certain parameters, it’s legal in every State and it’s popularity as a treatment for anxiety and pain relief has increased widely in the past several years. By now, it seems almost everyone with these conditions has at least considered CBD as a treatment option.
Near the onset of my daughter’s PANS flare, we tried one popular brand of CBD oil but didn’t notice it helping. Regrettably, I didn’t investigate enough to realize that different brands / strains can produce very different results.
Only recently did I learn how to determine what she needed, how to effectively use it, and how extraction methods and terpene profiles make all the difference.
In this post, I will provide links to the information I found most helpful, share what we’re using, how we’re dosing, and the very remarkable results we’ve seen!
Whether you’re new to using CBD or new to experimenting with using additional terpenes to increase effectiveness, I hope to provide beneficial information.
Please skip to a section that matches your experience level or interests and know that all of the clickable links have been thoughtfully chosen as articles I found very helpful.
The Benefits of CBD
For anyone new to CBD, it’s not to be confused with medical marijuana. It contains trace (<0.3%) or no THC (the component delivering psychoactive effects), making CBD ideal for people seeking benefits of the plant without feeling high.
To learn more about the basics including how our endocannabinoid system is interconnected with our nervous and immune systems and how CBD can bring far-reaching soothing & relaxing effects, please read: CBD Information – The Ultimate Cannabidiol Information Guide.
The above guide contains answers to each of the following topics:
- What is CBD / Cannabidiol?
- CBD vs THC: What is the Difference?
- What is Cannabidiol’s Legal Status?
- How Does CBD Work?
- Hemp vs Marijuana: What’s the Difference?
- What’s the Difference Between CBD Oil from Medical Marijuana and CBD Oil from Industrial Hemp Oil?
Who may want to consider CBD?
A large body of scientific research has shown CBD to help alleviate the following conditions and more:
Anxiety • Epilepsy/Seizures • Neurological Disorders • Stroke Rehabilitation • PTSD • Pain • Inflammation • Insomnia • Colitis • High Blood Pressure • Liver Injury
The quantity of studies is so vast, it’s overwhelming! To see a compilation of results from select studies published in 2017, see this Illustrated CBD Research Roundup / Infographic.
You can also google CBD + just about any symptom, to find even more information.
One scientifically documented case report which I found helpful because it detailed specific observations and dosage amounts for a 10-year-old girl is: Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
One especially hard day, after my daughter was awake most of the night and I was out of options to calm her, I decided to try 5 mg of CW Everyday CBD Oil under her tongue. Shockingly, her incessant obsessive thoughts stopped almost immediately and her mind was quiet!
It lasted for 3 hours, and then they came back. I gave more and continued to use it for the next week. I noticed however that she was also less present, had more brain fog, and something wasn’t quite right.
I asked other parents and her doctor for a different recommended brand and after quite a bit of research, selected Harmony (Palmetto Harmony). I’ll explain more about the decision process below.
When it arrived, I hurriedly opened the package and noticed within minutes that even at the same dose (5mg), it was different. She was calm, but also happier, in less pain, and more present. It was a MUCH better fit for her needs.
The reasons two brands of CBD Oil, when given at the exact same strength, produced such different results are extremely important for anyone considering what to purchase.
How to Select a Brand of CBD products
There are several criteria that can significantly influence the effectiveness of a brand:
Growing Methods – An organic certification is the only way to ensure the products are free of residual agricultural toxins: pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, GMOs, mold, and synthetic fertilizers/soil additives.
Each company should provide you with a verification report such as this one: PH Batch 1007 Labs
No added ingredients or fillers – This one goes without saying and yet, needs to be said because of the many companies that produce inferior / diluted products. The ingredients should be CBD extract and one carrier oil (MCT, Safflower, Grape Seed, Hemp etc..) which is purely a matter of personal preference.
Extraction Methods – When concentrating the CBD to make it useable, differences in extraction methods can greatly affect the end product and it’s potency.
Some methods use “butane, alcohol / ethanol, or carbon dioxide (CO2) to extract the cannabinoids from the plant. Unfortunately, this can leave behind residual solvents that can affect quality. Consequently, several manufacturers are now using a solventless extraction process instead.”
– A Guide to Extraction Techniques further explains the different methods and credits solventless as the most enjoyable, highest quality, and most unadulterated form of cannabis extracts, preserving the most terpenes.
Strains & Terpenes – Each plant variety and strain have unique terpene profiles that are CRITICAL to the effectiveness of the product.
The most common strains are sativa, indica, and hybrid. The important thing to know is that it’s the specific terpenes in each that cause the plants to perform in a specific way.
- Terpenes are the essential oils of plants, responsible for it’s healing qualities. For example, a major terpene in lavender is linalool, if you remove it, no healing benefits remain.
- Terpenes, like cannabinoids, bind to receptors in your brain and produce certain effects. Terpenes work in tandem to either inhibit or activate the effects of other compounds within the plant.
- Terpenes also give plants their flavors. A common question asked in our group is, “Which CBD product has the least taste?” The answer is easy — CBD isolates have no taste at all. They are stripped of all terpenes and flavinoids.
- You can use a CBD isolate, but before you do, I recommend reading The Real Connection Between Terpenes and Essential Oils, and Terpenes 101 to better understand the critical importance of terpenes in CBD.
With the right terpenes, CBD does not merely outwardly improve symptoms, it will also effectively treat many underlying causes.
For a more in depth review, the neurologist Ethan Russo, M.D., details how terpenes and cannabis compounds influence each other’s mechanisms in his study, Taming THC: Potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects.
Dr. Russo found that even small amounts of terpenes, when combined differently can have an entourage effect and produce unique results.
Further in this article, I will explain how to determine which terpenes are present in your CBD products and also how to add terpenes to make them perfectly suited to the symptoms you need to heal.
General Dosing Guide
Once you’ve decided to try CBD and selected a brand, the next questions are often:
- Which type of product should I try… Vape, Liquid/Tincture, Capsules, Creams?
- How much should I take and how often?
The below information may help answer those questions.
Tinctures: Many people notice effects from tinctures within a few minutes. It’s advised to hold the oil under your tongue for up to one minute to maximize absorption.
To determine precisely how many drops to give to reach your desired dose, you can use this CBD Oil Drops Dosage Calculator.
Starting at half of full suggested dose and increasing until obtaining desired results is what worked best for us.
Caveat: I’ve read that low doses of CBD can be excitatory and high doses are more sedating. For this reason, starting low may not work for some people. If a low dose causes hyperactivity, increasing the dose, while counterintuitive, may actually help. – For more on this advice and a vast amount of other helpful info, you may want to join the Whole Plant Access for Autism Facebook Group.
Vaping: The fastest acting delivery method, well suited for neurological and neuro-inflammation issues. Vape products penetrate the blood brain barrier in several seconds.
Vaping requires CBD vape oil (different than the oil used for tinctures). More info and our product recommendations below. You must be 18 or older to purchase vape products, but the law does not regulate age for their use.
Topical Application: Most effective for localized skin conditions or pain relief only, unless you’re using specially designed transdermal patches to maximize absorption.
Top CBD Delivery Methods has more in-depth information information about delivery choices.
It’s sometimes advised to use CBD two hours away from medications, but some say that because it can increase the amount of a drug in your bloodstream, if taken with certain supplements or medicines CBD it will allow for lower doses, which could be beneficial.
Please see, What Pharmaceutical Drugs Can Interfere with CBD for much more information.
The Brands and Products we’ve had most success with
Note: None of these companies are sponsors, they are simply quality brands I came across in my research and they have delivered excellent results for us.
1. Harmony – CBD Oil, Vape Pen, Topical creams
Factors that influenced our choice:
- Organically grown in the USA – Report here: PH Batch 1007 Labs
- Solventless extraction
- Trusted brand among many parents and recommended by her physician
- Transparency – on their Facebook page you can find pictures of their facility and growing area
- Rich and diverse terpene profile (ppm): B-Caryohyllene (30), Myrcene (25), Limonene (12), Linalool (8), A-pinene (7), Humulene (6), Nerolidol-trans (5), A-bisabolol (4), B-pinene (3), Guaiol (2) (See report above for details) For Caroline, this blend provides an excellent combination of calming and focus.
Note: The coupon code: ph10off will give you 10% off all products at palmettoharmony.com
Reasons why we also like their vape pen (for over 18 years old):
- Very small and easy to carry
- Ceramic heating coils
- No buttons to press, always on
- Foolproof – if you can use a vitamin vape pen or a straw, you can use it
From their website:
2. Flower Child – CBD PM Blend, Salve
Terpene Profile (ppm): B-Caryohyllene (20), A-Humulene (6), Terpinolene (4), B-Myrcene (2).
Note: The Flower Child products are more herbal tasting than Palmetto Harmony, likely due to their different terpenes and extraction methods.
The coupon code: ref5858908 will take $10 off any order + free shipping at flowerchildcbd.com
This CBD blend also contains chamomile and lavender which can help with relaxation and sleep.
We use it at night because the pinene and limonene in Palmetto Harmony are stimulating and although they’re exactly what she needs for focus / attention during the day, they aren’t needed before bed (more on this below).
Notes: This oil is half the strength as Palmetto Harmony, so you’d need to use twice as much.
3. True Terpenes
True Terpenes sells organic, steam-distilled terpenes from natural plant sources (not cannabis) from around the world.
If desired, you can add terpenes alongside your quality CBD oil to even more effectively target and heal certain conditions.
Note: This is a step to consider AFTER you are up & running with using a good brand of CBD oil. If you haven’t yet started CBD, you may want to skim and focus only on step 1 below – to determine what terpenes are in your oil.
As an example, one of their strain profiles is OG Kush: “A hybrid strain with a distinctive earthy, pine, woody aroma. Effects: Attention, motivation, drive, and improved focus.”
The next several sections of this blog post will discuss why you may want to add terpenes, how to select them and how to mix / use.
5 Easy Steps to use Terpenes to Supercharge your CBD Oil
Because the role of terpenes in plants is to fight unwanted invaders & pathogens and protect the plants, in the same way, they can help our bodies heal. We simply need to match the proper terpenes to our symptoms.
“Cannabinoids are jet engines, required for getting off the ground and staying in flight, while terpenes are the rudders on the wings, used for controlling where the craft will fly and how comfortable the experience will be.” (R)
1. Determine which terpenes are already in your CBD oil
You can contact the company and they should provide you with a report that looks something like this: (this report is from Palmetto Harmony)
If you’re familiar with medical marijuana, you know the terpene profile is often listed on the package and it’s very well known which strains produce certain results. Similar to CBD isolates, THC isolated from it’s terpenes is not as effective. [THC is out, Terpenes are in]
Several cannabis strains containing high levels of specific terpenes are listed in this chart:
For CBD products, the terpene profiles are no less important, but they’re not yet commonly discussed.
People tend to know that brands work differently, but there are not yet any established guides that give information such as, “If you want to treat asthma, try ‘XYZ’ CBD oil brand because their strains have ‘ABC’ terpenes.”
Further, there are certain terpenes that aren’t found in plants grown for low THC content. For this reason, adding them from alternate sources is very useful.
Terpines can be sourced from many plants and according to True Terpenes, “The molecules themselves are identical no matter what plant they come from.” (R)
Adding terpenes to CBD oil is as easy as using essential oils. A few drops are all you need to customize and amplify the healing properties.
2. Decide if you want to add an entire strain profile or simply individually selected terpenes
Depending on which terpenes your oil contains (as listed on the report) and which symptoms you want to treat, you may want to either add an individual terpene or two, or an entire pre-blended strain.
To decide, it’s helpful to:
- Review Strain Profiles to see if any match your desired effects.
- Review Individual Isolates that are recommended for the following categories:
More information about select individual isolate terpenes (also click on names for links):
Alpha – Bisabolol – HEALING
- Scent/Flavor: fresh, clean aroma, citrus and floral notes
- Effects: Antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, calming, antioxidant
- Conditions: Wound healing, pain relief, neuroprotection, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s
Carophyllene (alpha & beta) – HEALING
- Scent/Flavor: Spicy, sweet, clove, peppery
- Effects: Anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antimicrobial, antifungal, gastro-protective
- Conditions: Chronic pain, inflammation, infections, GI disorders, depression
Eucalyptol / Cineole – STIMULATING
- Scent/Flavor: Minty, spicy
- Effects: Brain stimulation, memory, reduces oxidative stress, uplifting
- Conditions: Neurological deficiencies, Alzheimers, Autism
Humulene – PAIN RELIEVING
- Scent/Flavor: earthy, woody, spicy
- Effects: reduces inflammation, relieves pain, antimicrobial, anti-cancer
- Conditions: Chronic Pain, Cancer
Limonene – ENERGIZING
- Scent/Flavor: Citrus, rosemary, juniper, peppermint
- Effects: Improves mood, anti-anxiety, antibacterial, antifungal, immune booster
- Conditions: Infection, anxiety, depression, cancer
Linolool – RELAXING
- Scent/Flavor: Floral, citrus, candied spice
- Effects: Anti-anxiety, sedative (one of the main terpenes for anxiety / sleep)
- Conditions: Anxiety, depression, seizures, insomnia
Myrcene – RELAXING
- Scent/Flavor: Clove, citrus, mango, mint, hops
- Effects: Antimicrobial, antiseptic, analgesic antioxidant, anti-carcinogen, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxing, increases GABA activity
- Conditions: Infection, heart conditions, depression, muscle and joint issues, insomnia
Nerolidol – CALMING
- Scent/Flavor: Floral, rose, apple, and citrus
- Effects: Sedative, skin healing, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, antioxidant, antifungal, antimicrobial
- Conditions: Insomnia, infections
Pinene (alpha & beta) – STIMULATING
- Scent/Flavor: Pine needles, rosemary, dill, parsley, basil, hops
- Effects: Mental focus, improved alertness, bronchodilator, topical antiseptic, increases GABA activity
- Conditions: Neurological issues including ADHD, Asthma
Pulegone – NEURO-PROTECTING
- Scent/Flavor: Mint, rosemary, candy
- Effects: Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, memory enhancement
- Conditions: Alzheimer’s, Autism, stress reduction
- Scent/Flavor: Floral, lilac, citrus, apple, orange, lime
- Effects: Sedative, antibacterial, antiviral, increases GABA activity
- Conditions: Insomnia, anxiety, stress
To learn more about any of the terpenes, please click on their names above and also see, 15 Cannabis Terpenes Explained for more information, scientific reviews and a helpful visual guide.
Anther useful general reference is the below chart. The colors correspond loosely to scents / flavors: SPICY – WOODY – FRUITY – HERBAL – REFRESHING – FLORAL.
3. Consider additional condition-specific terpene research
You can find articles on almost any ailment by searching “terpenes” and “your condition.”
As an example, I selected insomnia and sleep… a common struggle for our kids.
I found many articles, including these two excellent resources:
- Sedative and Anxiolytic Effects of Cannabis Terpenes – GABA / Glutamate Focus (because increasing GABA and reducing glutamate is extremely important for sleep)
- Terpenes for Insomnia
Linalool (from lavender) along with Myrcene and Terpineol are commonly known as the most sedative terpenes. Pinene is not sedative (so I don’t use that at night), but it would be useful during the day for a child who has excito-toxicity from excess glutamate.
Custom sleep blend example:
- Flower Child 350 CBD PM Oil – Dose: 1 full dropper
- Terpinol, Linalool & Myrcene – 1 drop each in 3 full droppers sunflower oil (see image below) – Dose: approx 10 drops.
Given approx 1 hour before bedtime, and more at bedtime if needed.
4. Mix It Up
When you’re trying new terpenes, you don’t want to make too much of any one blend until you know how it will perform. I created this simple illustration to show how to make the minimum quantity.
Note: You can mix terpenes directly into 3 mL of your CBD oil, but I prefer to use organic sunflower oil (or similar). Giving the terpenes separately / alongside the CBD helps with adjusting the the dosage while maintaining a consistent CBD dose.
Observe, take notes and create new blends based on the results. It’s empowering to take charge and add even greater capabilities to the amazing healing benefits that quality CBD oil delivers.
If your child (or you!) would also like additional specific flavors, True Blue Terpenes sells over 35 very tempting sounding flavor drops. We find that a few drops of the Limonene terpene also works very well to mask CBD oil flavor if needed.
Filled with hope for the future
We’ve only been using CBD oil for one month and already my daughter’s anxiety and inflammation have decreased more than with any other supplements, medicines or treatments (for PANS or Lyme) in the past year. Every day, she continues to steadily improve.
Her obsessions are decidedly less. She’s happier, less stressed and her neurological issues caused by brain inflammation appear much more seldom.
Along with settling of the frantic pace of her racing mind, she’s more aware, engaged, and her body is calm.
Also before CBD, she was clearly in pain. She wouldn’t talk about it much, but her dilated pupils, eye pain, headaches and body aches were everyday occurrences. Now, all of those things are simply gone.
CBD oil has definitely been a “win” we needed and without it, I wouldn’t feel as confident that once again, we will be ok.
The triumphs filling my phone aren’t yet grandscale, but they don’t need to be.
The simple moments have become huge to us.
Hugging her music teacher who she was too anxious to see months ago, reading books again because her head doesn’t hurt, and sharing genuine smiles like we simply didn’t see before CBD oil are now more than enough.
Today, as we sat together glancing through photos from vacations and happy times in the past, the light in her eyes once again shown bright. She was engaged, interested, and in that moment, I realized my bittersweet lament has finally been replaced with hope, so very much hope!