CBD- What do we know?

Image Source: fda.gov

CBD or cannabidiol, is the second most common active ingredient in cannabis. CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana that is derived directly from the hemp plant; a cousin of marijuana. CBD does not cause a “high” by itself.  According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), “In humans, CBD exhibits no effect indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD”.

CBD is obtainable in most states, although its exact legal status is still in progress. All 50 states across the country have laws legalizing CBD with various degrees of restrictions. Back in December 2015, the FDA softened the requirements for researchers to conduct trials on CBD. In 2018, the Farm Bill legalized hemp in the United States, making it impossible to keep CBD illegal. The Farm bill has removed all hemp-derived products, including CBD, from the Controlled Substances Act.  The Controlled Substances Act criminalizes the possession of drugs. Therefore, this means that CBD is legal if derived from hemp but not from cannabis, even though it is from the same molecule. Many people can obtain CBD by shopping online without a medical marijuana card which is now legal in most of the 50 states.

CBD has been publicized for a variety of health issues. The scientific evidence shows the effectives in treating some of the most brutal childhood epilepsy syndromes such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). These syndromes do not typically respond to anti seizure medications. In various studies, CBD helped to reduce the amount of seizures, and, in some cases, even stopped them from occurring. Epidiolex, a cannabis-derived medicine containing CBD, is the first to be approved by the FDA for these medical conditions.

Studies in animals, self-reports and/or research in humans suggests CBD may also help with anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain,  and addiction. Human studies suggest that CBD may help with falling asleep and staying asleep, help control pain, and can help lower the craving for tobacco and cocaine under certain conditions. Animal models of addictions suggest that it may also help lower the craving for alcohol, cannabis, opiates and stimulants.

CBD has a few side effects that include nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the level of blood thinning and other medicines in your blood by competing with the liver enzymes that break down these drugs. Grapefruit, has a similar effect. Those taking higher doses of CBD may show abnormalities in blood tests related to their liver. Non-prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen ( Tylenol) can have this same effect. It is best to speak with your doctor and let them know you are using CBD regularly.

An important safety concern surrounding CBD is how it is often marketed and sold as a supplement rather than a medication. As of now, the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements. In addition, you cannot always be sure the products you are purchasing have active ingredients as the dose listed on the label. The product may contain unknown elements. We also are unaware of the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.

CBD comes in many forms such as oil, extract, capsules, patches, vapes and topical ointments for skin.  To reduce inflammation and reduce muscle and joint pain, a topical CBD-infused oil, lotion and or cream may be best. Alternatively, a patch, tincture, or spray designed for under the tongue allows CBD to directly enter the bloodstream.

The bottom line is that some CBD manufacturers have come under review with the government for indefensible claims, that CBD is a cure-all for cancer, which it is not. We need more research but CBD may prove to be a helpful way for managing anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain. When trying CBD, always make sure to purchase from a reputable source and speak with your Doctor to confirm it will not have any affects with other medications you may take.


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