CBD has exploded in popularity in the last decade or so, causing all sorts of speculation on the effects and benefits of marijuana's sister-drug.
From oils, to creams to vaping, CBD is everywhere nowadays. Companies claim that it can help treat or cure everything from psoriasis to cancer, but what’s the truth? What is it that this drug can actually do for you?
Professor of anatomy and neurobiology, Diele Piomelli said: “Maybe cannabis will be useful to some people, but it will be disappointing to most. Cannabis will not be a panacea. Nor will it be as dangerous as some people think.” CBD isn’t some cure-all, miracle drug, but its health benefits aren’t all fabricated. CBD can prove very useful in treating joint pain, arthritis, insomnia, and other conditions.
What is CBD?
Let’s start with the basics, what actually is CBD? CBD is derived from cannabis, the plant known most commonly as the source of marijuana. Marijuana contains compounds known as cannabinoids, the two most abundant of which are THC and CBD.
CBD is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis. It won’t cause you to feel stoned, but it can cause you to feel relaxed. If you take it in addition to smoking or taking THC, it can increase the high feeling.
CBD is extracted from cannabis and can then be made into an oil, cream, tincture, and a whole world of other great products. It can be taken orally, applied topically, smoked, or vaped.
The CBD products you can buy in stores aren’t FDA tested, approved, or regulated. This emphasizes the importance of your researching the product and the company that makes it thoroughly before consuming it.
CBD is also commonly referred to as hemp oil, cannabis oil, and cannabidiol. It comes in a variety of forms and dosages. For CBD to be sold in most states, it has to contain less than 0.3 percent THC.
If you scour the internet, you’ll find article after article claiming the miraculous medical benefits CBD has to offer. Unfortunately, a lot of these claims are just that: claims; they aren’t supported by actual fact.
During a National Academy of Medicine panel, Piomelli said: “We found conclusive evidence that cannabis can reduce nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy.”
She went on to say that there is “substantial” evidence that cannabis can help with multiple sclerosis by modestly reducing involuntary muscle spasms the disease causes and can help reduce chronic pain.
The other many benefits companies claim CBD can have may or may not be true. There are few studies available to prove or disprove these claims. Piomelli stated: “There are a lot of possibilities for CBD, but they require controlled clinical trials. The smoking gun isn’t there yet.”
Dr. Ryan Vandrey, associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, said: “People are throwing CBD at every condition under the sun at random doses and expecting it to work.”
Many people claim there are minimal to no risks to using CBD, but that’s not exactly accurate. CBD can actually affect the way your body metabolizes medications.
Vandrey commented: “We know that CBD can affect the metabolism of drugs, though the extent to which that happens is still not well understood.”
CBD can interfere or interact with medications your taking, including but not limited to statins to help lower cholesterol, antidepressants, and calcium channel blockers that are used to treat high blood pressure, among other conditions.
It’s highly recommended that you consult with a doctor or bare minimum a pharmacist before you start taking CBD. It’d be terrible if you started taking something that not only didn’t help you but also stopped your other medicines from working, giving you even less medical benefit from CBD.
CBD can also cause you to test positive for marijuana, as it does contain a tiny bit of THC. One hit of CBD oil likely won’t affect these tests, but prolonged use will. If your job requires you to submit to random drug screenings, you’re going to want to opt for one of the few brands that truly has zero percent THC.
If you choose to smoke or vape CBD, you introduce the additional risks of inhaling hot vapor or smoke to your lungs and body. Introducing high temperatures, butane, and other known carcinogens to your throat and lungs can increase your risk of developing cancer.
Without federal regulation, CBD dosage is typically left up to the patient. There’s little to no studies available indicating how much CBD a person should take, though it’s typically recommended to start small and increase your dosage as you feel necessary.
There are many contributing factors to how much CBD you should take or how frequently you should use products like lotions or balms which include but aren’t limited to weight, diet, other conditions, amount eaten at the point of consumption, etc.
If you have any questions about the correct dosage of CBD for you, consult with your regular physician or pharmacist.
While CBD has grown in popularity, it’s not necessarily the magical cure-all people are claiming it is. Until further testing is done and research conducted, many of the claimed benefits of CBD will remain unproven. Due to the new and largely unregulated nature of CBD, you have to do your research into the product, the company making, and the proper dosage for you to consume.
Many will find that the treatments they were looking for out of CBD doesn’t exist or are only caused by the placebo effect. However, that doesn’t mean that CBD is unuseful. CBD has been proven to help treat MS, epilepsy, and chronic pain.
Your take-away shouldn’t be to doubt all the healing powers of CBD, but to approach the drug with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Jamie Wilson is editor of The Weed Republic. Image: James St. John