Still, as the saying goes, absence of evidence isn’t necessarily evidence of absence, and there’s a reason we don’t have a ton of solid research on CBDs yet — “to study it, we need a good source, ” said Ziva Cooper, who is an associate professor at Columbia University and was on the National Academies committee. CBD is hard to get because it’s still technically a Schedule I drug, which limits its availability, Cooper said.
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Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is one of over 60+ naturally occurring cannabinoid compounds found in Cannabis, an annual herbaceous flowering plant. CBD oil is derived from an organic substance formed in the plant’s secretions. Both marijuana and hemp are forms of cannabis. However, cannabis does not mean marijuana. Cannabis is the genus name and general umbrella term, under which all forms of marijuana and hemp fall. Until recently, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, was the most well-known and studied cannabinoid due to its abundance in marijuana. However, as the second most prevalent cannabinoid in marijuana and the top non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in hemp, CBD has been gaining momentum in the scientific community and media.
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Various strains of "medical marijuana" are found to have a significant variation in the ratios of CBD-to-THC, and are known to contain other non-psychotropic cannabinoids. Any psychoactive marijuana, regardless of its CBD content, is derived from the flower (or bud) of the genus Cannabis. Non-psychoactive hemp (also commonly-termed industrial hemp), regardless of its CBD content, is any part of the cannabis plant, whether growing or not, containing a ∆-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of no more than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) on a dry weight basis. Certain standards are required for legal growing, cultivating and producing the hemp plant. The Colorado Industrial Hemp Program registers growers of industrial hemp and samples crops to verify that the THC concentration does not exceed 0.3% on a dry weight basis.
Food and beverage products containing CBD were introduced in the United States in 2017. Similar to energy drinks and protein bars which may contain vitamin or herbal additives, food and beverage items can be infused with CBD as an alternative means of ingesting the substance. In the United States, numerous products are marketed as containing CBD, but in reality contain little or none. Some companies marketing CBD-infused food products with claims that are similar to the effects of prescription drugs have received warning letters from the Food and Drug Administration for making unsubstantiated health claims.
Cannabis has been used for centuries to treat nerves and anxiety, as well as other mood problems. CBD may help to improve both depression and anxiety, at least in part through its interactions with serotonin receptors in the brain. Research shows that CBD can reduce both mental and physical symptoms of anxiety. A study of CBD given to people before a public-speaking event indicates that CBD can help reduce stress—this and other research has shown that CBD can be an effective treatment for social anxiety.
CBD oil products can be somewhat expensive, which may be a barrier for individuals seeking treatment or relief from different conditions and disorders. cbdMD is a notable exception as far as price-point is concerned. cbdMD offers it’s premium, non-THC oils at a large variety of concentrations (300mg-5,00mg) as well as sizes (30mL and 60mL) . These oils are priced at $28 for 300mg oils and $90 for 1,500mg oils; both price-points are significantly below average.
CBD interacts with the body through the endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) or endocannabinoid system. First discovered in the late 1980’s, the endocannabinoid system regulates the body’s homeostasis, or general state of balance, impacting such functions as mood, sleep, appetite, hormone regulation, and pain and immune response. Like an acrobat on a highwire, as the environment around us impacts our normal balance, the endocannabinoid system “corrects” by mediating our body’s reaction to keep us level.
Let’s start by looking at THC. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound found in cannabis with psychotropic properties. Medical marijuana companies breed their plants to have the highest concentrations of this compound. It is associated with the feeling of being high that marijuana smokers experience. Effects include feelings of euphoria, pain relief and sometimes increased anxiety and paranoia.
CBD E-Liquid/Vape Cartridges: Vaping is excellent for people looking for an immediate response, as inhalation is the fastest way to deliver CBDs to your brain and body. To use vape simply exhale gently the air from your lungs then inhale through the mouthpiece slowly for 3 seconds. Then fill your lungs the rest of the way with additional breath and hold for a few seconds, exhaling when ready. There are pre-filled, cost-effective vape pens and cartridges available as well as more expensive vaporizers that you can refill with CBD-infused e-liquid.
If you’d rather try CBD at home before sipping in the wild, head to your local dispensary. Many carry CBD teas, oils, tinctures and tonics, and their knowledgeable staff can help you choose quality products and answer any questions you have. Fifteen milligrams is usually the best dose to start with, and you can increase or decrease from there depending on how you feel. If you’d like to mix up a cocktail, I’d recommend picking up a tincture (Lord Jones and Cordial Organics are two of many brands that make them), with added flavors like orange oil, and experimenting with integrating it into classic combinations. Try a simple gin and tonic, a margarita or even a mint julep. If you’re not afraid of egg whites in your cocktail (which you shouldn’t be, because it’s delicious), you can make some really impressive-looking drinks with a few drops of CBD oil on the top.
Other studies have been done in lab animals, or in vitro (meaning in a test tube, using animal brain tissue). Those studies have found anxiety-reducing effects but only at midlevel dosages, in the range of 10 to 20 mg per kg. As an example, one study found that CBD can, in rats, be an effective anti-inflammatory painkiller — at 20 mg per kg. It’s not a direct translation, but that dosage would be somewhere in the range of several hundred milligrams for an adult human.
Across all strains, Cannabis sativa L. plants contain 120 identified terpene compounds. These terpenes exist within the resin found on hemp or marijuana flowers. The scent produced by the terpenes helps to determine the quality of each particular cannabis plant strain. It also influences taste, feel, and other senses affected by interaction with the plant or its by-products.
Some manufacturers ship CBD products nationally, an illegal action which the FDA has not enforced in 2018, with CBD remaining as the subject of an FDA investigational new drug evaluation and is not considered legal as a dietary supplement or food ingredient as of November 2018. CBD is openly sold in head shops and health food stores in some states where such sales have not been explicitly legalized.
The drug warrior’s strategic retreat: Give ground on CBD while continuing to demonize THC. Diehard marijuana prohibitionists are exploiting the good news about CBD to further stigmatize high-THC cannabis, casting tetrahydrocannabinol as the bad cannabinoid, whereas CBD is framed as the good cannabinoid. Why? Because CBD doesn’t make you high like THC does.
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“CBD inhibits the cytochrome P450 enzymes that break down important psychiatric drugs,” says Blessing. CBD isn’t the only substance that messes with the body’s ability to metabolize these drugs — both St. John’s wort and the humble grapefruit are unfriendly — but CBD is comparatively poorly studied. The way CBD inhibits those enzymes could dramatically raise the levels of SSRIs or opioids in the system, potentially leading to an overdose.
In the meantime, some physicians are forging ahead — and cashing in. Joe Cohen is a doctor at Holos Health, a medical marijuana clinic in Boulder. I asked him what CBD is good for, and he read me a long list of conditions: pain, inflammation, nausea, vomiting, intestinal cramping, anxiety, psychosis, muscle spasms, hyperactive immune systems, nervous system degeneration, elevated blood sugar and more. He also claimed that CBD has anti-cancer properties and can regenerate brain cells and reduce the brain’s levels of amyloid beta — a kind of protein that’s been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. I asked for references, noting that most of these weren’t listed in the Academies report or a similar review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “I think you just have to Google search it,” he said. It’s true that a preliminary study found hints that cannabinoids might reduce beta amyloid proteins in human brain cells, but the study was done in cells grown in a lab, not in people. As for cancer, the FDA sent warning letters last year to four companies that were selling products that claimed to “prevent, diagnose, treat or cure” cancer.
The only study that has tested the bioavailability of inhaled CBD is from 2014; it found a bioavailability of about 25 percent for 100 mg and 200 mg doses of CBD using a Volcano vaporizer. (The topical lotions are even less studied; there have been no clinical trials on them at all.) This is more efficient than ingesting CBD, in the same way that vaporizing THC is more efficient than eating it. To get an effect, you should ingest a different amount of CBD than you’d inhale ... but how much is that? How much is too much?