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.
Federal law prohibits U.S. farmers from growing hemp as a commercial crop, but the sale of imported, low-THC, industrial hemp products is permitted in the United States as long as these products are derived from the seed or stalk of the plant, not from the leaves and flowers. Here’s the catch: Cannabidiol can’t be pressed or extracted from hempseed. CBD can be extracted from the flower, leaves, and, only to a very minor extent, from the stalk of the hemp plant. Hemp oil start-ups lack credibility when they say their CBD comes from hemp seed and stalk.
That lines up with one of the rare instances of FDA testing. In 2016, the FDA tested several “CBD oils,” ultimately issuing warnings to eight companies. Some of those oils were found to contain no or barely any CBD, and many contained illegal quantities of THC. For example, Healthy Hemp Oil’s “Herbal Renewals 25% CBD Hemp Oil Gold Label” contained 8.4 mg/g of THC. Sana Te Premium Oils, which sold 25 mg “CBD oil” capsules on Etsy, contained between 13 and 19 mg/g of THC and less than 0.1 mg/g of CBD.
As mentioned above, cannabis and hemp differ in the levels of naturally occurring THC that they contain. THC is a cannabinoid like CBD. However, its properties are very different and often antagonistic to the effects of CBD. Hemp is naturally high in CBD and low in THC; the reverse is true of cannabis. In fact, hemp contains only about 0.3% – 1.5% THC, while cannabis contains about 5% – 10% or more THC.
Carson, too, speculates that CBD might be able to reduce some of the jitteriness associated with caffeine intake, thus complementing it rather than canceling it out. “I can’t say I’ve spent much time in New York, but when I was thinking about talking to you, I got this vision in my head of a stereotypical taxi driver drinking a huge cup of coffee and being really alert but irritable,” he says. “And now if you add in a little CBD, they’re really alert but maybe a little more calm, and not as apt to honk the horn. I think that’s a potential area where there could be something good that comes from adding CBD to the coffee.”
West maintains that there are plenty of reasons someone would explore this combo. And she should know: She manufactures her own brand of CBD coffee. “I’d bet that at this point, many adults have heard about CBD in the news or have come across ads for CBD products, but they might not know exactly what it is or how to try it,” she says. “Coffee, on the other hand, is a part of so many people’s everyday lives. So coffee is actually a perfect, natural way for people to explore the potential benefits of CBD.”
Cannabidiol has been found to act as an antagonist of GPR55, a G protein-coupled receptor and putative cannabinoid receptor that is expressed in the caudate nucleus and putamen in the brain. It has also been found to act as an inverse agonist of GPR3, GPR6, and GPR12. Although currently classified as orphan receptors, these receptors are most closely related phylogenetically to the cannabinoid receptors. In addition to orphan receptors, CBD has been shown to act as a serotonin 5-HT1A receptor partial agonist, and this action may be involved in its antidepressant, anxiolytic, and neuroprotective effects. It is an allosteric modulator of the μ- and δ-opioid receptors as well. The pharmacological effects of CBD have additionally been attributed to PPARγ agonism and intracellular calcium release.
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CBD Oil, derived from agricultural hemp, has been widely recognized for its many benefits on human health. It has grown in popularity amongst the medical community as a key supplement for maintaining homeostasis. Because CBD oil has the ability to talk to nearly every organ system in the body via the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) this plant-based nutrient plays a key role in optimizing balance and enhancing quality of life.
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is a phyto-cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. However, it does not cause the same psychoactive effects as other naturally occurring cannabinoids (such as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC). CBD induces feelings of sleepiness and tranquility, making it suitable for insomnia and other sleep disorders; CBD can be used to alleviate symptoms of epilepsy, diabetes, and anxiety disorders, as well. Legality is an issue for some; all 50 states have laws governing the sale, possession, and use of CBD, and they vary significantly (see the table below for a full analysis).