You’ve probably heard of CBD or even driven past a CBD shop in your city. It’s popping up everywhere lately; the growth of the CBD industry has continued to rise, and a recent study shows the CBD industry could reach $20 billion by 2024. CBD is the talk of the town these days, but a lot of people really don’t know the facts about it. Some people think it’s like marijuana or that it gets you high. Others think it’s a “snake oil” scheme, designed to sell novelty lotions, while others tout its health benefits in the name of holistic healthcare.
So, what’s the deal with CBD?
CBD in the Healthcare Industry
Let’s start with the basic science of cannabis:
Marijuana: A plant! It gets you high.
Hemp: Also, a plant! It does not get you high.
Marijuana and hemp are essentially cannabis plant siblings, but they have different levels of naturally occurring chemical compounds. That means marijuana gets you high, because it contains a lot of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
THC: A naturally occurring chemical compound in cannabis plants that gets you high.
CBD: Also known as cannabidiol. A naturally occurring compound in cannabis plants. CBD can be extracted from both marijuana and hemp plants, but it’s not a compound that gets you high.
When CBD hit the legal market, brands and consumers were slow to catch on, thinking CBD was some sort of “snake oil” method to holistic healthcare. There was also the murky (and still murky) legal gray area of CBD. Now, large companies want to get their hands in the CBD biz.
Some quick math can explain why suppliers are jumping on the CBD bandwagon:
Farmers and suppliers can grow up to 4,000 hemp plants in one acre alone, and a single hemp plant can make about 1.1 pounds of plant matter for CBD extraction. The CBD extracted from these plants can make around 350 bottles of CBD lotion, containing about 200 milligrams of CBD compound.
That means one acre of hemp can make about 1.4 million bottles of CBD lotion. It’s no wonder they’re calling this industry the “CBD green rush.”
Here are some quick facts to squash the most common CBD misconceptions:
→ CBD doesn’t get you high.
THC is the cannabinoid in cannabis that gets you high. CBD will not make you high. While both THC and CBD are cannabinoids, THC is a psycho-active compound that creates a “high” associated with marijuana, while CBD has a completely different effect on the body.
→ CBD legalization is 50/50.
Well, maybe not exactly 50/50, but the legality of CBD across the country is a bit fuzzy. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and hemp-derived products at the federal level. Per section 10113 of the Farm Bill, hemp cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC by weight. Regarding the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), CBD oil from hemp is no longer a Schedule 1 controlled-substance, or drug.
But that doesn’t mean all is well in hempville. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has not legalized CBD for sale as a supplement. They have stated that they need more information on CBD and time to weigh the options on production regulation, distribution, dosage, labeling, as well as other recommendations.
→ CBD oil and hemp oil are not the same thing.
CBD oil is an oil that contains cannabidiol. First, the CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant and then combined with a base oil, like coconut oil, olive oil, or MCT oil to make the final product.
Hemp oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant and should not contain any CBD, or any other cannabinoids for that matter. Hemp oil is associated with its own list of health benefits.
CBD HEALTH BENEFITS
There is constant research happening around claimed CBD health benefits. In fact, the FDA approved the first ever cannabis-derived medicine, Epidiolex, which treats childhood epilepsy syndromes, like Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome, which both don’t normally respond to antiseizure meds. Clinical trials have shown that epileptic children who take low doses of a pharmaceutical grade CBD daily experienced a large reduction in their seizures.
Current research shows that CBD helps with a variety of other health problems, too, including chronic and acute pain, inflammation, autoimmune disorders, anxiety, diabetes, cancer symptoms, substance abuse, and others.
Pain relief through CBD
CBD helps relieve pain by reducing inflammation and chronic pain through endocannabinoids. One study found that 74% of multiple sclerosis patients reported lowered pain after they were treated with Sativex, a THC and CBD prescription oral spray. Another study from the European Journal of Pain showed that arthritic pain and inflammation could be reduced with a topical CBD product applied to the skin. In some treatment scenarios, patients have been known to discontinue opioid-based pain relief options in favor of CBD in order to manage chronic pain. Additionally, autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and celiac, affect the body’s ability to fight inflammation. Because of the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD, there has been help for patients to reduce swelling and inflammation, providing not only pain relief but prevent disease-causing inflammation.
Reducing anxiety with CBD
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. Anxiety affects 40 million people age 18 and older each year. This is a huge problem to deal with, so it’s no wonder people are looking for answers and options, especially with something groundbreaking like CBD treatment. CBD helps reduce anxiety by communicating through the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter in the brain, sending messages to brain cells, halting anxiety. Clinical trials have found evidence that CBD can treat panic disorder, OCD, PTSD, and generalized anxiety disorder when CBD is administered correctly.
CBD and diabetes prevention
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 9.4% of Americans suffer from diabetes. In a recent study, nondiabetic mice treated with CBD showed a reduction in the occurrence of diabetes—from 86% to 30%.
Relief from cancer symptoms using CBD
Chemotherapy can help battle cancer, but what is helping chemotherapy patients battle the unpleasant side effects of this treatment? The side effects of chemo include nausea, vomiting, gut issues like constipation and diarrhea, as well as a weakened immune system and bruising more easily. While more studies need to be conducted, there’s a lot of evidence that suggest CBD as a complementary therapy in cancer treatment. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has found that CBD can treat side effects of cancer, like pain and nausea. It works the same way as treating other chronic pain by reducing inflammation. Furthermore, studies of THC and CBD have shown that combining these cannabinoids can slow the growth of certain cancer cells in animals.
Substance abuse treatment with CBD
Those who are addicted to drugs have a compulsive need to use and are not able to control the amount they’re using. Multiple studies have suggested that CBD could contain therapeutic properties to help treat psychostimulant addition, as well as opioid and cocaine addiction.
The road to treatment with CBD is exciting and full of possibilities. Additional research and studies are needed to keep the ball rolling on this being a potential treatment for a variety of ailments and illnesses.
IS CBD SAFE?
Overall, CBD is safe and non-habit forming. Even though the FDA has not made any formalized statement regarding the safety of CBD, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that CBD is safe for consumption, in its pure form, and have provided data to back it up.
But let’s talk about “pure form CBD” for a second. There’s a difference between CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD. CBD isolate is a term used to describe a 99% pure form crystalline powder. During the extraction and purification processes, all plant matter (chlorophyll, oil, wax, etc) is removed. As a result, it’s one of the most potent forms of CBD. The main advantage of pure CBD isolate is that it doesn’t contain any measurable amounts of THC, so those looking for the health benefits of CBD without the THC “high” can use this effectively.
Full spectrum CBD contains more than just CBD. Also called “whole plant CBD” additional compounds are included, such as other cannabinoids, chlorophyll, phytonutrients, and terpenes. CBD advocates say that combining these together, full spectrum CBD can be a highly powerful treatment for a variety of medical issues, because these elements include protein, vitamins, fiber, and fatty acids. This bundling is known as the "entourage effect" is known by researchers to be more effective than CBD isolate treatments, in respect to full spectrum oil research.
DO CBD PRODUCTS CONTAIN THC?
Well, the short answer to the CBD/THC standoff is… sure it can. But the long answer of “how” this happens is a much more complicated detail:
A hemp crop can turn into marijuana.
It’s not magically going to transform overnight or anything, but studies have shown that it’s possible for a hemp crop to reproduce and create THC plants. The male and female plant traits can mix, and the dormant genes can be activated. That’s the unexpected chaos of being a hemp grower… pollination.
All-female plants are easier to keep in a greenhouse, but outdoors is more difficult. Farmers need to be diligent about crop control to keep their hemp crop in check.
The extraction process can change the CBD or THC results.
The way CBD is removed from a hemp plant is to send the harvested plant to an extractor. But guess what… extracting CBD and extracting THC are pretty much the same method, so if the supplier doesn’t do this the right way, you could end up with an illegal dose of THC in your CBD end-product.
...This is why some people who use what they think are "CBD-only" products end up with a positive THC test result.
On a state-by-state basis, the CBD market standards fluctuate, and federal regulation is lax, leading to low-quality or tainted CBD products being sold. So if you aren’t getting your CBD from a supplier who uses pharmaceutical-grade extraction, who knows, there could be THC in your CBD product.
CBD is only one cannabinoid in at least 113 different isolated cannabinoids discovered. While it is one of the most highly researched cannabinoids (the others being THC and CBN), additional research is needed to understand the complex relationships between the many cannabinoids we have at our fingertips, and how CBD can further contribute value to the medical world.
It’s an undiscovered CBD world out there, and curiosity is forever increasing when it comes to new health frontiers. As CBD and cannabinoid regulation is further implemented, there will also be increasing interest in wielding the health properties of CBD. Healthcare professionals should be made aware, delve into the research and facts on CBD’s health management, and be prepared to answer questions to fully help their patients in this new healthcare territory.