Over the past several years, FDA has issued several warning letters to firms that market unapproved new drugs that allegedly contain cannabidiol (CBD). As part of these actions, FDA has tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products, and many were found to not contain the levels of CBD they claimed to contain. It is important to note that these products are not approved by FDA for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease. Consumers should beware purchasing and using any such products.
I want all those things. Inflammation can lead to aches, pains, and acne, and—yes, at the age of 47—I'd be happy to get rid of them. Given that my husband and son have nicknamed me Yelly Melly, I'm guessing I could also do with a deeper sense of calm. And I'm a busy working mom, so sure, I'll take better sleep!
There are numerous CBD oils and balms (and drink mixes and bath salts and dog treats), but I gravitated toward an oil by Beam for a couple of reasons: It's THC-free (I've learned that some companies don't filter out traces of THC—I'm not here to get stoned, people), and it's broad-spectrum, which means beneficial plant compounds, like terpenes and flavonoids, are left in the extract.
Better sleep, energy for workouts, and a compliment from my husband make it all worthwhile.
There are still plenty of studies to be done, but so far science has shown that CBD appears to target more than 65 areas in the brain and body that are involved in regulating pain, mood, and sleep. Notably, CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system, enhancing and balancing the messages sent via endocannabinoids and neurotransmitters. By doing so, it has the potential to lower inflammation, ease pain, bring a sense of calm, help those coping with anxiety, and improve sleep.
Then my friend started selling CBD oil. She's a stay-at-home mom-turned-yoga instructor and a total straitlaced health nut. I thought, if she was into it, maybe I should learn more. So I found out CBD stands for cannabidiol, a natural extract from the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It's not the chemical in marijuana that brings the high—that's the THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.
But he cautions that the side effects could have been because of an interaction with other medications the children were taking to control the seizures. So far, there hasn’t been a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial (the gold standard) on sleep disorders and CBD.
The CBD industry is flourishing, conservatively projected to hit $16 billion in the United States by 2025. Already, the plant extract is being added to cheeseburgers, toothpicks and breath sprays. More than 60 percent of CBD users have taken it for anxiety, according to a survey of 5,000 people, conducted by the Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research firm. Chronic pain, insomnia and depression follow behind. Kim Kardashian West, for example, turned to the product when “freaking out” over the birth of her fourth baby. The professional golfer Bubba Watson drifts off to sleep with it. And Martha Stewart’s French bulldog partakes, too.
Sleep can be disrupted for many reasons, including depression. Rodents seemed to adapt better to stressful conditions and exhibited less depressive-like behavior after taking CBD, according to a review in Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy. “Surprisingly, CBD seems to act faster than conventional antidepressants,” wrote one of the authors of a new review, Sâmia Joca, a fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies in Denmark and an associate professor at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, in an email interview. Of course, it’s difficult to detect depression in animals, but the studies that Ms. Joca and her colleagues reviewed suggested that in models of chronic stress exposure, the mice and rats treated with CBD were more resilient.
Tips for Better Sleep
While there is hope for treating other conditions with the plant extract, Epidiolex remains the only CBD-derived drug approved by the F.D.A. Most of the research on cannabidiol has been in animals, and its current popularity has outpaced science. “We don’t have the 101 course on CBD quite figured out yet,” said Ryan Vandrey, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“If you take pure CBD, it’s pretty safe,” said Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Side effects in the Epidiolex trial included diarrhea, sleepiness, fatigue, weakness, rash, decreased appetite and elevated liver enzymes. Also, the safe amount to consume in a day, or at all during pregnancy, is still not known.
For students with generalized social anxiety, a four-minute talk, with minimal time to prepare, can be debilitating. Yet a small experiment in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology found that CBD seemed to reduce nervousness and cognitive impairment in patients with social anxiety in a simulated public speaking task.
Earlier research found fewer than a third of 84 products studied contained the amount of CBD on their labels. Some users of CBD have also failed drug tests when the product contained more THC than indicated.