What is CBD?
CBD (cannabidiol) is one of at least 113 naturally-occurring compounds (‘phytocannabinoids’) found in the Cannabis Sativa L. plant. CBD is distinct from THC, the intoxicating compound that produces the famous high. Concerns over CBD arise from the confusion between Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana. Hemp and Marijuana are both species of Cannabis, however Marijuana is bred to have high levels (25% in some cases) of THC- the substance associated with illegal highs. CBD is extracted from Hemp that contains less than 0.2% THC.
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Amongst other cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes, CBD is extracted from the flower of the cannabis plant to form a raw paste. This extract is then mixed with fatty carrier bases, such as hemp oil (produced from hemp seeds) or MCT (produced from Coconut), allowing it to be ingested.
Which part of the world does CBD come from?
A recent US report found a staggering 70% of the 300 top-selling CBD products were “highly contaminated” with heavy metals (e.g. lead, arsenic), herbicides (e.g glyphosate) and a host of other contaminants. The quality of CBD is hugely dependent on where it comes from and how is grown. In this short video we will cover the three important questions you need to know the answer to if you are thinking about trying CBD.
Marijuana, on the other hand, tends to contain a more diverse terpene profile than hemp. Products derived from weed plants also tend to contain both CBD and THC in levels higher than 0.3%.
“Full-spectrum hemp can provide an entourage effect. The medicinal benefits of a hemp-derived entourage effect will depend on the medical condition, stage of the condition, patient physiology, and the dose response,” she explained. “I do believe, however, that CBD-rich marijuana extracts offer greater therapeutic value than full-spectrum hemp CBD, as it pertains to specific medical conditions.”
That being said, whether CBD is extracted from hemp or marijuana, it remains identical on a molecular level.
Hemp seed oil is generally used as a health and wellness dietary supplement that could give consumers many positive health benefits. Hemp seed oil can typically be found in health food stores, organic stores, and some regular grocery stores.
Knowing where and how your CBD is sourced will provide major insight into potential contamination levels. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
Some CBD manufacturers have come under government scrutiny for wild, indefensible claims, such that CBD is a cure-all for cancer, which it is not. We need more research but CBD may be prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD is currently is mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting. If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor — if for no other reason than to make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking.
The evidence for cannabidiol health benefits
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), by itself it does not cause a "high." According to a report from the World Health Organization, "In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD."
Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the level in your blood of the blood thinner coumadin, and it can raise levels of certain other medications in your blood by the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does. A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So, you cannot know for sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other (unknown) elements. We also don’t know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.
CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues, but the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications. In numerous studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures, and, in some cases, it was able to stop them altogether. Videos of the effects of CBD on these children and their seizures are readily available on the Internet for viewing, and they are quite striking. Recently the FDA approved the first ever cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions, Epidiolex, which contains CBD.