By Brian Heineman
If you live in the United States and have not yet heard about CBD, it’s time to find out about the excitement in the uses of CBD and its benefits.
Here we will lay out the various elements and uses of the CBD experience for new and current users. We will cover the multiple uses for CBD and the best way to receive the benefits of CBD.
Overview of the CBD market
The Farm Bill passed in 2018, allows for the cultivation and sale of hemp and hemp-derived products. An entire industry was born almost overnight. According to Hemp Industry Daily, retail sales of CBD in the United States surpassed $1 billion in 2019, a 113% increase over 2018. Conservative projections show it to reach $16 billion by the year 2025
The Definition of and Properties of CBD
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is anon-psychoactive compound naturally occurring in cannabis plants, which include marijuana and hemp. While THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, is known for making the user feel high, CBD boasts its own effects and acts on the body’s own endocannabinoid system. What is the endocannabinoid system and what is its purpose? “The endocannabinoid system (ECS), composed of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoid molecules, and their metabolic enzymes. It is a crucial molecular system that the body uses to help maintain homeostasis.” (Jikomes 2019)
How are CBD and CBG Different from Marijuana?
While CBD is naturally occurring in all members of the cannabis family, all (federally) legal CBD in the United States is extracted from hemp plants.
The cultivation of hemp was made illegal in 1937 through the Marihuana Tax Act, when it was lumped in with other members of the cannabis family including marijuana. There is some controversy as to why hemp was included in this law. Hemp is an excellent fiber that was widely used in rope and textile industries and may have been targeted by competitors’ lobbyists.
CBG is a minor cannabinoid that has its own specific effects on the endocannabinoid system. It’s been shown to heavily interact with optical nerves and has shown promise in preventing glaucoma. A study into CBG shows its ability to slow cellular degeneration. It’s also been studied as a cancer fighter and may help with afflictions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Hemp contains only trace levels of THC (about .3 percent compared to marijuana’s 10-27%) as it was selectively bred for fiber production rather than it’s narcotic effects. This allows processing and extraction of CBD with little or no THC present. Deep within the legalese of the Farm Bill, was a provision to allow individual states to establish their own regulation of hemp production. This opened the door for production and study of hemp and it’s extracts in most states.
What is CBD Used For?
CBD has become an increasingly popular ingredient in therapeutic CBD oils and alternative remedies for good reason. Oil used in topical treatments is extracted from hemp plants through various processing techniques. This oil can also be infused into edibles such as food or drinks to be taken orally. Many users have reported significant positive therapeutic effects on a host of issues including:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Panic disorders
- Moderate depression
- Chronic pain
- Sleep disorders
CBD is also proven to be quite effective at treating certain types of epilepsy. A pure CBD product has been approved by the FDA for treating several forms of epilepsy. (FDA, 2018)
While this is an important breakthrough in epilepsy treatment, over 500 ongoing studies into healing with CBD are showing strong potential for this cannabis extract. (Clinical Studies and Case Reports)
CBD for PTSD?
An article in VeryWell Mind, about homeless veterans with PTSD, reported that “between 11% and 20% of veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom are dealing with some level of PTSD.” Couple that with an average veteran suicide rate of 22 per day, and it’s no wonder that researchers are taking a serious look at the role CBD may play in the treatment of PTSD. Studies are still ongoing but the results, so far, are promising.
CBD for Anxiety Disorders and Depression
CBD interacts with serotonin receptors in the body(specifically 5-HT1A receptors). Serotonin is believed to help regulate mood and social behavior by inhibiting feelings of fear and anxiety. It has also been known to play a role in controlling blood pressure, and moderating oxytocin the “happy” hormone. Because of its relationship with serotonin in the body, CBD can have an effect on a variety of things, possibly anxiety and depression. (Gregorio, et al. 2019) So, while CBD won’t get you high, it may help you feel better.
While THC has been reported to have negative effects when it comes to social anxiety, the preliminary research on the effects of CBD on social anxiety is promising. (Niesink & Laar 2013)
A 2010 study showed that CBD could help reduce symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). This study used brain scans to show that CBD changed the way the subjects’ brains responded to anxiety.
This study and others showed that these effects could also help with sleep problems related to anxiety and PTSD.
CBD for Controlling Pain?
Pain is our body’s way of telling us things are not right. Pain exists on a spectrum and can be acute or chronic. For acute pain, doctors typically prescribe opiates. But opiates are rarely effective at treating chronic pain and long term use often leads to damaging side effects, tollerace, dependency and addiction.
Marijuana has had documented use for pain relief for centuries. Studies have indicated that CBD might be the main compound responsible for this property.
According to the World Health Organization, in humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential. This makes CBD an attractive alternative to opiates for controlling chronic pain. Especially where the risk of dependency or addiction is high.
The most encouraging clinical studies conducted to date with CBD and chronic pain were with cancer patients. (Grinspoon 2019) Cancer pain caused by inflammation, nerve injury and sensitive tissues can be severe, relentless, and resistant to treatment by opiates.
According to a Consumer Reports survey, from January 2018, 22% of CBD users they polled, reported they had replaced all OTC pain medications with CBD products.
Where to Start & How to Select CBD Products
Do Your Research – Understand which types of CBD products are recommended for the ailments you are trying to treat. Research CBD and any side effects to be concerned with.
Where Can I Get CBD?
Each state has its own particular laws and restrictions regarding the sale of CBD products. In some states, you can purchase them at your local CVS; in other states like Texas, you can buy them at gas station convenience stores. Other states may have more restrictive regulation.
The FDA has yet to provide any regulation on CBD, this opens the door to charletons with false claims and bad products. But compounding that, when supply can’t keep up with demand, many retailers end up with inferior products from suppliers who cut corners.
Also be aware that hemp is not 100% THC free. It naturally contains about .3% THC. While this is not enough to have any noticeable psychoactive effects, it could cause positive results in drug screenings. Also, THC may diminish any effects CBD may have on anxiety. This is why it’s important to ensure that any CBD products you purchase are THC free.
Know How to Use the Product – How do you take it? What is the recommended dose? How often and how long? What are the risks? If your research and product labeling don’t answer these questions, then don’t put it in your body.
Talk to Your Doctor – Consult your physician when considering any medical treatment options. A consultation with your doctor can ensure you make informed medical decisions about your health.
Look For Independent Testing – Third party testing is a key factor in determining the quality of a product. A Certificate of Analysis (COA) should be available from the manufacturer. COA testing performed by an independent laboratory should include an analysis of contaminants as well as CBD and THC levels.
The bottom line here is that you should buy from reputable sources that have consistent quality control. The gold standard is a retailer that owns their production and supply systems and relies on third party testing. They have the most control over the quality and purity of their product.
Since the FDA has yet to set and enforce standards on CBD products, it is a ‘buyer beware’ market. It’s up to the consumer to screen potential sources for CBD products.
Because of the nearly century-long ban on hemp and other cannabis production, there are still a lot of studies and tests to be completed on CBD and its potential uses and effects. However the evidence is piling up. The low risks and side effects documented with CBD and the mountains of anecdotal evidence are promising. Indeed, the future of healing may begin with CBD.
We have discussed many of the various uses and information regarding CBD. Our hope is that we have given you a small picture of the uses and benefits of CBD.
Please be aware that, other than for Epilepsy, no medical claims can be given here; only information covering CBD, its reported usage, and its anecdotal support.
Analytical Cannabis. “What Is CBD Oil and Why Do People Take It?” Analytical Cannabis, Analytical Cannabis, 5 July 2019, https://www.analyticalcannabis.com/articles/what-is-cbd-oil-and-why-do-people-take-it-311523.
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Clinical Studies and Case Reports, https://www.cannabis-med.org/studies/study.php.
Crippa, José Alexandre S, et al. “Neural Basis of Anxiolytic Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) in Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder: a Preliminary Report.” Journal of Psychopharmacology, vol. 25, no. 1, Sept. 2010, pp. 121–130., doi:10.1177/0269881110379283.
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Grinspoon, Peter. “Cannabidiol (CBD) – What We Know and What We Don’t.” Harvard Health Blog, 27 Aug. 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476.
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Jikomes, Nick. “What Is the Endocannabinoid System and What Is Its Role?” Leafly, 1 Oct. 2019, https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/what-is-the-endocannabinoid-system.
Morin, Amy. “Why PTSD Increases the Risk of Homelessness Among Veterans.” Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 29 Sept. 2019, https://www.verywellmind.com/homeless-veterans-living-with-ptsd-4164824.
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