More and more people are discovering the power of natural cannabidiol to treat a variety of symptoms. The rise in popularity is staggering but there is still some confusion about what CBD is and how it affects the human body. There’s a lot of noise out there and incorrect information is being spread, mostly by those who profit off of non-natural and addictive alternatives to CBD.
Now that the 2018 Farm Bill (H.R.2 - Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) has passed, it is only a matter of time until the rest of the businesses, banks, doctors and other agencies and government bodies relax or remove their anti-CBD language and policies. So, let's get to answering some of the most common questions surrounding CBD.
Is CBD Legal in the United States?
Hemp derived CBD is now 100% federally legal throughout the United States since H.R.2 was signed into law in December of 2018.
Cannabis is legal for either medicinal or recreational use in some American states. Other states have approved the use of CBD oil as a hemp product but not the general use of medical marijuana.
In June 2018, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the prescription use of Epidiolex, a purified form of CBD oil, for treating two types of epilepsy. Since then, products containing CBD are now legal in most states where marijuana is not.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, writing for the FDA on 25 June, stated:
"Today, the FDA approved a purified form of the drug cannabidiol (CBD). This is one of more than 80 active chemicals in marijuana. The new product was approved to treat seizures associated with two rare, severe forms of epilepsy in patients two years of age and older."
Dr. Gottlieb is careful to point out that:
At the state level, legislators generally approve the use of CBD oil at various concentrations to treat a range of epileptic conditions.
A full list of states that have CBD-specific laws is available here.
What is the difference between CBD and Marijuana?
Marijuana contains both THC and CBD, and these compounds have different effects. THC is the compound that gives you the ‘high’ feeling and has psychoactive effects.
CBD is different. Unlike THC, it is not psychoactive. This means that CBD does not change a person's state of mind when they use it.
However, CBD does appear to produce significant changes in the body, and some research suggests that it has medical benefits.
The least processed form of the cannabis plant is hemp. Hemp contains most of the CBD that people use medicinally. Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, Cannabis sativa, but the two are very different.
Over the years, marijuana farmers have selectively bred their plants to contain high levels of THC and other compounds that interested them, often because the compounds produced a smell or had another effect on the plant's flowers.
However, hemp farmers have rarely modified the plant. These hemp plants are used to create CBD oil.
All cannabinoids, including CBD, produce effects in the body by attaching to certain receptors. The human body produces certain cannabinoids on its own. It also has two receptors for cannabinoids, called the CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are present throughout the body, but many are in the brain. The CB1 receptors in the brain deal with coordination and movement, pain, emotions and mood, thinking, appetite, memories, and other functions. THC attaches to these receptors.
CB2 receptors are more common in the immune system. They affect inflammation and pain. Researchers once believed that CBD attached to these CB2 receptors, but it now appears that CBD does not attach directly to either receptor. Instead, it seems to direct the body to use more of its own cannabinoids.
What are the health benefits of CBD?
CBD for Chronic Pain
CBD may benefit a person's health in a variety of ways. People tend to use prescription or over-the-counter drugs to relieve stiffness and pain, including chronic pain.
Some people believe that CBD offers a more natural alternative. Authors of a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that CBD significantly reduced chronic inflammation and pain in some mice and rats.
The researchers suggested that the non-psychoactive compounds in marijuana, such as CBD, could provide a new treatment for chronic pain.
CBD for Addiction and Withdrawal
Some promising evidence suggests that CBD use may also help people to quit smoking. A pilot study published in Addictive Behaviors found that smokers who used inhalers containing CBD smoked fewer cigarettes than usual and had no further cravings for nicotine.
A similar review, published in Neurotherapeutics found that CBD may be a promising treatment for people with opioid addiction disorders. The researchers noted that CBD reduced some symptoms associated with substance use disorders. These included anxiety, mood-related symptoms, pain, and insomnia.
More research is necessary, but these findings suggest that CBD may help to prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms.
CBD for Epileptic Seizures
After researching the safety and effectiveness of CBD oil for treating epilepsy, the FDA approved the use of CBD (Epidiolex) as a therapy for two rare conditions characterized by epileptic seizures in 2018.
In the U.S., a doctor can prescribe Epidiolex to treat:
The types of seizures that characterize LGS or DS are difficult to control with other types of medication. The FDA specified that doctors could not prescribe Epidiolex for children younger than 2 years. A physician or pharmacist will determine the right dosage based on the child’s body weight.
Researchers are now studying the effects of CBD on various neuropsychiatric disorders. Authors of a 2014 review noted that CBD has anti-seizure properties and a low risk of side effects for people with epilepsy.
Findings suggested that CBD may also treat many complications linked to epilepsy, such as neurodegeneration, neuronal injury, and psychiatric diseases.
CBD for Cancer
Some researchers have found that CBD may also help to combat cancer. Authors of a review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found evidence that CBD significantly helped to prevent the spread of cancer. The researchers also noted that the compound tends to suppress the growth of cancer cells and promote their destruction.
They pointed out that CBD has low levels of toxicity. They called for further research into its potential as an accompaniment to standard cancer treatments.
CBD for Anxiety and Mental Illness
Doctors often advise people with chronic anxiety to avoid cannabis, as THC can trigger or amplify feelings of anxiousness and paranoia. However, authors of a review from Neurotherapeutics found that CBD may help to reduce anxiety in people with certain related disorders.
According to the review, CBD may reduce anxiety-related behaviors in people with conditions such as:
The authors noted that current treatments for these disorders can lead to additional symptoms and side effects, which can cause some people to stop taking them.
No further definitive evidence currently links CBD to adverse effects, and the authors called for further studies of the compound as a treatment for anxiety.
Another study, published in Current Pharmaceutical Design, found that CBD may produce effects similar to those of certain antipsychotic drugs, and that the compound may provide a safe and effective treatment for people with schizophrenia. However, further research is necessary.
CBD for Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes results from inflammation that occurs when the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas.
Research published in 2016 by Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation found that CBD may ease this inflammation in the pancreas. This may be the first step in finding a CBD-based treatment for type 1 diabetes.
A paper presented in the same year in Lisbon, Portugal, suggested that CBD may reduce inflammation and protect against or delay the development of type 1 diabetes.
CBD for Acne
Acne treatment is another promising use for CBD. The condition is caused, in part, by inflammation and overworked sebaceous glands in the body.
A 2014 study published by the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that CBD helps to lower the production of sebum that leads to acne, partly because of its anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Sebum is an oily substance, and overproduction can cause acne.
CBD could become a future treatment for acne vulgaris, the most common form of acne.
CBD for Alzheimer’s
Initial research published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that CBD was able to prevent the development of social recognition deficit in participants.
This means that CBD could help people in the early stages of Alzheimer's to keep the ability to recognize the faces of people that they know. This is the first evidence that CBD may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Is CBD Safe to Use?
Anyone considering CBD oil should speak with a local healthcare provider. They can provide information about safe CBD sources and local laws surrounding usage.
Many small-scale studies have looked into the safety of CBD in adults. They concluded that adults tend to tolerate a wide range of doses well. Researchers have found no significant side effects on the central nervous system, the vital signs, or mood, even among people who used high dosages. The most common side effect was tiredness. Also, some people reported diarrhea and changes in appetite or weight. However, there is still a lack of available long-term safety data. Also, to date, researchers have not performed studies involving children.
Concerning the product that the FDA approved to treat two types of epilepsy, researchers noticed the following adverse effects in clinical trials:
Research suggests that a person taking the product is unlikely to form a dependency.
There is often a lack of evidence regarding the safety of new or alternative treatment options. Usually, researchers have not performed the full array of tests. When drugs do not have FDA approval, it can be difficult to know whether a product contains a safe or effective level of CBD. Unapproved products may not have the properties or contents stated on the packaging.
It is important to note that researchers have linked marijuana use during pregnancy to impairments in the fetal development of neurons. Regular use among teens is associated with issues concerning memory, behavior, and intelligence.
Using CBD oil is not the same as using or smoking whole cannabis. A person can use CBD oil in different ways to relieve various symptoms.
If a doctor prescribes it to treat LGS or DS, it is important to follow their instructions.
CBD-based products come in many forms. Some can be mixed into different foods or drinks or taken with a pipette or dropper. Others are available in capsules or as a thick paste to be massaged into the skin. Some products are available as sprays to be administered under the tongue.
Recommended dosages vary between individuals, and depend on factors such as body weight, the concentration of the product, and the health issue.
Some people consider taking CBD oil to help treat:
Due to the lack of FDA regulation for most CBD products, seek advice from a medical professional before determining the best dosage.
As regulation in the U.S. increases, more specific dosages and prescriptions will start to emerge.
After discussing dosages and risks with a doctor, and researching regional local laws, it is important to compare different brands of CBD oil. There is a selection of CBD products available for purchase online.
CBD has been tested and approved for one specific use. Does this mean it is safe and will soon have approval for other uses?
The research is emerging to support the use of CBD for numerous conditions, as well as looking closely at safety, side effects, and long-term effects.
There are some valid concerns about long-term use that must be tested before CBD can be recommended for other diseases. As one approach to pain management, it is seen as an alternative option to addicting narcotics.
The use of CBD oil might complement a medical approach to treating physical and mental diseases. It is worth discussing with your doctor to see how CBD can help you.
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