Background, history, and legality
CBD stands for cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound extracted from the hemp plant. This is different than THC (tetrahydrocannabinoid), a psychoactive compound which is extracted from the cannabis plant. Hemp is the male plant that does not flower, whereas cannabis is the female plant producing flowers/buds which is combustible ‘marijuana’.
During the marijuana prohibition, legislation considered both the male and female plants illegal. In my opinion this was a big mistake; the male plant does not make people high, has numerous health benefits (discussed below), can be used in construction, fabrication, and many other industrial purposes.
The 2014 farm bill had bipartisan support because it would support the struggling farming industry, and part of this decriminalized agricultural of hemp,. This was the beginning of the CBD oil supplement industry. A recent update to this in late 2018, made it easier for farmers to farm hemp, and support research in this area as well. Indiana and Missouri still have state laws prohibiting CBD sales, but this may change any day. Currently people can find CBD in many products such as soda, beer, gummies, body lotions, massage creams, vitamins, dog treats, etc. Seriously, everybody and their dogs are trying CBD products.
Why people are using CBD
CBD is tried as a relaxant, anti-anxiety remedy, non-habit forming sleep aid, anti-depressant, a musculoskeletal pain reliever, headache reducing agent, and many case studies support its role as a anti-seizure agent. It has an incredibly safe profile, without any cases of toxicity reported, and no major interactions with pharmaceutical agents, and no negative side-effects. Some people report it has changed their life for the better, others report having tried it with no remarkable changes.
A concern I have with CBD is the same concern I have with any health fad – quality assurance. Many companies are popping up with CBD products. Many times, stronger extracts are generated by using stronger solvents, such as hexane and ethyl acetone (nail polish remover). These companies maximize their profits by skipping purity testing. So it is important to use good quality CBD products. Which is why I still stand by this natural compound as a medicine, and you should discuss with your healthcare provider whether it is safe and effective for you to try.
Another issue is the dose or strength of the product. CBD oil products should be standardized to a specific amount of CBD, for example, 10mg, 20mg, 50mg CBD per serving size. Some products will say nothing in regards to CBD amount, and only give the amount of hemp oil. Hemp oil has many good nutritional omega 3 fats, but would not be therapeutic like CBD.
More research is being done around CBD, one fascinating aspect is in regards to the endocannabinoid system. This is an innate part to our nervous system that is used to maintain homeostasis – or balance. Yes, we have receptors in our nervous system solely for cannabinoid compounds to regulate our mood, hormones, and neurotransmitters. In fact, science has correlated an endocannabinoid system deficiency with fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic migraines. The endocannabinoid system is also found in many plant-eating animals, imagine if we could promote the health of our food chain by letting them eat ‘weeds’?!