Cannabidiol (CBD) – What We Know and What We Don’t

Cannabidiol (CBD) - What We Know and What We Don't

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in hemp and cannabis. Although it’s often touted as an add-in to smoothies, coffee, and creams, CBD oil is rarely regulated in the same way as marijuana. If you’re wondering more about CBD, where to start and how it works, read on.

How is cannabidiol different from marijuana, cannabis and hemp?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most common active ingredient in cannabis after delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it can also be isolated directly from the hemp plant or produced synthetically. 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.”

Is cannabidiol legal?

CBD can be purchased in some states with varying degrees of legality. In December 2015, the FDA eased regulatory requirements to allow researchers to conduct CBD trials. In 2018, the Farm Bill made hemp legal in all fifty states, making it virtually impossible for CBD to remain illegal—it would be like making oranges legal, but keeping orange juice illegal.

The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 removed all hemp-derived products, including cannabidiol (CBD), from the Controlled Substances Act, which criminalized the possession of drugs. In essence, this means that CBD is legal if it comes from hemp, but not if it comes from cannabis (marijuana) – even though it is the exact same molecule. Currently, many people obtain CBD online without a medical marijuana license; however, some states regulate this practice.

The evidence for cannabidiol health benefits

Cannabidiol (CBD) has been championed as a possible treatment for a wide variety of ailments, including neuropathic pain and anxiety. However, the strongest scientific evidence for CBD’s effectiveness is for its use 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 has shown to reduce the number of seizures, and, in some cases, stop them altogether. CBD is currently the only cannabis-derived medicine approved by the FDA to treat these conditions.

  • Anxiety: Clinical trials are exploring the common finding that CBD can reduce anxiety.
  • Insomnia: Numerous studies have shown that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
  • Chronic Pain: Further research is needed to substantiate claims that cannabidiol (CBD) may be an effective treatment for chronic pain. A study published in the European Journal of Pain suggests that CBD could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis when applied to skin. Other research identifies how CBD may inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain, which are difficult treat.
  • Addiction: CBD may decrease the cravings for certain substances under some conditions in certain humans, research suggests. Animal models of addiction show that it may also lessen cravings for alcohol, cannabis, opiates, and stimulants.

Is CBD safe?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is known to cause nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the level of thinning blood and other medicines in your blood by competing with liver enzymes that break down these drugs. Grapefruit has a similar effect.

People taking high doses of CBD should let their doctors know if they notice abnormalities in blood tests related to liver function. Many over-the-counter drugs, such as acetaminophen, also cause such abnormalities.

The FDA does not currently regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. These products are not considered drugs, so their effectiveness cannot be measured or guaranteed. Even when a product contains active ingredients, the amount may vary from what is listed on the label, and an effective dose has not been determined for various medical conditions.

The bottom line on cannabidiol

CBD oil may ameliorate symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. However, research on CBD’s positive effects in humans is lacking. Further research is warranted to determine the benefits and risks of CBD oil for patients with anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, and chronic pain.

Although available from some health food stores, CBD should be purchased only from reputable sources. Additionally, your doctor should be informed of all medicines you take when taking CBD.

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