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CBD: How To Find A Way Though The Growing Maze of Products and Treatments



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The desire towards more natural and homeopathic alternatives vs. traditional medicines is a current and growing trend.  

Interest in CBD in particular has increased after Congress passed The Farm Bill, making some cannabis plants legal (with restrictions). This growing demand in the, now legal, use of hemp and marijuana products is bringing many newcomers, tempted to try it out. At the same time, many are not quite sure what CBD is and how it is different from THC or Medical Marijuana.

More popularly known, THC is what most people associate with the active ingredient in Cannabis sativa plant a.k.a. hemp, when smoking marijuana comes to mind.  Other street or informal names linked to THC use include: weed, grass, pot, ganga and reefer.  Cannabidiol (CBD), an additional active ingredient in Cannabis, on the other hand, has had much less attention amongst the lay person or even recreational users up until recently. 

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Let’s Talk Science

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) are two well-known chemical compounds referred to as cannabinoids.  Both compounds are found within the cannabis plant and looking at their molecular makeup they appear almost exactly the same which could lead to the assumption they also act similarly. However, the compounds are very different and have opposite bodily effects to the user.

Our body has cannabinoid receptors called CB1 and CB2 that are found within our endocannabinoid system (ECS).  The distinct difference that sets CBD apart from THC is that only THC binds with the CB1 receptor; the part of the brain responsible for mental and cognitive processes (memory, concentration, and coordination), thus resulting in the “high” or “stoned” feeling. 

Since CBD does not bind to these receptors there is a lack of any psychoactive or mind-altering effects and instead interacts with other receptors that affect pain perception, body temperature and inflammation. People using CBD have reported feeling relaxed, a sense of calm, a relief from body pains or feeling a “body high” compared to the “head/brain high” from THC.

The Green Medicine

CBD has been associated with providing benefits, in some people, for a wide range of ailments from the moderate like anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, depression, tension, headaches, and chronic pain; to the more severe – diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, as well as neurological disorders.

Medical professionals have started implementing the drug into their practice, more and more. In a survey conducted by Chiropractic Economics (EC), doctors across the United States have reported 26% of clinics and offices now use and sell CBD products. 

Even large chain pharmacies like CVS, for example, have recently announced they will begin to sell CBD products at 800 of their stores in Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland and Tennessee. 

There has been an increase in clinical research to explore the medical benefits and uses for the drug. In June 2018, the U. S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognized and approved Epidolex, as the first cannabis derived CBD pharmaceutical to be used as a form of medical treatment for a rare pediatric seizure disorder.

The Many Ways to Use

There are many different CBD products on the market nowadays, and the ways in which to consume them are both creative and ever growing. There are oils, vaporizers (vapes), dabs/waxes, capsules, edibles, topical skin creams and ointments, and even treats geared for pets.

Figuring out the right dosage is unique and must be individually determined as there are many factors that influence the outcome (e.g. body weight, stress levels, overall health, diet and sleep, ect). 

To further complicate matters, in deciding what is the right dose to best start with, most product strains usually include both THC and CBD. To recap THC gets you “high” and CBD does not.

It is very rare to find the two chemical compounds completely isolated in any given product, and therefore it is important to note how they vary in ratio (or percentage); the higher the ratio of THC the higher the level of psychoactive effects and vice versa. 

Project CBD recommends to start slow and with a low dosage when beginning treatment, in order to test out how the chemicals interact with your body, and determining what dosage reaches the desired effects.

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Warnings and Other Red Flags

Due to the growing demand, there has been a rapid increase in CBD products that are largely going out to the public unregulated. The FDA has expressed concerns over the growing number of products and companies that market the therapeutic benefits without proper approval.

An upcoming public hearing (May 31, 2019) could potentially result in stricter regulations on CBD dosage contained within food and drink products. 

The FDA continues to be concerned about the proliferation of egregious medical claims being made about products asserting to contain CBD that haven’t been approved by the FDA.”

Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D

Some users have reported the following side effects: changes in appetite and mood, diarrhea, anxiety, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, dry mouth, and vomiting. 

In addition, because CBD is relatively new to consumers, there is not enough data currently, nor longitudinal studies conducted over an extended period of years, to properly support or confirm the drug’s efficacy, safety, and long term results on the body.

Future research is necessary, however in the meantime with the CBD craze in full effect, it is recommended – if you are looking to try it out: do your own due diligence, as well as research into local laws, to ensure the drug is legal where you live.

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