The title of this article may seem like a bold claim or a grand leap, but in this industry and the current climate of stigma around everything from vaping to CBD to essential oils, we can never be too careful. We want to inform, so read on!
It's with the mission of understanding that we hope to report to you, the reader, the current science on cannabidiol. It's coming straight out of Harvard Medical School at the moment.
We live in a rather fear-based society. Sad to say that many of the things we look at in natural medicine are based on a fear of side effects in pharmaceuticals. There's a good reason to be weary in some cases.
The opium crisis that has stricken the country in the last decade or so has shown that drug abuse can occur in places we often thought safe. There was a time when we simply took whatever the doctor gave us and that was good enough. Now people are turning towards natural remedies, but the question is whether these things have a placebo effect on us or actually do some good.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been among those remedies recently covered in the media. Many are adding it to their morning coffee or as a sleep aid. There's even high-end restaurants cooking with cannabidiol. The question all of us seem to get lately is whether it actually does anything.
Scientists currently say that CBD is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis.
While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of the hundreds), by itself it does not cause a “high.” There's quite a difference between the two. 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.”
So science at the moment has basically told us it's safe?
Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue, and irritability.
A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So you cannot know for sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other (unknown) elements. For more information regarding testing of CBD, read our guide on interpreting lab results.
Many companies provide a tincture CBD product that has a measuring capability.
Science at the moment is out on the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition. So it's hard to say what potential uses it can be effective for on the quantity.
Is Cannabidiol Legal?
CBD is readily obtainable in most parts of the United States, though its exact legal status is in flux. All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction, and while the federal government still considers CBD in the same class as marijuana, it doesn’t habitually enforce against it.
Back in December 2015, the FDA eased the regulatory requirements to allow researchers to conduct CBD trials.
Currently, many people obtain CBD online without a medical cannabis license. The government’s position on CBD is confusing and depends in part on whether the CBD comes from hemp or marijuana.
The legality of CBD is expected to change, as there is currently bipartisan consensus in Congress to make the hemp crop legal which would, for all intents and purposes, make CBD difficult to prohibit.
Cannabidiol Health Benefits and The Evidence
Time to get down to the science.
CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues, but the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to anti-seizure medications.
In numerous studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures, and in some cases, it was able to stop them altogether.
The evidence is so dramatic, that the FDA approved the first-ever cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions, Epidiolex, which contains CBD.
CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
CBD may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain. A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat. More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims of CBD proponents about pain control.
Harvard Research Says...
Some CBD manufacturers have come under government scrutiny for wild, indefensible claims, such that CBD is a cure-all for cancer, which it is not. We need more research but CBD may prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain.
Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies, we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD is currently is mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting. If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor — if for no other reason than to make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking.
Overall, the research is starting to become more and more clear. The best thing you can do as a consumer is to take measured doses regularly and speak with your physician about the regimen. If you notice unpleasant side effects then adjust your dosage or cease taking cannabidiol. Safety is the number one concern for anyone using these kinds of supplements.
Happy Information Friday!