Chances are you may have heard of CBD lately, it’s having a bit of a moment right now. Heck, even one of the Real Housewives just launched a CBD company and Sephora was offering a CBD mascara. As the hype grows, many are left to wonder the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to the benefits, effects, and legality. Like many other cannabis products, it has not been thoroughly studied due to prohibition, but with it’s increasing legal status that is changing. There is more and more scientific evidence supporting what benefits CBD has, but there is still a lot of misinformation out there. Many marketers play to the fact that the general public is uneducated on the topic. And let’s face it, it’s darn confusing! I’m here to help you wade through the murky CBD waters and come out the other side avoiding a lightened pocketbook wasting money on products that don’t work and frankly, just don’t make sense.
Cannabidiol (“CBD”) is a component or cannabinoid found in the cannabis sativa plant species. This means it can be found in either hemp or marijuana, both a part of the cannabis sativa species. CBD is the lesser known cannabinoid in this plant family, second to tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) which has for many years been what was selectively bred. As we begin to understand the therapeutic benefits of CBD, cannabis plants are now being bred to be high in CBD and oftentimes, with little to no THC. The main difference between the compounds is that THC has perceivable psychoactive effects, and CBD does not, meaning that with CBD you won’t experience a “high” or feel stoned as one typically expects with cannabis products. In fact, CBD can neutralize the psychoactive effects of THC, which can be helpful for individuals who want the pain-relieving properties of THC but less of a high.
How does it work? When consumed, CBD works with the human body’s endocannabinoid system which regulates things like mood, pain, inflammation, and our immune system. It is known to reduce stress and heart rate, thus helping with anxiety and depression. It is also known to reduce inflammation in the body, being particularly helpful to fight against pain and disease.
What We Know
While CBD is being used for a variety of conditions, and even as a wellness therapy much of this type of treatment is based on anecdotal evidence of its efficacy. A great deal of research is being conducted as we speak, with CBD as a therapy showing great promise. With that said, much of the research is conducted on animals, or when humans are involved there is often no control group to compare results. One reason research is behind is because in the US, for example, the FDA loosened restrictions on cannabidiol in only 2015 to allow for clinical research on the compound.
CBD is commonly used to address anxiety because it is known to reduce heart rate and help with extinction therapy (reducing a stressful response to a painful memory). With its stress reducing properties it has also shown promise for insomnia with studies suggesting that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
While THC is more commonly known as an analgesic, research is showing that CBD can be effective in the treatment of pain. Studies have shown that CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat.
As a pharmaceutical drug, CBD is approved for use in the first-ever cannabis-derived medicines in Epidiolex and Sativex which have shown effectiveness in treating epilepsy. CBD has proven to reduce the number of seizures particularly for those who didn’t respond to traditional antiseizure medications.
Here is a list of common disorders CBD is being studied to treat:
Cannabidiol and clozapine reverse MK-801-induced deficits in social interaction and hyperactivity in Sprague-Dawley rats. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22495620)
Antitumor effects of cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, on human glioma cell lines. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14617682)
Antitumor Activity of Plant Cannabinoids with Emphasis on the Effect of Cannabidiol on Human Breast Carcinoma (http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/318/3/1375.long)
Anxiety, Depression, Mood Disorders
The endocannabinoid system and the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19839936)
Multiple mechanisms involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23108553)
Cannabidiol blocks long-lasting behavioral consequences of predator threat stress: possible involvement of 5HT1A receptors. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22979992)
Cannabinoid modulation of fear extinction brain circuits: a novel target to advance anxiety treatment. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23829364)
Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26517407)
Cannabidiol lowers incidence of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16698671)
Cannabinoids for the treatment of dementia. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19370677)
Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21238581)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and Colitis)
Cannabidiol reduces intestinal inflammation through the control of neuroimmune axis. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22163000)
Cannabidiol, a safe and non-psychotropic ingredient of the marijuana plant Cannabis sativa, is protective in a murine model of colitis. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19690824)
Effects of acute systemic administration of cannabidiol on sleep-wake cycle in rats. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23343597)
Cannabidiol provides long-lasting protection against the deleterious effects of inflammation in a viral model of multiple sclerosis: a role for A2A receptors. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23851307)
Neurological Conditions – Other
Neuroprotective effect of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component from Cannabis sativa, on beta-amyloid-induced toxicity in PC12 cells. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15030397)
Cannabidiol administration after hypoxia-ischemia to newborn rats reduces long-term brain injury and restores neurobehavioral function. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22659086)
Cannabidiol promotes browning in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27067870)
Effects of cannabidiol in the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease: an exploratory double-blind trial. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25237116)
Cannabinoids inhibit human keratinocyte proliferation through a non-CB1/CB2 mechanism and have a potential therapeutic value in the treatment of psoriasis. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17157480)
The Use of Medicinal Marijuana for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Review of the Current Literature. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26644963)
Substance Abuse Disorder
The Endocannabinoid System and Cannabidiol’s Promise for the Treatment of Substance Use Disorder. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/30837904/?i=9&from=cannabidiol)
HEMP VS MARIJUANA
Hemp and marijuana are related as they both come from the Cannabis family of plants. They have similarities, but they also have distinct differences. The major difference between the plants is the original purpose they were used for – hemp primarily was bred for industrial purposes (clothing, paper, food products, soaps, etc.) and marijuana for medicinal and recreational use. Traditionally, marijuana is known for its psychoactive properties and was bred with very high levels of THC (usually 15+%) while hemp contains very low levels of THC (usually 0.3% or less). With the rise in use for marijuana and hemp for medical and wellness purposes both plants can breed strains higher in CBD. You know can see in the marijuana market strains with high levels of CBD with low levels of THC, or 1:1 hybrids. Typical industrial hemp crops have very little of the high-resin flowers that are rich in CBD. Don’t mistake that hemp seed oil from the local grocer you are taking to be high in CBD, while there are health benefits from hemp seed oil itself, it is not rich in CBD. Food and cosmetic products using hemp seed oil don’t usually have CBD – and if they did, it would be regulated as a controlled substance. The product categories are very different.
A common misperception is that CBD from hemp is legal and unregulated within Canada. Any CBD product, even ones derived from hemp, are regulated THE EXACT SAME WAY as ones derived from marijuana. Hemp with low levels of CBD (i.e. cultivated for the stock, not the flower) is not regulated the same way, as mentioned previously, it is an industrial product with many uses.
As we learn more about CBD we are finding more uses for it medically, and honing in on what exactly its best uses and treatments are. As it continues to trend, there will be a myriad of products that straddle the legal vs. illegal line or play on the consumers confusion on the subject. While looking at CBD products and trying to determine if it’s right for you, remember these 3 tips:
A product made from hemp does not necessarily contain CBD. Industrial hemp products contain little to no CBD. Anything high in CBD that could provide therapeutic benefit would be regulated and considered a controlled substance.
CBD is more commonly associated as being medical, while THC is known to be for both medicinal and recreational purposes. It’s true that CBD won’t get you stoned which is possibly why it is seen as more of a medical product. With that said, THC on its own, and particularly when combined with CBD also has medical benefits especially when it comes to pain control. When cannabinoids are combined it is thought that they provide more health benefits, something called the “Entourage Effect”.
In Canada, only Licenced Producers (LP’s) can cultivate and sell CBD products – whether or not they are derived from marijuana or hemp. These products are available directly through the LP’s if you are a registered patient, or, through a licenced retailer of adult-use cannabis in your province.