Dr. Stan Headley, natural health consultant for Cypress Pharmacy
You can find CBD oil in countless products that make wide claims about what this up-and-coming supplement can do. With so many products and sources of information out there, it’s often hard to distinguish fact from fiction.
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is the ingredient derived from the hemp plant that is recognized for its medicinal benefits, which include helping ease pain, anxiety and insomnia. Currently, it isn’t federally regulated, and best practices for its use are still being developed. Clinical trials in their early stages also suggest some strains and dosages of CBD could help post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis, neuropathic pain, Type 1 diabetes, cancer and cognitive symptoms associated with HIV and Alzheimer’s disease.
When selecting CBD oil for therapeutic use, it’s important to make selections based on information and not misinformation. Cannabinoids, including CBD, are chemical compounds produced naturally in our bodies and in some plants. Phytocannabinoids are produced by plants, while endocannabinoids are produced by the body. The body’s endocannabinoid system is like our body’s operating system—it affects neurotransmitters that bind to receptors and impact pain, mood, appetite, sleep, and how we feel, move and react. If your body does not produce enough endocannabinoids or cannot regulate them properly, you are more susceptible to illnesses. External sources like CBD can help to balance and maintain the human endocannabinoid system by encouraging the release of our own endocannabinoids.
To get the most benefit from CBD oil, we must debunk three common myths:
Myth #1: CBD hemp oil is addictive and can make you high.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is an essential component of cannabis (one of hundreds), however, CBD by itself does not make you “high.” CBD is derived directly from the hemp plant, a cousin of the marijuana plant, and doesn’t contain substantial amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives the high sensation. Trace amounts of THC are unlikely to have a noticeable effect.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence said: “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.” The WHO officially recommended that CBD should not be “internationally scheduled as a controlled substance.”
Myth #2: I have tried CBD oil before, but it did nothing for me.
If you haven’t had success with CBD in the past, there are a number of factors to consider before throwing in the towel completely. One may be the quality of the CBD product. Many products on the market don’t have high-quality CBD (and some may not have any CBD at all!). Researchers found that of 84 products tested, only 31% contained the amount of CBD advertised. Make sure you understand how much CBD is in the product, as this will have a direct impact on its efficacy.
Also, since CBD use is a relatively new frontier, proper dosage can be tricky, as it varies for each person. Start with a low dose and slowly increase it over time. Also, keep a journal to log your dosage and results. It’s also possible to build up tolerance over time, requiring dosage to change. While a few milligrams work for some people, other patients may need larger doses.
You may also need to be patient! Like any other natural medicine, experts recommend daily usage of CBD for six to eight weeks before deciding whether to continue or not. Your level of absorption depends on a variety of factors including metabolism, biochemistry and genetics.
Myth #3: All CBD oil is the same.
CBD oil is not all the same, and the quality of CBD and CBD products varies widely. People using CBD oil who want to see relief need a product containing consistent levels of CBD.
Here’s how to select good CBD:
- A good quality CBD oil will have a third-party Certificate of Analysis, a report of what’s specifically in the bottle. The analysis should test for microbes, herbicides and other contaminants as well as indicate the active product in the bottle, which is important for comparison. Milligrams of active cannabinoids is not the same as the amount of liquid in the bottle.
- How the CBD oil was extracted is important. If extracted using heat, it can mean butane, a hazardous material, was used. CO2 or food-grade ethanol extraction are all-natural and ensure the cannabinoids and terpenes, another element of the plant thought to have therapeutic properties, remain intact.
- For ultimate therapeutic value, look for full-spectrum CBD, instead of an isolate. There are more than 100 cannabinoids in cannabis, as well as terpenes and flavonoids. CBD works better with other cannabinoids and phytocompounds found in the cannabis plant, so full-spectrum CBD amplifies the efficiency of CBD in your system, promoting a greater response at a lower dose. An isolate is like one musical note used alone, whereas a full-spectrum product creates a symphony.
- Make sure you buy products where hemp is sourced from Europe or the United States, where it is heavily regulated. Products from regions with fewer regulations may not be labeled accurately.
Just like any supplement, it’s important that you do your research before buying. Look for CBD companies that have customer support and stand behind their products. Most importantly, purchase from a knowledgeable health care provider that can advise you on formulation selection, usage and application, drug interactions and side effects.