Some of the biggest names in health, wellness and beauty are touting the benefits of hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD). What was once an industry secret is now making its way into fashion magazines, prominent online publications, and beauty blogs. The buzz around balance and health, both internally and in our skin has put this product in high demand.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in the resinous flower of hemp, a plant with a rich history as a medicine going back thousands of years. Today the therapeutic properties of CBD are being tested and confirmed by scientists and doctors around the world. A safe, non-addictive substance, CBD is one of more than a hundred “phytocannabinoids,” which are unique to hemp and to its cousin, cannabis, and endow these plants with their robust therapeutic profiles.
CBD is closely related to another important medicinally active phytocannabinoid: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that causes the high that cannabis is famous for. These are the two components of cannabis that have been most studied by scientists.
Both CBD and THC have significant therapeutic attributes. But unlike THC, CBD does not make a person feel “stoned” or intoxicated. That’s because CBD and THC act in different ways on different receptors in the brain and body.
CBD can actually lessen or neutralize the psychoactive effects of THC, depending on how much of each compound is consumed. Many people want the health benefits of cannabis without the high – or with less of a high.
The fact that CBD is therapeutically potent as well as non-intoxicating, and easy to take as a CBD oil, makes it an appealing treatment option for those who are cautious about trying hemp extracts and cannabis for the first time.
WHY CBD? WELL, FIRST...WHAT IS IT?
Many people are seeking alternatives to pharmaceuticals with harsh side effects – medicine more in synch with natural processes. By tapping into how we function biologically on a deep level, we can begin to understand seek new expertise on natural alternatives.
FoExtensive scientific research – much of it sponsored by the U.S. government – and mounting anecdotal accounts from patients and physicians highlight alternative therapies as potential treatments for a wide range of maladies, including (but not limited to):
CBD and THC interact with our bodies in a variety of ways. One of the main ways they impact us is by mimicking and augmenting the effects of the compounds in our bodies called “endogenous cannabinoids” - so named because of their similarity to the compounds found in the cannabis plant. These “endocannabinoids” are part of a regulatory system called the “endocannabinoid system”.
The discovery of the endocannabinoid system has significantly advanced our understanding of health and disease. It has major implications for nearly every area of medical science. The endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in regulating a broad range of physiological processes that affect our everyday experience. Years of research have been concluded studying natural remedies to regulate mood, energy levels, intestinal fortitude, immune activity, blood pressure, bone density, glucose metabolism, pain, stress, and hunger.
What happens if the endocannabinoid system doesn’t function properly? What are the consequences of a chronically deficient or overactive endocannabinoid system? In a word, disease.
Cutting-edge science has shown that the endocannabinoid system is dysregulated in nearly all pathological conditions. Thus, it stands to reason that “modulating endocannabinoid system activity may have therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans,” as Pal Pacher and George Kunos, scientists with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), suggested in a 2014 publication.
CBD: HOW DOES IT WORK?
Cannabis and CBD have been part of pharcopoeia for centuries. In the 1920's it was removed as part of prohibition. In the 1970's it was classified and withheld from most.
In June 25, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognized cannabidiol as a real medicine by approving Epidiolex, an almost pure pharmaceutical CBD formulation, as a treatment for two severe pediatric seizure disorders, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
This was the first time since the peak of the reefer madness era 80 years ago – when “marihuana” became a crime instead of a cure — that the federal government had given an official thumbs-up for a cannabis-derived product.
In response to the FDA’s historic decision, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced in September 2018 that it had removed Epidiolex from Schedule I classification, a category reserved for dangerous drugs with no medical value. Henceforth, Epidiolex would be considered a Schedule V drug, the least dangerous designation under the Controlled Substances Act.
CBD: WHERE DID IT BEGIN
For those who can’t obtain CBD, there are numerous internet storefronts, community markets, coffee shops, health clubs, chiropractic offices, upscale boutiques and gas stations that retail various hemp-derived CBD oil products. Hemp-derived CBD products with varying levels of THC and CBD are also available for smoking or vaping at cannabis dispensaries in states that have legalized the herb for therapeutic use. In 2018 a surge of consumer interest in all things CBD was suddenly newsworthy with hosanas of praise coming from athletes, film stars, soccer moms, and parents of desperately ill children.
Hemp oil, also known as hemp seed oil, is pressed from the seed of the plant. Cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and others exist throughout the plant but are no in high concentration in the seed, and therefore, not in pressed hemp seed oil. To meet customer expectation and provide a phytocannabinoid rich (PCR) product, cannabinoids like hemp-derived CBD are added to hemp seed oil after extraction. A consumer should always know what the contents of the product he/she is buying include and what the concentration and ingredients are in the bottle.
Hemp-derived CBD is a molecule, not a miracle. Many people could benefit significantly from legal access to a wide range of remedies related to hemp, not just low-THC or no-THC products. Hemp-derived CBD alone may not always do the trick.
The advent of potent hemp extracts, non-intoxicating hemp-derived CBD-rich products, and innovative, smokeless delivery systems has transformed the therapeutic landscape and changed the public conversation about cannabis.
Given its low-risk profile, many people are using hemp-derived CBD as a complement to their existing wellness plans.
What began as a grassroots populist rebellion against cannabis prohibition would morph into a multibillion-dollar market catalyzed by the rediscovery of hemp-derived CBD as a wellness option. This product's popularity is skyrocketing and it seems that everyone – do-gooders as well as profiteers – wants a piece of the action.
Hemp-derived CBD has also catalyzed the rebirth of the U.S. hemp industry, which lay dormant for decades because of drug war politics. The 2018 Farm Bill includes a provision that legalizes the cultivation of hemp with less than 0.3 percent THC in large part because of the popularity and driving economic force of hemp-derived extracts like CBD.
Growing hemp is now a legitimate agricultural enterprise in the United States. Extracting cannabinoids like CBD and hemp seed oil from hemp biomass (harvest) and marketing concentrates, isolates, and distillates for ingestion and inhalation steps is still under review by the DEA and the FDA. The upside of all this is easy access to CBD oil; the downside is inconsistent quality.
THE CBD CHALLENGE
Our recommendation: Be cautious when comparing hemp extracts, hemp oil, and CBD products to ensure quality, purity, potency, additives, harmful and inert materials such as pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, mycotoxins, water content, artificial an independent, ISO-certified and accredited laboratory.
Fortunately, good quality CBD oil products are also available for the conscientious consumer – the label reader, the brand researcher – who understands that natural alternatives may be integrated into a healthy lifestyle.