Over the past several years, FDA has issued several warning letters to firms that market unapproved new drugs that allegedly contain cannabidiol (CBD). As part of these actions, FDA has tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products, and many were found to not contain the levels of CBD they claimed to contain. It is important to note that these products are not approved by FDA for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease. Consumers should beware purchasing and using any such products.
A few days later, I took my first barre class. I hadn't worked out in a year, thanks to a shoulder injury, and I was nervous I'd be in serious pain afterward. It wasn't too bad. After class, I rubbed some CBD balm on my shoulder. The idea behind balms and lotions is that CBD gets absorbed through the skin, without taking a trip under the tongue and through the bloodstream, so it goes straight to the receptors that need it most. The next day, I took a yoga class (all hail, Groupon!), which didn't leave me extra-sore or strained either.
Inflammation can lead to aches, pains, and acne, and—yes, at the age of 47—I'd be happy to get rid of them.
Then my friend started selling CBD oil. She's a stay-at-home mom-turned-yoga instructor and a total straitlaced health nut. I thought, if she was into it, maybe I should learn more. So I found out CBD stands for cannabidiol, a natural extract from the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It's not the chemical in marijuana that brings the high—that's the THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.
There are numerous CBD oils and balms (and drink mixes and bath salts and dog treats), but I gravitated toward an oil by Beam for a couple of reasons: It's THC-free (I've learned that some companies don't filter out traces of THC—I'm not here to get stoned, people), and it's broad-spectrum, which means beneficial plant compounds, like terpenes and flavonoids, are left in the extract.
I'm not well-schooled in the ways of cannabis—figuring out what CBD is took some time. Until recently I didn't know my hemp from my weed. THC, CBD…IDK. It's like trying to get the square root of a number: If I concentrate for a minute, I can figure it out, but really I just don't care, you know?
Inspired by my reduced chronic pain and stress-free slumber, I also started getting up at 5:50 a.m. for a brisk 2-mile walk with my neighbor every morning. And yeah, I'm still taking barre and yoga classes. I've got energy for everything!
I began taking a one-milliliter dropperful of oil, containing 66.7 milligrams of CBD, morning and night. There isn't an industry-standard recommended dose, so I started with the brand's lowest potency. I held the drop under my tongue for a minute or so, in order for the cannabidiol to seep into my bloodstream rather than get digested (which is also a good delivery system—just not as direct). It tasted fine, sort of neutral, with a hint of plant life.
For this study, nine healthy men took either 600 mg of CBD or the same dose of a placebo. According to the researcher, those treated with CBD had lower blood pressure before and after exposure to stressful stimuli (including exercise or extreme cold).
There have also been suggestions that CBD may aid in the treatment of cannabis and nicotine addiction. Further research is needed.
Outside of these two disorders, CBD’s effectiveness in treating seizures is uncertain. Even with Epidiolex, it is uncertain whether the anti-seizure effects can be attributed to CBD or some other factor.
The tricky part is calculating the exact amount of CBD per milliliter of oil. Some tinctures have concentrations of 1,500 mg per 30 mL, while others have 3,000 mg per mL (or more).
Here is just some of what the current evidence says.
Many of these interactions are mild and require no adjustment to treatment. Others may require a drug substitution or the separation of doses by several hours.
CBD oil should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. A 2018 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics warned women to avoid marijuana during pregnancy due to the potential risks to a baby’s development. Although it is unclear how CBD contributes, CBD is known to pass through the placental barrier.