However, medical research on marijuana is severely restricted by federal law.
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Hemp, marijuana and cannabanoidals
Brandon McFadden receives funding from U.S. Department of Agriculture.
While 67% of U.S. adults support marijuana legalization, public knowledge about cannabis is low. A third of Americans think hemp and marijuana are the same thing, according to the National Institutes of Health, and many people still search Google to find out whether cannabidiol – a cannabis derivative known as CBD – will get them high, as marijuana does.
Both hemp and marijuana belong to the same species, Cannabis sativa, and the two plants look somewhat similar. However, substantial variation can exist within a species. After all, great Danes and chihuahuas are both dogs, but they have obvious differences.
In early May, a federal court declined to protect cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical produced by the cannabis plant, from federal law enforcement, despite widespread belief in its medical value.
Despite the government ruling, CBD is widely available over the counter in dispensaries in states where marijuana is legal.
In late June, the US Food and Drug Administration could approve the Epidiolex, a pharmaceuticalized form of CBD for several severe pediatric seizure disorders. According to data recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the drug can reduce seizures by more than 40%. If Epidiolex wins approval it would be the first time the agency approves a drug derived from the marijuana plant. (The FDA has approved synthetic THC to treat chemotherapy-related nausea.)
CBD has been sought for its healing properties. Illustration: George Wylesol
While parents treating their children with CBD had to proceed based on trial and error, like a folk medicine, they also had to wonder whether dispensary purchased CBD was professionally manufactured and contained what the package said it did. GW brought a scientific understanding and pharmaceutical grade manufacturing to this promising compound.
If you are thinking about using CBD oil to treat a health condition, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider to ensure that it is the right option for you.
Since some CBD oils contain trace amounts of THC, you should avoid driving or using heavy machinery when taking CBD oil, particularly when first starting treatment or using a new brand.
There is some evidence that CBD interacts with seizure medications such as Onfi (clobazam) and boosts their concentration in the blood. Further research is needed.
In all but a few studies, lower doses of CBD (10 milligrams per kilogram, mg/kg, or less) improved some symptoms of anxiety. Higher doses (100 mg/kg or more) exhibited virtually no effect.
CBD oil may also increase liver enzymes (a marker of liver inflammation). People with liver disease should use CBD oil with caution, ideally under the care of a doctor who can regularly check blood liver enzyme levels.
Among the few human trials evaluating CBD’s anxiolytic effects was one published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry in 2019. For this study, 57 men were given either CBD oil or a placebo before a public-speaking event. Anxiety was evaluated using physiological measures (such as blood pressure, heart rate, etc.) and a relatively reliable test for mood states known as the Visual Analog Mood Scale (VAMS).
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).