Cannabis containing 0.3 percent or less of THC is hemp. Although last year’s Farm Bill legalized hemp under federal law, it also preserved the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of products derived from cannabis.
However, a double-blind study found healthy volunteers administered CBD had little to no change in their emotional reaction to unpleasant images or words, compared to the placebo group. “If it’s a calming drug, it should change their responses to the stimuli,” said Harriet de Wit, co-author of the study and a professor in the University of Chicago’s department of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience. “But it didn’t.”
What are the claims?
Dr. Smita Das, chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Council on Addiction Psychiatry’s cannabis work group, does not recommend CBD for anxiety, PTSD, sleep or depression. With patients turning to these to unproven products, she is worried that they may delay seeking appropriate mental health care: “I’m dually concerned with how exposure to CBD products can lead somebody into continuing to cannabis products.”
Last year, the F.D.A. approved Epidiolex, a purified CBD extract, to treat rare seizure disorders in patients 2 years or older after three randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical trials with 516 patients that showed the drug, taken along with other medications, helped to reduce seizures. These types of studies are the gold standard in medicine, in which participants are divided by chance, and neither the subject nor the investigator knows which group is taking the placebo or the medication.
Facts about wellness.
Cannabinoids, in general, have been studied for several decades. For example, clinical trials in the 1980s showed that an isomer of THC was effective at reducing nausea associated with chemotherapy. However, studies into CBD are lacking, probably due to the fact this compound has only recently reached the market.
Often touted as a “miracle drug” to treat–or even cure–conditions ranging from anxiety to epilepsy to cancer, CBD oil proponents point to many videos on the internet that purport to show the amazing, almost instantaneous effects of the substance when given to children with epilepsy. But what is CBD oil, exactly, and is it safe to use?
Understanding the CBD-Cannabis Connection
Clinical research into how cannabinoids work has identified two cannabinoid receptors in the body, one in the brain and one on immune system B cells. Cannabinoid compounds may bind to these receptors to produce various effects, such as reducing nausea symptoms, but their exact mechanism of action remains unknown.
The most famous cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in marijuana that produces an intoxicating effect in users. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the other main cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. The only commonality between these two compounds lies in the fact they both derive from the same plant species.
Epilepsy, specifically Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS): In fact, the clinical evidence supporting CBD oil for these childhood epilepsy syndromes is so strong that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the first-ever cannabinoid-based drug (Epidiolex) for these conditions.
CBD is readily obtainable in most parts of the United States, though its exact legal status is in flux. All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction, and while the federal government still considers CBD in the same class as marijuana, it doesn’t habitually enforce against it. In December 2015, the FDA eased the regulatory requirements to allow researchers to conduct CBD trials. Currently, many people obtain CBD online without a medical cannabis license. The government’s position on CBD is confusing, and depends in part on whether the CBD comes from hemp or marijuana. The legality of CBD is expected to change, as there is currently bipartisan consensus in Congress to make the hemp crop legal which would, for all intents and purposes, make CBD difficult to prohibit.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been recently covered in the media, and you may have even seen it as an add-in booster to your post-workout smoothie or morning coffee. What exactly is CBD? Why is it suddenly so popular?
Is cannabidiol legal?
CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues, but the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications. In numerous studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures, and, in some cases, it was able to stop them altogether. Videos of the effects of CBD on these children and their seizures are readily available on the Internet for viewing, and they are quite striking. Recently the FDA approved the first ever cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions, Epidiolex, which contains CBD.
Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the level in your blood of the blood thinner coumadin, and it can raise levels of certain other medications in your blood by the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does. A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So, you cannot know for sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other (unknown) elements. We also don’t know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.