Cannabidiol (CBD) is no doubt one of the latest trends. It’s popping up in gift shops; sold in soaps, tinctures, soft gels, and salves. Coffee shops are offering CBD shots for their java while local juice and smoothie joints will add a few CBD drops as a smoothie or juice booster. You can also find CBD pet chews!
Let’s start with the basics: What is CBD? What are the potential health benefits? Is CBD legal?
CBD, what is it?
CBD is a natural remedy and active ingredient derived from the hemp plant, a variety of the cannabis plant. Marijuana is another variety of the cannabis plant.
What differs between the marijuana plant and hemp plant is the amount of compounds that predominate in the plant. Marijuana plants have high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive ingredient that is known to produce the marijuana ‘high’. Hemp, on the other hand, has little THC but is a great source of CBD.
CBD is not a psychoactive ingredient–you will not get ‘high’ on CBD.
CBD is a cannabinoid, a group of compounds found in cannabis that interact with numerous receptors in your brain and body.
What are the Potential Health Benefits of CBD?
CBD has been associated with a wide range of health benefits, in fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the cannabis-derived medication for severe seizure conditions called Epidiolex ( a component of this drug is CBD).
Most studies looking at the benefits of CBD have utilized large amounts of CBD (300-600 mg), far more than the CBD contained in most commercial brands. There have been some noted benefits:
- Improved sleep. (Case study of 10 year old girl, 25 mg CBT improved her sleep disorder.)
- Parkinson’s disease accompanied REM sleep disorder (small case series study shows benefit.)
- Reduction in anxiety. Study here. Study here. Study here.
- Lower pain and inflammation associated with arthritis (animal study; using transdermal CBD).
- This animal based study in Ulcerative Colitis showed improvement in inflammation with CBD.
- Cannabinoids may reduce gastrointestinal motility, article here. This may be helpful for patients with IBS-D.
- Cannabinoids may help with traumatic brain injury such as concussion but more research is needed. Review here.
Side effects and safety of CBD
CBD may cause nausea and fatigue in some individuals.
Is CBD Legal?
It depends on who you ask. The laws vary a bit state to state and the lines regarding legality appear a bit fuzzy from what I read. Here are two different commentaries on this topic: An article in The Wall Street Journal here. And another one in the Food Navigator here.
This article in The Wall Street Journal notes, “As of October , 46 states have passed some kind of CBD legalization; the use and sale of the compound is not explicitly allowed under federal law, but the law is not often enforced.” Additionally, “Now, with support from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the 2018 farm bill might legalize every cannabinoid except the psychoactive compound THC”. So CBD buyers, stay tuned.
CBD products are unregulated in the US. The FDA did a study and found that 70% of CBD products on the market are mislabeled, some containing no CBD. Buyer beware!
How to Select a Reputable Product
You can purchase a subscription to ConsumerLab.com to read about their 3rd party testing of CBD products. ConsumerLab.com is a great resource to learn more about the research regarding supplements and what they have found in particular products in regard to contaminants and the amount of active ingredients in products.
I asked cannabis expert and my registered dietitian colleague, Janice Bissex, MS, RDN and owner of jannasbiswellness.com, a site for CBD products, to share her thoughts about selecting the best CBD product. She suggests, “”select a product that has been organically grown, as the cannabis plant is a bioaccumulator and will uptake toxins from the soil in which it is grown. Choose a full spectrum CBD product not a CBD isolate”.
This is because the hemp plant has other components that may work synergistically with the CBD to offer health benefits. Janice also suggests, you do a little homework, “buy from a reputable source that has professional staff to answer any questions you might have and the the product you select has been independently lab tested so you know the exact amount of CBD and other cannabinoids and terpenes in the product.”
What the heck is a terpene?
Shown below are different types of terpenes in plants and their benefits. Terpenes are flavoring compounds found in many common plants. CBD has a variety of terpenes and the health benefits of terpenes in CBD contribute to what is called, “the entourage effect of cannabis based extracts”. This scientific paper explain more about the ‘entourage effect” of terpenes. Black pepper contains beta-caryophyllene, which is a terpene, and the terpene, linalool is found in both hemp and lavender.
When terpenes are combined with CBD in oral products it creates a product that is both beneficial and flavorful.
Can taking CBD oil cause you to fail a drug test? It’s possible but low risk. But CBD is an unregulated supplement, and that means it is possible. This article in Forbes talks more about this topic.
Here is a quote from the Forbes piece linked above, “It is not common for CBD users to turn out a positive drug test for THC. Yet, sometimes when patients are consuming in upwards of 1,000 milligrams per day, it can trigger a false positive. The average CBD user typically only consumes between 120 to 160 milligrams daily. Still, Consumerlab president Tod Cooperman, whose company tests natural supplements like hemp-based CBD, says around 10 percent of those people who use CBD can test positive for THC.”
Bear in mind, many commercial CBD products contain just 25-50 milligrams per dose.
Of course, I want to learn more, so here below you will find more of my Q + A with cannibis expert, Janice Bissex:
Kate: Can you describe the mechanism in layman’s terms —how does CBD work?
- CBD has anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, anti-spasmodic, and pain-relief effects.
- CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system to help create homeostasis within the body.
- CBD influences receptors that may increase serotonin levels, block the transmission of pain signals, and quell inflammation.
- CBD is also neurocalming and neuroprotective so it can be used to treat seizures, traumatic brain injury, concussions, and anxiety.
Kate: And from you clinical observation, what types of clients have really seemed to benefit from CBD?
- Those suffering from anxiety, IBS, pain, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, tendonitis, arthritis in the knee, and insomnia.
Kate: Do you recommend certain amount of milligrams for a starting point—or is the amount based per diagnosis or issue you are trying to improve?
- I always advise people to start low and go slow.
- If they are experiencing severe pain, we may start at 25mg. But for anxiety, 5mg may be a good starting dose.
- Dosing varies among individuals, depending on the condition and the individual’s endocannabinoid system.
Kate: I have tried the CBD tincture (see my personal experience below), what other forms are there?
Janice: There are many ways to take CBD – tinctures, softgels, topical salves, edibles. You do not need a medical marijuana card to buy CBD.
My personal experience
To be honest, I really wasn’t following the science about CBD…until I had a tough fall and ended up with post concussion syndrome recently. When I mentioned my concussion to colleagues, I had a few health professionals say, “Have your tried CBD?” I was a bit skeptical. I am the girl that barely takes an aspirin. Well, guess what? I gave CBD a whirl.
About a month out from my fall, I found a local store owner that sells a CBD oil she swears by…still skeptical, I decided to buy a bottle. I had no idea the price point–and was surprised to find out it was $100! Yikes.
I had the bottle in my home for at least 2 weeks before I opened it. And then one evening while suffering still with post concussion syndrome, I opened it up, took out one quarter of a dropper full of CBD, put it under my tongue for a minute… and then did a quick swallow. And here is what happened?
I slept really well that night. I tried it again the next night, I fell promptly asleep and slept very soundly again. The next night, I had another great night sleep and felt so energized for the first time since my fall. Could my experience with CBD simply be the placebo effect? Absolutely. My experience is not a scientific study! So, yes, please bear that in mind.
Now, I am about 90% back to normal, I use CBD tincture about 3 times per week. And there’s my story.
After reaching out to Janice Bissex, I decided to reach out to another registered dietitian colleague who has had a positive experience with CBD and other adaptogens, Carlene Thomas, RD. I have followed Carlene’s entertaining and beautiful Instagram feed for a while now. Carlene and her husband, Chris work as a duo creating exquisite content, on Instagram @ohcarlene. or via her website here.
Carlene has shared her experience with CBD through her blog, check out her informative post here and via her Instagram feed.
Here is my interview with Carlene:
12 replies on “Cannabidiol (CBD) is the latest trend. Here are my thoughts.“
Any specific experience in your practice or others with CBD as relates to IBS?
To be honest, Vivian, this is a new area for me! I just recommended it for the first time –and I am meeting w/ that client for feedback next week. Janice mentioned that she has found IBS patients have seen benefits. Many individuals with IBS experience anxiety and depression–and CBD seems to benefit anxiety –as noted in the studies I linked in the post.
Although I’m extremely physically active — or maybe because of it — I’ve dealt with lower back pain for years. Recently, I hurt my back and even taking ibuprofen (like you, I have to be half dead before I even reach for a Tylenol) did not help. I happened to be in a drugstore for an entirely unrelated reason when I noticed salves of CBD on the counter. I spoke with the pharmacist about it at length and figured why not, nothing could be worse than continuing to deal with this lower back pain. No one could have been more skeptical! As soon as I got home, I rubbed it on my lower back figuring here goes nothing, sat down and began reading. After about a half an hour I got up, and all the pain was still there and I figured oh well, it doesn’t work which is pretty much what I expected. Sat back down again to read and 20 minutes later I stood up to go do something and only after taking a few steps did I realize the back pain was almost entirely gone. It was unbelievable. It didn’t come back and I did continue using the salve for a couple of days just to make sure. It’s now my go-to for all my aches and pains ( and friends have reported the same results to me since you can imagine, I’ve been recommending this product!). I will be curious to hear the impact it may or may not have on IBS.
Thanks for your comment, Cate. I didn’t mention that I also tried the salve for facial pain–I have a minor nose fracture and my face experienced blunt trauma in the fall. And, it did help with the symptoms.
Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RDN
Thanks, Kate, for including me in this post. I have seen some good results with my clients using CBD to manage symptoms of IBS and have a number of resources on my Jannabis Wellness website. I’m happy to answer any questions!
Thanks for chiming in Janice! Readers see Janice’s comment and link to her website above–Janice is a wealth of information!
Thanks for this information. I have been curious about trying CBD and because I believe you are a trusted source for information….I went ahead and ordered from YuYo Botanics. I can’t wait for it to arrive!!!
Great article! I can attest to the efficacy of CBD. I’m a medical card holder in California, and have used CBD for just under a year for use relating to adrenal fatigue, leaky gut, and autoimmune issues which were exacerbated by severe stress. I used a tincture daily and found the anti-inflammatory properties were amazing. I am more relaxed now, and my gut is healthier. I refer many of my friends to it for anti-inflammatory issues, either in the gut or the joints.
I should say this every time you post: THANK YOU! You are beautiful, amazing, and so generous with your time and energy! Thank you for all that you share!!
I appreciate your very sweet comment! TY!
My IBS-D flares the worst when I’m traveling, which is awful. Even on a fun vacation I think the underlying stress of travel wreaks havoc on my system. I’m curious if CBD could be taken prior to and during a trip for ease of symptoms. Or, is it recommended to take regularly to keep a healthy system with IBS-D.
Janice Newell Bissex
Hi Rebecca, one option is to take a small dose of CBD on a daily basis (using a tincture that is easily titrated) and then increase during travel or particularly stressful times. I’m happy to chat with you if have further questions. 🙂
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