Kiosks are popping up in malls. Ads are filling websites. Vitamin and health stores have banners draped everywhere. Commercials are hitting the airways. They’re all marketing one of the biggest trends in the health industry: CBD. Chances are you’ve heard of it, and chances are you’ve seen a store selling it somewhere. A lot of people are fascinated by the medical benefits that CBD is said to have, and are tempted to try it themselves. But even though it seems like talk about it is everywhere, there is still a lot of confusion about what exactly CBD is. Let’s see if we can clear up some of the questions you might have!
CBD is short for cannabidiol, a chemical compound from the Cannabis sativa plant, more commonly known as marijuana. However, there is one big difference between this and what we traditionally call marijuana. That contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC, which gives marijuana its psychoactive qualities. CBD, conversely, contains very little to no THC, so it likely won’t have these effects. Because of this, people use it because it is believed to help achieve a feeling of relief or relaxation without altering their state. However, just because it is popping up everywhere doesn’t mean that all types of CBD are the same, and that it is right for you.
There is an ongoing discussion about how legal CBD is. Laws in the United States legalize CBD, but at different levels. The Food and Drug Administration has only found sufficient evidence that CBD has a strong positive effect to treat certain forms of epilepsy, particularly aggressive childhood forms previously thought untreatable. That’s not the best news for people looking to use CBD for other ailments, but that’s not to say it won’t help; it just means the FDA hasn’t approved usage for those ailments because there isn’t enough scientific evidence to say it definitely helps. Early research has shown little to no effect of CBD use on ailments like Chron’s disease and diabetes, but has shown more potential to alleviate insomnia, some muscle and joint pains, and even help people suffering from opioid withdrawal or trying to quit smoking. Still, the FDA needs more significant research before CBD can be approved for such treatments.
If you’re interested in trying a CBD product, there are a few things to consider. One of the most important things to keep an eye out for is if the product has been tested by a third party. This will let you know that what is on the label, including proper dosage. Check the label or the product’s website to find if it is third-party tested. If the product has a batch number, that’s also a good sign that the manufacturer is following good practices. Watch out for wild claims, like if it’s a guaranteed cure for a disease. You should probably pass on those. Also check for other ingredients, even if to just make sure nothing could cause a personal reaction. CBD products come in different forms, some topical and others edible. When figuring out which type to try, think about what outcome you’re hoping for. If it’s for localized pain, a lotion may be the way to go, but if it’s for something larger, something ingestible may be the right choice.
Of course, as with any other medication, CBD can have side effects. Because there is not much clear-cut evidence on the effects CBD can have on the body, do a little research on what others have reported, and make sure you are in a controlled environment the first time you use the product. People with liver conditions have reported needing lower doses of CBD. High doses are potentially harmful to people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. There are concerns that it can be unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Using it with other medicines or with alcohol has been seen to affect alertness. And, remember that the FDA is not regulating these CBD products, and says it is illegal to add it to food or market it as a dietary supplement, so when you come across a product that intrigues you, make sure you know all the facts you can!