Cannibidiol (or CBD for short) is one of over 100 chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, found in the cannabis plant.
Touted as a treatment for a variety of ailments and conditions ranging from aches and pains to anxiety and sleep deprivation, its rising popularity has created an influx of companies who manufacture and sell CBD products in various forms.
From oils, sublingual drops, gummy candies and beverages, these products are popping up in health food shops, gas stations, and grocery stores readily available to the masses. One question I receive frequently is are these products safe and are there any side effects that could cause potential harm?
The first part to the question is understanding what CBD is and what it isn’t.
CBD is found within the genus of plants known as cannabis. Without getting too technical, cannabis can be in the form of either hemp or marijuana, which essentially depends on the total concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) between the two.
Hemp contains 0.3 percent or less of THC versus marijuana, which contains more than 0.3 percent.
THC is the psychoactive chemical compound in cannabis giving users the “high” most often associated with smoking or ingesting marijuana. On the other end of the cannabinoid spectrum is CBD, which does not have psychoactive effects, nor is it intoxicating or addictive.
CBD is widely known for its sedative, antioxidant, antidepressant, and anti-anxiety effects on the brain. While continued research is emerging to fully substantiate CBD’s health benefits, the most promising thus far is in the treatment of certain seizure disorders, reducing anxiety, and in aiding in normal sleep cycles.
Other promising notes on CBD is reports from credible organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which stated that “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential” as well as the World Anti-Doping Agency (the authority in determining if certain supplements and drugs can or cannot be permitted to use in sport) who currently do not have CBD listed as a prohibitive substance.
With that, many athletes use CBD products to help recover and heal faster as a result of their often rigorous training exercises. But, like anything we put into our bodies, there are potential consequences to be aware of before taking CBD products.
CBD can include certain side effects to be aware of including, fatigue, irritability and nausea.
Additionally, it can interact with certain medications, particularly certain blood thinning medications such as Coumadin (warfarin) and can raise levels of other medications similarly the way grapefruit juice can.
The other thing to reflect on if you are considering using CBD products is being fully aware there are currently no regulations on the safety and purity of the products you might be buying. Since nearly all CBD products on the market are considered supplements, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate the safety or purity of these items.
It’s important to be a savvy customer and do your research before buying just any CBD product. Review the company, look for independent reviews and studies, and go with your gut.
If the company is promising cures for everything and it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is and you should steer clear. The best way is to make sure you are making the best decisions is to include your physician’s input and guidance before jumping into the realm of CBD supplements.
CBD is not a cure-all for anything and everything. It’s not going to remedy stage IV cancer; it’s not going to fix a degenerative knee; and it certainly isn’t going to resolve Alzheimer’s disease.
However, among the studies conducted thus far, it’s starting to show up as an option in managing anxiety, insomnia, and perhaps even chronic pain. And, while most CBD products available aren’t necessarily harmful, it is important to understand they remain an unregulated supplement and can interact with other supplements and medication.
If you’re among those thinking about or already on the CBD bandwagon, proceed with diligence; use a skeptic’s eye by being attentive in choosing products wisely; and above all, consult your physician before using any supplement or herbal product.