Cannabidiol (CBD): What We Know and What We Don't

With the rising interest in natural health therapies, cannabidiol (CBD) products are becoming a booming industry.

However, it’s no secret that the science is struggling to keep pace with the many claims being made about CBD. Well-prepared, impartial, peer-reviewed studies take time to conduct and analyze, and often require support and funding from educational institutions.

In the years ahead, we are sure to learn much more about CBD oil. But for now, we do not have the full picture. We do not yet understand all the ways in which CBD functions, the side effects of using CBD, or even all of its potential health benefits.

With all of that in mind, here’s what we know, and don’t know, about CBD.

Is CBD legal?

The legal status of CBD is complicated and depends largely on what state you are in.

Federally, the 2018 Farm Bill decriminalized hemp and hemp products, including CBD oil, if it is legally grown (with a valid USDA license) and sourced from hemp plants with less than .3% THC per dry weight. But, the final say on whether or not CBD is available to you, has been left up to the states.

In states with legal access to recreational or medicinal cannabis, CBD oil will not be a problem. In the states with more restrictive access to cannabis, CBD may not be okay. In order to avoid breaking the law, it is important to do your research before making a purchase. Check in with local law enforcement or research your state cannabis laws first.

For interstate travel, be sure to check the laws in your destination state(s) before bringing your CBD oil with you.

The change in legal status for hemp does not extend to cannabis. The FDA still considers cannabis a schedule 1 drug. This is why it is important that you understand where your CBD oil is sourced. CBD oil sourced from cannabis is not legal.  

Cannabidiol and marijuana are not the same thing

CBD is one of the hundreds of phytocannabinoids found in both hemp and marijuana plants. CBD oil that is legally available for purchase has been extracted from the hemp plant.

Hemp and marijuana are both members of the Cannabis sativa family so it is understandable that people often confuse the two.

Marijuana is a plant grown for its buds and flowers, hemp is much woodier, making it a valuable textile.

But the texture of the stalk is not the only significant difference between the two. The THC content of marijuana and hemp is quite different. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is found in high amounts in marijuana and is responsible for the “high” that users experience. Hemp, on the other hand,  is naturally low in THC.

What are the health benefits of CBD?

Much of what we do, and don’t, know about CBD relates to its health benefits. We do know that a number of studies have reported that CBD oil:

As a potential treatment for health conditions, CBD oil is thought to be effective for epilepsy, Parkinson’s, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, and even some cancers. Hundreds of other conditions are being researched for potential improvements with CBD treatment. It is important to note, however, that most of the studies conducted on CBD oil have been performed on animals. Further study and human trials are required in many of these areas.

Another thing that we don’t know yet, is exactly what chemical reactions are taking place that allows for this list of possible health benefits. It’s understood that cannabidiol impacts the body’s CB2 receptors and that most of this occurs indirectly through interactions with other neurotransmitters. CBD has the ability to work within the endocannabinoid system to potentiate and inhibit different receptors, and can also play a role in immunoregulation.[x] At this stage though, there is still much that is not understood about these interactions.

What are the side effects of CBD?

Side effects from CBD alone are uncommon but they are possible. Fatigue, irritability, and nausea may be experienced by some people even though there is some evidence that points to reducing the experience of these very same symptoms. What we do know unequivocally is that everyone should consult a doctor before taking CBD oil.

If you take existing medications, you should ask for guidance from your doctor on the use of CBD oil. This is because CBD impacts the cytochrome P450 system, which is used to process some pharmaceuticals including specific antidepressants and antibiotics. This “grapefruit effect” can result in a patient being more likely to experience side effects of their medication.

Is CBD safe?

Ultimately, this is a question that will only be answered by time. As with any relatively recent health trend, there isn’t enough evidence to say categorically whether CBD oil is safe, although the information we have suggests that it is. A report published by the World Health Organisation states: the potential therapeutic effects of CBD it is generally well tolerated, with a good safety profile.

Side effects aside, CBD oil is non-toxic with  no risk for addiction and no risk of overdose. As the National Cancer Institute explains: “Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from Cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur.”

While there is still much we don’t know about the way that phytocannabinoids influence the body, the evidence we have so far suggests that the potential benefits outweigh the risk in most cases. If you’d like to investigate whether CBD oil can help you, talk to your doctor.

Once you do that, visit our store and explore the vegan, organic CBD oil products curated from the most trusted brands in the CBD oil industry!