The wellness industry is always looking for new natural chemicals that demonstrate previously unknown benefits. This endeavor is often inspired by a specific commercial bottom line, which is often proven when a new product line based on the latest wonder compound reaches mainstream status. Such is the case with CBD, short for cannabidiol.
CBD is now widely available in many countries around the world, including the EU and the US, thanks to laws allowing for its manufacturing from the hemp plant. Additionally, laws that restrict THC, marijuana’s psychoactive cannabinoid, have no impact on the production, sale or use of CBD since CBD contains minute, if any, traces of THC. More than a mere fad, CBD’s newfound status is indeed the result of breakthrough medical and scientific findings on its efficacy in potentially addressing many medical symptoms.
In the rush to market its benefits and sell CBD products, however, manufacturers may be pushing the boundaries of what’s sufficient for testing. CBD must be seen through the correct lens, with its potential benefits tempered by scientific truths. We must also recognize the potential side effects of CBD, ways that research into CBD has evolved and inconsistencies in regulation that exist.
Research into Cannabis Incomplete
There are known gaps in research on cannabis, and this is why the government recently granted $3 million via the National Institutes of Health to specifically explore cannabinoids. While the strongest scientific evidence supports the use of CBD to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome in young children, preciously little is known about the many other complex cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis. Science lags behind public interest by a long shot, and the lack of adequate research funding was stressed by a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine which determined that an absence of research into cannabis constitutes a public health risk.
Due to non-comprehensive knowledge about cannabis and its various cannabinoids, scientists studying CBD for various reasons can merely suggest the benefits of CBD to justify an abstract. They don’t need much more than this, but it will be a more precise science when individual cannabinoids other than THC and CBD are identified along with their beneficial properties. Other issues that have arisen are studies that have small sample sizes, which was notable in the recent study on CBD’s use in fighting opiate addiction, which studied only 42 adults in reaching its determination.
FDA and Federal Guidelines Clash
Something that might confuse consumers is the variety of CBD products available and why this variety changes with geography. First, there’s never been any change in how the US federal government views marijuana, but since the end of last year hemp (with THC content below 0.3%) has been approved federally since it lacks of any psychoactive component. States can ignore this caveat and regulate differently, resulting in a mishmash of products depending on what state you live in. A general rule is that if you see CBD foods or sodas on the shelf, you’re in a state where rules differ from the federal guidelines, meaning caution is advised in your product choice.
The Food and Drug Administration is a real consideration on top of federal law, and even though highly controlled CBD oil products are universally legal in the US, if the oil is sold in a product that’s for eating, drinking, or intended as drugs then it is illegal and comes without FDA approval. To date, the FDA has only put its stamp of approval on one CBD “drug”—Epidiolex—for the official treatment of childhood forms of epilepsy as mentioned above. CBD may be useful for numerous conditions beyond epilepsy, and consumers who want a CBD product that’s both reliable and compliant may instead consider CBD oils available over-the-counter. Those from quality brands like CBDMedic are produced in a cGMP facility, come from THC-free hemp called Cannabis sativa L and are used to temporarily relieve pain, tension, muscle and joint aches and common ailments like arthritis. CBDMedic offers natural, chemical-free alternatives to harmful synthetic pain relievers and opioids. The company’s products are being incorporated into wellness regimes and have attracted the support of former (probably) NFL star Rob Gronkowski.
CBD Isn’t a Cure-All
The fact remains that CBD hasn’t been shown to “cure” anything, and even as a treatment its title needs greater solidification. For now, beyond Epidiolex, there are scientists and doctors who support the use of CBD as a temporarily effective treatment for pain relief. That’s about it for now, but a silver lining in the science’s delayed entry to this space is that there’s a lot of money to go around. Further research into the numerous purposes of the endocannabinoid system is happening, and if research continues on its current successful trajectory, we can hope to see discoveries of particularly powerful natural medicines.
Known side effects of CBD in studies have also been acknowledged, and it’s a good sign that they’re generally well-tolerated, imposing relatively benign downsides such as dry mouth, lightheadedness and drowsiness. In this young market, even with many signs pointing towards CBD as a good thing, consumers need to tread carefully and research the products they intend to use. Given the FDA is studying cannabis and CBD development deliberately and carefully, consumers must identify trusted brands that are transparent about their science and willing to stand behind their product. A conversation with a trusted medical professional is always recommended before taking any CBD product.
Equities Contributor: Howard Goldstein
Source: Equities News