Published: March 29th, 2018
It is an unquestionable fact, that CBD is making waves within the medical establishment. For far too many years the demonization of cannabis prohibited the vast majority of laboratories and research centers around the world to objectively conduct studies into the potential of cannabis’ active ingredients for medicinal use.
Thankfully that has changed, as the FDA has recently approved CBD oils to be used in medical trials. As the amount of evidence keeps piling, so is the amount of misconceptions regarding CBD products. The inherited and ingrained social phobia towards cannabis is slowly fading away, as year after year authorities all over the world recognize how faintly problematic cannabis is, compared to many (if not most) other over-the-counter drugs and alcohol.
While still technically illegal in many jurisdictions, one must ask, if this compound is so great, why is it illegal?
The reason is simple. When the old and severely outdated cannabis prohibition laws were passed, they were proposed under the notion that the plant as a whole—and its derivates—was psychoactive with a potential to be abused recreationally.
Being that CBD oils are an extraction from the cannabis plant, it automatically falls into the controlled substances list. This has also led to numerous myths regarding CBD itself as cannabis, hemp and marijuana are not all one and the same thing.
Here we will have a look at some of the most common myths and facts you need to know, to truly be informed about what is what.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, one of approximately 60 distinct active molecules found in cannabis. The human body has a system of neuro-receptors called the endocannabinoid system, where CBD seems to interact by modulating and regulating activities surrounding the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Cannabinoid receptors can be found all over our body, from head to toes. CBD, directly and indirectly, regulates certain neurotransmitter reuptake, ion channels, and even non-cannabinoid receptors.
CBD is non-psychoactive. The FDA, despite only recently permitting clinical trials, still classifies CBD oils as a food supplement. In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests, that CBD is antipsychotic and anxiolytic and a general stress-reliever.
Recreational consumers of marijuana tend to prefer low quantities of CBD exactly because it tends to smoothen out the high considerably.
Plain and simple, the confusion revolves around the taxonomic nomenclature given to the plant itself. Even botanists and ethnobotanists have yet to reach a consensus around this classification. And then there is slang.
To (try to) keep it simple, Cannabis is the actual scientific name of the genus, which has three distinct species – Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.
Marijuana and weed are slang for the types of cannabis that have a high amount of THC and are preferred for their euphoric and psychoactive qualities. They are usually bred with this in mind, and therefore CBD is usually present in very low quantities.
Industrial hemp is the name given to a variety of cannabis, that is selected for its quality to produce fibers, seeds, and hemp oil. Typically, cannabis is considered hemp, when it has under 0.3% THC content. This type of cannabis usually has much higher CBD count in it.
In very recent years, in great part due to the rise in CBD popularity, breeders have been creating specific strains for CBD production. While hemp does the job just fine, a recreational variety can produce much bigger female flowers. By selectively breeding THC out of certain strains and increasing CBD, these new strains can produce a far higher amount of raw material with the same footprint. In essence, it is hemp, that is not so great for fibers, but yields vastly superior quantities of CBD by weight—without THC.
As a health supplement, producers of CBD are not allowed to recommend the use of more than 160mg of CBD per day to users. This is to ensure it is used in a supplementary fashion. Only doctors are able to recommend higher doses, accompanied by a prescription for CBD. As such, it is worth seeking the advice of a medical professional if you want to use CBD in more than a dietary supplement capacity.
Nothing could be further from the truth. To start off with, to make CBD oils you need the highest grade raw material—female cannabis flower, or buds—but in enormous quantities. This poses a problem, as more often than not, supply does not meet demand.
Underground and unregulated production methods of growing are plagued with very strong petrochemical fertilizers, flower boosting additives, and pesticides. The result is far from a natural product, that will end up contaminating the resulting oil. Therefore, only genuinely organic and naturally grown cannabis should be used.
Secondly, the extraction method employed. There are several methods, but since CBD oils are to enter the human body, it is wise to understand that the majority of these methods will use toxic solvents, that are very difficult to purge.
CO₂ extraction is completely clean and environmentally friendly and guaranteed to leave no residues behind. The cost of equipment is prohibitory in most cases, and you will need a highly qualified operator to run such a system correctly.
Some producers prefer quantity, while others focus on quality.
CBD can also be obtained in its pure crystalline form. In theory, it is pure and unadulterated. But it is known, that cannabinoids operate at maximum efficiency as a team. This is called the entourage effect. The therapeutic value of an oil is on the whole, not the sum of its parts. Most other extraction methods will destroy terpenes and flavonoids.
While CBD is the main constituent, terpenes and flavonoids also play a big role in the overall therapeutic experience of CBD oils—certainly not only for its tastes and smells.
For a long time, research with cannabis was done either in secrecy, funded by the US government with a clear propaganda agenda, or a few odd pioneers, that for some reason managed to pass through the red tape.
Examples like Dr. Raphael Mechoulam in Israel, Dr. Manuel Gúzman in Spain, and even activist group NORML in the US—to name but a few—paved the way for serious analytical research.
For decades research was denied to the majority of clinicians. Only in recent years, due to unprecedented social unrest and legislative reforms, is it possible to propose to academics and research centers the possibility to do so without the fear of reprisal by ethics committees and even law enforcement.
The amount of published papers concerning CBD research is unprecedented, and there is no question a very big investment in this field is being made.
Just recently, both the World Health Organization and the World Anti-Doping Agency for the Olympic Committee reviewed their stance on CBD claiming it to be completely safe, and even recommending legislators around the world to review their stance on this highly promising molecule.