Here’s Everything That You Need to Know Before Using CBD

Medicinal Cannabis. Hands holding ampoules and Marijuana Leaves on Top of Plants

There is a lot of news these days about CBD and how people are using it to treat a wide variety of medical conditions ranging from epilepsy and anxiety, to arthritis pain and insomnia.  There also has been a good amount of conflicting information in the media and online about CBD and other cannabis-based therapies.  So, it would be totally understandable if you’re both curious and skeptical as well a little confused.  To help you sort it out, or at least have a better understanding of CBD and other cannabis-based products, Proactive Health Labs (pH Labs) has put together this FAQ to give you the basics.   We continually add new content on a wide range of health-related topics, including CBD, so remember to come back often.  You may even want to create a bookmark to make it easier to get to pH Labs health information you are looking for.

What exactly is CBD?

CBD (which stands for cannabidiol) is the second most prominent compound in the Cannabis plant, which is more commonly known as marijuana.  These compounds are collectively known as cannabinoids and more than 80 of them have been identified so far.  CBD is non-psychoactive, and it does not create any type of euphoria, intoxication or cognitive impairment when taken.  The other prominent, and psychoactive, compound in the Cannabis sativa plant is known as THC (which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol).

What is CBD used for? I hear it is a cure-all for many ailments and conditions. Is this true?

While there has been a substantial amount of recent research on the potential health benefits of CBD, there is still a lot more that needs to be done before all of its benefits have been identified and proven in clinical settings.  For now, the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved use of CBD is for the treatment of a specific form of childhood epilepsy.   Research continues on CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. As academic research centers in the United States and other countries continue studying the effects of CBD, there will be greater certainty as to CBD’s benefits. 

Is CBD the same as “medical marijuana?”

No, although CBD is a component of “medical marijuana”.  The difference is that “medical marijuana” also includes THC, along with other cannabinoids.  The CBD linked to health benefits has been extracted from the cannabis and used in a purified form to eliminate THC and other compounds and impurities that may be present in the plant.  To give you an analogy:  hops and barley are both ingredients of beer.  But we would not say that hops is the same as beer or that barley is the same as beer. It’s the same with CBD and “medical marijuana.”  CBD is a compound found in “medical marijuana,” but it is not “medical marijuana.”  

How does CBD work?

Cannabinoids, including CBD, interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS. Numerous studies have shown the ECS to be directly involved in the processes that keep our bodies balanced day-to-day, including appetite, pain sensation, mood, memory, immune system functions, and inflammation control.  Overall, research concludes that the endocannabinoid system is largely responsible for managing homeostasis: the body’s natural condition of balance. Research has shown that when you ingest CBD, it stimulates your endocannabinoid system. 

Does CBD have the same intoxicating effects as marijuana? Does it get you “stoned” or “high?”

No and, in fact, it has the exact opposite effect.  Studies have shown that in addition to not creating any type of “high,” CBD also counteracts the effects of the psychoactive THC.  

What is the difference between marijuana and hemp, both of which have CBD as a component?

They are the same plant with the only difference being that hemp plants contain no more than 0.3 percent of THC.  Any plant with more than this amount of THC is classified as marijuana.  This distinction between the two is important from a legal perspective since recent Federal legislation legalized the cultivation of hemp (although not necessarily the CBD extracted from it).

Is CBD natural? Could it be called a natural, plant-based remedy? Is it homeopathic?

If you define “natural” as “found in nature,” then, yes CBD could be called natural.  And, yes, CBD is plant based since it is a compound found in cannabis.  Beyond that, descriptions become subjective and very dependent on who you are talking with.  Someone who believes in homeopathic medicine and follows it precepts, could readily describe CBD as homeopathic.  But a physician who is prescribing FDA-approved CBD for a child with epilepsy would probably say it is a pharmaceutical much in the same way penicillin (which comes from a mold) is a pharmaceutical.  So, it will depend a lot on how CBD is being used and for what purpose as well as by whom. 

How is CBD taken?  How much should I take?

There are number of ways to take CBD.  They include topical lotions or creams, edibles, drops to put under your tongue, and capsules and pills. Some people add CBD to teas, soaps and other products. Vaping, or inhaling vaporized CBD oil in e-cigarettes, is not recommended.   Since CBD treatments are highly personalized, there is no “right or wrong,” although each way of taking CBD has its fans and its detractors.  Edibles, for example, make it much easier to dose but it can take longer to achieve your goal for taking CBD.  Sublingual drops make it easier and quicker for CBD to enter your body, but some people just don’t like putting things under their tongues.  In terms of dosing, the general rule of thumb for CBD is to take the minimum and then increase if needed.  This is important since taking more CBD will not necessarily increase its potential effectiveness.  

I have read the terrible news reports about people getting critically ill and even dying from “vaping” CBD oil. Is this true?

There have been numerous incidents of people becoming critically ill and dying after vaping any number of substances.  The medical community and government are researching the exact causes.  In the meantime, our advice is to not vape CBD – use a lotion, edible, sublingual drop or CBD-infused product instead.  And do that only after consulting with your doctor or another competent healthcare professional. 

Is CBD safe? Are there any side effect I should know about?

According to medical experts and the National Institutes of Health, CBD is well tolerated.  That said, CBD may interact with blood thinners, such as Warfarin or Coumadin; painkillers; insulin; and other medications or supplements. This is why it is important to talk with a competent healthcare professional before considering adding CBD to your current health regimen. Some CBD users have also reported nausea, fatigue and irritability when taking CBD.

Which is better? Pure CBD or CBD that still has some residual THC mixed in with it? 

In the opinion of the pH Labs medical team, pure CBD from a reputable manufacturer is better for a number of reasons.  The first is that you don’t need to worry about possible side effects from THC, which many people find unpleasant or unwanted. The second is that with CBD extracted from cannabis and purified by a reputable company you can more confident about labeling information, including exactly how CBD you are taking.  The third is that purified CBD is free of potentially harmful substances such as pesticides and additives.  

Is CBD legal? While I believe it may be of benefit to me, I also don’t want to break the law.

CBD products derived from hemp and that do not contain any THC are legal on a Federal level while it may still be illegal in some states.  Keep in mind, however, that laws regarding cannabis-based products (and cannabis itself) are constantly changing.  So, you should check your local laws regarding these products. 

Have the claims made for the benefits of CBD been verified and confirmed by a competent government entity such as the FDA? How is it currently classified?

In the United states, CBD is usually marketed as a supplement, which does not have the same regulations as pharmaceutical products. But while they do not need a prescription, manufacturers are prohibited from making health claims, from selling adulterated products or mislabeling, for example.  For now, the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved use of CBD is for the treatment of a specific form of childhood epilepsy.

What is the position of pH Labs’ medical team about CBD? Is pH labs recommending it to clients? Does pH Labs currently offer CBD oil or CBD-infused products?

Given the potential benefits of CBD beyond its current FDA-approved uses for the treatment of a specific form of childhood epilepsy, the pH Labs medical team is carefully following academic and government research on CBD.  Our recommendation to all our clients is to talk with their personal physician or healthcare provider if they have questions about the potential benefits of adding CBD – or any other supplement – to their current healthcare regimen.  pH Labs currently does not offer CBD oil or CBD-infused products. 

Joy Stephenson-Laws is the founder of Proactive Health Labs (pH).

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