CBD is all the rage and just like with any new health craze there can be so much conflicting information out there it can be hard to know who to trust. There are a few basic things you need to know when you’re getting started with CBD.
Cannabis sativa – What is CBD?
CBD (cannabidiol) – non-psychotropic compound – believed to be responsible for many medicinal effects
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – psychoactive compound
Most CBD products claim to have <.3% THC. There is currently no regulations to ensure these claims which may make them unreliable.
Types of CBD products:
- Infused Oil: herb infused in a carrier oil to extract the active compounds THC & CBD are lipid soluble
- Essential Oil: steam distilled, extracts compounds with low molecular weight, not as chemically diverse, very potent
- Supercritical CO2: potent extract, contains volatile compounds, waxes, and other chemicals found in the herb.
CBD – The Basics
The myth – CBD is the medicinal compound & THC is the psychoactive compound.
CBD is a key ingredient not the active ingredient in cannabis. Meaning it works with other compounds in the plant to achieve effects. There are dozens of active compounds that have been identified which includes THC, & CBD. Many other compounds, includes THC in some cases have been identified as being responsible for the product’s effects on pain, inflammation, and anxiety.
Full Spectrum products will contain all components of the plant from the extraction process. This includes THC. A product can’t be full spectrum (by definition) without containing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – psychoactive compound)
Like many herbal products and supplements, there are currently no regulations for CBD products. This means there can be extreme variation in composition from brand to brand.
Recently a study compared ingredients listed on the labels of cannabidiol products sold online to actual product constituents determined by laboratory analysis.
Eighty-four products were purchased and analyzed (from 31 companies).
Of the samples tested for CBD, 42.85% of products were underlabeled, 26.19% were over labeled, and 30.95% were accurately labeled. The concentration of unlabeled cannabinoids was generally THC was detected (up to 6.43 mg/mL) in 18 of the 84 samples tested.
“Of tested products, 26% contained less CBD than labeled, which could negate any potential clinical response. The overlabeling of CBD products in this study is similar in magnitude to levels that triggered warning letters to 14 businesses in 2015-2016 from the US Food and Drug Administration (eg, suggesting that there is a continued need for federal and state regulatory agencies to take steps to ensure label accuracy of these consumer products. Underlabeling is less concerning as CBD appears to neither have abuse liability nor serious adverse consequences at high doses4,5; however, the THC content observed may be sufficient to produce intoxication or impairment, especially among children.”PMID: 29114823
Like with all herbal supplements it’s important to research the products you’re purchasing. If they are not readily available do not hesitate to ask companies about third party testing (unaffiliated, outside, unbiased sources). Any company should be happy to supply these to customers. If they don’t that should be a red flag.
With the lack of regulations, it’s important to be your own investigator and advocate.
CBD Potential Contamination
Did you know cannabis has the potential to be contaminated with heavy metals?
Cannabis is an accumulator plant, this means it takes up everything from its environment – the soil that it’s grown in. Because of this cannabis plants have actually been used to absorb powerful toxins in the environment to help clear radioactive material, and contamination from the soil in areas where catastrophic events have occured.
This process is called phytoremediation. Phytoremediation uses plant remediation of environmental pollution exploiting capability of plants or wild weeds for the remediation of contaminated soil.
Heavy metals can accumulate in the plant through the root system of the plant if it’s grown in contaminated soil. This may come from fertilizers with large amounts of heavy metals or contaminated soil or contaminated water sources. Bioaccumulation occurs when contaminated plants are ingested and humans consume that those plants they become concentrated in the body.
Plants grown for human health should be evaluated for contamination from substances found in the soil. When purchasing cannabis products it is important to look for a company that does third party testing for contamiation.
Cannabis, CBD, THC and Potential Uses
The body of research continues to grow on cannabis and it’s potential uses. Despsite some drawbacks with sources, regulations and possible contamination there are promising findings emerging using cannabis as alternative and adjunct therapies.
Possible areas of uses and future use include:
- Pain & Inflammation
- Mental Health
- Gastrointestinal Complaints
Different products are being evaluated as to how they best address these and other issues. Some of these issues may see benefits with a combination of CBD & THC, others may see a benefit from a CBD product. The root cause will really play an important role in choosing the best product.