It’s being touted as safe and non-addictive, a treatment for a host of ailments, and even a “miracle” cannabis compound. Found in oils, creams, pills, candy, teas, and more, cannabidiol, or CBD, is popping up everywhere. But with no regulation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and limited research to back up its medicinal use claims, the jury is still out on CBD’s efficacy. What does seem for sure is that CBD isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Market research firm Brightfield Group estimates that the CBD industry will be worth $5.7 billion this year and $22 billion by 2022. In 2018, the third most Googled food search term was “CBD gummies.” Even this year’s Oscar gift bags to celebrity presenters were filled with CBD products.

But what is CBD? Is it safe? If the research is slim, does CBD do all that proponents are saying it does? Could CBD jeopardize a person’s recovery?  

Read on for our round up of some of the most frequently asked questions about CBD.

What is CBD?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of many hundreds of naturally occurring compounds found in the cannabis plant.

What is CBD used to treat? Does it work?

The endogenous cannabinoid system, named for its similarity to compounds found in the cannabis plant, is a network of receptors throughout the body that interact with cannabinoids to help regulate everything from mood, energy level, and appetite to blood pressure, bone density, and how pain is experienced. CBD works by mimicking the endogenous cannabinoids found in the body.

CBD proponents claim that CBD products may be useful in treating physical ailments like fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other types of chronic pain, as well as neurological and mental disorders like epilepsy, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, and anxiety.

In a recent New York Times article, Dustin Lee, an assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University said, “ is a kind of new snake oil in the sense that there are a lot of claims and not so much evidence.”

In June 2018, Epidiolex became the first, and still only, prescription CBD medication approved by the FDA. Used to treat epilepsy in children, Epidiolex is a liquid, pure plant-derived cannabidiol. In clinical trials, the drug was found to reduce seizures in pediatric cases for two types of rare and severe seizures, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

While there are many studies currently underway to examine the effects of CBD on everything from Crohn’s disease to schizophrenia, there remains little evidence to support claims today that CBD can improve human health.

How is it used?

Once CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant, it can be added to products like oils (for vaping or for topical application), pills and capsules, creams and balms, sublingual strips, “edibles” (pastries, chocolate, gummies), a wide variety of beverages (teas, coffees, smoothies), and more.

Does it get you high? How is CBD different from THC?

Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component in cannabis responsible for producing a high, CBD is non-intoxicating.

Going back to the endogenous cannabinoid system, two of the cannabinoid receptors identified in this network are called CB1 and CB2. CBD and THC interact with these receptors in different ways. Both CBD and THC can bind with the CB2 receptor, but only THC binds directly with CB1, producing a high.

Proponents of CBD claim that CBD products offer the benefits of THC without the high or some of the more unpleasant side effects of THC, like paranoia or even cannabis-induced psychosis.

Is it legal?

While the Drug Enforcement Agency still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, or “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” hemp was reduced to a Schedule V drug in late 2018 with the passage of the Farm Bill. With the Farm Bill signed into law, hemp-derived CBD products—those with low- or no-THC—became legal. Marijuana-derived CBD products, however, remain illegal unless purchased in states with medical or recreational marijuana laws.

To complicate matters though, the FDA still considers CBD a drug and therefore has not approved it for use in food, drinks, or dietary supplements.

Is my recovery in jeopardy if I use CBD?

In addition to the still limited research available on CBD, it is also a highly unregulated industry, resulting in the distribution of products that vary widely in quality.

In a 2017 study, it was found that 7 out of 10 CBD products did not contain the amount of marijuana extract promised on the label, with 43% containing too much CBD and 26% containing too little. The same study also showed that one in five CBD products contained THC.

Inaccurate labeling and inconsistent quality could mean a roll of the dice for someone in recovery. Not only this but some CBD tinctures contain alcohol.

Like a dry alcoholic turning to non-alcoholic beers, or “near beers,” to simulate the taste and experience of drinking a beer, there is the potential for CBD, with its close relationship to marijuana, to produce a similar effect. In recovery, the focus becomes not just putting down the drink or drug but also changing the attitudes and behaviors associated with drinking and using. For many, smoking, ingesting—even applying a CBD lotion—may be just a little too close to the real thing.

If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana addiction, we can help. Contact us to learn more about our 30-Day Residential Program and Long-Term Recovery Program. And be sure to read Tanner’s story, a Discovery Place alum who found freedom from marijuana addiction. 

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