CBD - An Evidenced-Based Approach

Posted in Herbs, Supplements on Apr 14, 2019

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Cannabis sativa

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 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 contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol - psychoactive compound)

CBD Regulations

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 Administration3 (eg,actual CBD content was negligible or less than 1% of the labeled content), 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 doses; 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.

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CBD 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. PMID: 28324308

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.

What that mean is 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
  • Cancer

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.

CBD & Anxiety

CBD has potential as a possible treatment for some anxiety related conditions. CBD has no psychoactive effects (THC free) and does not affect cognition. According to studies, it has an adequate safety profile, good tolerability, positive results in trials with humans, and a broad spectrum of pharmacological actions. This makes it promising as a future therapy for those with anxiety.

Studies in animal and human models have shown evidence supporting CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely. There are few studies that have investigated chronic CBD dosing for these purposes.

According to studies CBD reduced anxiety associated with a simulated public speaking test in healthy subjects, and in subjects with social anxiety disorder (SAD). In a study involving public speaking researchers found that a single dose of CBD decreased anxiety after the SPS test in healthy volunteers. In another study, researchers found that social anxiety disorder patients presented higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort, as well as increased alertness during their speech performance when compared with healthy controls. After CBD treatment, however, a significant reduction in anxiety-related measures obtained during their speech performance was observed.

When tested over a wide range of doses, the anxiolytic effects of CBD presented a bell-shaped dose-response curve, with anxiolytic effects observed at moderate but not higher doses.

PMID: 27157263 PMID: 26341731