The rediscovery of cannabis’ therapeutic potential is one of the landmark events of 21st-century medicine. As a result, CBD has become the most recent star in wellness trends. However, an excess of attention to the compound’s properties has built hype around its potential. News stories and media reports started to talk about a ‘miracle drug,’ capable of treating almost every existing condition in human health, which is far from the truth. Yes, CBD has a vast therapeutic potential and it may be able to assist in the treatment of a large number of ailments. But it’s important to know that it also has its limitations. Researchers are working to discover and confirm CBD’s properties on a daily basis.
So, let’s check out what science has to say about this compound, and use these findings to debunk some of the web’s most popular myths and fallacies surrounding CBD.
- Myth #1) CBD can’t get you high
- Myth #2) CBD is non-psychoactive
- Myth #3) There’s no science to back up the use of CBD
- Myth #4) CBD is safe for children and pets
- Myth #5) Isolated CBD is more beneficial than whole-plant extracts
- Myth #6) CBD will make you sleepy
- Myth #7) CBD didn’t work for me after the first time so it’s not working
- Where does that leave us?
Myth #1) CBD can’t get you high
To understand this myth, let’s dig a little deeper into what it means to be “high.”
Although being “high” is not a medical or scientific term, the expression is usually used to describe a state of altered consciousness. Intoxicating substances are known to cause these states.
CBD is known as the “non-intoxicating” compound of cannabis, in contrast to THC, which is the molecule responsible for marijuana’s intoxicating effect. Most CBD oils are produced from cannabis plants that have a high CBD content and a very low THC content (usually less than 0.3%).
Now, except for CBD isolate, most CBD oils (like full spectrum or broad-spectrum oil) will contain trace amounts of THC. In most circumstances, doses of CBD oil will not be high enough for the THC in them to produce a perceivable effect. However, if taken without discretion and in very large amounts, it is possible for the small amounts of THC to cause slight mind-altering effects on the user.
Myth #2) CBD is non-psychoactive
There’s an essential difference between a “psychoactive” substance and an “intoxicating” substance. Intoxication means that the user will have his or her cognitive abilities affected. That’s why intoxicating substances are not advisable for dangerous tasks like operating heavy machinery or driving.
Psychoactive substances are, by definition, those that have an active effect on the psyche or mind. This effect may or may not be intoxicating. A classic definition of a non-intoxicating psychoactive drug is caffeine. Most people can safely drink coffee and perform difficult tasks, but still, they might choose to consume it because of caffeine’s ability to reduce sleepy sensation and increase focus.
While clinical studies have shown that CBD does not reduce cognitive ability as THC does, researchers have found that CBD could be helpful in treating anxiety disorders like PTSD and insomnia. So, consuming CBD can have a relaxing or calming effect on the mind, which would be considered psychoactive, although non-intoxicating.
Myth #3) There’s no science to back up the use of CBD
Given marijuana’s historical prohibition, the field of cannabis research is fairly new. However, hundreds of in-vitro trials, animal trials, and human clinical trials have been performed to date on CBD and other cannabis compounds. Accompanying that with anecdotal evidence and the fact that no contraindications of CBD have been found, we get a compound that is gaining its place as a valued tool in improving many treatment-resistant conditions.
Although many studies have been made, we’re not yet at a stage where medicine has thoroughly agreed on every one of CBD’s therapeutic potentials.
On a hard, strict, scientific analysis, the only use for which CBD has been indubitably proven effective is in the treatment of refractory epilepsy in children. Epidiolex, a pharmaceutical CBD product, is the only FDA-approved cannabis medicine so far.
However, solid scientific consensus is building up around the use of CBD for many other ailments. Positive results can be found for anxiety, PTSD, inflammation, arthritis, depression, Sleep and Insomnia, and more.
Myth #4) CBD is safe for children and pets
If considering the use of CBD for children, pets, or during pregnancy, users should stay on the side of caution, and ask for the opinion of a professional before jumping onto the CBD wagon.
CBD is currently being marketed as an over-the-counter dietary supplement. Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp-derived CBD products, the compound can be found in skin creams, candy bars, sodas, and drops in corner shops across the US and many other countries.
In a 2018 report, the World Health Organization said that “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. Reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications.” Reported side effects are uncommon and mild, ranging from dry mouth and light-headedness to low blood pressure and drowsiness.
Adding all this up is easy to think of CBD as completely safe for anyone taking it.
However, it’s important to remember that we’re still at the early stages of CBD research. While healthy adults are generally safe to experiment with the compound (in reasonable measures) and find if and how it works best for their own conditions, subjects in more delicate situations should be careful.
Myth #5) Isolated CBD is more beneficial than whole-plant extracts
In CBD isolate, the CBD molecule is isolated to be the only active compound of the medicine.
Full spectrum, whole plant, and broad spectrum are terms used to describe CBD products that take advantage of all – or many – of cannabis’ active compounds to achieve an effect that some experts believe to be more potent.
The cannabis plant is very rich in active compounds that have many therapeutic properties. Aside from CBD and the aforementioned THC, cannabis has many other non-intoxicating cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, CBC, CBDA, THCA, and CBDV. In fact, more than 100 different cannabinoids have been discovered in different cannabis plants.
Terpenes and flavonoids are aromatic compounds that give cannabis its particular scent and taste. These compounds are not exclusive to cannabis plants but are known to have a wide array of therapeutic properties.
While CBD has proven medicinal properties on its own, scientists are starting to believe that the combination of CBD with other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids can boost up CBD’s therapeutic potential, through a proposed principle called “The Entourage Effect”. By this principle, all of cannabis’ active compounds interact synergistically, producing better results together than on their own. Although the entourage effect is currently a theory that has not been fully proven, more and more experts are starting to believe in its advantages.
Myth #6) CBD will make you sleepy
CBD can be a good ally in overcoming insomnia. This might lead some people to believe that consuming CBD will have an immediate sleep-inducing effect on the user. This is not necessarily true.
Research shows that CBD can affect serotonin receptors, which in turn causes our body to release endocannabinoids: our own, naturally-produced cannabinoids that interact with our endocannabinoid system to regulate homeostatic functions, like, among others, sleep.
What this means is that CBD doesn’t cause sleepiness, but rather assists our body in regulating sleep. Contrary to prescription sleeping pills that’ll knock you out for a good 8 hours, CBD was found to have no acute effect on sleep.
As well as regulating our body’s homeostatic functions, CBD has been found to reduce anxiety, which is also the main reason behind its effectiveness in treating insomnia.
Myth #7) CBD didn’t work for me after the first time so it’s not working
Maybe you attended a dinner party where everyone talked about how great CBD worked for them. “It relieved my arthritis”, “My anxiety is a lot better”. After buying your own CBD drops you decided to give it a try for your own. However, a day or a week has gone by and your condition is not improving. Well, you shouldn’t throw the towel just yet.
When considering the use of CBD, there are plenty of factors to keep in mind.
First, it’s important to remember that CBD is not a divine substance capable of curing every ailment.
Patients should also consider that, while much evidence has been gathered, proper standards of use have not been established. This means that for treating most conditions, physicians have not reached an agreement as to “what dosage? How many times a day? And for how long?”
Lastly, while there’s much anecdotal evidence to back up the efficacy of CBD in improving many conditions, there’s not a clear understanding of the mechanism of action behind these improvements. This means that in some cases, we know it works, but we don’t yet know why it works.
Where does that leave us?
Online resources are great allies in understanding what we know so far about CBD. Since no serious contraindications to CBD have been found, nor any documented cases of CBD overdose are known to exist, responsible adults are welcome to give this medicine a try.
However, users shouldn’t expect an immediate cure. CBD’s therapeutic process can take several weeks or even months, depending on the condition for which it’s being taken, the user’s own characteristics, environmental factors, interactions with other medicine, and the quality and potency of the CBD itself.