"If it proved effective for anxiety, depression and panic disorder, it may have other effects as well that could be useful and beneficial [but] this is a really early stage," says David Shurtleff, the acting director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. His organization's stance: "Take it one step at a time and do the work and really state where we are right now with the research," he says.
Not much, as far as humans are concerned—at least not yet. The vast majority of studies have been on animals, as of yet, and there are few high-quality studies on humans. Even the oil’s effect on pain—something that CBD oil is popularly used for—isn’t proven. “The studies available are small or not well designed,” says Dr. Devinsky. “There’s a lot of religion out there, but not a lot of data.”
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Supercritical CO2 extraction is also the key to understanding more cannabinoids in cannabis like Cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabicitran (CBT) and how they interact with each other (called the Entourage effect). This can lead to increased understanding of marijuana in the medical field, and will also allow growers to come up with more effective, new and exciting strains.
Basically, cannabis is an umbrella term that includes both hemp and marijuana plants. Cannabis sativa is actually the scientific name of the cannabis plant (Cannabis = genus; sativa = species), and hemp and marijuana are just two different “varieties” of it (i.e. you could refer to both marijuana and hemp plants as “cannabis” plants, but you would not, for instance, refer to a “marijuana” plant as a “hemp” plant). Hopefully that’s not too confusing.
Quality is a particular concern, because cannabis plants easily soak up heavy metals from pesticides and other contaminants, Marcu says. If you are buying online, look for a company that documents how it tests its products. (If the website doesn’t indicate this, call and ask.) “Buying from a reputable manufacturer is crucial, because it matters how the plant is cultivated and processed,” Dr. Maroon says. One clue that a company is cutting corners: too low a cost. Good CBD is pricey—a bottle of high-quality capsules is sold in Cohen’s office for $140. But for many, it’s worth the money. Roth spent $60 on her tiny bottle. But when her energy returned the day she started taking CBD, she decided that was a small price to pay.
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CBD and THC interact with our bodies in a variety of ways. One of the main ways they impact us is by mimicking and augmenting the effects of the compounds in our bodies called “endogenous cannabinoids” - so named because of their similarity to the compounds found in the cannabis plant. These “endocannabinoids” are part of a regulatory system called the “endocannabinoid system”.
Although it may be better to consume CBD alone than nothing at all, it may not offer you the same range of positive effects as full spectrum CBD oil. With full spectrum CBD, not only will you get adequate CBD, but you’ll also consume dozens of beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes. As a result, your body will receive more than enough vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
To make matters more confusing, nine states (including California, Washington, and Colorado) let residents buy cannabis-based products with or without THC. Nearly two dozen other “medical marijuana states” allow the sale of cannabis, including capsules, tinctures, and other items containing CBD or THC, at licensed dispensaries to people whose doctors have certified that they have an approved condition (the list varies by state but includes chronic pain, PTSD, cancer, autism, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis). Sixteen more states legalized CBD for certain diseases. But because all these products are illegal according to the federal government, cannabis advocates are cautious. “By and large, the federal government is looking the other way,” says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the Washington, DC–based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), but until federal laws are changed, “this administration or a future one could crack down on people who produce, manufacture, or use CBD, and the law would be on its side.”
Keep in mind, too, that CBD product companies use different CBD sources, extraction methods and production techniques – and not all resulting products are created equal. You'll have to do your own research to determine which companies you're willing to trust, Asquith says. Plus, how the products are packaged and consumed – be they in oils, creams or capsules – affect how they're absorbed in the body. Edibles, for example, are well-absorbed, while oils taken under the tongue are "baloney," Tishler says. And of course, salespeople at herb shops don't have the same mission, knowledge, training or oversight as physicians and pharmacists. "We have spent the last 100 years or so developing the pharmaceutical system because it works," Tishler says.
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