Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, has seen a surge in popularity over the recent years. This compound, which is derived from the cannabis plant, has sparked interest among consumers and researchers alike due to its potential therapeutic benefits and its non-psychoactive nature.
This guide aims to provide an in-depth analysis of CBD, its effects, potential benefits, and risks, along with a comparison to its psychoactive counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
I. CBD: An Overview
CBD is one of the many chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, CBD is not mind-altering, meaning it won’t get you “high.” This non-intoxicating feature of CBD has made it an appealing option for those seeking potential therapeutic benefits without the psychoactive effects.
CBD can be extracted from two sources: hemp and non-hemp plants. Hemp-derived CBD contains minimal traces of THC, whereas CBD derived from marijuana may contain more substantial amounts of this psychoactive compound.
II. Legal Status of CBD in the United States
The legal status of CBD in the United States underwent a significant change in 2018 with the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act. This federal law removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, effectively legalizing CBD derived from hemp. However, it’s crucial to note that some states have not yet aligned their state laws with this federal act, so the legality of CBD products can still vary from state to state.
III. CBD Products
With the growing interest in CBD, a gamut of consumer products containing this compound has flooded the market. These range from foods, oils, lotions, and capsules to cosmetics. It’s important to remember that not all CBD products are created equal, and their quality can greatly differ.
IV. CBD as a Medicine: What We Know So Far
The medicinal potential of CBD has been a subject of ongoing research. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Epidiolex, a medication containing purified CBD derived from hemp, for the treatment of severe seizure disorders. However, other CBD uses and products are yet to receive FDA approval.
V. Potential Health Effects of CBD
While CBD is generally considered safe, it’s not without potential side effects and risks. Some reported side effects include liver damage, drowsiness or sleepiness, changes in mood, diarrhea, and changes in appetite. It’s advisable to consult with healthcare professionals before starting CBD, especially for people with liver conditions or those taking other medications.
VI. CBD Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
The use of CBD during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not recommended due to the unknown potential health effects on the developing baby. Animal studies have suggested that high doses of CBD could have negative effects on developing fetuses.
VII. CBD and Children
The effects of CBD on children’s developing brains are still unknown. Therefore, it’s recommended to keep CBD products out of the reach of children.
VIII. CBD vs. THC: The Key Differences
While CBD and THC are both derived from the cannabis plant, they have distinctly different effects. THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, responsible for the “high” sensation. CBD, on the other hand, does not produce this mind-altering effect, making it an appealing option for those seeking potential health benefits without the psychoactive side effects.
IX. Unintentional Poisoning Risk with CBD Products
Consumers should be aware that many businesses that sell hemp and CBD products may also sell products that contain THC. This could lead to unintentional consumption of THC, resulting in psychoactive effects and potential adverse events. Therefore, it’s crucial to read product labels carefully and purchase from reputable sources.
While CBD holds promise for various health applications, it’s important to approach its use with caution due to potential side effects and interactions with other medications. As research continues to unfold, a clearer understanding of CBD’s health effects and therapeutic potential will emerge.