4 Myths And 5 Surprising Facts About CBD
With so many CBD products filling high-street shelves and popping up on numerous websites, consumers may justly feel confused by the promises CBD product manufacturers make. It is time to debunk some myths and highlight some facts about CBD.
Myth #1: CBD is psychoactive
This is a myth that needs clarification because it is highly confusing. We also need to qualify what psychoactive actually means.
Technically speaking, any molecule that alters the biochemistry of the brain is considered psychoactive by the medical community. CBD is psychoactive because it changes the way we perceive and feel the world.
Caffeine and alcohol are legal psychoactive substances. Caffeine, for example, acts on the brain’s dopamine and stops it from re-entering the system, thus making us feel good for a long time.
Equally, CBD may be able to act on the human brain through specific serotonin receptors like the 5-HT1A receptor, to improve feelings of depression and anxiety.
The cannabis plant contains hundreds of cannabinoids, being CBD one of them (find out what CBD is here). The other well-known cannabinoid is THC, which is the one creating the sense of “high” and euphoria that people associate with marijuana. CBD and THC are different cannabinoids with different effects on the body and brain.
All legal CBD products sold in the UK must contain less than 0.2% of THC. It’s good to remember that THC remains illegal for recreational purposes in the UK.
So, taking CBD will not make you “high” or psychedelic, but it may improve your mood.
Myth #2: CBD can cure everything
People claim that CBD can cure anything and everything in the human body and brain, not to mention the promises about health benefits and cures for pets.
However, and because CBD was illegal for so many years, there is relatively little medical research on its actual effects.
It is only in the last twenty years that CBD-related medical studies have emerged, exploring how CBD may help in alleviating certain conditions.
In the 1990s, doctors discovered the human endocannabinoid system and started exploring how CBD interacts with it. However, some clinical trials have used both CBD and THC, making it unclear how effective CBD on its own is.
There is anecdotal evidence as well as small-scale trials that have shown promising results regarding CBD’s potential in alleviating conditions such as arthritis, depression, anxiety, IBS, etc. However, we’re years away from a medical protocol involving specific diseases and conditions.
Myth #3: CBD has no side-effects
CBD has several side-effects, although these tend to be milder compared to the side-effects of most common conventional medicines.
People may experience digestive problems such as diarrhoea, changes in appetite, drowsiness, and dry mouth, especially at high doses. In some cases, CBD can cause high blood pressure. And it can increase intraocular pressure, so it’s not recommended for people with glaucoma.
Most side-effects can usually be avoided by changing the dosage and/or the CBD supplier.
An important thing to remember is that CBD interacts with treatments like chemotherapy, as well as with medicines like antidepressants, some antibiotics, antihistamines, and beta-blockers.
If you are on any sort of medication, consult with your doctor before trying CBD.
Myth #4: All CBD products are the same
All CBD is not the same. CBD products vary immensely depending on factors like where the industrial hemp was sourced, the cannabis plant that produced it, how it was extracted, etc.
Moreover, CBD products include other ingredients beyond CBD, such as carrier oils or flavours. The CBD market is flooded with CBD products and consumers need to be careful when purchasing CBD (here are some helpful tips on choosing a reputable CBD brand).
CBD products differ a lot in their formats and administration methods as well. There are oils, tinctures, pills, capsules, topical creams, edibles, gummies, and vapes. All these administer CBD to the body in very diverse ways. People should consult with their doctor and choose a CBD product according to the ailment they are trying to alleviate.
Similarly, there are different types of CBD. There is full-spectrum CBD, which contains CBD along with many other cannabinoids, including THC up to 0.2%. Consumers can also purchase broad-spectrum CBD, which contains CBD and many other cannabinoids but no THC at all. Or people can buy CBD distillate, which contains CBD and almost no other cannabinoids, nor any THC.
Fact #1: CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system
The medical community knew little about the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) until fairly recently. Dr. Mechoulam investigated the interaction of THC with our endocannabinoid system and explored how far-reaching our ECS is in balancing the body’s various functions.
Researchers are now aware that CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system, although we are still not quite sure exactly how this interaction occurs.
The conclusion is that CBD does not activate the ECS receptors to make them more receptive to our endogenous cannabinoid production. Rather, CBD nudges our body to produce more of our own cannabinoids, thus increasing the flow of our own cannabinoids—anandamide and 2-AG—in the body.
Moreover, CBD seems to be involved in triggering many endocannabinoid receptors in the body linked with the function of our immune system and our mood.
However, the medical community needs to do a lot more research to understand how our ECS interacts with CBD.
Fact #2: CBD is not addictive
Because CBD does not cause intoxication, the general consensus is that CBD is not addictive, unlike THC. Both the World Health Organisation and a recent trial found that CBD did not show any signs of abuse liability.
However, there are several products on the market that claim to contain no THC and yet contain some. A few products even contain levels of THC that are technically illegal in the UK.
Therefore, CBD is not addictive as long as it is consumed without any THC.
THC being a hallucinogenic and intoxicating substance, it has an addictive effect on the brain and body. People wishing to try CBD should only buy from reputable brands that display third-party lab results regarding the contents of their CBD products.
Fact #3: The medical community is slowly investing in CBD research and clinical trials
Although there is a lack of large-scale scientific data regarding the effectiveness of CBD in treating or helping specific conditions and health problems, the tide is changing. Many research labs, universities, and even charities are now investing money in clinical trials involving CBD. Large organizations like Parkinson’s have earmarked money for extensive research on the possible effects of CBD on Parkinson’s disease.
Now that CBD is considered legal in many countries across the world, there is increasing demand from the public and CBD product manufacturers to have a clear medical framework regarding the effectiveness of CBD.
Equally, is it expected there will be clinical trials on the effectiveness of CBD on its own, without any THC, as many trials are ambiguous regarding the effect of CBD independently.
Fact #4: CBD dosage matters
The NHS has not issued any recommended daily allowance regarding CBD intake. Therefore, there is no clear frame of reference regarding the required dosage of CBD. It is generally agreed the amount of CBD depends on several factors, like the age, weight, activity level, condition, and metabolism of the sufferer.
However, there is a “sweet spot” where CBD is potentially at its most efficient. Taking too little will probably not have any effect while taking too much could have adverse side-effects. Also, CBD may be biphasic: a low dose will produce the opposite effect from a high one.
When it comes to CBD dosage, “start low, go slow” is the advice usually given.
Fact #5: The way you administer CBD matters
Depending on how you decide to take CBD, the amount of CBD that ultimately ends in your system varies.
The digestive system’s enzymes break down CBD before it enters the bloodstream, therefore diminishing its bioavailability in the body. Similarly, the human skin is a powerful barrier to anything entering the body. Topical creams will need to cross seven layers of skin before reaching under them.
Vaping and sublingual consumption (under the tongue) are the most effective for CBD to reach the bloodstream. However, cigarette (not CBD) vaping has been implicated in some deaths in the United States.
Sublingual consumption bypasses the digestive system as the CBD is placed under the tongue, where it is directly absorbed by the capillaries. It can have an effect in as little as fifteen minutes and maximizes bioavailability.
Whichever CBD product you choose, be sure to consult with your doctor, especially if you are undergoing treatment for a condition, have glaucoma, or are on medication.