Cannabidiol (CBD) has quickly become a buzzword in the health and wellness space. You're likely to come across headlines and anecdotal stories about CBD's effects at managing a wide range of health conditions, but as CBD's popularity rises, so does misinformation.
When hemp production and sale was legalized in the US with the 2018 Farm Bill, hundreds of companies jumped on the scene to manufacture CBD products as a health and food supplement—and more and more companies seem to pop up every day.
We're constantly bombarded with marketing campaigns about CBD that it can be hard to differentiate fact from fiction. Despite growing scientific research on medical cannabis, the general public seems to be misinformed about CBD and its uses.
We'll attempt to bust some of CBD myths and present you with the cold hard facts.
Myth #1: The CBD Industry is Sketchy, Which Makes All CBD Sketchy
The cannabis plant has indeed had a very rough history in the legal system. Hemp and marijuana are technically from the same plant species, Cannabis sativa. The differences between the two plants lie in the THC content—the main psychoactive compound in marijuana—and their uses.
After extensive research on the benefits of CBD, the non-intoxicating compound abundant in hemp strains, hemp, and its derivatives became federally legal in 2018. Hemp production and sale became legal with the introduction of the Farm Bill, which outlined that hemp crops cannot contain more than 0.3% THC.
Just because CBD and hemp have a complicated history doesn't mean that all CBD products are sketchy. There's plenty of credible medical research that substantiates the safety of CBD and its potential health benefits.
Currently, there's only one FDA-approved cannabidiol product on the market prescribed for the treatment of seizures. However, there are still plenty of wellness brands on the market selling CBD products with a high level of integrity. These brands provide options to customers looking for a gentle and natural way to support their health and improve their quality of life.
We can't overlook the fact that the CBD industry is still relatively new, which means there are bound to be sketchy products on the market by companies looking to make a quick buck with CBD's popularity. While regulations surrounding CBD marketing to protect customers are slow to adapt, it's the responsibility of the consumer to do their research on CBD to find safe and effective products.
Myth #2: CBD Doesn't Do Anything
You may have come across an opinion piece by someone that claims to have consumed CBD and saw no effects. The idea that taking CBD is no more than a placebo effect is not true.
There are various explanations as to why a person might not feel anything from CBD:
- CBD may affect individuals differently
- CBD products purchased may be a scam or expired
- You may have to adjust your expectations of CBD—it's not a miracle compound
- You may need to take CBD consistently to see its effects
- You may be taking the wrong dose
Perhaps the biggest reason people claim that "CBD doesn't do anything" is because they've had a previous experience with marijuana and THC.
CBD doesn't affect the central nervous system CB1 receptors to alter our sense of perception and mood as THC drastically makes you feel high. There's no question that it's taken effect in your system.
CBD's interaction in the body is more broad-acting when ingested as it doesn't have an affinity to bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBD has been shown to inhibit the enzymes that break down endogenous cannabinoids (aka endocannabinoids). With higher levels of endocannabinoids, the ECS can transmit information more effectively for maintaining homeostasis.
CBD is also researched for its anti-inflammatory effects, stress management, and pain-relieving effects, demonstrating that it may have actions at other receptor sites [1,2,3]. These effects are much more subtle than experiencing changes in perception, which is why it might not be as evident.
Since CBD affects everyone differently, you can expect to experiment with your doses and different product types until you find one that works best for you.
Keep in mind that there is no non-prescription FDA-approved CBD product you can purchase over the counter or online that can treat or mitigate any disease or health condition. CBD is a food supplement that may enhance your health routine with other wellness practices, but don't expect overnight results.
Myth #3: CBD and Hemp Oil are the Same
The myth that hemp oil and CBD are the same comes from scam products trying to market hemp seed oil as CBD oil and charge unassuming customers a premium price tag.
Hemp oil is made from hemp seeds, which do not contain any cannabinoids. It's a culinary oil with a naturally nutty that's high in omega-3 and 6, and you'll often find it as a carrier oil to dilute hemp extracts, making them easier to dose and use—but hemp oil doesn't lend any effects to the endocannabinoid system.
CBD and other cannabinoids are derived from the resin glands found on the hemp flower. Cannabinoids are an active class of plant compounds that look and behave similarly to neurotransmitters in the endocannabinoid system.
To make sure you're buying a product that contains cannabinoids and not just hemp seed oil, look for the product's Certificate of Analysis (CoA).
CoAs are conducted by accredited third-party labs with no affiliation with the CBD manufacturer to provide unbiased information about the hemp extract. It provides information about the cannabinoid profile, potency, and presence of potential cannabinoids. Do not purchase any CBD oil without first reading the CoA.
Myth #4: CBD Oil Will Get You High
If all you know about CBD is that it comes from the cannabis plant, you may have believed that it could get you high. CBD itself isn't known to produce psychotropic effects.
The main cannabinoid responsible for producing intoxication is THC.
The molecular shape of THC happens to be the perfect fit for CB1 receptors in the brain that activates 5-HTP serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a hormone that plays a key role in regulating our mood, perception, appetite, and other behaviors.
CBD doesn't have an affinity to bind to these receptors, which is why it doesn't induce intoxication. CBD may support relaxation and lead to a feeling of contentment, which many people may associate with a high, but it's nowhere near the levels of intoxication you get from THC.
High doses of CBD can also result in adverse effects like drowsiness, changes in appetite, and nausea, but to avoid these effects, stick to lower doses of CBD.
The legal threshold THC content in hemp is 0.3%. Higher levels than 0.3% and the cannabis plant are classified as marijuana—and it remains federally illegal.
CBD oil made with full-spectrum hemp extract may have up to 0.3% THC, but this amount of THC is very similar to the alcohol content in kombucha, the fermented tea beverage. It's simply not enough to get you high or drunk.
There are instances of people who are very sensitive to THC, in which case high doses of full-spectrum CBD oil may not be appropriate, which is why CBD isolate, and THC-free broad spectrum hemp extracts are available.
To ensure your CBD product is derived from hemp and not marijuana, reference the third-party Certificate of Analysis to make sure it doesn't contain more than the legal threshold of THC.
Myth #5: CBD Is Addictive
Addiction is a very complex disorder that's dependant on genetics, environment, and life experiences. Many substances that alter your mood and reduce pain tend to be addictive and habit-forming. Even things that are widely accessible, from sugar to coffee, are highly addictive.
While CBD can make uses feel good by promoting a sense of calm and relaxation and supporting discomfort, CBD doesn't hijack the dopamine reward system in the same way highly addictive drugs as cocaine and opioids do, so it's not considered a high-risk addictive compound.
The World Health Organization has found CBD to be a safe and well-tolerated compound, and in humans, it does not tend to abuse or dependence potential.
Some studies are investing whether CBD can be used to reduce addiction to cigarettes. In a pilot study, the use of CBD reduced cigarette consumption by 40% over a week compared to the placebo group .
The Takeaway: Busting Myths About CBD
Because CBD has taken the health and wellness supplement space by storm, many people are familiar with it, but there's still a lot of misconception about the compound and the industry. The hemp plant has often been mixed up in the controversies of marijuana, and we're now undergoing a renaissance in the cannabis space.
Quality CBD oil has helped many people care for their health—but it's important to understand that it's not a miracle product. The more you learn about CBD, its effects, limitations, and side effects, the less likely you'll be to end up falling for scam products and use them effectively.
Before you purchase your next CBD product, do your research to ensure that the manufacturer has put forth proper practices to ensure the CBD oil is safe and legal for consumption. While CBD is considered safe, there are other contents in poorly made CBD oils from contaminants and allergens that could make it dangerous for use.
- Argueta, D. A., Ventura, C. M., Kiven, S., Sagi, V., & Gupta, K. (2020). A balanced approach for cannabidiol use in chronic pain. Frontiers in pharmacology, 11, 561.
- Russo, E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 4(1), 245.
- Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics, 12(4), 825-836.
- Sloan, M. E., Gowin, J. L., Ramchandani, V. A., Hurd, Y. L., & Le Foll, B. (2017). The endocannabinoid system as a target for addiction treatment: Trials and tribulations. Neuropharmacology, 124, 73-83.