There’s been a huge amount of positive coverage of CBD oil in the media. The oil’s primary ingredient, cannabidiol (CBD) has been touted as a “wonder drug,” “miracle drug,” even a “panacea.” Such subjective claims may be too hyperbolic for scientific literature, but there’s no disputing the therapeutic versatility of CBD (and CBD oil); it is an incredible drug. But, what is CBD oil? And, what are some of the common myths about CBD?
CBD is one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It’s also the second most prominent cannabinoid after THC. Like THC, CBD has many therapeutic benefits (see below). Many scientists also believe CBD is complementary to THC, in that the two work better together. However, unlike THC, CBD doesn’t get you high. CBD oil simply refers to any CBD oil derived from cannabis or hemp.
Research on CBD (including CBD oil) thus far has been overwhelmingly positive. A recent article published by Healthline summarizes the key findings of the existing research. Research suggests CBD oil may:
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Relieve pain
- Reduce side effects caused by cancer treatments (such as nausea and vomiting)
- Reduce symptoms caused by cancer (such as pain)
- Prevent or delay the onset of neurological conditions or help patients with neurological disorders (such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis)
- Help the heart and circulatory system
- Prevent diabetes
- Have anti-tumor effects
- Help prevent or treat addiction
- Have antipsychotic effects to prevent (or help people with) schizophrenia and other mental disorders
Again, keep in mind that actual clinical research is scant and still in its early stages, however, the research does seem to support common anecdotal reports.
While the reporting on CBD oil is largely positive, there are a lot of myths out there about what CBD and CBD oil are. Let’s dispel some of the most common ones:
Many people believe CBD is a sedative, and that its CBD that gives many cannabis strains and products sedative properties. That’s actually not true. Dr. Ethan Russo, a neurologist and medical scientist, explains that it is actually myrcene, a terpene commonly found in high levels in Indica-dominant strains, that is responsible for the sedative properties. Russo further explains that CBD, like many drugs, has biphasic properties, meaning it produces different effects in low/moderate and high doses.
Low doses of CBD can actually be alerting, neutralizing some of the sedative properties of many cannabis strains. High doses of CBD, on the other hand, can interact with other chemicals to elevate sedative effects.
Throughout the media, and even scientific literature, CBD is commonly characterized as being non-psychoactive. If we were to define psychoactive as “any drug that gets you high,” then it would be correct to say CBD is non-psychoactive. While intoxicating and psychoactive are regularly used as synonyms, this usage is incorrect.
Yes, all intoxicating drugs are psychoactive, but not all psychoactive drugs are intoxicating. However, the term psychoactive refers to drugs (therapeutic or illicit) which while largely acting on the central nervous system (CNS) have the ability to alter cognitive processes, behavior, consciousness, mood, cognitive processes, or mental stress. The simplest definition of a psychoactive drug is simply one that “alter one’s consciousness.”
Examples of psychoactive drugs include alcohol; antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, and Paxil; stimulants like cocaine or crack, amphetamines, and even caffeine; painkillers such as Buprenorphine, heroin, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, and oxycodone; hallucinogens such as LSD and psilocybin; and compounds found in cannabis, like THC and CBD.
Research has shown that CBD can not only act as an antidepressant, antipsychotic, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, it does interact with the CNS and it impacts our psyche, usually in beneficial ways. Distinct from intoxicating drugs (including THC), it does not impair mental or physical function. In fact, research also suggests that CBD can neutralize the effects of THC (reducing the high and anxiety) and that it may be anti-addictive. CBD’s effects and mechanisms of action are consistent with psychoactive drugs.
Nonetheless, we can’t ignore the fact that in common usage, the term psychoactive is often used interchangeably with intoxicating. To avoid confusion, it’s more accurate to characterize CBD as being non-intoxicating.
Another misconception is whether it comes from a lab, hemp, or full-spectrum cannabis, all CBD is the same. While it’s true that a molecule of CBD is the same no matter its origin, the final product is not necessarily the same. You’ll find other byproducts in CBD products (which can be good or bad).
If you use a full-spectrum whole-plant cannabis strain with high-CBD and low-THC, not only will CBD interact with THC, it will interact with other active ingredients including other cannabinoids and terpenes. Many argue CBD works best with other constituents (synergistically) in cannabis, an effect characterized as the entourage effect. In fact, CBD may enhance the therapeutic effects of THC while reducing effects that some patients may consider undesirable.
Moreover, hemp-derived CBD requires far more starting material than full-spectrum whole-plant cannabis, which may increase the risk of contamination. Another consideration is that much more than medical cannabis, the hemp-derived CBD industry is the Wild West, and is left largely unregulated, allowing many CBD companies to mislabel their products. According to a Penn Medicine study published in the prestigious Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) journal, nearly 70 percent of CBD products sold online are mislabeled. Most products over or understate CBD content, which can have serious implications for patients (many of whom are children with rare seizure disorders) who are buying inferior products.
How could this be? “The primary reason for this is that CBD is currently classified as a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance by the DEA, despite having been legalized for medicinal use in many states,” claims the Penn Medicine study. “Thus, many people do not have access to stores that sell CBD products and instead rely on online retailers to purchase CBD products.”
Many people think that the potency of THC and CBD are about equal, meaning from a therapeutic perspective, 10 mg of THC is approximately the same as 10 mg of CBD. This is totally false. THC is much more potent (but not necessarily better or more effective) than CBD. A patient may find a dose as low as 5 mg of THC is effective for treating mild pain. However, they may need 25 mg of CBD (or more) to relieve their pain.
Some people may think THC is superior to CBD because it’s more potent. That’s not the case at all and brings us to our next myth.
Some cannabis users equate potency with efficacy. They argue, the more potent their cannabis is, the more effective it must be. If we’re talking about “getting high,” that could be a defensible argument (although a weak one at that, considering there’s more to a “high,” than just THC). Nonetheless, when we’re about therapeutic usage, potency is really not more than a number. The effective dose of all therapeutic drugs can vary dramatically from drug to drug.
To illustrate, consider the starting dose of various pain management medications. According to the American Pain Society, the recommended starting dose for acetaminophen for an adult is 325-650mg, ibuprofen is 400 – 800 mg, while hydrocodone (a narcotic) is 30 mg. Does that mean hydrocodone is better than acetaminophen, and acetaminophen is better than ibuprofen? Of course not!
There are numerous variables to consider when determining which drug is better (for you). How your body tolerates the drug, the drug’s addictive potential, which drug provides you better relief, potential side effects, etc. Everyone’s physiology is unique, so a patient may find that for them one drug works better and has fewer side effects than another drug. However, that doesn’t make one drug superior to other ones for everyone.
Higher doses don’t necessarily equate to more relief. In fact, the opposite can hold true. Many drugs — including THC and CBD — have biphasic effects, meaning higher doses may have opposite effects of lower doses.
In fact, if one takes too high of a dose of THC, it could worsen one’s symptoms or cause unwanted side effects. When it comes to CBD, too high of a dose probably won’t exacerbate your symptoms or cause undesirable side effects, but it may be less effective.
That’s why you hear the term, “sweet spot,” which refers to the dosage that works best for you. And it’s why (most) doctors will start you off on a medication at the lowest recommended dose and gradually increase your dosage (if needed).
Ideally, you want to find the lowest, yet most effective dose that works for you. Think of this concept as an equation:
Lowest Dose + Highest Efficacy = Sweet Spot
When it comes to THC, many (if not most) patients take more THC than they need to. An effective dose to treat most conditions require far less THC than most people think. Most studies show that the most effective therapeutic doses are low, very low, like less than 10 mg. CBD is a different story. For most conditions, the effective dose is rarely lower than 25 mg.
This doesn’t mean you should take as much CBD as possible, thinking the more you take, the better the outcome. If you consume too much CBD, it may not be as effective as a lower dose. Nonetheless, you’ll need to take higher doses of CBD than you might be used to for THC.
The research on CBD has been overwhelmingly positive. Its potential role in treating many common health issues and disorders is exciting. However, it’s also important to consider that we’re only at the very early stages of clinical research. In fact, most of the research so far hasn’t yet reached clinical stages; most studies have been pre-clinical lab studies using animal models.
Nonetheless, results from ongoing research have been largely consistent with anecdotal reports. As barriers to research continue to lessen, the future of CBD looks bright. In the meantime, it’s important to distinguish false claims from true claims. All signs point to CBD being a safe, powerful, and effective treatment for numerous health conditions. Let’s not cloud the positive news with so-called “fake news.”
Did you know? Have a Heart has a wide selection of high-CBD strains and CBD oils. Visit our menu to find your favorite strains.