CBD a.k.a cannabidiol has taken the wellness world by storm. And the latest consumer trend reports suggest that the "it" ingredient is here to stay.
However, despite CBD popping up everywhere and being pumped in (almost) everything—our fundamental understanding of this compound is fairly limited and riddled with misapprehensions.
So, in order to help you sort facts from fiction and make an informed choice, let's unpack some of the biggest myths about CBD:
Myth 1#: CBD can get you high. CBD is one of the two primary active compounds derived from the cannabis Sativa plant (eg: hemp and marijuana). The other major cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol—commonly known as THC. While both these phytocannabinoids are obtained from the same plant, CBD doesn't have any psychedelic properties, unlike its cousin THC. Meaning, CBD won't get you stoned. And, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is also not addictive. “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential," states a WHO report. "To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD," it adds.
Myth 2# CBD has no proven benefits. While it's not a cure-all elixir, CBD can definitely help alleviate the symptoms of certain ailments. For instance, there's a significant amount of scientific evidence suggesting that CBD is an effective treatment for conditions like childhood epilepsy syndromes, chronic pain, and inflammation. Meanwhile, according to a review published in Neurotherapeutics, CBD may also help in treating mental health issues like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Moreover, some studies also indicate that CBD could help people struggling with nicotine and opioid addiction.
Myth 3# All CBD is created equal. Since the CBD market is largely unregulated, there are myriads of CBD products sitting on store shelves that are untested or mislabeled or both. According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), less than a third of the 84 products tested were accurately labeled. More than 40% of the test samples were under-labeled (contained more CBD than indicated on the label) while 26% were over-labeled (contained less CBD than indicated on the label). Alarmingly, some of the tested CBD products also contained significant amounts of THC (up to 6.43mg/ml)—even though there was no mention of it on the label. This is why it's imperative to do your own research before purchasing any CBD products. The safest option is to stick to only trustworthy brands that are licensed and offer third-party lab testing results.
Myth 4# CBD turns into THC in your stomach.
This myth was propelled by an experimental in vitro study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. The 2016 study, conducted by Merrick et al., concluded that CBD could be converted into THC upon contact with artificial gastric fluids. However, further research deemed these findings inconsistent and of little clinical relevance. "There have been extensive
clinical trials demonstrating that ingested CBD—even doses above 600 mg—does not cause THC-like effects," noted a 2017 study conducted in response to the experimental data presented in the study by Merrick et al.
Myth 5# All CBD products are legal.
This is yet another tricky territory. Every U.S. state has legalizing laws regarding CBD but the regulations vary in degrees of restriction. As for federal laws, "the government’s position on CBD is confusing, and depends in part on whether the CBD comes from hemp or marijuana," states a Harvard Health report. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD products that are made from only hemp-derived CBD, containing no more than 0.3% THC, are no longer considered "controlled substances under federal law". CBD in foods and drinks is still considered illegal at the federal level. However, CBD in cosmetics is perfectly legal, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Myth 6# All CBD products are THC-free.
Again, not true. There are three different kinds of CBD currently available in the market—full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolates. Full-spectrum CBD extract contains all naturally-occurring cannabinoids, including trace amounts of THC. So, if you want to use a CBD product that's completely free of THC, choose ones that are formulated with broad-spectrum CBD extract (which contains other cannabinoids like terpenes, but no THC) or CBD isolates (pure CBD).
Myth 7# Higher the dose of CBD, the better it will work. Taking a high dose of CBD doesn't necessarily make it more effective. Different types of CBD require different dosages. For instance, CBD isolates require higher doses to be effective than whole plant CBD-rich oil extracts, states Project CBD, a California-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting and publicizing research into the medical uses of CBD. "Keep in mind that CBD and THC and cannabis, in general, have biphasic properties, meaning that low and high doses can produce opposite effects. An excessive amount of CBD could be less effective therapeutically than a moderate dose," adds Project CBD.
Myth 8# CBD has zero side effects. Though it's considered largely safe to use, CBD consumption, in some cases, can trigger short-term side effects like gastrointestinal distress, irritability and drowsiness, states the FDA. "It can also cause liver injury," adds FDA. Additionally, CBD can also have some serious side effects if you take it along with certain medications (like anti-depressants or sleep medication). Therefore, it's best to speak to your healthcare provider first before you start using any CBD products.
Myth 9# CBD is safe for pets. A growing number of pet owners are also turning to CBD products to help their furry companions who are struggling with health issues like anxiety and pain. While some anecdotal reports might suggest that it's a viable treatment, there have been no conclusive research studies to substantiate the claim. Lack of regulation also poses a problem, note the experts. Since these products aren't FDA-approved, there's very limited
implementation of quality control and safety measures when it comes to CBD-infused pet products. This means that a lot of these CBD products could contain contaminants like heavy metals, pesticides, and mold that can be harmful to your pet. "The concerns regarding CBD products with unproven medical claims and of unknown quality equally apply to CBD products marketed for animals," states FDA. So, if you are considering CBD for your pet, speak with the vet first.