The science behind CBD is in the relatively early stages. As a cannabinoid, we know that CBD interacts with receptors in your endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is integrated throughout your body — and this widespread, whole-body interaction creates a broad range of effects. Hence, the long list of possible benefits. We may still be in the early stages of discovery, but there’s plenty of scientific studies and anecdotal evidence that CBD provides relief for an array of ailments. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some potential benefits of CBD oil:
In 2018, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first CBD-based medication after years of research suggesting that CBD is beneficial to treat two rare and severe forms of childhood epilepsy. The FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said the approval was “a reminder that advancing sound development programs that properly evaluate active ingredients contained in marijuana can lead to important medical therapies.” He noted that the action was “not an approval of marijuana or all of its components” but rather of one specific CBD medication for a particular use. In April, an advisory committee unanimously recommended approval of the drug for the two types of epilepsy. FDA CBD rules approving hemp as medicine have helped spread awareness about CBD and acceptance regarding its use.
For decades, laws had grouped hemp and marijuana in the same category, conflating both plants and confusing the public. All of this changed in 2018 with the passing of the Agriculture Improvement Act. Also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, the new legislation removed hemp from the federal definition of marijuana and reclassified it as an industrial commodity. In other words, the bill made hemp legal at the federal level and established it is to be regulated by The Department of Agriculture rather than the Drug Enforcement Agency. As a result of the bill, hemp and hemp-derived products are completely legal nationwide, though individual states may still impose minor restrictions.
Is CBD Legal? Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Check your state's laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.
Hemp producers who sell CBD products will often use the 2014 Farm Bill to claim that it is legal. This bill includes a provision that allows for the legal cultivation of hemp provided it is used for academic agricultural research or under a state pilot program. But there is still confusion about whether the legal allowance for cultivation also includes selling it.
Scott Shannon, MD, assistant clinical professor at the University of Colorado, recently sifted through patient charts from his four-doctor practice to document CBD’s effects on anxiety. His study, as yet unpublished, found “a fairly rapid decrease in anxiety scores that appears to persist for months,” he says. But he says he can’t discount a placebo effect, especially since “there’s a lot of hype right now.”
Pharmacology published a study in 2016 looking at medical marijuana for migraines, specifically in relation to its effects on serotonin, with very positive results. You’ll notice that neither study looked at CBD in isolation from other cannabinoids (which is an issue with a lot of research on CBD and pain). Truthfully, the research on CBD alone just isn’t sufficient to make any pronouncements about its effects on headache pain.
Transparency: Receptra Naturals’ website has a database where you can look up lab reports for their products. The first time we checked, we got some 404 errors for a couple of the lab reports, but these glitches seem to have been fixed since then. We were able to see third-party lab reports for all their tinctures (though, apparently not for their topicals).
Transparency: Fab’s website features third-party lab results for most products. They only have a lab test for one of their tinctures though (which shows results for cannabinoid potency, as well as contaminants like pesticides). Customer service pointed out that the same CBD oil is used for all their products, but since potencies do vary, we appreciate companies that show potency testing for all products.
The most commonly used form of CBD is CBD oil. Combining CBD extract with a carrier oil like coconut oil, it can be ingested or vaped, bringing a lot of variety. But because marijuana legalization is in such a murky situation with both federal and state laws to grapple with, CBD oil's legality can be hard to parse depending on where you are. Let's start with legality at the federal level.
There are a number of possible side effects to using CBD oil, such as fatigue, dry mouth, lightheadedness, hypotension, and impaired motor functions. However, when used in moderate amounts, most people do not experience these side effects, and none of them are known for being fatal or particularly dangerous. More than 20,000 studies have been done in the past 15 years on cannabis, hemp, and cannabinoids, and the results have been overwhelmingly supportive of the therapeutic potential and viability of CBD oil. That being said, some people should be cautious before using this powerful oil.
The longer answer is far more interesting. It is important to first distinguish marijuana from hemp. Scientifically, both marijuana and hemp come from the “cannabis sativa” plant, according to the USDA. Marijuana, though in the same scientific family as hemp, is a much smaller plant. Hemp, the taller and more fibrous version of the sativa plant has a long history in the United States. In fact, George Washington grew hemp on Mount Vernon.
So, why are companies allowed to lie and mislead users trying to purchase CBD products? This a result of the industry lacking formal regulation. This is very controversial because it opens the doors for big pharmaceutical companies and lobbyists to get away with practices that may prevent CBD from becoming easily accessible to those who need it. Hopefully, legislation like the 2018 Farm Bill will help establish competitive practices in the industry that will benefit the consumer in the long run.
But it also requires careful research before making a purchase. Because the cannabis plant readily absorbs pesticides, heavy metals and other chemicals that are in the soil and water, it’s so important that cannabis plants are frequently tested while they are growing. And it’s up to manufactures to test CBD products, too. When you are shopping for CBD oil, look for products that have been tested for contaminants and for CBD vs. THC levels.
In addition to all the benefits we’ve already discussed, CBD has been proven to have antioxidant and neuroprotective effects. This means that it helps repair the damage from oxidative stress, which is believed to be a primary cause of diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS — even heart disorders and some forms of cancer. This is a hugely beneficial effect of CBD.
Because our hemp oil products are categorized as dietary supplements in the United States, we comply with the FDA’s DSHEA guidelines and cannot endorse any specific medical benefits of CBD or our CBD oil. To further comply with FDA regulations, HempMeds® does not list a Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of our own, nor do we provide a Daily Value (%DV) for any of our products. We encourage you to browse the thousands of reputable studies regarding CBD published online and talk with your doctor to see if a CBD oil supplement is right for you.
The studies on CBD for headache pain are still in their infancy, but with promising results so far. A 2017 study published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research Journal worked with 26 people who were experiencing rebound headaches. The pain management results were better for the cannabis-nabilone formula over either ibuprofen or nabilone alone. (As a nerdy side note, the article is a great read if you’re interested in the history of cannabis as a pain reliever.)