What is CBD and Should You Be Taking It?

Does it seem like all of a sudden, everywhere you turn, there’s a new CBD oil-based product?

People are vaping it, buying it in vials, adding it to recipes, putting it in beauty care, honey, chocolate, and the list goes on. Why is this suddenly such a big deal? Why does it seem like everyone is suddenly talking about and taking CBD?

There are two ways to answer the question. We could easily surmise that the popularity of CBD, the phytochemical component in cannabis considered to have the calming effect, is on the rise because the conditions it’s purported to treat are also on the rise – namely chronic anxiety, depression, insomnia, cancer, auto-immune diseases, inflammatory conditions and most commonly, chronic pain.

There are also political reasons.

What Is CBD

Marijuana contains several plant components that affect the body, the two most notable being Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol, better knowns as THC and the other is cannabidiol, known as CBD.

Both are found in a variety of proportions in the cannabis (marijuana) plant. THC typically has more of a psychoactive effect, while CBD has a more relaxing effect.

Back in the day, let’s say when our parents or grandparents were free-loving, marijuana typically had much higher levels of CBD than THC, creating a more mellow type of ‘high’.

These days, plants have been bred to typically have higher levels of THC, which leads them to possess more psychedelic or hallucinogenic effects. When CBD oil is extracted from the plant, it doesn’t give people the high that you get from smoking marijuana with the THC present.

IS CANNABIS AND CBD LEGAL?

Effective October 17th, 2018, cannabis is legal for recreational use in Canada, along with several states in the US. With these evolving laws, the taboo is waning.

CBD on its own, as extraction from the marijuana plant, is currently available across Canada and in some US states by way of a prescription from an MD.

With the new and shifting laws comes an increase in regulation as well as testing. You can learn more about the legalities and regulations in Canada here, and in the US here.

Needless to say, the evolving laws around cannabis and the increase of availability, specifically of CBD products have people across North America excited about a new, potentially less harmful option, for treating chronic health challenges.

There are both perceived positives and negatives to this. Many long-time users of CBD who have experienced significant improvement in their quality of life don’t want regulation getting in the way.

Many believe their health and their lives depend on access as they’ve been getting it, whether legal or not. On the flip side, some believe that a significant benefit to legalization and regulation is that there may start being some long-term, large cohort, double-blind placebo studies – the gold standard when it comes to this type of research.

WHY DO PEOPLE USE CBD AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

CBD is being promoted as a natural health product, a solution to many health ailments. Our bodies have cannabinoid receptors that are found in our central nervous system.

CBD affects these receptors, which are involved with processes like mood, memory, and pain. How these receptors function and respond to CBD is incredibly fascinating.

People are using used CBD oil for a variety of conditions. There are also hundreds of studies on its benefits. The challenge with the research is that it is all very new.

Currently, though there are hundreds, even thousands of studies on THC, CBD, and cannabis, with a new one published nearly daily, there is currently extremely limited research relating to long-term use on large groups of people.

THE MURKY LEGALITY AROUND SPECIFIC HEALTH CLAIMS

The rules are murky. That’s the best way I can describe it. In Canada it is being legalized for “recreational use”, but there remain very specific guidelines around who it can be promoted to (not minors) and specific health claims are prohibited.

This I find a sort of funny, especially given that doctors used to promote cigarettes, and there are still studies coming out all the time about the ‘health benefits’ of various alcohol consumption practices.

THE BIG QUESTIONS: CBD CONSIDERATIONS & CAUTIONS

Are the regulators right to be so stringent around health claims? Maybe. The natural health field is a bit of a landmine of hypocrisies when it comes to what is and isn’t regulated and what claims can be made.

Marketers often get around it with creative wording. Based on the information circulating about CBD, it’s often presented as a miracle substance for virtually every condition.

As I delved into the research, there were a few critical questions and issues that came up for me.

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