Since I first started covering CBD five years ago, the industry has grown tremendously. The sale of CBD products is one of the fastest growing markets in a generation with sales of $390 million in 2018. The recent passage of the Farm Bill made it legal to grow, sell and consume CBD—cannabis products with a THC content below 0.3%. It can now be sold legally in all states.
Unscrupulous CBD products
As the CBD industry has grown rapidly, so have the unscrupulous products. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that 64% of CBD products were mislabeled. Some of the products studied had no CBD, some had too much and some had too much THC. Other studies have shown that some products contain dangerous synthetic ingredients and some have caused severe illnesses.
There is no accepted dose of CBD. In 2015 and 2016, the FDA sent warning letters to 14 businesses because the CBD content in their products was negligible or less than 1% of content. The JAMA researchers recommend:
...there is a continued need for federal and state regulatory agencies to take steps to ensure label accuracy of these consumer products. Underlabeling is less concerning as CBD appears to neither have abuse liability nor serious adverse consequences at high doses; however, the THC content observed may be sufficient to produce intoxication or impairment, especially among children.
Despite the mislabeling in the industry, CBD has shown remarkable results in epilepsy and has potent anti-psychotic and anti-cancer effects.
The active ingredients in cannabis are called cannabinoids, and these are unique to the cannabis plant. Already more than 70 different cannabinoids in cannabis have been identified, including not only THC, but also Cannabidiol, or CBD. Other cannabinoids include CBG, CBC, CBN, THCa, THCv, CBGa, CBCa, CBCa, and CBDa among others.
While the chemical structure of these cannabinoids is related to THC, their biological effects are quite different as they have no psychotropic potential. THC is associated with pain relief, suppression of muscle spasms, reduction of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation. CBD is associated with the following:
- Reduces nausea and vomiting
- Muscle relaxtant
- Improves blood circulation
- Lowers blood pressure
- Relieves autoimmune disorders
- Stimulates bone production
CBD Oil is extracted from either the mature seeds or the mature stalks of the cannabis plant. It can be used as an ingestible in tinctures, supplements or capsules, as a highly concentrated oil that can be diluted in olive oil or in a smoothie, or as a topical in creams, oils and salves.
You’ve probably heard about Charlotte Fiji, whose rare seizure disorder, Dravet’s Syndrome, was dramatically alleviated by the cannabis extraction, CBD Oil. The CBD oil that Charlotte Figgi made famous is from a cannabis strain grown in Colorado by the Stanley Brothers, well-respected growers of medical marijuana. Charlotte’s Web, named after Charlotte Figgi, is now a recognized strain of medical marijuana with less than 0.3% THC. .
If you need a referral
CBD Oil is generally sold over the counter for stress, anxiety, insomnia, pain, and inflammation. For more serious conditions, consult with a healthcare practitioner experienced with prescribing CBD. And, it’s a good idea to consult with your primary health care provider before you take CBD, especially if you’re taking prescription medications. Here are two doctors experienced with CBD who may be able to offer referrals:
If you are looking for help with Parkinson’s Disease, Maureen Leehey, MD, and her neurology team at the University of Colorado School of Medicine are launching a pioneering study on CBD and Parkinson’s.
CBD and THC for pain
Dr. Rav Iker, author of Cannabis for Chronic Pain, says that his patients have found that CBD alone (less than 1% of THC) is not an effective analgesic for chronic pain unless it is used in conjunction with some THC. According to Dr. Iker,
“the combination of the cannabinoids CBD and THC is the safest and most potent pain-relieving medicine in existence.”
CBD and THC work synergistically: THC appears to enhance the analgesic effects of CBD. According to Dr. Iker, the products that are the most effective for pain have a CBD: THC ratio of 1:1, 2:1, or 3:1. Dr. Iker’s book has an extensive list of the best marijuana strains for relieving pain, including:
- Charlotte’s Web
- Haley’s Hope
- Strawberry Cookie
If you are looking for a CBD product to relieve pain, choose one that has the CBD:THC ratios recommended by Dr. Iker.
How to choose a reliable CBD product?
Be cautious about the effectiveness claims of many CBD products on the market today. Be sure and read the list of ingredients; CBD oil should be at the top of the list. If the product were approved by the FDA it would be required to have a Certificate of Analysis, an authenticated document issued by an appropriate authority, that certifies the quality and purity of the product. Does the product you are interested in have a Certificate of Analysis on their website? Here are some other things to consider when looking for a good company and an effective product:
- Is the packaging clear? Does it give you the information you need?
- Is the website helpful?
- Is the product simple and easy to use?
- What is the mission of the company?
- Who are the owners of the company?
- Is the product independently reviewed? Are there user reviews?
- What is the company’s customer service reputation?
- Is the product sourced domestically or internationally?
- What is the carrier oil for the CBD?
- Do you like the taste?
- Are the ingredients organic or certified organic?
- What is the cost of the product? The price per milligram of CBD?
In their article, “The 20 Best CBD Oils for 2019,”: Rave Reviews compares the top 20 CBD companies. Here are their top five:
- Moon Mother
- Recepta Naturals
- Lazarus Naturals
How do you measure the effectiveness of CBD?
Because the field of medical cannabis is changing so rapidly and research lags behind usage, it’s important to create your own criteria for evaluating a good CBD product and company. Research a company and review its website and customer reviews before you buy. When you use a product, consider the milligrams of the product. Start with a lower dosage at first and increase the dosage after you experience its effectiveness or lack of effectiveness. Keep track of the dosage and what you experience after you take different dosages. Note how many times a day you have to take it. Consider your body weight when determining proper dosage. Don’t be afraid to ask for a refund if a product doesn’t meet your expectations.
About Peggy O’Mara. I am an independent journalist who edits and publishes peggyomara.com. I was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine for over 30 years and founded Mothering.com in 1995. My books include Having a Baby Naturally, Natural Family Living, The Way Back Home and A Quiet Place.I have conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. I am the mother of four and grandmother of three. Please check out my email newsletter with free tips on parenting, activism, and healthy living.