Just like THC, CBD is a chemical compound extracted from hemp plants. Both hemp and cannabis contain cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive substance. THC, however, is the substance that gives users that “high” or psychoactive effect. CBD has many similarities to THC when it comes to potential health benefits, but the main difference is that it’s a non-psychoactive substance, so it doesn’t give a natural high to users. It also does not cause anxiety, paranoia, or the mouth and eye dryness associated with THC, even when CBD is consumed in higher concentrations. Due to these inherent advantages, most high-quality CBD oil products on the market today are extracted from the hemp plant. THC oil, on the other hand, is derived from the cannabis plant, so it contains high levels of THC and low levels of CBD. On the other hand, industrially produced hemp contains higher concentrations of CBD with only trace amounts of THC, so it’s safer and offers fewer symptoms for users.
I had come to meet Dr. Angel Hernandez, the director of the hospital’s pediatric epilepsy program. A trail of wall-mounted signs led me to the pediatric neurology ward, a bright and airy space with flat-screen TVs running cartoons nonstop. Decorative kites were strung up in the corridors, and rainbow curtains lined the windows. Some of the kids in the waiting area that morning were alert and awake, others groggy. Some were strapped into special strollers designed for children with mobility problems, and some had shaven heads and healing scars. Hernandez came out to greet me, and I was surprised he recognized me after what felt like a very long time. He had diagnosed me with epilepsy in 2004 and treated me for several years.
You only have to read the reviews under a CBD product on the Holland & Barrett website to see the extent to which anecdotal reports cannot be trusted. More than 100 customers gave Jacob Hooy CBD+ Oil five stars, with a few saying they always noticed if they missed a dose (presumably this made them less relaxed, although they did not reveal what they were taking it for), while 93 people gave it one star, saying it did nothing, or was too weak. One couple even said it gave them palpitations and a sleepless night. All these people had different conditions, expectations and situations. “And,” says McGuire, “you have to remember that anything can have a placebo effect.” While it looks unlikely that the recommended doses of these products will do any harm, McGuire’s guess is that doses are so small “that it’s like homeopathy – it’s not going to do anything at all”.
A wealth of marketing material, blogs and anecdotes claim that cannabis oils can cure whatever ails you, even cancer. But the limited research doesn't suggest that cannabis oil should take the place of conventional medication, except for in two very rare forms of epilepsy (and even then, it's recommended only as a last-resort treatment). And, experts caution that because cannabis oil and other cannabis-based products are not regulated or tested for safety by the government or any third-party agency, it's difficult for consumers to know exactly what they're getting.
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