That grey area is likely to be clarified soon. Key federal legislators are pushing for industrial hemp legalization to be part of the farm bill that will probably pass in the fall of 2018. In terms of athletics, hemp-derived CBD was removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances earlier this year. Hemp legalization and more companies targeting athletes should further separate CBD from its cultural association with marijuana.
Indeed, hemp oil products have grown out of a market largely devoid of regulations or safety protocols. The state of the CBD industry harks back to the age of elixirs and potions hawked from covered wagons to the awed denizens of pioneer towns. There are no industrywide standards in place to ensure that CBD oils are consistently formulated batch-to-batch. There is no regulatory body screening products for pesticides, heavy metals, solvent residues, and other dangerous contaminants. The laboratories that companies contract to test their CBD products are themselves neither standardized nor consistently regulated. No medical research exists to recommend how much CBD a patient should take, nor is there detailed, reliable documentation of how CBD interacts with most epilepsy medications.
The truth is that no one knows precisely what any of these molecules are doing to us. It is a case of finding the effects first and working backwards to understand the mechanisms. “There are a number of possible transmitter systems that CBD could act on,” says McGuire. “And it’s not 100% clear which ones are critical for anxiety, or psychosis or schizophrenia. But [the antipsychotic effect] is a different mechanism from existing treatments, which is a big deal because existing treatments aren’t working.”
One of the strongest nutraceutical CBD oils is called Charlotte’s Web, with a 50mg dose. Charlotte’s Web is produced in Colorado by the Stanley Brothers, and named after Charlotte Figi, a girl who became famous in the US after her frequent seizures, brought on by the rare Dravet syndrome, were greatly reduced when she started taking CBD oil aged five. The company makes THC products too and is extremely successful, having just offered shares on the Canadian securities exchange, raising about $100m.
He blinks thoughtfully, then turns to his computer. “However, let me show you something.” On his screen flash two MRIs of a rat’s brain. The animal has a large mass lodged in the right hemisphere, caused by human brain tumor cells Guzmán’s researchers injected. He zooms in. The mass bulges hideously. The rat, I think, is a goner. “This particular animal was treated with THC for one week,” Guzmán continues. “And this is what happened afterward.” The two images that now fill his screen are normal. The mass has not only shrunk—it’s disappeared. “As you can see, no tumor at all.”
Adenosine 2A receptor: Administration of CBD is thought to act upon the adenosine 2A receptor site, possibly contributing to its anxiolytic and anti-inflammatory effects. Adenosine receptors are known to influence cardiovascular processes (cardiac rhythm, circulation), immune function, sleep, pain regulation, and blood flow. The adenosine 2A receptor interacts with G proteins to alter cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate). Dysfunction of the adenosine 2A receptor may disrupt neurotransmission of glutamate and dopamine, and simultaneously cause inflammation, neurodegeneration, and possibly anxiety.
All of this makes CBD remarkably difficult for even the most dedicated health care providers to manage safely. Dr. Kelly Knupp, an associate professor of pediatrics and neurology at the University of Colorado, and the director of the Dravet Syndrome program at Children’s Hospital Colorado, said families of epileptic children have tried to bring CBD oils to the hospital for testing. “They’re just concerned that they don’t know exactly who’s growing [the hemp],” Knupp said. “They know it’s not being regulated.” But because CBD is a Schedule I controlled substance, high-tech, regulated laboratories, like those at the University of Colorado, can’t accept, store, or test CBD oils, lest they risk prosecution. “There is no such lab that can take that product,” Knupp said, which leaves any testing up to the unregulated testing centers that cater to the cannabis industry.
If he had his way, what Mechoulam regards as the often irresponsible silliness of recreational pot culture would give way to an earnest and enthusiastic embrace of cannabis—but only as a medical substance to be strictly regulated and relentlessly researched. “Right now,” he complains, “people don’t know what they’re getting. For it to work in the medical world, it has to be quantitative. If you can’t count it, it’s not science.”
CBD may help reduces REM behavior disorder in people with Parkinson’s disease. REM behavior disorder is a condition that causes people to act out physically during dreaming and REM sleep. Typically, during REM, the body is largely paralyzed, a state known as REM atonia. This immobilization keeps sleepers from reacting physically to their dreams. In REM behavior disorder, this paralysis doesn’t occur, leaving people free to move—which can lead to disruptive sleep and to injuring themselves or their sleeping partners. Cannabis may also work to reduce pain and improve sleep quality in people with Parkinson’s disease.
Summary: Early research has found that CBD oil has the potential to reduce chronic pain, anxiety, depression and acne, and may help those overcoming addiction. Its anti-inflammatory properties may also play a role in lowering the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It has even shown anti-tumor effects and could be effective in inhibiting the progression of cancer and its related symptoms.
Even as the research proceeds, thousands of people are using CBD as medicine. A British pharmaceutical company, GW Pharma, has developed two CBD drugs: Sativex, which contains a 1-to-1 ratio of CBD and THC, and Epidiolex, which is pure CBD. The former is prescribed for the painful muscle spasms that occur in multiple sclerosis, while the latter is aimed at childhood seizures. Sativex is not available in the United States, but it is approved in 29 other countries, including Canada, England and Israel.
Both Bonn-Miller and Ward stress that it's up to the consumer to be well-educated about the material they're purchasing and the research that's out there. "The companies that are creating [cannabis oils] are offering lots of claims about its use that are not necessarily substantiated by any research," Bonn-Miller said. So "I think there needs to be, from a consumer standpoint, a lot of vigilance," he added.
Medical Disclaimer: Statements in any video or written content on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using this product. Representations regarding the efficacy and safety of CBD oil have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA only evaluates foods and drugs, not supplements like these products. These products are not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease. The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always consult your physician before beginning any supplement program.
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