More than 60 percent of CBD users were taking it for anxiety, according to a survey of 5,000 people. Does it help? CBD has been shown to have potential benefits in treating many ailments. But something you may have heard asked is if CBD works without THC? Well, here's…
What Are the Benefits of CBD?
More than 60 percent of CBD users were taking it for anxiety, according to a survey of 5,000 people. Does it help?
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By Dawn MacKeen
The CBD industry is flourishing, conservatively projected to hit $16 billion in the United States by 2025. Already, the plant extract is being added to cheeseburgers, toothpicks and breath sprays. More than 60 percent of CBD users have taken it for anxiety, according to a survey of 5,000 people, conducted by the Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research firm. Chronic pain, insomnia and depression follow behind. Kim Kardashian West, for example, turned to the product when “freaking out” over the birth of her fourth baby. The professional golfer Bubba Watson drifts off to sleep with it. And Martha Stewart’s French bulldog partakes, too.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the lesser-known child of the cannabis sativa plant; its more famous sibling, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the active ingredient in pot that catapults users’ “high.” With roots in Central Asia, the plant is believed to have been first used medicinally — or for rituals — around 750 B.C., though there are other estimates too.
Cannabidiol and THC are just two of the plant’s more than 100 cannabinoids. THC is psychoactive, and CBD may or may not be, which is a matter of debate. THC can increase anxiety; it is not clear what effect CBD is having, if any, in reducing it. THC can lead to addiction and cravings; CBD is being studied to help those in recovery.
Cannabis containing 0.3 percent or less of THC is hemp. Although last year’s Farm Bill legalized hemp under federal law, it also preserved the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of products derived from cannabis.
What are the claims?
CBD is advertised as providing relief for anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is also marketed to promote sleep. Part of CBD’s popularity is that it purports to be “nonpsychoactive,” and that consumers can reap health benefits from the plant without the high (or the midnight pizza munchies).
Just as hemp seedlings are sprouting up across the United States, so is the marketing. From oils and nasal sprays to lollipops and suppositories, it seems no place is too sacred for CBD. “It’s the monster that has taken over the room,” Dr. Brad Ingram, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, said about all the wild uses for CBD now. He is leading a clinical trial into administering CBD to children and teenagers with drug-resistant epilepsy.
Is This A Scam?
An At-Home Face-Lift
A Stress-Relieving Drink
Cold Water Plunging
Brain Boosting Food
Facts about wellness.
Will these trends change your life — or
take your money?
Does CBD work?
“It’s promising in a lot of different therapeutic avenues because it’s relatively safe,” said James MacKillop, co-director of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research in Hamilton, Ontario.
Last year, the F.D.A. approved Epidiolex, a purified CBD extract, to treat rare seizure disorders in patients 2 years or older after three randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical trials with 516 patients that showed the drug, taken along with other medications, helped to reduce seizures. These types of studies are the gold standard in medicine, in which participants are divided by chance, and neither the subject nor the investigator knows which group is taking the placebo or the medication.
Understand Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The invasive symptoms of PTSD can affect combat veterans and civilians alike. Early intervention is critical for managing the condition.
- Removing the Stigma: Misconceptions about how PTSD develops and its symptoms, can prevent people from seeking treatment.
- Psychedelic Drugs: As studies continue to point to the therapeutic value of substances like MDMA, veterans are becoming unlikely advocates for their decriminalization.
- Healing Power: Despite weight lifting being associated with violent bursts of brawn, many people find pumping iron to be a valuable tool in addressing PTSD.
- Ripple Effect: Caring for someone with PTSD can be a taxing experience. A writer describes how her relationship changed when her partner developed the condition.
While there is hope for treating other conditions with the plant extract, Epidiolex remains the only CBD-derived drug approved by the F.D.A. Most of the research on cannabidiol has been in animals, and its current popularity has outpaced science. “We don’t have the 101 course on CBD quite figured out yet,” said Ryan Vandrey, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Does CBD help anxiety and PTSD?
For students with generalized social anxiety, a four-minute talk, with minimal time to prepare, can be debilitating. Yet a small experiment in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology found that CBD seemed to reduce nervousness and cognitive impairment in patients with social anxiety in a simulated public speaking task.
However, a double-blind study found healthy volunteers administered CBD had little to no change in their emotional reaction to unpleasant images or words, compared to the placebo group. “If it’s a calming drug, it should change their responses to the stimuli,” said Harriet de Wit, co-author of the study and a professor in the University of Chicago’s department of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience. “But it didn’t.”
Many soldiers return home haunted by war and PTSD and often avoid certain activities, places or people associated with their traumatic events. The Department of Veterans Affairs is funding its first study on CBD, pairing it with psychotherapy.
“Our top therapies attempt to break the association between reminders of the trauma and the fear response,” said Mallory Loflin, an assistant adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego and the study’s principal investigator. “We think that CBD, at least in animal models, can help that process happen a lot faster.” While large clinical trials are underway, psychologists say there isn’t compelling evidence yet as to whether this is a viable treatment.
Does CBD help sleep and depression?
Up in the wee hours of the night, stuck watching videos of puppies? CBD may be promising as a sleep aid; one of the side effects of the Epidiolex trials for epilepsy was drowsiness, according to Mr. MacKillop, a co-author of a review on cannabinoids and sleep. “If you are looking for new treatments for sleep, that may be a clue,” he said.
But he cautions that the side effects could have been because of an interaction with other medications the children were taking to control the seizures. So far, there hasn’t been a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial (the gold standard) on sleep disorders and CBD.
A recent chart review of 72 psychiatric patients treated with CBD found that anxiety improved, but not sleep. “Over all, we did not find that it panned out as a useful treatment for sleep,” said Dr. Scott Shannon, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado, Denver and the lead author of the review in The Permanente Journal.
Sleep can be disrupted for many reasons, including depression. Rodents seemed to adapt better to stressful conditions and exhibited less depressive-like behavior after taking CBD, according to a review in Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy. “Surprisingly, CBD seems to act faster than conventional antidepressants,” wrote one of the authors of a new review, Sâmia Joca, a fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies in Denmark and an associate professor at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, in an email interview. Of course, it’s difficult to detect depression in animals, but the studies that Ms. Joca and her colleagues reviewed suggested that in models of chronic stress exposure, the mice and rats treated with CBD were more resilient.
But without clinical trials in humans, psychologists say CBD’s effect on depression is still a hypothesis, and not an evidence-based treatment.
Is CBD harmful?
“If you take pure CBD, it’s pretty safe,” said Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Side effects in the Epidiolex trial included diarrhea, sleepiness, fatigue, weakness, rash, decreased appetite and elevated liver enzymes. Also, the safe amount to consume in a day, or at all during pregnancy, is still not known.
Recently, the F.D.A. sent a warning letter to Curaleaf Inc. about its “unsubstantiated claims” that the plant extract treats a variety of conditions from pet anxiety and depression to cancer and opioid withdrawal. (In a statement, the company said that some of the products in question had been discontinued and that it was working with the F.D.A.)
Dr. Smita Das, chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Council on Addiction Psychiatry’s cannabis work group, does not recommend CBD for anxiety, PTSD, sleep or depression. With patients turning to these to unproven products, she is worried that they may delay seeking appropriate mental health care: “I’m dually concerned with how exposure to CBD products can lead somebody into continuing to cannabis products.”
Some CBD products may contain unwanted surprises. Forensic toxicologists at Virginia Commonwealth University examined nine e-liquids advertised as being 100 percent natural CBD extracts. They found one with dextromethorphan, or DXM, used in over-the counter cough medications and considered addictive when abused; and four with a synthetic cannabinoid, sometimes called Spice, that can cause anxiety, psychosis, tachycardia and death, according to a study last year in Forensic Science International.
Earlier research found fewer than a third of 84 products studied contained the amount of CBD on their labels. Some users of CBD have also failed drug tests when the product contained more THC than indicated.
This year, 1,090 people have contacted poison control centers about CBD, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Over a third are estimated to have received medical attention, and 46 were admitted into a critical care unit, possibly because of exposure to other products, or drug interactions. In addition, concern over 318 animals poured into the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Animal Poison Control Center.
Is CBD a scam or not?
A few drops of CBD oil in a mocha or smoothie are not likely to do anything, researchers contend. Doctors say another force may also be at play in people feeling good: the placebo effect. That’s when someone believes a drug is working and symptoms seem to improve.
“CBD is not a scam,” said Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai in New York City who led a double-blind study of 42 recovering heroin addicts and found that CBD reduced both cravings and cue-based anxiety, both of which can cycle people back into using. “It has a potential medicinal value, but when we are putting it into mascara and putting it into tampons, for God’s sake, to me, that’s a scam.”
Does CBD Work Without THC?
CBD is oft-touted as something akin to a miracle drug; from neurological disorders to anxiety and insomnia, CBD oil reportedly offers relief from a variety of ailments. So, too, do medical marijuana advocates make similar claims for cannabis use in general, that the THC and other cannabinoids present in cannabis can help with nausea, pain suppression, autoimmune disorders and many more maladies.
One of the benefits CBD touts over THC is it’s ability to offer health benefits without the sensation of “getting high” that THC consumption will cause. But does CBD really work without THC? And if so, is it reaching its peak efficiency without it’s commonly-paired cannabinoid cousin? We’ll explore these questions and more in today’s article.
What is CBD?
) is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. When we think of a cannabis plant, we typically think of it in a psychoactive light – Smoke weed, get high.
But some strains of cannabis,
, contain concentrations of THC so low they have no appreciable effect on the human body; in fact, to be legally grown within the United States, industrial hemp must contain only trace amounts of THC – less than 0.3%, as per FDA guidelines.
CBD & Industrial Hemp
Though CBD is found in most cannabis plants, these industrial hemp plants are the main source for creating CBD oil & other related products; by using plants already low in THC content less work is needed by the manufacturers to remove any residual psychoactive components (if desired).
Our Endocannabinoid System
Both THC and CBD act as “antagonizers” for our body’s
– Known as “CB1” and “CB2” receptors, respectively – though their methods in doing so differ greatly.
Whether smoked of passing through the digestive system (IE: eaten), THC directly binds to the CB1 receptors located in our brain, essentially forcing our bodies to produce excess amounts of chemicals that lead to the sensation of being high.
Cannabidiol does not bind to any of our cannabinoid receptors, instead modifying their ability to receive other forms of cannabinoids and acting on other cellular receptors throughout the body; these interactions
Will CBD Work On It’s Own?
According to a wide array of scientific and medical studies, the answer is yes, CBD works on its own. CBD oil has been shown to have promising results in treating a number of medical disorders, and CBD has been approved in one anti-seizure medicine by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
Even without the psychoactive presence of THC, CBD oil will still trigger bodily responses like serotonin release, giving it powerful effects on a wide variety of both physical and mental ailments.
As CBD acts on a variety of biological functions without the mood-lifting, euphoric (IE: stoned) qualities of THC, this has led some to view CBD as
and THC as “the recreational” side. But this sentiment denies the roles that both CBD and THC play when used in concert with each other (not to mention the medicinal qualities of THC itself), and is a notion best discarded
Does THC Have Medical Benefits On It’s Own?
Absolutely. THC has long been used for it’s medicinal and psychoactive properties both, and to deny it’s psychoactive component as non-medical is to overlook a large portion of it’s usefulness.
Though THC is often seen as “the high causer” part of cannabis (and rightfully so), that doesn’t make the act of being high without it’s own medicinal benefits. As THC binds to the CB1 receptors in our endocannabinoid system and causes alterations to our neurotransmitters we experience a variety of effects: Elevated moods, stimulated appetites, decreased anxiety, and so on.
For those suffering from clinical depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health issues, usage of THC can help lead to a more stable, relaxed mental state. What’s more is that it takes relatively little THC to stimulate these responses – Though taking a fat rip off the bong is almost always a fun time even just a small puff off the vape can be of tremendous help to those struggling with their mental health.
Additionally, this state of altered mind can help the body ignore pain and other forms of discomfort, offering relief to those with chronic pain or inflammation issues. The act of “being high” doesn’t have to mean partying and zoning out to some Netflix – For some, it’s a day-to-day relief from serious medical needs.
What Happens When You Use CBD and THC Together?
CBD and THC are products of the same plant (along with a variety of other cannabinoids, terpenes, and the like), meaning that using them together makes a natural sort of sense.
Indeed, when you smoke most cannabis plants (at least ones not labeled as hemp) you’re most likely getting a dose of cannabidiol that is pharmacologically relevant – even if that strain of cannabis has been bred primarily for it’s THC content, not for CBD.
There are definite cross-over traits between CBD and THC’s individual medical properties; muscle relaxation, inflammation reduction, and many others. Since CBD and THC both activate these effects in very different ways their effect is essentially multiplied when taken together, in a process typically referred to as “the entourage effect”.
Cannabinoids & The Entourage Effect
As said above THC primarily effects CB1 receptors located in the brain while CBD primarily antagonizes receptors located throughout the body, giving them a dual-acting power that enhances the benefits of both substances and seemingly makes them work better together.
Though scientific research is still being done on exactly how the THC and CBD combination interacts with our endocannabinoid system to give their maximum efficiency, the link between enhanced effects when using both THC and CBD has been the subject of several promising research papers, including a
from the San Francisco based California Pacific Medical Center, which showed a direct boost to tumor-fighting properties from a combination of THC and CBD than either substance taken separately.
Interestingly, taking CBD oil alongside THC has great effects on THC’s psychoactive nature as well. A 2012 research paper in the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed lab tests that found CBD had a calming effect on the sensation of paranoia that can
THC usage, and other studies have shown evidence that one of the side effects of CBD can even help “overwrite” some of the primary effects of THC, essentially working to
Is CBD Legal?
Mostly, yes. Within the United States, CBD is federally legal – This means that, as far as the United States government is concerned, they don’t care about your CBD possession or consumption. This was long a point of contention with the US government until the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, essentially legalizing the industrial hemp plant as a crop and allowing CBD to be harvested and sold on it’s own (provided it stays beneath the aforementioned 0.3% THC
Despite the Farm Bill this does not mean, though, that individual states have all legalized CBD use, and even those that have legalized it’s use & sale may have specific restrictions on the forms it can take.
As of this article’s publication date, three states have laws banning CBD products: Idaho, Iowa and South Dakota. In these states any possession or use of CBD is entirely against state law, and may lead to criminal charges.
And while legal in all other states to some degree, many states have restrictions against the sale of food & beverage products containing CBD; even states where marijuana is otherwise legal such as California and Colorado have restrictions against selling CBD-infused food items or baked goods. Of special mention is Vermont, who specifically bar the combination of CBD with dairy and meat products, and have their own
Can You Buy CBD and THC Together?
If you live in an area where THC is legal for medical or recreational consumption, then yes. If you don’t, though, expect CBD oil without THC to be all that’s available.
Though CBD can come in a number of forms, from oils to topicals to the aforementioned FDA approved seizure medication, there are generally only three “types” of CBD product:
CBD Isolate: This is a highly purified form of CBD that contains, well, isolated, pure CBD, with nothing else from the cannabis plant; this includes terpenes and other cannabinoids. If you’re looking for CBD oil without THC or any other substances, CBD isolate is what you want.
Broad Spectrum CBD: Not as heavily processed as isolate, “broad spectrum” CBD products usually contain the terpenes and other cannabinoids found within the cannabis flower… but this is also CBD oil without THC. The THC from the plant is carefully filtered out of the end product, leaving behind the more legal cannabinoids.
Full Spectrum CBD: “Full Spectrum” offerings are similar to the above but without the THC filtered away, giving the full range of compounds available in the whole plant. Such products usually have a very low dose of THC included, particularly compared to other cannabis concentrates, but do leave some in, allowing the full spectrum concentrates to gain the full benefit of the cannabis plant’s natural compounds.
Though the work involved to make these concentrates can be extensive (and also go a long way to explaining
), without the ability to strip away THC molecules from the end result (as in the case of CBD isolate) many CBD products would only be allowed for sale in states where marijuana has been legalized in some fashion.
Though each can be used on it’s own to effective ends, the evidence points toward CBD and THC working best in concert with one another, helping to maximize the benefits received from each.
Unfortunately, as the prohibition against marijuana still carries on and there are those who remain trapped within draconian systems with outdated prejudices, the need for CBD without THC is still high. And though CBD does work better with THC’s presence, that doesn’t mean that taking CBD oil on it’s own will have no effect at all, and can be a truly life-saving medicine for those who cannot take THC for various reasons (such as drug tests).
Though we are learning more and more every day scientific research on the subject of CBD/THC interaction still has a long way to go, and currently one of the best ways to find what helps you the most is through personal analysis. Thankfully, with what we know about CBD and THC alike, it’s experimentation that’s unlikely to have any detrimental effects – Unless devouring a box of cookies and binge watching cartoons sounds detrimental to you.
However, the key word to that statement is “unlikely”. As with any medical supplement, make sure to check with your physician before adding either CBD or THC into your daily routine – Though the benefits of CBD oil can be numerous there are potential side effects and
of that could be dangerous. Just be careful, do your research and always check with your doctor first.
We hope we’ve done our part in explaining why these two compounds work well together, and if you’re lucky enough to live in a legalized area we encourage you to experiment with both, finding the proper ratios and dosage amounts that work best for you. Happy smoking!