On any given day, my email inbox will contain at least 10 press releases for something involving or containing cannabidiol—the cannabis compound more colloquially known as CBD. In my persepctive, it’s entertaining and a bit alarming watching CBD flood consumer markets. I think of my friend, who uses CBD products despite not using cannabis otherwise. She’s into wellness stuff and heard it was good for her to use. Does she know how or why it works? No. Does she use it anyway? Yes.
Since I suspect that many are in this same boat, let me explain. CBD is a naturally occurring, non-intoxicating compound found in the cannabis plant that can be extracted a number of ways. I have seen it in tinctures and oils, personal lubricants, coffee, gummies and other edibles, as well as lotions, kombucha, water, yogurt, cocktails, joints and a variety of other products.
CBD won’t get anyone high—that’s its sister component THC’s (or tetrahydrocannabinol) job. However, there are a variety of unconfirmed but promising benefits, like its anti-inflammatory properties, which can be good for pain and nausea. It’s popular with cancer patients for those reasons, but it’s also popular with those who suffer from anxiety and depression for reasons that are not yet entirely known. One proven arena is with epilepsy patients—Epidolex is an FDA-approved drug containing CBD that is prescribed to patients with severe forms of the condition.
Doesn’t CBD sound great? Yes, it does! The benefits of this widespread knowledge and use is that the government, and therefore the FDA, will begin testing it more and taking it more seriously. But, so far, people currently rely on what is largely anecdotal evidence. That’s exactly the problem, says OutCo’s Director of Formulation, Taylor Trah. OutCo is a dispensary in El Cajon.
“The new research into cannabis and cannabinoids certainly presents the challenge in presenting anything as factual for dosage recommendation, and the efficacy of different cannabinoid mixes for different therapies and ailments,” Trah says.
“Something our dispensary folks get asked all the time is, ‘What’s a proper dose?’” Trah adds that this is impossible to nail down since people use cannabis for a wide variety of reasons and have different tolerance levels.
There are other issues as well.
“So many of these unregulated products in health food stores or at local gas stations are coming from unknown sources of CBD and are monomolecular in their composition, meaning that only the CBD is present as an active constituent in that product,” Trah explains.
Many in the cannabis and medical industries suspect CBD’s benefits work best in what’s called the “entourage effect.” Meaning, the presence of other compounds, like THC, bring out the benefits of co-compounds when used in concert. Since selling THC requires a whole boatload of different regulations, and because of it’s intoxicating properties, that route isn’t available to most manufacturers.
So, it’s possible all this monomolecular CBD out in the world is doing jack and people are making a lot of money off of it. It’s possible it works as is, too. We just don’t know yet. For now, Trah recommends buying only from dispensaries to ensure quality control.
Overall, I believe in CBD’s therapeutic benefits and I look forward to learning more along with the rest of the public. But, for now, I’m simply more convinced that much of it is being hawked for conditions it doesn’t really help.