CBD Fact and Fiction
CBD FACT AND FICTION
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of over 100 identified cannabinoids (a special class of chemical compounds) in the cannabis plant.
CBD and THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, are the two primary compounds that have been investigated in medical research.
For decades, most of this research, as well as public opinion, had been focused on the effects of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis that causes a high. More recently, however, numerous scientific discoveries and breakthroughs have been made about CBD’s significant medical potential.
Of all of CBD’s possible applications, the one garnering the most attention is the dramatic effect it has on young patients suffering from severe forms of epilepsy. The story of Charlotte Figi, a young girl who went from 300 seizures a week to just a few with daily doses of a CBD tincture, has turned CBD into a media sensation and industry buzzword.
Because CBD does not produce a high, it does not carry the stigma associated with THC. Hence, the public has been quick to embrace it and lawmakers in many states have begun to respond to growing demand for access to CBD, though not necessarily in ways that are supportive of cannabis legalization or that recognize the totality of medical cannabis research.
This CBD-only bias is reflected by an overestimation of its role in cannabis therapeutics, as demonstrated by a prevalence of the following misconceptions.
Myth: CBD is what people seeking cannabis as a medical treatment option need.
As Dr. Suzanne Sisley tried to explain to legislators in Kentucky and Minnesota, “…a CBD-only law would benefit a narrow segment of the patient population. The vast majority of patients need access to a broader spectrum of whole plant marijuana remedies. Even pediatric patients need more options.”
CBD can be life changing for certain patients suffering from specific conditions such as seizure disorders, but for the vast majority of patients who benefit from medical cannabis, THC is still the compound that provides results, especially for serious pain relief and as sleep aid.
Myth: CBD is the main cancer-fighting compound in cannabis.
Although the body of research for CBD’s specific effects on cancer is extensive and growing, most of what is known about the potential of cannabis in combating cancer comes from many years of examining THC’s direct effect on halting tumor growth and its effectiveness in cancer symptom management.
On the other hand, the greatest benefit is gained when THC and CBD work together synergistically – complementing and boosting each compound’s positive effects while mitigating negative effects. This synergy elevates the overall effectiveness of the cannabis remedy.
Myth: CBD is not psychoactive.
Constance Finley, founder and CEO of Constance Pure Botanical Extracts, has a unique perspective on this point, informed by her background as a clinical psychologist. Although much of the literature says that CBD is not psychoactive, Constance does not believe that statement is strictly accurate. CBD may not cause a high or anxiety in novice users, but anything that affects one’s psychological condition is, by definition, psychoactive. And CBD has a psychological effect, subtle though it may be, when it takes away anxiety and helps people feel focused.
What the Research Says
According to Project CBD, a non-profit educational service that promotes and publicizes scientific research related to CBD [see blog], studies have shown CBD to have the following notable therapeutic benefits:
In addition, there is evidence that CBD may act as a neuroprotectant – that is, able to stem neurological damage following strokes and in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s – and may play a role in neurogenesis, the creation of new brain cells.
Numerous studies have shown CBD’s promise in the treatment of a wide range of conditions, including but not limited to:
While the list of clinical applications for CBD continues to grow, it should be noted that most of these applications are not in isolation of THC, whose role as a phytotherapeutic compound has already been established vis-à-vis many of the same conditions. CBD acts on different pathways than THC in the body, complementing THC’s effects on the same symptoms when administered together. In addition, CBD counters the psychoactivity of THC, making it ideal for patients who cannot handle too much THC and who respond sufficiently to CBD for their medical condition.