Two dermatologists I consulted with, New York-based Whitney Bowe, MD and New Jersey-based Jeanette Jacknin, MD, both agreed that CBD’s anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits are clinically proven. “Studies have shown that the cannabinoids like CBD in marijuana are anti-inflammatory and anti-aging and topical CBD has proven helpful for acne, eczema, and psoriasis,” Jacknin told me. “Hemp seed oil is reputed to be the most unsaturated oil derived from the plant kingdom, so it is less pore clogging but a great moisturizer for dry, cracked skin.”
Because it does not produce psychoactive effects and hemp is not a controlled substance, hemp-based products are legal to sell, buy, and possess in all 50 states. However, the law is a bit more complex when discussing CBD oils and other hemp byproducts. According to the 2014 Farm Bill, hemp should only be grown and cultivated for academic research purposes. This means that, technically, any hemp-derived oil that is not grown for these purposes would be illegal — though this law is rarely enforced. To make matters more complex, the laws are somewhat unclear in certain states. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky recently introduced legislation that would legalize all hemp products at the federal level, but this decision is still pending.
Researchers like Blessing are legitimately excited about CBD. It shows real promise in treating previously intractable disorders like schizophrenia, and without the destructive side effects of existing drugs. Still, that doesn’t mean CBD is harmless. Research on drug interactions with CBD is in its infancy, but what is known within the medical community is that CBD can cause serious problems for people taking certain classes of drugs, namely SSRIs (a group of antidepressants including Zoloft and Prozac) and opioids.
Let’s start by looking at THC. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound found in cannabis with psychotropic properties. Medical marijuana companies breed their plants to have the highest concentrations of this compound. It is associated with the feeling of being high that marijuana smokers experience. Effects include feelings of euphoria, pain relief and sometimes increased anxiety and paranoia.
Scientists have made a lot of progress in understanding how CBD produces its calming, pain-reducing, anti-inflammatory effects in the body—and there’s still more to learn. We know that CBD interacts with many different receptors, proteins, and other chemicals in the brain. These interactions create changes in the activity of neurotransmitters, hormones, and other cells throughout the brain and body. Through these interactions, CBD appears to be able to affect many of the body’s functions, from sleep-wake cycles and emotional regulation to inflammation, pain perception, and seizures.
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