As marijuana is legalized in more and more states, the wellness world has whipped itself into a frenzy over a non-intoxicating cannabis derivative called cannabidiol. CBD products can be found on the internet and in health-food stores, wellness catalogs and even bookstores. (A bookstore in downtown Boulder, Colorado, displays a case of CBD products between the cash register and the stacks of new releases.) Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, disgraced cyclist1 Floyd Landis and former Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer are all touting CBD products, and according to Bon Appétit, CBD-infused lattes have become “the wellness world’s new favorite drink.”
Still, CBD is already commonly used to relieve some symptoms of anxiety, including insomnia, and there have been some studies that show it to be effective in those cases. Other studies have shown that CBD could have anti-inflammatory properties, and many CBD products are marketed for relieving chronic pain, such as arthritis. And multiple studies have found CBD to be an effective treatment for seizures, and there are various CBD products that are used by patients with epilepsy. However, major health agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization have all stated in recent years that additional CBD testing and research is necessary.
The next morning, I blended the contents of the bottle up with collagen (because I add Vital Proteins to pretty much everything I drink) and took my first sip. I was immediately impressed with the taste—so creamy, dreamy, delicious, and not at all skunky. Settling into my couch with my laptop (lazy Sunday mornings are when I like to get myself organized for the upcoming work week), I continued to sip. Normally, and as it would for anyone, diving into my inbox, scanning the upcoming week's calendar, and plotting out all my upcoming to-dos sends shivers of nerves and anxiety down my spine. I love my job, but it comes with its fair share of stress. Miraculously, however, I felt calm, cool, and collected. As my fingers skipped away at lightning speed on my keyboard courtesy of that 80 milligrams of caffeine, I didn't have the usual side effect of nerves, jumps, or jitters. I felt good, and on my way home from the gym later that day, I picked up a couple more bottles of Kickback. What can I say? I was high for it. Of course, "high" not to be taken literally, as CBD—aka cannabidiol—is a non-psychoactive compound of cannabis.
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The cannabis plant is filled with hundreds of different compounds, several of which have been studied for decades for their therapeutic benefits. The cannabis compounds that have captured the most scientific interest are known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are now used in treatment for a broad—and growing—range of conditions and symptoms, from sleep and pain, to anxiety and inflammation, to Parkinson’s disease and cancer.
The 2016 European Journal of Pain conducted a study on rat models to test the effectiveness of CBD against arthritis in order to see if it could serve as an all-natural alternative to the typical arthritis pain medications, which are often tied with numerous uncomfortable and frustrating side effects. The rats were treated for 4 days with 4 different doses of CBD gel, and the results were quite staggering.
McGuire doesn’t advise buying CBD products. You need to differentiate, he says, between the extremely high doses of pharmaceutical-grade pure CBD that participants in the handful of successful studies were given and the dietary supplements available over the counter or online. “These may contain quite small amounts of CBD that might not have large enough concentrations to have any effects,” he says. “It’s the difference between a nutraceutical and a pharmaceutical.” These supplements aren’t allowed to make claims of any effects. “If you’re making creams or sports drinks with CBD, you can say anything you like as long as you don’t say it will do such and such,” he says.
Cannabis has been used medicinally for centuries, as a sleep aid, a pain and nausea reducer, to relieve anxiety and other mood problems. In the mid-1960s, scientists identified the first cannabinoid. Since then, scientists have gone on to identify more than 80 individual cannabinoids and continue to investigate them for their potential symptom-relieving and disease-fighting abilities.
Online retailers: Most CBD oils are sold through online retailers. These establishments tend to have the widest product range, and many offer free doorstep delivery. Online retailers also frequently post product reviews, allowing buyers to compare different oils based on customer experiences to determine which is best for them. These reviews can also be used to evaluate the retailer based on customer service, delivery, and product quality.
Those warning letters aside, there’s not a lot of federal oversight right now over the claims being made or the products that are being sold. Cohen warned against buying CBD products online, because “there’s a lot of scams out there.” Yet his clinic sells CBD, and he admits, “I say ‘Don’t buy online,’ but ours is worth doing, because we know what we’re doing. We ship all over.”
CBD strains can be consumed just as you would THC strains. You can smoke or vaporize CBD-rich flower, eat a CBD-infused edible, swallow a CBD oil capsule, apply a CBD lotion, or use a CBD tincture sublingually. Hemp products also contain CBD, though it is a less efficient source and lacks the beneficial chemical diversity of cannabis-derived CBD products (more on that here).
Research and regulation of cannabis in general is decades behind other crops and drugs because of its long prohibition. We’re in the early stages of a chaos period that will last a decade at minimum — a substance has to be legal in order for scientists to figure out how it works and for the government to figure out how to ensure it’s safe. Clinical trials take years to complete and will have to build on each other to create a competent understanding. Coupled with modern technology’s ability to disseminate truths, half-truths, and complete lies, this means we’re in a phase ripe for scams, intentional and not.
Our Editor’s Pick is the tincture from CBDistillery. This tincture is available in five strengths ranging from 250mg to 5,000mg, which accommodates a wide range of THC preferences, as well as 15 and 30 milliliter containers. The tincture has a price-point that is slightly below average, making it a good option for value seekers. The tincture, which is non-flavored, routinely undergoes third-party testing to ensure safety and high quality; the testing results are available on CBDistillery’s product pages.