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Last year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a nearly 500-page report on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids. A committee of 16 experts from a variety of scientific and medical fields analyzed the available evidence — more than 10,000 scientific abstracts in all. Because so few studies examine the effects of CBD on its own, the panel did not issue any findings about CBD specifically, but it did reach some conclusions about cannabis and cannabinoids more generally. The researchers determined that there is “conclusive or substantial evidence” supporting the use of cannabis or cannabinoids for chronic pain in adults, multiple sclerosis-related spasticity (a kind of stiffness and muscle spasms), and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. The committee also found “moderate” evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids can reduce sleep disturbances in people with obstructive sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, chronic pain and multiple sclerosis, as well as “limited” evidence that these substances can improve symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome, increase appetite and stem weight loss in people with HIV/AIDs, and improve symptoms of PTSD and anxiety.
Two additional studies in this area were done using CBD oil. In the first one, 214 participants would take 0.9 to 2.3 grams of oil per 1 pound of body weight. CBD successfully reduced seizures by a median of 36.5%. The second study focused on children who suffered from Dravet syndrome. Dravet syndrome is a type of epilepsy that happens in early infancy. Normally high temperatures and fevers trigger it. The results of the second study showed that CBD oil reduced seizures significantly.
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Recreational marijuana is not legal in New York state. What the coffee shop is selling is CBD-infused lattes; CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. Out of curiosity, I bought one. It cost $9 and tasted like a latte with that hint of marijuana herbiness you get from a weed cookie. Google research informed me I would not get high but would be calmer, less anxious, maybe a little sleepy. I have no idea if I felt anything at all. Mostly, I felt like I just spent $9 on coffee.
A quality CBD topical cream provides the advantage of being able to apply the active therapeutic hemp extract directly to the site of aggravation or discomfort. This is particularly useful for application to joint areas or superficial muscle tissue, as the cannabidiol compound will diffuse across the dermal layers directly to the site of pain and inflammation.
Although contaminants come in various shapes and forms, most are relatively easy to detect, because many professional analytical labs exist that routinely screen for such contaminants in, for example, food crops, imported medicinal plants, or edible oils. The standard lab methods, as described in Pharmacopoeia monographs (e.g., USP, EP) or food regulations, could simply be applied to CBD oils, after some minor validation studies. For example, the detection of heavy metals or pesticides present in CBD oil does not significantly differ from the same analysis in, say, a shipment of olive oil. The only analysis that is not yet standard procedure in most analytical labs is the quantification of cannabinoids. Because cannabinoids are only found (with few exceptions ) in the cannabis plant, specific analytical methodology must be developed to properly determine the cannabinoid composition of the many CBD products available.
Despite this, CBD is something nobody knows much about, and certainly nobody is monitoring it properly. CBD is widely marketed as a supplement, despite the Food and Drug Administration saying it does not qualify as such (this is because it is an active ingredient in drugs which are either approved or under investigation to be approved). CBD goes largely unregulated by the agency; on the FDA’s FAQ page, a vague answer maintains there are “many factors in deciding whether or not to initiate an enforcement action.” The Department of Agriculture handles research grants and pilot programs for hemp, but that’s where its involvement ends.