People around the world are using CBD oil to improve their physical and mental health for a variety of ailments, but what exactly is CBD, and why aren’t we seeing more medical claims about its purported benefits?
What is CBD?
The letters “CBD” are an abbreviation for Cannabidiol, a compound derived from the cannabis sativa plant. Yes, this is the same plant that produces marijuana, but the difference is in the amount of THC found in the specific strain of the plant. THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol and THC is responsible for the well-known “high” of marijuana.
In contrast, cannabis plants containing less than 0.3% THC (which is considered only a trace amount) are not intoxicating and are classified as “industrial hemp,” according to the most recent US Farm Bill. CBD oil made from industrial hemp is federally legal and does not produce a “high”.
Why is CBD oil suddenly a trend?
The main reason you see CBD oil everywhere now is that when the US Farm Bill was passed in December 2018, CBD oil was federalized, making it more accessible to consumers seeking its healing potential. This increase in availability led to an increase in demand for CBD, which subsequently fueled a boom in new companies and manufacturers.
Additionally, consumers who would not normally be able to use medical marijuana for a variety of reasons will find many of the same benefits with CBD oil. Some people cannot use MMJ because of:
- Disability or Random Drug Screening
- Sensitivity to THC
- Local or state law prohibiting marijuana or medical marijuana
- Unavailability of medical marijuana in their state
- The need to drive or operate heavy machinery
- The need to stay clear to care for children and others
Individuals who use CBD oil are often looking for a solution to many of the same health problems as those who use medical marijuana, but without the “high” of marijuana. This makes CBD more useful to a wider range of consumers, hence the boom in the industry.
Where is the medical evidence?
A quick online search will give you copious amounts of anecdotal evidence about the benefits of CBD oil. A more in-depth search reveals numerous scientific studies and preclinical trials, but why aren’t CBD manufacturers allowed to make medical claims? Here are a few reasons for this:
- Industrial hemp was federalized by law, greatly increasing consumer demand before the FDA had enough time to evaluate and review existing research on CBD’s effectiveness.
- Universities and medical institutions have only been authorized to develop cannabis tests and trials since the Farm Bill was passed by Obama in 2014. While many trials and investigations are currently underway, these processes take time. Therefore, it will be a while before a significant amount of medical evidence is available regarding definitive scientific results of CBD.
- The FDA is a slow-moving giant. In fact, in 2019, the FDA updated the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamins and minerals for the first time in 30 years. Still, some of the most long-standing and well-known natural remedies have to include the standard disclaimer on their packaging that says, “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.”
- Not only has the FDA not yet decided how to regulate the packaging, marketing, or dosage of CBD oil, but it has not even decided whether it should be classified as a food additive, supplement, etc.
- The FDA has approved one CBD drug: Epidiolex, which is used to treat certain rare forms of childhood epilepsy. Cannabis industry experts expect more approvals to follow after this breakthrough.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has deemed CBD oil “safe for general use”. Instead of waiting years (or decades) for manufacturers to get approval to make medical claims about its efficacy, why not buy CBD oil yourself and see what it can do for you?