• Bari Stricoff, MSc, RDN

What You Need To Know About CBD!

Updated: Feb 17, 2019

I’m always a bit sceptical of new wellness trends, as nearly all tend to be a marketing gimmick to make money and promote claims not backed by science. But I must admit, I have been quite interested in the rise of CBD products since they first hit the market. If you haven’t heard of CBD (Cannabidiol), it is compound found in the cannabis plant (marijuana). So, what is CBD and why is everyone so obsessed with it?



My first step to investigating CBD was heading straight to the research. I just want to start by saying “research” is not synonymous with “googling”. Research includes reading scientific studies published in journals, such as clinical trials and systematic reviews, or something you can find on PubMed, for example. When I typed “cannabidiol” (what CBD stands for) into the search bar, it yielded 2,209 results and 470 when I filtered for studies using human subjects in the last 5 years. In my opinion, that’s a great start – It means CBD is being discussed and challenged in the scientific community and that these claims may be backed by science overall. Now for a quick scientific breakdown of CBD.


Marijuana has been used in the medicinal world for years, for those with cancer or undergoing chemotherapy, anorexia (not specifically anorexia nervosa), cachexia in AIDS (weakness and wasting), pain and spasms for those with MS. There are 2 active compounds within cannabis: CBD and THC. THC is the psychoactive compound that causes you to feel “high”, whereas CBD does not have any psychoactive properties. Both THC and CBD, collectively referred to cannabinoids, act on cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. CB1, which affects the brain, is triggered mainly by THC. However, CB2, which affects the immune system, is mainly triggered by CBD.


So why is everyone taking CBD and what does the research say?


Inflammation/Pain

Probably the most common use for CBD is for its’ inflammation and pain reduction properties. Without trying to get too technical, CBD has anti-inflammatory capabilities because it can inhibit and suppress cytokine production (inflammatory response). In other words, CBD can potentially dysregulate the stimulation of an inflammatory response, which can also reduce pain. Evidence supports this for nerve and muscle pain, arthritis, colitis (an inflammatory bowel disease) and more! However, maximum benefits for inflammation and pain are observed when CBD is combined with THC, resulting in 50% greater symptom relief compared to placebos. Obviously, I am not promoting the use of Marijuana, but it is more effective than CBD on its own for inflammation and pain reduction.


Anxiety

While taking CBD for anxiety seems to increase, the research on this is still a bit mixed! While CBD is completely safe and has minimal sedative effects, its effectiveness on reducing anxiety is not full proof. Most of the research has been done on animal studies or those that use healthy human subjects (without a general anxiety diagnosis). However, CBD is shown to activate 5-HT1ARs, which appears to mediate anxiolytic and panicolyic effects (anxiety and panic). However, the research has not discovered the correct dosing to achieve these results and a large-scale human clinical trial is needed that recruits both healthy subjects and those with a clinical diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. However, there is great research regarding CBD supplementation and schizophrenia, so there is hope that we will have future conclusions regarding CBD and anxiety.

Acne

CBD supplementation to reduce acne was not something I had even heard about prior to my research, so I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled across this! As CBD can behave as a highly effective sebostatic agent (sebaceous gland regulator), combined with its anti-inflammatory properties, it is known to have great potential as a promising therapeutic agent for treating can vulgaris. However, this has not yet been tested and is still a very hypothetical area of research. It is also unsure whether the CBD treatment would be oral or topical in application. Yet, I am very excited for this area of research to develop!


Epilepsy

More clinically, CBD is recommended for control of seizures in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome (2 rare forms of epilepsy), but not for other types of epilepsy. CBD does not replace Western medicine in this case, but is complimentary to current medication. However, a new drug called Epidiolex, which is a form of CBD, is an approved treatment option for those with these specific epilepsies, according to the FDA. If this applies to you, please consult your doctors before taking CBD!


Conclusion

Although the research regarding CBD seems promising, specifically in regards to inflammation and pain reduction, there is a lot about CBD that has me feeling extra cautious. For example, CBD products are currently under no legal regulations and are not regulated by the FDA. Since they are not regulated, the claims on the bottle often do not match the contents inside. Specifically, a 2017 study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that nearly 70% of CBD products sold online are mislabelled. Specifically having less CBD than stated, and even a large amount containing THC. Clearly we need manufacturing standards on these products, in addition to more human-subject clinical trials! However, I am quite hopeful regarding the medicinal properties of CBD! Additionally, certain states, such as California and Colorado, there are certain manufacturing standards. Always look for products that are 3rd party verified and tested for quality, pesticides and heavy metals!


When I first started to write this blog, I opened my Instagram Stories to questions about CBD. While I answered most of them, here are a few that I thought were interesting:


1. Is it better to vape CBD or use the dropper? From the research, I gathered, this is a personal choice. When CBD is inhaled, its effects are felt quicker, but don’t last as long.


2. How much should I take? Again, this is a personal decision. While 1500mg has been deemed safe, the most common dosage is around 300g/day, but will differ between individuals.


3. Can I travel with it? Yes, CBD is legal in all states!


4. Can I get the same benefits from CBD if I eat it in a donut or brownie? While CBD infused, food has taken over the market, I struggled to find the answer to this! If you are taking CBD for an intended purpose, I recommend not purchasing the CBD infused food, but making it at home so you know how much CBD you are using.


And full disclosure, I am not promoting the use of Marijuana or CBD, I am just stating the evidence and my personal opinions.


Feel free to leave any comments or questions, or email them to me directly at info@barithedietitian.com


References:


Oláh A, Tóth BI, Borbíró I, et al. Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. J Clin Invest. 2014;124(9):3713-24.


Campos AC, Fogaça MV, Sonego AB, Guimarães FS. Cannabidiol, neuroprotection and neuropsychiatric disorders. Pharmacological Research. 2016;112:119-127.


Schier A, Ribeiro N, Coutinho D, et al. Antidepressant-Like and Anxiolytic-Like Effects of Cannabidiol: A Chemical Compound of Cannabis sativa. CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets. 2014;13(6):953-960.


Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-36.


Gupta A. What are the effects of cannabis-based medicines for adults with chronic neuropathic pain? Cochrane Clinical Answers. 2018.


Nagarkatti P, Pandey R, Rieder SA, Hegde VL, Nagarkatti M. Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Medicinal Chemistry. 2009;1(7):1333-1349.

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