When I was in 7th grade, I had a science teacher that gave us a lecture in class one day that I'll never forget. It was based on the saying "It's the little things that can hurt you" and how there are times in life when there are little things that you aren't aware about that can do worse that hurt you - it can actually kill you. He did this experiment with some chemicals in the class room and gave the lecture while pouring a few common cleaning ingredients into a beaker. Everyone winced as he added each liquid in anticipation on what was going to happen next. In wrapping it up - he added one little drop of acid to this mixture of stuff everyone can find in their own homes and it blew up in a small explosion that could have seriously injured someone. I remember it actually made a mark on the ceiling which was about twelve feet high.
(Big shout out to Mr. Snyder - wherever you may be. Your lecture that day made a serious impact - and I thank you.)
That was over 30 years ago - but the message still remains the same.
The last couple years of the CBD craze reminds me of that lecture.
When you hear the word CBD - what do you think of? Does it make you think of the natural herbal miracle cure derivative of cannabis and 'sister' to THC that cures all kinds of diseases and ailments??
In 2018, the CBD market was valued at $1.8 billion. Due to the booming marijuana market, it's projected as much as $23 billion by 2023. According to a recent Gallup poll, one out of seven Americans use it as an over the counter treatment for pain, anxiety and sleep problems.
Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, is a compound found in cannabis. Medical research states that CBD does provide relief without the use of traditional drugs for ailments such as chronic pain, anxiety, inflammation, depression - in addition to currently being tested for a whole list of neurological, autoimmune, metabolic, gut, skin and cardiovascular disorders.
Some looking for relief of their ailments have turned to CBD as an alternative to pharmaceuticals and feel they are getting the benefit from cannabis without getting the high that THC provides.
In 2018, the Farm Bill passed legalized industrial hemp and a massive consumer demand for CBD oil products flooded the market with everything CBD - from soap to dog treats. Public figures supported it - as well as parents of children with disabilities and diseases. It was dubbed a "miracle cure" for sickness and pain - and a preventative for those that are already healthy - as well as a palliative for pets and humans alike. (Take it from me - we have a dog with severe separation anxiety and we have not one - but THREE bottles of various CBD oils recommended to us in our cabinet that collectively ran us about $155... and our dog STILL howls like a banshee every time we leave the house.)
A recent survey by the Grocery Manufacturers Association shows that 75% of Americans believe that the FDA regulates the CBD market, which is not true. To date, the FDA has approved one pharmaceutical grade oil for children with two different rare forms of epilepsy.
(I'll put in a disclaimer here - I truly do believe in the therapeutic benefits of true CBD oil and its ability to alleviate the symptoms of certain ailments and disease. My issue lies with the bastardization of cannabidiol by unqualified retailers who have put any and every CBD product on their shelves simply to satisfy the market's demand and claim that it cures.)
I may buy CBD from a vitamin/supplement retailer, but when I see CBD lotions and lozenges on the counter where I pump my gas - somebody's got to draw the line.
Even better - I was in Bed Bath & Beyond recently with my handful of 20% off coupons. (Everyone knows they accept them even if they are expired...) And as I was checking out - I noticed a display at the front of the store of - you guessed it - CBD lotions, candles and junk. Just in time for the holidays...
So I'll admit it - I'm very skeptic. But I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only one who finds the whole craze a bit odd.
Does it make you wonder why you've just started hearing about the supplement over the last couple years? If it is as great as everyone seems to think it is - why are we just finding out about it now? People have been smoking weed for years for medicinal and recreational purposes - and we somehow just have started to hear about it's non-psychoactive counterpart and all its benefits??
It seems that the problem with the CBD market itself is three-fold. One - not everyone should be taking CBD unless prescribed by a doctor, especially if they are currently on any medications. The "self-diagnosis and prescription" of CBD by millions of Americans may very well wind up causing a lot more harm than good. No one really knows how much CBD one should consume yet. Second, each company that manufacturers CBD products use different grades and dosages of oils, which make the use of these products dangerous to consume. Third, the FDA does not regulate the manufacturing of the myriad of products now on the market for quality control. In essence, the majority of CBD products you see on the market are actually illegal.
So - to be clear - the issue isn't that CBD doesn't do what its supposed to do - the problem is with the self-prescription of questionable grades of products being sold on the market that aren't regulated yet by the FDA that can seriously affect how each person's system metabolizes CBD.
Pal Parcher, president of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, recently stated, "Consumers are participating in one of the largest uncontrolled clinical trials in history, and no one really knows what it is they're taking. It's scary."
Claims of CBD products curing anything are currently unsubstantiated - other than a clinical trial of the drug Epidiolex, which is prescribed to children with rare epileptic disorders.
"As far as we know, this may all be mostly a placebo effect," says Pacher. "Everybody is being sucked into the big hype."
The U.S Food and Drug Administration originally claimed that the oil was safe to the public- but has just recently changed their stance on the matter in their press release from November 25th, 2019:
"Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to 15 companies for illegally selling products containing cannabidiol (CBD) in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). The FDA also published a revised Consumer Update detailing safety concerns about CBD products more broadly. Based on the lack of scientific information supporting the safety of CBD in food, the FDA is also indicating today that it cannot conclude that CBD is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) among qualified experts for its use in human or animal food.
Many unanswered questions and data gaps about CBD toxicity exist, and some of the available data raise serious concerns about potential harm from CBD. The revised Consumer Update outlines specific safety concerns related to CBD products, including potential liver injury, interactions with other drugs, drowsiness, diarrhea, and changes in mood. In addition, studies in animals have shown that CBD can interfere with the development and function of testes and sperm, decrease testosterone levels and impair sexual behavior in males. Questions also remain about cumulative use of CBD and about CBD’s impacts on vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant or breastfeeding women."
There are a lot of misconceptions about CBD and it's use that the public needs to take into consideration before using it - if they use it at all.
CBD is Blocking Your CYPs!
If you've ever heard anyone advising you not to drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit when taking any medicine, you are aware that it interacts with how medicine is metabolized in your body by cytochrome P450 (CYPs).
CYPs are non-specific enzymes in your liver that break down nearly 70-80% of all pharmaceutical drugs on the market today.
True CBD oil with a high concentration acts similar to grapefruit juice, in that, it shuts down the liver's ability to process some prescribed medications (such as for pain) thus inhibiting how it affects the body.
Most consumers of CBD take it in hopes that they would find relief from pain or other ailments. But if it inhibits the breakdown of their already prescribed medicines, it becomes extremely difficult for physicians to determine the correct dosage of pain and other prescriptions for their patients.
It has already been medically noted that there have been several problematic drug interactions with high doses of pure CBD. When consuming cannabis, THC will "let you know when you've had enough". But the fact that there are no visible effects of CBD makes it easier for people to consume higher doses than recommended amounts - thus rendering prescribed medication ineffective in some situations to cure ailments they were prescribed for.
And because celebrities and "doctors" - hell, maybe even your neighbor next door - swears that CBD has cured them of some ailment, the public has demanded higher quality CBD isolates which are much stronger than plant-derived consumption.
So - where will it go from here? It's usually a sign when the FDA finally gets involved and they usually start by sending out letters. But until they get an understanding of CBD's potential pro's and con's, they should remove CBD products completely from the market. Go ahead and Google "FDA CBD" and you'll find the first few attorney's already circling the waters for a class action suit. But what will happen with those that may have already done irreparable damage to themselves by taking CBD erroneously because they thought it was safe to do?
Only time will tell.
"It's not the little things that can sometimes hurt you - they can kill you."
- Mr. Snyder, 7th Grade Teacher, V.V.S High School
Photo by Enecta Cannabis extracts on Unsplash