By Mara Benner
The National Institutes of Health recently announced that they would be proceeding with nine new research initiatives totaling $3 million to further study cannabinoids, including CBD, in alleviating pain for many Americans. This announcement came just as many Alexandrians are seeing an array of CBD products in local stores and many have more questions than answers to the perplexing world of CBD and marijuana.
Joel Greengrass, chief education officer of Alexandria-based Healthnetics, has a very personal reason why high quality CBD products are so important. Just over 13 years ago, Greengrass was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His symptoms became so bad that he was barely able to stand, especially for long periods of time. He was prescribed eight different medications and was also taking Ibuprofen every four hours. Through his own research, he was introduced to CBD and emu oil. With the use of the Healthnetics products, he was soon able to reduce his prescription drugs down to only one primary MS drug, and he no longer requires either Ibuprofen or any other supplemental therapies.
“It became my passion to help others and their support systems to improve their quality of life when they no longer thought there was much hope,” Greengrass said.
Greengrass cautions individuals to first do their research and work with their medical team prior to cutting any medical treatment or prescriptions. To support those seeking answers to their most important questions, Greengrass offered the following clarifications on CBD products.
The main difference between hemp-derived CBD (cannabidiol) and marijuana is that CBD does not induce a high, whereas marijuana does. Marijuana contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound responsible for creating an intoxicating effect. CBD derived from industrial hemp, a sister plant to marijuana, contains almost no THC. Therefore, hemp-derived CBD provides many of the same therapeutic benefits of marijuana without the intoxicating effect.
For Virginia residents, is CBD legal? If so, for what products?
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized CBD products derived from industrial hemp at the federal level. At the state level, the legality of CBD products varies and often hinges on the presence of THC. Virginia is considered a CBD-friendly state that allows the use of THC-free, hemp-derived CBD oil without restriction. Those who work in the government or industries that may prohibit the use of CBD, should check with their governing bodies before consuming CBD products.
Who uses CBD products and what evidence is there of health benefits?
Consumers of all ages, genders and sizes use CBD. Definitive research on CBD’s efficacy is in its early stages and, like any treatment, individual responses to CBD will vary. Many people have successfully used CBD for relief from stress, anxiety, inflammation, aches and pains and sleeplessness. Recent studies have buttressed CBD’s promise for arthritis, inflammation and chronic pain.
Is CBD safe and what, if any, side effects are there to its use?
The World Health Organization reports that “there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” However, many CBD products currently fall outside the scope of federal regulation, resulting in products that vary widely in quality. Products may not contain the stated amount of CBD, or may contain additional foreign, harmful ingredients. Therefore, consumers should only purchase CBD from reputable, trusted brands that test and certify their products.
If someone is purchasing CBD products, how should they evaluate the product?
The first thing to note is that not all CBD is created equal. Make sure that you know where the CBD in the product is from and if there are lab reports to back that up. If your CBD is not domestically sourced, stay away. Consumers should also look for companies that test their products throughout the manufacturing process to not only ensure the absence of foreign substances but also to ensure that the products have the amount of CBD that they claim. It is very easy to “cook” the CBD out of your products and most companies do not conduct a final post-manufacturing test to ensure that they are giving consumers what they pay for.
Another important criteria is understanding the carrier oil. All CBD has to have a high quality, fat soluble carrier oil in order for it to be ingested in the body. Most CBD products use olive oil, MCT oil or hemp seed oil as a carrier. Healthnetics uses emu oil. Emu oil is a neural protectant, pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, collagen stimulator and is super high in omega fatty acids. This increases the bioavailablity of the CBD in Healthnetics products when taken sublingually.
Does the use of a CBD product get an individual high?
Hemp-derived, THC-free CBD is not intoxicating. We do wince when people say that it is not psychoactive because, by definition, it is. It changes our brain activity – anandamide, 2-AG, serotonin – but it does not cause an individual to get high. Ananda is actually Sanskrit for bliss, joy, delight, so Anandamide is the bliss molecule, an endogenous cannabinoid produced by our own brain to keep us happy. CBD helps lengthen the cycle where anandamide is active in our brains, hence improving our levels of happiness but without any intoxication effects.
If I use CBD products, is it possible I could fail a drug test?
The answer is no, provided you are using a CBD isolate product with 0 percent THC and taking a reputable test. If you are taking a full spectrum or broad spectrum product with traces of THC, there is a risk of a positive test result. Consumers should only purchase CBD from reputable, trusted brands that test and certify their products.
What else should I know about CBD products?
CBD is an adaptogen. That means that if everyone reading this right now were to take the same product in the same dose, the CBD would work with our brains to deploy differently in each person. This is why it can be confusing to hear that the same CBD product can help with the symptoms associated with a wide range of conditions, from skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis, to pain and inflammation from injuries or arthritis, to sleep and anxiety issues. Because CBD does not take over a bodily function, we do not build up a tolerance to it over time. In fact, we have seen many people reduce their CBD usage as their system gets back to homeostasis.
Mara Benner is the founder of Four Directions Wellness, intuitively connecting body, mind, emotions and spirit. The organization is affiliated with the GW Center for Integrative Medicine and offers individual sessions, classes and consulting. Learn more at www.fourdirectionswellness.com.