The ABCs of CBD

It seems that the letters CBD are  popping up on almost every corner these days. The newest craze in the alternative plant medicine industry, CBD has recently been legitimized by the FDA, and could be one of the major advancements in medicine that’s been seen in a very long time.

The hemp and cannabis plants have over 100 different chemical compounds, better known as cannabinoids. These interact with the endocannabinoid system, which is a system of neurotransmitters in the body that helps balance and maintain normal body function, including the nervous system, respiratory and digestive systems, brain and peripheral tissue and organs.

Two of the major cannabinoids that have been studied are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Although related and coming from the same plant, there are differences in the chemical compounds. THC is a psychoactive agent and when consumed or applied can make the patient “high”. Many people who are seeking alternative medicines are not looking for those psychoactive effects. CBD does not have the mind-altering effect on the body but still delivers many medicinal benefits to the body.

There are a number of ways to get the medicine into the body. There are drops that can be placed under the tongue, salves and ointments that can be applied topically and a plethora of edibles that include candies, savory foods, mints and drinks. CBD can also be inhaled through smoking or vaping the oil.

Although in its infancy stage of research, CBD already has lots of anecdotal support for the many benefits that it has medicinally. Patients, parents and spouses are sharing their success stories from around the world via social media. The testimonials show benefits for treating chronic pain, sleeplessness, anxiety, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, cancer and nausea, to name a few. CBD is an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and immunosuppressive. Keeping in mind that longitudinal studies still need to be conducted to give these testimonials any real credibility, the number of testimonials shared each day continues to grow exponentially. Researchers have a large number of people from these videos and articles to jumpstart the process of proving its efficacy.    

There is scientific research, however, that has been proven. According to the National Institutes of Health, CBD is shown to help with the debilitating side-effects of cancer treatment. Other studies are showing that CBD is effective in treating PTSD and alcohol and drug addiction withdrawals.

The FDA has recently approved a CBD-based medication, Epidiolex, to help fight seizures associated with epilepsy. According to an interview in Men’s Health magazine with Dr. Orrin Devinsky, director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at NYU Langone Health, CBD should be researched across the board on the benefits it has with the many different epilepsy syndromes. Now that the FDA has approved a medicine which is CBD infused, the steps for creating new medications containing CBD have already begun. Although a formal statement from the FDA has not been released regarding the safety of CBD, it has been announced that the World Health Organization has provided data, stating that pure CBD is safe for consumption. This is a very good sign for the changing views of the medical community.

CVS and Walgreens have recently announced that they will start carrying CBD oil products. With so many CBD products hitting the market, how can consumers be certain that the products being purchased are of the highest grade and quality? Like vitamins and other alternative medicines, a little footwork is needed by the patients or their caretakers. Since the FDA has yet to set standards regarding quality and dosage, it’s important to be vigilant when choosing a product. Be certain that the seller has their product third-party tested to ensure that the CBD is therapeutic grade and pure. Many of the products on the market are not labeled as such and should be avoided.

With plant medicine becoming more mainstream, it’s going to be expected that patients become their own self advocate when it comes to medicating. The days of getting a prescription and taking it blindly, not knowing exactly what it contains and how it’s going to affect other parts of the body, is dwindling. Become educated on all things natural and how they may help. Like any other type of medicine, it is best to speak with a professional before taking products that are unfamiliar or new to a patient’s treatment.

J. Garnet, M.A., is an educator and freelance writer. Garnet’s studies have led him to the world of plant medicine and its many benefits. His work is centered on educating the public on alternative medicine. Connect at 520-437-8855 or

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