In the summer or 2018, the FDA approved the first drug containing an active ingredient derived from marijuana. Epidiolex, a cannabidiol (CBD), is an oral solution designed to treat rare forms of epilepsy (1). According to the Mayo Clinic, this medication is only available by prescription and is available in solution form (2).
This unprecedented approval opened up an entirely new market for CBD products of all shapes and sizes. As a result, the growing popularity of CBD has led major drugstore chains like Walgreens to test out CBD sales. In fact, 2018, retail sales of cannabis products topped $10.5 billion in the U.S. (3).
What is CBD?
CBD is a chemical derived from Cannabis sativa, also known as marijuana. However, unlike regular marijuana, CBD doesn’t lead to euphoria. Instead, the high of marijuana use comes from a different chemical found in marijuana — Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). So what are CBD’s effects? What are the differences between CBD and THC? In the article, we compare and contrast these two marijuana derivatives.
What CBD and THC Have in Common
Before talking about the differences, it is helpful to know that CBD and THC are alike in several ways. For starters, both are cannabinoids. These compounds occur naturally in marijuana and hemp. Although over 100 different cannabinoids have been identified, CBD and THC get the most press (4). In addition to both being cannabinoids, both of these compounds produce positive physical and physiological effects on the human body. Below, we’ll review some of these effects (5).
Differences Between CBD and THC
Although CBD and THC are both cannabinoids, they each have a different chemical makeup. As a result, each substance has different properties. Apart from issues of legality, there are a some major differences between these cannabinoids (6).
- Found in both industrial hemp and cannabis plants
- Beneficial Effects — anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, anti-convulsant, antioxidant, reduces nausea
- Treatment Applications — inflammation, stress, depression and anxiety, cancer and cancer treatment side effects, epilepsy, migraines, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis
- Side Effects — minimal side effects (research is ongoing)
- Found in cannabis plants
- Beneficial Effects — pain relief, relaxation, drowsiness, appetite stimulation, euphoria
- Treatment Applications — pain, nausea, sleep apnea, stress disorders, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, AIDS, symptoms and/or side effects of chemotherapy, and/or spinal injuries
- Side Effects — anxiety, paranoia, acute and long term effects on memory
Sourcing and Legality: Hemp Versus Marijuana
Some people might wonder whether CBD is legal. The answer to this question depends on the source. CBD from marijuana is a schedule one controlled substance. However, CBD derived from hemp it is not a controlled substance (7).
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp must have less than 0.3 percent THC. In contrast, marijuana has a much higher concentration of THC (between 15% to 40%) (7). Because of this, CBD derived from hemp doesn’t have the same psychoactive effects as CBD derived from marijuana. As a result, hemp-derived CBD is legal in every U.S. state (4).
Forms of CBD
Depending on where you live in the U.S. and your state’s regulations on marijuana, CBD might come in one of several forms (4):
- CBD oil — A carrier oil (like coconut oil) holds the CBD. You can consume the CBD by placing drops under the tongue via a dropper.
- Gummies — This form of CBD is popular due the ease of administration and their taste. Simply eat them like you would any other gummy.
- Tinctures — These herbal extracts made infuse CBD in alcohol. Like CBD oil, you consume tinctures via a dropper under the tongue.
- Patches — Adhesive patches that transmits CBD through the skin.
- Vapes — Although this form of CBD might be popular among some people, it can also irritate your lungs. Especially if the carrier liquids are low quality. Before purchasing vaping, check the ingredients list.
Be aware that taking any new dietary supplement could produce side effects. If you have concerns about CBD’s effects or interactions with your current medications, consult your medical provider before taking it. Otherwise, deciding which type of CBD and the specific dose work best for you may involve trial and error. In general, beginning with a low dose is better. After you see how your body reacts, you can alter the dosage.
Choose The Best Sources of CBD
Due to CBD’s popularity, new manufacturers and distributors have jumped on the bandwagon. Consequently, the quality of CBD varies greatly from product to product. Overall, choose products and brands manufactured in GMP (good manufacturing practice) facilities. Also, a consumer, look for CBD products made by reputable, well-established, companies and manufacturers. However, if you’re planning to launch your own private label CBD product, look for experienced manufacturers that follow GMP standards.
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