The CBD industry is positively booming with recent estimates projecting sales to well exceed $16 billion by 2025 in the United States. The extract is being added to just about everything from cheeseburgers to toothpicks. A survey conducted by the Brightfield Group (a firm that researches the cannabis market) shows that around 60% of CBD users are taking it to reduce anxiety – according to the 5,000 CBD users surveyed. Chronic pain, depression and insomnia followed behind.
Kim Kardashian is alleged to have used CBD to manage her anxiety about giving birth to her fourth son. Bubba Watson, professional golfer, uses CBD as a sleep aid. And even Martha Stewart’s French Bulldog is getting in on the act.
What Is CBD?
CBD is cannabidiol which is the lesser-known cannabinoid contained in the Cannabis Sativa plant. The plant is more famous for THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, which is responsible for the psychoactive properties of Cannabis or the feeling of getting “high”. It has its roots in Central Asia where it is first recorded being used for medicinal and ritual purposes as early as 750 B.C. but is sold all over the world through companies such as Sativa Gold.
CBD and THC are only two of the over 100 cannabinoids that are found in the plant. THC has been confirmed to be psychoactive whereas there is still some debate as to the psychoactive properties of CBD. THC has also been found to increase anxiety which can lead to paranoia. There is, as of yet, little scientific evidence as to the effects of CBD on this mental health condition. THC is habit forming and addictive whereas CBD is being tested to assist those recovering from addiction.
Species of the Cannabis plant that contain less than 0.3% THC are classified as hemp. Last year, the Farm Bill provided for the federal legalisation of hemp. However, the law still leaves the oversight of CBD products in the hands of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
CBD Health Benefit Claims
CBD producers claim that the cannabinoid relieves anxiety, depression and other related mental health disorders such as PTSD or (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). It is also promoted as a sleep aid. In addition, consumers can use the product without having any psychoactive or other side effects such as the munchies, lack of concentration and reduced reaction time.
The marketing of CBD products is just as prolific as the hemp seedlings that are currently sprouting all over the United States. Oils, nasal sprays, suppositories and even CBD candy are just some of the products that are currently available. Dr, Brad Ingram, an associate professor of pediatrics from the Mississippi Medical Center describes it as a monster that is taking over with all the wild claims that are being made. He is currently leading a clinical trial into the benefits of CBD for treating drug-resistant epilepsy in children and teenagers.
Does CBD Work?
James MacKillon, who is co-directing the G. DeGroote Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at McMaster University in Hamilton, says that there are promising therapeutic avenues being explored due to the relative low-risks of CBD.
So far, the FDA has approved Epidiolex, a pure CBD extract, as an anti-seizure medication used to treat patients over the age of 2 years. The drug was approved after going through 3 randomised, double-blind and placebo controlled clinical trials conducted on 516 patients with seizure disorders. The results showed that Epidiolex, combined with other anti-seizure treatments, successfully reduced seizure activity. The trial followed the Gold Standard in drug testing where neither the doctors, investigators or the patients participating in the trial knew whether they were receiving a placebo or the actual drug.
CBD is currently undergoing research to treat a number of other disorders. Despite the fact that Epidiolex is the only drug that has so far received approval and that most of the research has not passed the animal testing stages, the popularity of CBD has quickly outpaced the science.