By: Elements of Green
The rapid rise of the CBD industry has led to a significant amount of misinformation. In today’s article, I will explore some of the myths I hear most often about CBD products.
1. There Is No Scientific Proof CBD Can Help People
As CBD’s demand rises, so does the need for more research and information about the compound. Many people believe that because CBD is a novel compound that comes from a plant associated with ‘getting high’ and being stoned, there hasn’t been any real scientific research conducted about CBD.
This is entirely untrue!
Although there is a lot more research to be done about CBD, many studies have been done in recent years to determine whether it helps with different ailments. This list includes common issues like sleeplessness, high stress, pain, inflammation, and more severe illnesses.
In June of 2018, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved Epidiolex as the “First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana.” Epidiolex, a CBD-based drug, is targeted at treating severe cases of epilepsy. This was a landmark move forward for CBD, and the entire hemp industry as a whole, because it brought legitimacy and institutional approval.
In addition to this, there have also been many studies done to validate claims about CBD’s support for people with overwhelming issues with sleep and stress.
In 2019, 39 teenagers diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder were involved in a double-blind study that tested whether CBD improved their symptoms. Over four weeks, one part of the group was given 300 milligrams of CBD oil, while the other part was administered a placebo. After the period was over, formal SAD questionnaires used to diagnose the disorder were given to both groups to determine how the CBD impacted their symptoms. The study decisively found that the group that took CBD scored significantly better on the questionnaire, meaning the CBD had improved the symptoms associated with SAD.
New research on CBD is coming out every month, further demonstrating its potential benefits and any side effects. In particular, for stress and anxiety, CBD has been shown in over 30 animal and human studies to effectively reduce peoples’ symptoms quickly and consistently. Although there is a lot still to learn, the promising results that have been shown so far are encouraging and hopefully lead to even more observational scientific work, and therefore greater adoption of CBD.
Most companies provide very ‘grey’ descriptions of their products and very unclear claims. The products’ packaging will come with a sort of disclaimer, which says, “CBD has not be scientifically proved to help with medical conditions, consult a medical professional before consuming CBD.” In the US, for example, this is because the FDA has not clearly defined the rules about CBD even though the Farm Bill legalized the cultivation and sale of hemp.
2. CBD Gets You ‘High’
It is a myth that CBD gets you high, with a small asterisk. It depends on why type of CBD oil is used in the product you are consuming. This doesn’t sound very clear, but it’s quite simple. Hemp contains trace amounts of THC, which is psychoactive. The amount of THC that you ultimately consume depends on the strain of hemp, the extraction process, and the type of hemp oil. Any CBD that you are drinking derived from industrial grade hemp will always contain a tiny percentage of THC (.2% or less) – so small that it doesn’t get you high.
CBD does not get you high because of a subtle chemical difference between itself and THC. At first glance, the chemical composition of Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are identical; that is because they nearly are. While both molecules have an atomic weight of 314g/mol and molecular formulae C21H30O2, where THC contains a cyclic ring, CBD includes a hydroxyl group. This subtle difference in how the atoms inside the molecules are arranged, as shown in this video, allows THC to cause a high, while CBD does not.
How does all this work? Well, your brain has something called CB1 receptors. Usually, in your non-high body, neurotransmitters get anandamide to interact with the CB1 receptors in your mind to generate sensations of pleasure, motivation, and hunger. For example, after completing a challenging workout, you most likely feel a feeling of relief and joy. This occurs because your body has released anandamide, which interacts with the CB1 receptor and causes known as runners high.
When you consume THC, the cyclic ring allows THC to mimic anandamide perfectly. By binding on with the CB1 receptor, THC causes a psychoactive effect or what is more commonly known as a ‘high’. However, the CBD molecule is different in shape due to the hydroxyl group and therefore does not fit into the CB1 receptor, and therefore does not cause a psychoactive effect.
Despite this difference in structure, both THC and CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system, which is why many of the benefits can be attained from consuming both compounds; targeting, inflammation, soreness, and nausea. Although the scientific study of CBD and THC are in their infancy, some initial research has shown that THC, by binding with the CB1, aggravates psychotic symptoms. At the same time, CBD may support recovery with patients that experience psychosis.
Education is the key to dispelling common myths and misconceptions about CBD, and ultimately will be the key to mass adoption across the world. The first step is to answer the most common questions about the two compounds.
3. CBD is Illegal
In Europe, the CBD landscape is consistently changing. Because there are 40 countries total, with 27 of them being members of the EU, there are also distinct differences across each border. As a general guideline across the continent, most countries allow for CBD products so long as 0% THC is present.
In 2020, The European Foods Safety Authority (EFSA) designated CBD as a Novel Food ingredient. This designation applies to all foods that were not commonly consumed before May 1997, encompassing all-new food and foods from unknown sources. In short, this means is that food must be:
- Safe for consumers
- Adequately labeled, so as not to mislead consumers
- If novel food is intended to replace another food, it must not differ in a way that the consumption of the novel food would be nutritionally disadvantages for the consumer
What this means is within European Union countries, hemp-CBD companies should adhere to all these standards. However, Novel Foods is not definitive and obligatory, which complicates things further as EU countries don’t technically need to follow it.
Some EU countries are using this new designation as a guideline to enact their policies around CBD. For example, in the UK, the Food Standards Agency will require all brands to submit a formal application in the first half of 2021, which proves their CBD products meet health standards. This is quite a common trend throughout Europe and maybe better for the CBD industry than you think. By mandating that brands become licensed and safe, it will most likely result in more high-quality CBD options and more consumer confidence.
For a complete look into CBD’s European compliance standards, visit our legal landscape review in the education center.