CBD – The next ingredient frontier

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the rage with oils, tonics, and tinctures popping for sale, but what do we know about this trending ingredient? In this post, we take a new look at CBD.

Updated: August 13, 2022

Cannabidiol (CBD) is all the rage, with oils, tonics, and tinctures popping for sale. It's pitched as a miracle cure for everything from cancer to anxiety to chronic pain, and the CBD market continues to grow rapidly in the United States, partly due to the passing of the 2018 United States farm bill, which legalized hemp plants in all forms.

However, that doesn't mean it's legal to consume in all states and in all forms. The laws are currently complicated and continue to evolve. Still, with consumer trust and no signs that CBD sales will decline, we believe it's prudent to explore the science behind CBD to separate the facts from myth.

What is cannabidiol?

Manufacturers derive CBD from either hemp or marijuana plants. However, manufacturers making and selling legal CBD products in the United States derive their CBD from Sativa hemp plants using many different processes.

What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?

Hemp and marijuana plants are both members of the cannabis family; however, they are genetically distant variations, possessing different properties.

Hemp contains less than 0.3% THC meaning it does not cause humans to feel high. Unless bred otherwise, marijuana plants contain THC at levels that cause users to feel high.

People consume the vast majority of marijuana plants because they produce THC and CBD at varying levels depending on the plant. While it is possible to derive psychotropic inert CBD from marijuana plants, this is illegal in many U.S. States.

In the United States, only CBD derived from hemp is federally legal and available for sale in some states. Other hybrid CBD/THC products are available in states with medicinal and/or recreational marijuana laws.

Are there any government-approved CBD therapeutics on the market?

Yes, two drugs on the market contain CBD or CBD/THC hybrid compounds.

  • Epidiolex is a prescription medication used to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and Dravet syndrome. It contains purified CBD to alleviate symptoms.

  • Nabiximols (Sativex) is a prescription medication used for multiple sclerosis patients experiencing neuropathic pain, spasticity, overactive bladder, and other symptoms. It contains both THC and CBD to alleviate symptoms. It is awaiting FDA approval for use in the U.S.; however, it is available in many countries throughout Europe as well as in Canada, and Australia.

Is there truth to the health claims?

CBD health claims are an area where research opportunities abound. Current research is limited, but it suggests that CBD and some CBD/THC hybrid compounds possess anti-inflammatory properties and can also alleviate spasticity, pain, anxiety, depression, symptoms of epilepsy, as well as provide neuroprotection.

Research is still in its early stages concerning the ever-expanding list of beneficial but, for the most part, unsubstantiated health claims.

However, at CRIS, we've conducted and published two research studies looking at the health outcomes related to CBD consumption, as well as a white paper to look more closely at CBD.

Will CBD consumption help reduce inflammation?

Our research study, "Cannabidiol selectively modulates interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-6 production in toll-like receptor activated human peripheral blood monocytes," examined how CBD affects the human immune response.

Our research found that CBD consumption at specific quantities can reduce the inflammatory response of some human immune cells.

You can read the full paper: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tox.2021.153016

Will CBD consumption harm my liver?

Our research study, "Establishment of a point of departure for CBD hepatotoxicity employing human HepaRG spheroid," looked at CBD consumption at clinical concentrations.

Our research found that CBD consumption at concentrations similar to clinical exposure did NOT cause liver toxicity. However, it is still possible to reach liver toxicity if someone takes extremely high doses of CBD, as the dose makes the poison.

You can read the full paper: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tox.2023.153469

What else do I need to know about CBD?

Our center looked at the current understanding of the benefits, safety, and regulation of cannabidiol in consumer products and published a white paper about what we currently know about CBD.

Here are a few takeaways:

  • While scientific evidence supports specific CBD health claims (e.g., Epidiolex for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome), the U.S. FDA does not currently regulate over-the-counter CBD products.
  • Most CBD products have not undergone purity or potency testing. In these non-medical grade products, there often are no recommended dosage outlines to guide users taking these products for specific ailments.
  • While some companies independently test their products and develop usage guidelines, without purity testing, standardization, and additional research, consumers of CBD products marketed as remedies and supplements will continue to self-medicate with CBD products in hopes of curing their ailments, most to no avail.
  • Legality is a murky area, and you must ensure CBD consumption is legal in your state before consumption.

You can read the full paper: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2021.112600  

The good news.

While a growing body of research shows CBD may help improve some specific ailments, it's still important to remember that we're still learning the full safety implications of CBD in real-time. We will continue to update our CBD posts as we know more about this ingredient that's becoming enmeshed in our lives.

If you have any questions about foods and ingredients, please reach out to us on Twitter, send us an email, or submit your idea to us at go.msu.edu/cris-idea.

Results and findings from both projects will be shared upon acceptance of the peer-reviewed literature.


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