As CBD products grow in popularity, some studies are claiming that the cannabinoid needs to be combined with THC to activate its medicinal properties.
In 2018, cannabidiol (CBD) has been a hot topic for discussion among weed enthusiasts. This non-psychoactive marijuana component can allegedly help people suffering from multiple conditions such as inflammation, pain, spasms, anxiety, seizures, psychosis, and more.
Moreover, Donald Trump signed the Farm Bill on December 20th, 2018. This bill will legalize the industrial use of hemp, a cannabis plant producing CBD and low amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid known for providing the feeling of intoxication. Given the hype surrounding the consumption of CBD among millennials for therapeutic purposes, this law will likely lead large corporations to promote products made from hemp.
Nonetheless, some studies claim that CBD needs to be combined with other cannabinoids to provide relief to users. Hence, this would drastically undermine the medicinal potential of hemp and promote the use of marijuana-derived products.
The Promises of Purified CBD
A McGill University study recently demonstrated that CBD acts on different receptors from those affected by THC. Small doses of cannabidiol administered for seven days to animal subjects successfully alleviated anxiety and pain, symptoms that are often related to chronic or neuropathic conditions. According to Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, the lead author of the study, the findings “elucidate the mechanism of action of CBD and show that it can be used as medicine without the dangerous side effects of the THC.”
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) also seems to believe in the effectiveness of CBD as a valid treatment for some diseases. On June 25th, 2018, the FDA approbated Epidiolex, which is the first FDA-approved drug containing purified cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant. The FDA News Release states that “Epidiolex (cannabidiol) [CBD] oral solution [can be used] for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, in patients two years of age and older.”
Billy Dunn, director of the Division of Neurology Products (DNP) in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, believes that this purified CBD drug “will provide a significant and needed improvement in the therapeutic approach to caring for people with this condition.”
The Case for CBD Mixed with Other Cannabinoids
Some evidence indicates that CBD requires other marijuana components like THC or cannabinol (CBN) to release its medicinal effect, even if it is in small quantities. The “entourage effect” theory supposes that cannabinoids are more effective when used symbiotically and explains why many promoters of medical marijuana claim that CBD-rich is superior to pure CBD.
A study published in September 2018 examined the difference in efficiency between CBD-rich extracts and purified CBD products to treat epilepsy. Overall, the researchers found that “there were more reports of improvement from patients treated with CBD-rich extracts (318/447, 71%) than patients treated with purified CBD (81/223, 36%)” and that CBD-rich extracts seemed to cause less adverse effects than purified CBD. However, there was no statistical disparity of improvement between treatments for individuals who reported at least a 50% reduction in the frequencies of seizures.
While delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is still stigmatized because of its psychoactive side effects, some products have CBD/THC ratios ranging between 1:1 and 30:1, which can neutralize the potential undesired consequences of THC.
By 2022, the CBD market is expected to be 40 times bigger. Many businesses are trying to jump on the bandwagon and deliver cannabidiol products to the public, as the demand will probably skyrocket in the upcoming years, especially since the approval of the Farm Bill.
With this booming popularity comes certain risks such as mislabeling of “CBD branded” products sold online. A study conducted in 2017 revealed that among 84 analyzed products, 26% of them contained less cannabidiol than advertised and 21% of them had some THC.
Is pure CBD the Holy Grail of the cannabinoids or an over-hyped placebo? Only time will tell, but as usual, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.