What You Should Know About CBD

CBD stores are popping up everywhere. If a storefront is unoccupied it seems that a CBD shop will soon open up there. I will explain what we know and don’t know about CBD. Here’s a short article and here is the AAFP’s position paper.

Marijuana vs. Hemp and CBD vs. THC

Marijuana and hemp may look the same because they are both types of the plant species Cannabis. There are hundreds of chemicals (aka cannabinoids) in marijuana and hemp–THC and CBD are two cannabinoids you may have heard of. The major difference between hemp and marijuana is the amount of THC that is in each. THC is what causes someone to feel “high.” Hemp must contain <0.3% THC, while marijuana contains anywhere from 5-20% (even as high as 30%) THC. The opposite is true of CBD – hemp has more CBD than marijuana. Marijuana is considered to be a recreational drug because of the higher amount of THC (which causes a high), while the hemp plant creates fibers that are very strong, and therefore has a lot of industrial uses from soaps to building materials. Just to be clear, it is legal for some farmers to grow hemp in SC, but illegal to grow (or use) marijuana!

Where CBD Comes From

CBD can be obtained from either marijuana or hemp plants. It can be extracted and made into many forms–oils, oral solutions, creams, pills, etc.–with each form having varying lengths of effects in the body. What those effects are though, are largely unknown.

Medical Conditions Treated by CBD

CBD is claimed to be a treatment for well…..A LOT of medical problems – Depression, Insomnia, Smoking, Anxiety, Joint Pains, among others. CBD has been studied in well-designed human studies as a treatment for seizures. Only 1 FDA approved CBD medication came from these studies. It is called Epidiolex and is used to treat seizures. Since the FDA does not regulate any other CBD product, CBD products can contain all kinds of other substances and contaminants.

The problem with a lot of the CBD research that is out there (and is quoted by CBD sellers) is that many studies have been too small. Many studies don’t compare a group that takes CBD with a group that doesn’t (a control group). Some studies were just designed poorly. In most studies, the CBD used was unregulated, and so the amount each person received could be different. Due to its popularity, I have a feeling a lot more research is in the pipeline on this subject, so stay tuned!

Possible CBD Side Effects

Possible side effects of CBD include liver dysfunction, diarrhea, dry mouth, fatigue, irritability, decreased testosterone. It can also affect the levels of other drugs in your body like coumadin, amiodarone, and alcohol. Please ask me if it is safe for you to use CBD before using it.

CBD and Drug Tests

If you need to be randomly drug tested, then I would NOT RECOMMEND using CBD products. Positive drug tests (showing up as THC) for people using CBD products have been reported. DO NOT RELY on labels saying “Pure CBD” or “100% CBD.” There is no one checking to see if these claims are correct! Even Epidiolex, a product that is regulated by the FDA, has been shown to sometimes cause a positive drug test for THC.

Have a good week! Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Melissa Boylan, MD, FAAFP
Family Physician and Owner of Noreta Family Medicine