Does CBD Do Anything?

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Does CBD Do Anything?

The takeover of CBD products on the shelves of stores and online websites happened almost overnight. Everyone, from your friend to your doctor, and even your grandma are becoming familiar with the term CBD. You may have tried it a few times, but for some reason, nothing is happening. And you aren’t seeing any major changes in your health or wellbeing. 

This might make you ask the questions, “Does CBD actually do anything? And if so, why is it not working for me?” 

While the cannabis industry has gotten a bad rap for the influx of snake oil salesmen, there are actually multiple reasons why CBD may be having no effect on you. We have a few suggestions you may want to consider before giving up on CBD for good. First, let’s dive into a little CBD 101. 

What Does CBD Do?

As you may already know, CBD (Cannabidiol) is the non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid extracted from the species of cannabis sativa. CBD can either be extracted from a hemp plant that contains less than 0.3% THC or from a marijuana plant that contains more than 0.3% THC. While many people assume that hemp and marijuana are different species or subspecies, in actuality, they are just classification terms for the same plant. Also, unlike THC, CBD will not get you high.

Research into the therapeutic benefits of CBD is limited, especially if you filter out animal studies or studies that include both CBD and THC. Nevertheless, both anecdotal and scientific evidence are pointing in a promising direction with knowledge that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is key in modulating the endocrine, immune, brain, and nervous systems. Thus far, CBD has been claimed to help relieve the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Inflammation
  • Nausea
  • Sleep

While scientists play catch up to the rapid uptake of CBD by mass consumers, you may have to rely more on your own subjective experience to determine if CBD is right for you. In this case, learning the industry jargon is a good start.

Choosing Between Full-Spectrum, Broad-Spectrum, and Isolate

Not all CBD products are created equal and knowing where your CBD comes from and how it’s isolated is key to achieving your desired results. The first step you need to take before considering any CBD products is whether or not you live in a state where marijuana is legal. Hemp just recently became federally legal under the Agricultural Act of 2018.

For those who live in states where marijuana is legal, it technically doesn’t matter whether your CBD is extracted from the marijuana plant or from the hemp plant. In either case, you are legally able to buy products from either source. 

If you live in a state where marijuana is not legal, you may not purchase products that are derived from the marijuana plant, even though they may still contain less than 0.3% THC. Before you make any purchases, ensure that the company selling you their product abides your local state laws or is hemp-derived CBD.

Full-Spectrum CBD

Next, you need to determine if you want to purchase a CBD product that is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate. The main distinction between these categories is the presence of other cannabinoids other than CBD. Full-spectrum CBD contains all of the natural plant phytochemicals including terpenes, cannabinoids, and essential oils. If the full-spectrum product is derived from hemp, it will contain a trace amount of THC under 0.3%.

If the full-spectrum CBD is derived from marijuana, which is legal in certain states, then it may contain amounts of THC greater than 0.3%. 
The benefit of a full-spectrum product is that it allows you to experience the “entourage effect,” a term coined to describe the amplified benefits you may feel of the combined cannabinoid mix. You shouldn’t throw caution to the wind if you choose to go with a full-spectrum CBD product because it can give you a false positive during a drug test.

Broad-Spectrum CBD 

Broad-spectrum CBD is identical to full-spectrum CBD in its contents except that it contains 0% THC, which is removed after the first extraction. This version will not show up on a drug test but you will still be able to experience the entourage effect thanks to the various cannabinoids and phytochemicals.

CBD Isolate

The name usually gives this category away as CBD products that are purely isolated. CBD isolate products contain close to 99% pure CBD without a trace of any other phytochemical or cannabinoid. These products do not give users the entourage effect and oftentimes have a diminished effect on newcomers than the other two categories. If you’ve only tried CBD isolate products, consider exploring broad-spectrum or full-spectrum products to see if you experience any additional benefits.

Quality Testing and Labelling Matters

There are no FDA regulations of CBD products and there is no regulatory standard across the board yet for quality testing. This means that, just like supplement scams, the CBD industry is full of companies trying to sell products that have improperly labeled products or even contain no CBD at all.

A U.S. study published in 2015 examined 75 cannabis products. Of those that they tested for CBD, they found that only 44 products had detectable levels of CBD, 13 products had proper CBD labeling, 9 products were over labeled and 4 products were under labeled for CBD. While the products purchased for this study came only from California and Washington, the study confirms the suspicion that many users and physicians have with inaccurately labeled CBD products. 

So how does a CBD-curious consumer select a product that truly works? To find the best CBD products, search for reputable websites and online consumer reviews to help narrow down brands. Brands that are reputable are also usually those that have articles written about them and pay for third-party testing. The test results should be available either online or included with the product. Some popular brands include Charlotte’s Web, Nuleaf, and Fab CBD.

CBD Bioavailability Matters

You may not be feeling the effects you’re expecting from CBD because you’re not using it properly. There are a variety of different delivery systems that you can use and they include:

  • Topical creams, gels, bath bombs
  • Capsules and softgels
  • CBD oils and tinctures
  • Edibles
  • Vape pens and devices

CBD has low bioavailability and using a product not specifically designed for relieving your symptoms may result in no effects. For example, if your back hurts you should consider a topical CBD cream that can deliver relief at the desired location. However, if you’re looking for anxiety support, a CBD tincture could be a good option since it is designed for a more efficient and generalized effect. 

Keeping track of the products you use, the dosage you take, and the consistency of use can help you determine why you are not getting any results or relief. And if all else fails, perhaps CBD is just not for you.

CBD Effectiveness May Be Subjective

CBD is truly not for everyone. A New York Times article published in 2015, showed that about 20% of Americans have a genetic mutation that causes them to produce more of the endocannabinoid anandamide. People who have this mutation are less likely to be anxious or to consume cannabis. Furthermore, the levels of anandamide may interfere with the exogenous CBD when consumed, rendering it ineffective.

There are a number of variables that can be responsible for your inability to partake in the CBD trend. Whether it is the quality of the product, the type of delivery system, the length of time you’ve used it, or just your own genetic makeup, one thing is becoming crystal clear— there is no one solution for everyone when it comes to CBD.

Last modified: March 17, 2020