CBD: Separating the hype from the science

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With the recent passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD (cannabidiol) oil derived from industrial hemp will be legal. This type of CBD oil does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive ingredient of common marijuana, and as such it offers the same benefits of pain relief without the stoner high.

There is little dispute that both THC and CBD offer some health benefits especially in the area of pain relief, and in treating the nausea and other side effects of chemotherapy. Proponents however, do themselves no favors when they portray it as a sort of magical cure-all that fixes every ailment known to man, and which can still be smoked with absolutely no potential for harm.

Legalization, or at least decriminalization, of cannabis in all its forms would be, in many ways, a social good, but advocating that requires a realistic portrayal of risk and reward.

The trendy fad aspect of CBD has placed the ingredient in things like shampoo and hair conditioner, anti-acne lotions and even massage oil and sexual lubricants, and the CBD frenzy and misinformation poses a risk that could make this very useful ingredient be seen as little more than today’s snake oil.

Separating the hype from science

It probably won’t get rid of your pimples, make your hair shinier or make you live for a hundred years. But there is good science that is studying CBD as a potential treatment for PTSD, alcohol use disorder, and more, and the National Institutes of Health has a database of scientific clinical trials for a wide variety of disabilities, including chronic pain, treatment of opioid addiction, and even Parkinson disease.

A recent New York Times article also points to studies showing that CBD may be effective in treating schizophrenia, and would have benefits over the current crop of antipsychotics used to treat schizophrenia which come with more undesirable side effects.

How you consume it makes all the difference

For cannabis, which carries many of the same health benefits as CBD oil, the preferred method of ingestion remains smoking, which does carry with it some potential negative effect. Smoke is smoke – it contains particulates and it irritates the throat and lungs, regardless of whether you are smoking tobacco or cannabis. Combustible tobacco contains about 70 known carcinogens, with cannabis containing five. Street-sourced cannabis may also contain additional toxins including ammonia.  For the most part, those toxic byproducts, whether they derive from tobacco or cannabis, are delivered to the body in the form of smoke. When delivered via a vaporizer, the toxins are not delivered.

There are those proponents who tend to overlook the smoke factor and its potentially deadly side effects. For example – San Francisco’s recent passage of legalized recreational marijuana is curiously juxtaposed with San Francisco’s complete ban on certain types of flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes. It would be easy to look at San Francisco’s curious mix of regulations and believe that the government, at least the government of the city of San Francisco, is saying that smoking is okay, so long as you’re smoking marijuana and not tobacco. The science says otherwise.

What the science does say, is that vaping is a safer alternative. Vaping either dry cannabis herb or CBD oil offers the benefits of the ingredient, allowing users to gain pain relief and other medical advantages in full, without the harmful effects of ingesting smoke.

Even the American Cancer Society as well as the FDA agree that vaping is safer than smoking. While the FDA report does not address cannabis and focuses instead on tobacco, the report notes that vaping can serve as “an alternative to cigarettes for adults who still seek access to satisfying levels of nicotine, without the deadly effects of combustion.” When you replace nicotine with CBD or THC the statement still holds true. A National Institutes of Health study also concludes, “Suggestions to patients to consider choosing vapourization over burning methods appear to be worthwhile.”

The real science is weighing in favor of CBD and cannabis as having some meaningful health benefits. To get the most of those health benefits, vaping is the way to go, as it reduces the risk of any pulmonary symptoms. Whether using whole-plant cannabis or CBD oil, the right vaporizer is an essential starting point. Fortunately a new wave of reputable online vendors like Nug Republic are offering the hardware required to take full advantage of these benefits, legally.

 

Dan Blacharski

Dan Blacharski is editor-in-chief of TheVivant.com.

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