The CBD market is still new, and as a result, consumers continue to be bombarded with misinformation about this useful product. Some irresponsible promoters make dodgy claims about its ability to cure anything and everything in an attempt to make a quick sale, while others promote fear and uncertainty by spreading disinformation. But make no mistake, this is no snake oil quackery. CBD has been shown to have very definite benefits, and the FDA has already approved it for use in treating seizures. Federal government agencies tend to move slowly, but we can certainly expect the agency to issue further guidance on its benefits and potential uses in the near future. Meanwhile, it is worthwhile to take a look at not only CBD’s potential benefits, but also some of the biggest myths and misconceptions about this very useful product.
Myth #1: It cures everything.
Whenever a new supplement, health food product or smelly fungus drink hits the market, some proponents are so excited about it they make irrational claims. For example, some products like mangosteen are no longer called fruit; they are now called a “super-fruit.” This tropical fruit does have some anti-inflammatory properties and is commonly used in southeast Asia to help heal minor cuts and scratches, but claims of it being a miracle cure are certainly overblown. Dr. Pepper may be a delicious soft drink, but early advertisements went over the top to claim it would “aid digestion and restore vim, vigor and vitality.”
By the same token, CBD has been shown to be helpful in easing stress and pain, and as research continues, it is likely that other therapeutic uses for it will also emerge. But no, it won’t cure cancer, it doesn’t prevent COVID-19 and it’s not going to fix your grandfather’s Alzheimer’s disease.
Myth #2: If a little does a little good, a lot will do a lot of good.
Like anything that offers a therapeutic benefit of any kind, one must approach dosage requirements with some caution. A couple of Tylenol may cure a headache safely and effectively, but too many of them could cause some serious side effects, including liver damage. Those who seek the very real benefits of CBD may be misled, because the FDA has not issued guidance yet on dosage levels outside of the one narrow approved therapy for seizures. Without that guidance, providers are not able to publish specific dosage levels on the label. The good news is that CBD is well tolerated with the potential for only minor and infrequent side effects. The best approach is to start with a lower dose, gauge its effect and ramp up slowly from there.
Myth #3: I will fail my drug test if I take it.
There is some truth to this misconception, although false positives are infrequent. “CBD derived from hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC,” said Brian Baum, CEO of Cannovia, a provider of high-quality CBD products. “Some older tests use a particular reagent which does not differentiate between CBD and THC, but those are no longer commonly used, and in most cases, a rare false positive can be successfully challenged.” Baum notes that one exception is drug tests in Department of Transportation regulated industries. “If you are a driver and are subject to DOT regulations, the rules are much stricter, and if you do get a false positive, the Department of Transportation will not accept use of CBD as an explanation.” If a false positive is a concern, Baum suggests THC-free CBD drops, which are effective and minimize the risk of a false positive drug test since they contain no THC.
Myth #4: Edibles are just as good as drops or tinctures.
Who can resist a CBD product in the shape of a gummy bear? Actually CBD has a low bioavailability, so when you eat those adorable CBD candies, you won’t get the full impact of the CBD, and not all of the CBD in the edible will actually make it into your bloodstream. “If you want to eat a gummy bear, go to the candy store,” said Baum. “CBD oil drops will have a more immediate effect on the body than edibles, and you will be more likely to experience the full effect of the CBD.”
Myth #5: All CBD is the same, so I should just grab the cheapest one.
Two things need to be considered when purchasing CBD: the reliability of the manufacturer, and whether it is a full spectrum or isolate. First of all, a reliable manufacturer will always use a third-party lab to analyze their products and will provide that lab report to customers. The report should show CBD level, THC level and the presence or absence of other cannabinoids. One of the biggest deciding factors in your purchase will be whether a full-spectrum or isolate is best for you. An isolate is pure CBD, while full spectrum contains other cannabinoids found naturally in the hemp plant, but still contains less than 0.3 percent THC as required by law. Full spectrum delivers what is known as the “entourage effect,” a phenomenon that allows multiple cannabinoids to work together for a potentially greater effect. Isolates on the other hand, deliver a purer form of CBD, will never trigger a false positive drug test, and has a lighter flavor.
Dan Blacharski is editor-in-chief of TheVivant.com.