Curious About CBD?

  • By:  Lisa Barr, M.D.

CBD has vast health benefits, but do your research before purchasing.

Curious about CBD? You are in good company. Google searches show that millions of people want to learn more about CBD. So, what’s everyone so curious about? People are growing weary of the way modern medicine relies on pharmaceuticals to manage the symptoms associated with chronic disease—many of which are rooted in lifestyle imbalance. Rarely has there a plant with the vast potential medicinal benefit to soothe the ills of our highly wired and toxic modern world.

Hemp-based oils rich in cannabidiol (CBD) and low in THC are now recognized as valuable tools to help people suffering with pain, anxiety, sleep issues, auto-immune conditions, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), addiction, epilepsy, neurodegenerative conditions, menstrual irregularities, cancer, and more.

The hemp plant I am referring to is called the Cannabis Sativa plant—considered sacred by many and used throughout history. Anecdotal reports date back to the Egyptians. In fact, one of the many medicinal uses of the plant at that time in history was for painful menstrual cycles and management of women’s issues.

Fast forward to 2017 when the Farm Bill was passed and signed into law and hemp farming became deregulated. Many farmers across America converted their crops to hemp. Hemp farming is becoming quite varied as some hemp is grown for fiber to make clothes and some plants are cultivated for a variety of medicinal and recreational uses.

Understand that the same plants used to produce a ‘marijuana high’—rich in THC—are not the same as those used to make products high in CBD and low in THC. Now that all 50 states have passed laws making the use of low THC-based  (< 0.3 percent) CBD products legal, the market is being flooded with commercially produced CBD-containing oils, salves, gel caps, suppositories, and beauty aids. How do you as the consumer know which product to select? The answer lies in how it is grown and processed.

There are several different ways for a hemp grower to grow their plants—organic vs. non-organic, non-GMO vs. genetically modified, etc. Once the plants mature each season, they are cut down and then dried. Either part of the plant or the whole plant is trimmed down to what is called biomass.

Hemp processors take the biomass and either use solvents, heat, or cold CO2 extraction techniques to extract the CBD and other phytonutrients from the biomass. Then they mix this extraction with carrier oils and creams to create the end-product.

It is believed that the cold CO2 process is likely to preserve the best parts of the plant material as high heat can damage the chemical components and solvents can be toxic. There are over 100 different cannabinoids in each hemp plant. Each compound has its own unique molecular signature and each with different biological effects.

In addition to the various cannabinoids, the biomass also contains chlorophyll, fiber, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, fatty acids, and more. These essential nutrients can help our cells function better. Regardless of the purity of the CBD, it is not recommended to vape because of the health risks associated with vaping.

Be aware that some CBD products come with a certificate of analysis or COA. This COA is the only way you can be sure that a CBD product is tested for quality, purity, and standardized by percentage of CBD and THC. The six-point COA process tests for pesticides, molds, fungi, heavy metals, and gluten. If products do not come with a COA, you cannot be sure what is actually present in the container.

Predating the growth of hemp farming, scientists in 1995 first discovered the endocannabinoid system in humans and animals. While this was an exciting discovery, hemp farming was still highly regulated and access to the raw material was limited; thus CBD research was somewhat stymied.

Today, researchers across the globe are studying the many potential clinical uses of CBD-rich products. The first CBD-based drug approved by the FDA was for a rare form of epilepsy in children. Now that scientists better understand that CBD receptors exist in the brain and immune system, they are looking at other clinical indications.

Today, word is getting out fast about the vast potential benefits of CBD. As new research studies shed light on how CBD works through its action on the CB1 in the brain and CB2 receptors in the immune system of the gut and skin, CBD may become a staple for many who suffer with conditions caused by stress and inflammation.

Dr. Lisa Barr, founder and medical director of the Barr Center, has been helping people live pain-free lives for 30 years. For more information, visit www.barrcenter.com.

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