CBD, or cannabidiol is a natural, non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant that has tremendous potential as a treatment for numerous ailments, according to current research and anecdotal evidence. CBD's hype is off the hook, even the Kardashians embraced it and hosted a CBD-party to welcome Kimye's fourth child. And you know you're going places when this prolific family embraces you.
To get the scoop on why CBD is getting such love, Civilized reached out to cannabis expert David Cunic, PT, MSPT and founder of UCS Advisors. We also asked what, if any, false claims are being made in relation to CBD infused products and if there are harmful ingredients consumers should look to avoid in these products.
1. Why do you think CBD is getting such hype?
One of the big things that Cunic thinks has influenced the buzz around CBD, is that more people are learning about the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). For those not familiar with this term, the ECS is essentially a system that is present in all humans and many animals, and it consists of a number of receptors that allow the body to process cannabinoids, which can be beneficial for treating different health concerns.
"When I was first introduced to CBD about nine to ten years ago, you really didn't hear people talking about the ECS," shared Cunic. "Then, when I heard people talking about it, I went back to my textbooks from school, and sure enough it was mentioned in there. Over the past two or three years, more and more people are becoming aware of it because of the access to more information and the impact this could have on health outcomes. People are sick of the medical system, for a variety of reasons (the co-pay aspect, the side effects of medicine, addiction concerns). People are turning to more holistic approaches, and more and more are steering away from big pharma."
2. We are seeing so many products that are coming out with CBD in them. What are the main areas where you think CBD can make a difference in a product?
"There are two things to consider," said Cunic. "What are you using CBD for? And, where is the CBD coming from and what type of CBD is being used."
Cunic gives some examples of products that he's seeing marketed, such as gummies, nutritional snacks, non-alcoholic drinks, protein powders. He points out that people who may be taking it as a regular vitamin may not want to swallow a pill, so using a gummy could be an easier digestive method.
"CBD and the ECS work in harmony to create a proper homeostasis in the body," said Cunic. "Similar to any other product you would take as a medical supplement or aid, do your recon work. Look at the company, do they have a certificate of analysis? Where was the hemp grown? All of this makes a difference in the outcomes a consumer can expect. Treat it like you would any other medication, and make sure it has been properly analyzed and tested."
For reference, a Certificate of Analysis is a lab report on the chemical make-up of the product and determines if the product has been tested for heavy metals or pesticides, confirms that there is a minimal level of THC to ensure the safety of the end consumer.
Cunic points out that much of the hemp grown in China is not grown in good purified soil, so consumers should be careful about where the product is derived from.
3. What are some of the false claims that consumers should be aware of when purchasing a product with CBD?
Any company selling CBD (in the US) is bound by the laws of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Cunic is quick to point out that no company selling CBD can claim anything. They can use wording suggesting CBD "might help" or "could assist" with certain things, but the research is simply not there yet to be able to make concrete claims.
"If you see a product that claims it can cure or treat something, that's a warning sign."
4. Are there harmful ingredients in any of these CBD products and if so, what should consumers be looking to avoid?
"Heavy metals, pesticides—those shouldn't be in a product—steer clear if they are. You could see a terpene profile flavoring and that's okay. You shouldn't see things like cornstarch. The carrier oil for CBD is usually olive oil or coconut oil. You should really be looking for something that just doesn't make sense," Cunic says.
This point goes back to Cunic's comment about doing your research. He points out that reputable companies should be indicating where they are getting their CBD from, what's in it and how they use it. He gives the example of energy drinks, where you look at the ingredients and some are just made up and not even real compounds. Consumers need to do their research to determine the CBD is coming from a good source.
5. Is there a set dosage that needs to be in a product for it to have an effect?
According to Cunic, this is the million dollar question.
"It really varies, depending on what you are using it for. For example, the Mayo Clinic suggests that if you are looking to take CBD as a vitamin the rule of thumb is around 10 to 20 mg a day, twice a day. However, if you are using it for epilepsy, the amount could be up to 200 to 300 mg a day. For sleep disorders, taking 100 to 160 mg at night and for chronic pain, 20 mg a day twice a day could be considered. Everybody's system is different, so generally start with 15 to 25 mg a day, twice a day and adjust as you see what works for you."
6. Can there be too much CBD in a product that could cause negative effects?
According to Cunic, because of the lack of research, there is no official stance on this topic. However, those who have studied CBD haven't seen anyone overdose on CBD. In fact, he pointed out that some people have taken almost 30 times 25 mg a day and they are not seeing adverse effects.
That said, he does point out that this goes back to the quality of the CBD being used.
"If you're not buying from good sources, you don't know the impurities or heavy metals or pesticides that you could be ingesting. Also, it should say in the product description how much CBD is in the product. If it doesn't say on the label—stay away from it—if a company has nothing to hide why wouldn't they put that on the label?"
7. Does you state of residence change what people should look for when buying CBD?
According to Cunic, this isn't necessarily something that people need to worry about, provided they are doing their proper research and buying well-sourced CBD.
"Different brands of CBD are sold all throughout the country. Treat it like any other medicine that you would take, similar to deciding if you are going to take Advil, Tylenol or Aspirin—do your research and ask yourself what are you taking it for?"
"At the end of the day, people may think that a product with CBD is expensive, so they will resort to buying something that is cheaper. I can't emphasize enough that it really is quality over quantity when you are dealing with CBD and CBD infused products."