CBD without THC - Whats up with That?
I was walking through a local health food store the other day and I found a variety of products – Gummy Bear oral capsules intended to be sucked on, topical oils, nasal spray, an assortment of food products (chocolates, candy, even lollipops) advertising they were “CBD containing”. All products promised the beneficial effect of over the counter CBD. I went online and found a variety of websites offering similar products.
Browsing some of these websites made me start wondering what was up with all this CBD? A Google search of “CBD without THC near me” showed the top 10 retail outlets in my zip code carrying the products. Another Google search of “CBD without THC” showed a variety of websites – the top ones being Prohbtd.com, Cbdoilusers.com, Cbdoil.com, Bluebirdbotanicals.com, and Terravidaonline.com.
According to Terravidaonline.com – the CBD products are free of THC and therefore completely safe for use as advertised. These medicinal supplements promise to be an effective cure for a variety of ailments – anxiety, depression, insomnia, chronic pain conditions, even nausea and vomiting. The website contains “information for education” for the consumer to gain more information on CBD. A separate section of the website contains “information for Physicians” obviously unaware of the benefits of THC free CBD oil. It also says that the THC free CBD is formulated by extracting the oil from the Cannabinoid plant, mixing it with another carrier oil (often olive or coconut oil) or a different oral composition to be made into an oral preparation, and marketed. The Gummy Bears and other products I found in my Health Food store must be similarly made. But what is Cannibinoid Oil and how effective, safe, and legal is it?
A word about Marijuana
Scientifically speaking - CBD stands for Cannabinoid Oil, and THC is delta Tetrahydro cannabinoid. Both substances are extracted products of the seeds of the of the Cannabinoid sativa plant. Cannibinoid satva is a genre of the Cannibinoid family of Hemp plants that have produced Marijuana for millenia. Ancient Chinese, Indian, and Persian medicine all describe various uses of the Hemp family of plants. THC is the chemical found in Marijuana responsible for the “high” from taking the drug.
The FDA lists Marijuana as a Scheduled I classification of Drug mainly due to its highly potential addictive capability.
Despite all the reports of being a highly addictive drug – marijuana use continues to escalate every year. Reuters reports nearly 20% of the population (roughly 1/7) adult Americans have tried recreational marijuana in the last year. Legalization of marijuana makes it more accessible and its use increases 10-30% more in states where it is legal to buy and sell it. According to NIH (the official website of the National Institute on Drug Abuse) the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States of America is Marijuana. Even more worrisome is the rise of marijuana consumption among younger more vulnerable users. In 2016 – nearly 9.4% of all 8th Graders in the USA reported trying Marijuana in the last 10 months. 6% of all 8th Graders reporting abusing marijuana on a daily basis.
Marijuana – particularly amongst young adolescent users – is not entirely benign. A recent Scientific American (December 1 2017) article on marijuana use in adolescent points out the loss of attention span and memory in adolescent users. Chronic abusers will consistently fall behind on cognitive tests involving attention, motor skills, and verbal abilities. In extreme case, the THC creates an almost delusional state of mind in younger users. The only positive news is that abstinence from marijuana for at least six months will allow recovery on cognitive function and behavior tests so adolescents may return to normal intellectual capacity over time.
Marijuana is not entirely benign in adults either. Pregnant and lactating women have strict warnings from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to avoid Marijuana while pregnant. The passage of tetrahydrocannibinoid to delicate neonates across the placenta remains hazardous to the unborn child. Mothers who smoke marijuana have an increased risk of IUGR (intrauterine Growth Retardation), low birth weigh babies, increased risk of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit admission after birth, lower APGAR Scores, and increased stillbirths. Adult exposure to marijuana in rare cases may lead to psychoses and delusional behavior.
How does Marijuana work anyway?
A newly discovered physiological pathway involving the production of endocannabinoid receptors has been under investigation for the last 20 years. The body makes its own cannabinoid chemicals, and other similar neurotransmitters and neuroendocrine hormones as part of a complex system of chemicals called eicosanoids that are the backbone of the endocannabinoid system. The main endogenous receptors of the cannabinoid system are CB1 and CB2 (cannabinoid 1 & 2 receptors) widely distributed through the body. Interestingly, the body makes its own chemicals that are similar to THC and CBD as part of the endocannabinoid system that remain increased in activity in puberty, pregnancy, and the perinatal period after the birth of a child. Dr. Yasmin Hurd, a pediatric neurologist quoted in the December 1 2017 article of the Scientific American article describes “huge changes” in the endogenous cannabinoid production system in puberty. The consequences of taking additional cannabinoid at this vulnerable period of human development remain unknown.
THC acts as an agonist of the CB1 receptor, causing a variety of psychomimetic effects on affect, moo, memory, and anxiety. CBD acts as an allosteric modulator on the CB1 receptor, causing inhibition. Additional effects of CBD on the neurohormonal system influence the Noradrenaline, Dopamine, Serotonin, GABA and Ca channels affecting neuroendocrine modulation of the opiate, serotonin, vanilloid systems of the body. Every single system in the body – and most of the systems affecting the mind – will be affected when we take exogenous cannibinoids.
The various functions of the endocannabinoid system remain largely to be determined with further scientific study. Grossly - the scientific community acknowledges the defined role of the endocannabinoid receptor system in the following areas:
• Effects on memory – by suppression of the potentiation of the long-term effects on the hippocampus, it may effectively increase the short term memory and inhibit long term memory.
• Affects energy and satiety centers in the Brain. Influencing appetite, increasing hunger. The “munchies” of the Weed....
• Regulation of anxiety centers in the Brain
• In the spinal cord – affecting the dorsal sensory column – affects the noxious pain response and the pain response in patients.
• Sleep – Marijuana is a known promoter of deep REM sleep and deep sleep, decreasing arousibility and wakefulness.
The most worrisome aspect of THC and cannabinoid use remain the large body of scientific work that lies ahead. We don’t know the whole story yet. And as the adage goes – a little bit of injudicious uninformed “knowledge” about anything can be extremely dangerous – especially in the young, the puberty, and expectant mothers – when consuming additional marijuana will upset the body’s homeostatic mechanisms regulating the endocannabinoid system.
What are the Official Rules concerning Cannabinoid Products?
Marijuana is legal in many parts of the United States of America, and new state legislation changes the commercial availability of marijuana and marijuana products on a state by state basis. In fact, the changing regulation concerning marijuana makes the average consumer increasingly confused. I know I was muddled when I started this Article.
The Federal Drug Administration (www.FDA.gov) has approved only three official formulations for medicinal marijuana in the United States of America – Epidiolex, Marinol, and Syndros. The only approved medial conditions in the United States of America that actually mandate a prescription (of one of the above mentioned formulations of marijuana) are (i) for the treatment of refractory pain from terminal advanced cancer, (ii) adjunctive use for the treatment of neuropathic and spastic pain associated with multiple sclerosis, and (iii) epileptic seizures resistant to traditional medications – Lennox Gestault and Davert Syndroms. On the website, the FDA lays out stringent guidelines concerning the source, distribution, and legal vendors who do supply medicinal marijuana on its website. Obviously, certain states will overrule the FDA and make their own guidelines about the retailing of marijuana, cbd, and thc products. According to the FDA, CBD products are not to be sold for any medicinal reason at all in America.
Furthermore – the FDA goes on to addressthe abundance of over the counter CBD products available in my local health food store and online – and issues a rather strict warning. “The FDA remains concerned at the proliferation of products that contain CBD marketed for medicinal or therapeutic use. Selling inappropriate products with unsubstantiated claims is not only in violation of the law and may put patients at undue risk”. The organization goes on to list the threats of warning letters issued by the FDA to the offending companies who do indeed market, sell, and produce CBD products in the United States of America.
Please remember this next time you see the aisle of “CBD Gummies” in your local food store or online retailer. As educated consumers – we owe it to ourselves to take charge of our health, making the best decisions for ourselves. I do hope this article has shed some light on the sobering facts concerning the reality of CBD products (with or without THC), marijuana, and the official state of affairs concerning legislation of CBD and THC at the national level in the United States of America.