A fledgling industry awakens
The CBD industry is shrouded in something that could almost be called mythology. From a hushed whisper to a veritable shout, the popularity of CBD has exploded over the past few years. Along with that popularity is a list of beneficial claims so large that it would put any wonder-drug to shame. So much so in fact, that it begins to become difficult to separate fact from fiction with regards to the plant-based cannabidiol.
The blame for this is a multi-pronged issue, the problem laying in multiple areas. Firstly, there’s the fact that it was born from a culture already steeped in stigma, a culture that would often issue the suggestion that one should try smoking cannabis to fix a problem.
Secondly, the legality. Separating itself from its socially stigmatizing cousin (“marijuana”) in the public eye has been an uphill battle. Lastly, there’s the cult-like following that cannabidiol has formed. If you believed what those who are initiated told you, you’d believe that the drug would make you borderline immortal. There’s definitely some truth buried in the claims, so let’s have a closer look.
CBD and THC, escaping the shadow of stigma
Part of the magic trick that the CBD industry has performed, is the separation of CBD itself from THC and the rest of the cannabis culture. This is largely thanks to the improved understanding we have begun to recently have over the effects of CBD and THC on our endocannabinoid system (ECS), with almost all of the beneficial effects being the responsibility of the CBD. This has enormously helped with the legality issue too since that separation has also removed the psychoactive effects that we most commonly associate with cannabis.
This particular issue turns into something of a rabbit hole, however, with the differences in the multitude of cannabis plants being as numerous and varied as there are stars in the sky. The main thing to remember is that CBD is entirely isolated from the cannabis plant and the psychotropic THC that it contains. Most companies will grow hemp to harvest the CBD from. Since one of the main factors in the legality of the sale of CBD is keeping the THC percentage below a certain threshold (think less than 0.5%), hemp is the ideal plant as it is already low in THC.
The miraculous CBD cure-all
When you read about some of the illnesses and ailments that are rumoured to be alleviated or outright cured by CBD, it reaches a point where it becomes hard to believe. When we start to look at some of the recent studies, however, it turns out that fact might be stranger than fiction. A lot of the blame for our lacking of a full understanding of the topic lays at the feet of lawmakers and regulatory organizations. Research into the effect of the plant itself has been hugely restricted by draconian laws and policies in the countries capable of dedicating resources to the research. With the advent of CBD however, we have started to get a clearer understanding of what this one particular component of cannabis can accomplish.
What are the benefits?
Avoiding some of the more outlandish claims and focusing on the meat and potatoes of what CBD can accomplish, we still end up with a long list of benefits.
The premiere claim that it has is in pain relief. The ECS in our bodies plays a large part in influencing pain and immune response in our bodies, so it’s natural that the CBD that interacts with it would have such a powerful effect on our bodies. This one goes back a long way, too. All throughout recorded history, there have been medicinal applications of the cannabis plant in the treatment of pain, inflammation and chronic issues. This interaction with our nervous system has long-reaching effects too, with some research being done in the field of neurological disorders such as seizures, epilepsy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Though a lot of this particular research is very new, the fact that it can play any part at all on diseases where there had previously been very little progress is incredibly promising both for the sufferers of those diseases and for the future of CBD. Some studies have even shown it to be instrumental in the improvement of the mental health of those suffering from anxiety or depression, even animals.
The vast array of products and the effect on the quality
With all of this clamour and popularity around CBD, it’s easy to imagine exactly what kind of a juggernaut the industry built around it has started to become. Just like with any other popular product or fad, and due to the ease of growing and harvesting the plants required, there is a staggering amount of produce on offer. Even more staggering than that is the number of sellers.
This means that it won’t only be well-known brands that will be serving up a slice of the CBD pie, but independent sellers and startup companies. Unfortunately, what this also means is that quality control is a serious concern. In the places where it has become legal, this has already begun to become an issue, with labs performing tests on varying products and discovering that the product had been contaminated with potentially dangerous and toxic chemicals. Though there will always be trusted brands, it could be tempting for the unaware to take a gamble with cheaper, less safe products.
Is there anything else to be aware of?
All in all, CBD seems to be well placed to become a mainstay of both the recreational and the medicinal world. Its benefits for physical and mental health are undeniable. Though there are some side effects, for the most part, they appear to be relatively mild, things like tiredness, dry mouth, nausea and diarrhoea. Of course, it won’t be for everyone. It would seem, however, that as research moves forward and we learn new information, we will be rewarded with more and more solutions to everyday problems.