THE CBD FASCINATION
CBD, also known scientifically as cannabidiol, is a botanical substance that is extracted from the marijuana and hemp plants which are both subspecies of the cannabis plant (inappropriately, the terms cannabis and marijuana are frequently used interchangeably).
CBD is currently being widely touted and marketed for many medicinal purposes. Extensive anecdotal claims are being made about its benefits in treating a vast number of illnesses that run the spectrum from cancer to acne, as well as pet therapy. In the past couple of years because of this publicity, CBD has arguably become the hottest product currently produced by any industry in the United States. Using today’s lingo, you could say that it has gone viral!
Cannabis plants contain more than 400 known chemical compounds and over 100 of these are known as cannabinoids which have been shown and sometimes speculated from animal models, to have various effects on the human body. Of these many cannabinoids, the two most renown and analyzed are CBD and THC.
THC is the main psychoactive (mind altering) substance in marijuana and this distinguishes it from its cousin, the hemp plant, which has only trace amounts of THC. CBD is present in both plants but higher concentrations are contained in hemp. CBD has no psychoactivity, except when ingested in large amounts, it can have effects similar to caffeine. To qualify as hemp, the plant must contain .3% or less THC by weight, whereas marijuana can contain as much as 7% - 20%. It is this compound that causes the ‘high’ and results in the recreational use of marijuana. If highly concentrated products or excessive amounts of THC are consumed, problems with anxiety, panic feelings and hallucinations can occur, thus the name ‘loco weed’.
The hemp plant has characteristics, particularly a high fiber content, that makes it a valuable agricultural and industrial product around the world. It is used in the manufacturing of thousands of valuable and important products including textiles and paper. As an example of its value, 1 acre of hemp plants can produce the same amount of paper as 4 acres of trees and it is much easier to grow. It thrives and survives like a weed, although only marijuana is commonly referred to as weed.
Hemp is grown worldwide, but it has been illegal in the US for over 70 years since the “War on Drugs” began and all cannabis plants were named in the legislations that were passed. This incriminated hemp along with marijuana and legal hemp farming ceased resulting in the export of more hemp to the US than any other country worldwide.
In 2018, the Federal Farm Bill was signed into law and this bill, amongst other contents, legalized the farming of hemp plants for industrial purposes. The apparent purpose of this bill was to change the law in a number of areas to improve economic conditions for US farmers. There are many benefits to farmers who grow hemp, including high demand for the product and ease of cultivation. The country also benefits by decreasing the expense of importing hemp fiber. It seems to be misunderstood that the purpose of this bill was to increase hemp availability to allow for more CBD production for medicinal purposes. After all, this was a farm bill, not a healthcare bill. Intended or unintended, the bill legalized CBD and led to the explosion of CBD marketing and sales and in the next two years or so, the value of this market is speculated to be around $20 billion. We don’t know, but it seems doubtful, that farmers will not come close to that economic benefit.
On a positive note, maybe this scenario will open up more legitimate clinical research into the possible benefits or potential harms from the use of the products CBD and THC extracted from the cannabis plants.
This article’s purpose was an attempt to explain the rather sudden growth in the CBD market. In next week’s Herald Journal, we plan to discuss what is known and unknown about the medicinal uses of CBD. We hope you pick up a copy of that edition and tune in!
Dr. Tippett is the founder of Comprehensive Quality Healthcare Providers, a concierge internal medicine practice located at 1210 Commerce Dr. Suite 106 Greensboro, Ga. 30642. He can be reached at 706-510-3659. Visit his web page at www.drtippett.com