Purchasing CBD Products – What's Real and What's Fake?
by Pamela Hadfield
A week ago
The CBD trend has gone global, and currently it seems as if everyone has something to say about the health benefits of this cannabinoid within the cannabis plant. Perhaps you've heard the stories of CBD stopping children from having seizures or your next-door neighbor has even told you it's helping her with her crippling anxiety. Due to the word-of-mouth viral nature of CBD, there's a dizzying array of new products hitting the shelves daily, from your local drugstore to your corner barista. With the flurry of new products, including such far-flung concepts as a CBD infused clothing line, it's hard to know which product may have real therapeutic benefit vs. a bottle of snake oil jumping on the marketing bandwagon.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the most prevalent cannabinoids within the cannabis plant. This cannabinoid, unlike THC, is non-intoxicating, which is one of the many reasons it's gained mainstream popularity so quickly. Research has shown CBD to be an excellent anti-inflammatory , an anti-spasmodic , and it helps many people combat anxiety effectively. Some new studies have shown it helps combat chronic pain and may be beneficial for some neurological symptoms , as well as help in the fight with certain types of addiction , among other positive benefits. To be clear, CBD is not a cure for any health condition, but many people have found CBD to help with symptoms caused by a medical condition. Overall, CBD seems to be a positive therapeutic addition to a wellness routine with minimal, if any, side effects.
How it Works
Within our body, we have an endocannabinoid system full of CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are found in the brain, organs, connective tissue, glands, and immune cells, and are essential to the function of almost all parts of the human body. It's believed that CB1 receptors, which are related to mood, pain, movement, emotions, appetite, and other functions, react more readily to the cannabinoid THC. CB2 receptors are related to inflammation, the immune system as well as also pain, and are thought to interact more efficiently with CBD.
Our body produces endocannabinoids which interact with our CB1 and CB2 receptors, likewise, these same receptors respond to the phyto cannabinoids produced within the cannabis plant. It's believed that cannabinoids, whether created within our body, or from the cannabis plant, help to create homeostasis within our body. When we introduce phyto cannabinoids into our body, we stimulate or mimic our own cannabinoid production, and we may also increase the actual number of receptors within our body. This interaction is thought to be the reason why CBD has such widespread therapeutic benefits.
What to Look for in a Product
When selecting a CBD product for purchase, you need to look at several different factors and be a skeptical consumer. CBD is unregulated almost everywhere in the world, so your first concern should be your safety. When considering a purchase, find out whether the product has been lab tested. A reputable brand or retailer should be able to point you to evidence of lab testing, which indicates whether pesticides or other toxic chemicals are present. If you are unable to see that a product has been lab tested, you should walk away quickly. The hemp plant, where CBD on the market comes from, is a bio-accumulator, which means it soaks in the composition from the ground it's planted within, including any toxins from within the soil.
Another factor to consider is whether the amount of CBD listed is what is present within the product. A recent study posted on Leafly showed that out of 47 CBD products tested, only half contained within 20% of the advertised amount of CBD. Five of the 47 products contained no CBD at all.
Besides the safety issues, if you're looking to gain therapeutic benefit from CBD, you need to assess what you're trying to achieve. If you have a skin condition, such as eczema, a good place to start is a topical, such as a lotion or a soap. If you have an autoimmune condition, such as Chron's disease, a tincture may be more appropriate. There are many different methods of consumption, so you need to think about how each may affect you and what works best for your lifestyle.
Throwing Money Out the Window
If CBD is beneficial due to its interaction with our endocannabinoid system, or ECS, then you need to think of how CBD works within the body. To have any positive benefit, CBD needs to be binding to your CB2 receptors which reside within the body's organs and tissue. So, if you're looking at a CBD infused mascara, you're wasting your money. CBD infused shampoo, pretty much the same. CBD candles, clothing, nail polish, and so on, you as the buyer need to beware.
Photo credit: Pete Moore/Flickr