Confused But Curious About CBD?

CBDSusan Brown Health and Wellness Editor

If CBD isn’t the wellness buzzword of 2019, I don’t know what is. Many individuals appear to be curious and confused about the promising therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). Decades of misinformation have created difficulties understanding the distinction between cannabis and its two primary species, hemp and marijuana. Both derive from the cannabis sativa family and, as such, they do share certain similarities. Yet, due to each plant’s chemical composition and biological structure, there are very distinct and crucial differences. All cannabis plants contain compounds known as cannabinoids, as well as other phytochemicals shown to be beneficial to the body.

Two notable compounds are cannabidiol (CBD) and the intoxicating substance, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC induces the psychoactive effects popular among recreational marijuana users, while CBD does not produce a “high.” While marijuana may contain up to 30 percent THC, hemp contains a negligible amount, 0.3 percent or less. Hemp also contains higher levels of CBD, a non-psychoactive compound with wellness applications. Products labeled as hemp extract CBD are legally required not to exceed the 0.3 level of THC. Because of this low or non-existent THC content, hemp is now classified as legal. However, lacking rigorous studies for safety and effectiveness, the FDA disallows any health benefit claims.

Industrial hemp was once a dominant crop in the U.S. As one of the earliest known domesticated plants, this hardy and renewable resource was refined for various industrial applications, such as paper, textiles, rope and medicines. Today, hemp is utilized in an even broader variety of products, including health foods, biofuels, organic body care, construction materials, and hemp-derived cellulose, an affordable and renewable raw material for plastics. Unlike other crops, hemp can grow in most climates and soils, and requires only moderate amounts of water and fertilizer. Hemp has no need for pesticides or herbicides, as it is naturally resistant to most pests.

For decades, federal law did not differentiate hemp from other cannabis plants, and effectively made the possession and transfer of cannabis illegal in 1937 under the Marihuana Tax Act. In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act banned cannabis of any kind. If it appears that hemp derived CBD is suddenly everywhere, it’s likely a result of a change in federal policy, the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in some states, and the newfound interest in natural products that may one day replace certain pharmaceuticals. As a natural resource, hemp has enormous potential that can benefit the economy, the environment, and though still relatively unsubstantiated by current scientific evidence, health and wellness.

After decades of prohibition, the recently enacted 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp-derived products from the DEA Schedule I list of controlled substances, allowing for broad hemp cultivation, as well as the transfer of hemp products across state lines for commercial and other purposes. It puts no restrictions on the sale, transport or possession of hemp-derived products, as long as the items are produced in a manner consistent with the law. Although the Farm Bill legalizes hemp, it will remain a tightly regulated crop for both personal and industrial production. Under the Farm Bill, there will be more broadly available legal CBD products, but this does not mean all CBD products are legal under federal law. Under the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, the FDA still has the authority to regulate the use of CBD compounds in foods, beverages and supplements. Only this week, several Senators asked the FDA to update and loosen the current outdated regulations to allow broader use of CBD, which has been growing in popularity despite regulatory hurdles.

As a natural resource, hemp has conceivable applications for health and wellness, as well as enormous potential benefits for the economy and the environment. Over the past two years, CBD oil and products have become widely distributed across the U.S. Currently, CBD exists in a state of quasi-legality and yet to be realized potential. While it appears the next frontier will be foods and beverages containing CBD, the category remains largely unregulated. However, cannabis and hemp laws are rapidly changing across the country. And, while FDA approval for CBD as a food additive may be a decade or more away, researchers are studying CBD’s effects on mood, as well as its potential to reduce anxiety, relieve pain and support healthy sleep.

CBD is already everywhere, and it appears the interest about it extends far beyond trendiness. Along with a growing distrust of the pharmaceutical industry, unrestrained pharmaceutical costs and a more moderate view of cannabis, people are seeking a safer, natural alternative for symptom relief. Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a 2015 animal study showed that topical application of CBD has therapeutic potential for relief of pain and inflammation related to arthritis without evident side effects. The data suggests that transdermal CBD is a good candidate for developing improved therapies for debilitating arthritic conditions.

There is no question that the full benefits of CBD warrant more research. Advertised benefits of CBD, though not substantiated by the FDA, include reduction of pain, inflammation, daily stress and muscle cramping, as well as promotion of relaxation and general wellbeing. Like other plant-based formulas, CBD contains an array of beneficial phytonutrients, including fatty acids, vitamin E, and terpenes, therapeutic essential oil compounds with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and mood enhancing potential. A recent Consumer Reports nationally representative survey showed that 15 percent of American adults have tried CBD and a majority 83 percent reported that it helped alleviate the symptoms they were experiencing to some degree.

As with any nutritional supplement, those curious about CBD should seek out high quality, clean products from trusted manufacturers, such as those who use a non-toxic, environmentally friendly supercritical CO2 liquid extraction methods. As well, there are scientifically-based products manufactured in state-of-the-art laboratories that utilize third party independent analysis to ensure label accuracy and assure products are pure and free of pesticides, heavy metals and contaminants.

Per the World Health Organization’s CANNABIDIOL (CBD) Pre Review Report from the November 2017 Expert Committee on Drug Dependence meeting in Geneva, Switzerland: “While the number of studies is limited, the evidence from well controlled human experimental research indicates that CBD is not associated with abuse potential. The potential toxic effects of CBD have been extensively reviewed. In general, CBD has been found to have relatively low toxicity, although not all potential effects have been explored. CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”

CANNABIDIOL (CBD) Pre-Review Report.
Industrial Hemp: A Win-Win For the Economy And The Environment.
The Farm Bill, hemp legalization and the status of CBD: An explainer.
Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis.


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The Non-Diet Diet

The Non-DietSusan Brown Health and Wellness Editor

Come January first, many resolve to lose weight and exercise more days than not. For some, even the thought of dieting is depressing, especially those who have felt the effects of caloric deprivation in the past while diligently striving for permanent weight loss. But what if you could reach your body’s ideal or “set point” weight without feeling stressed, obsessed, deprived or excessively hungry? Could a better approach to weight management actually be a non-diet? What if we stopped all-consuming thoughts of what we can and cannot eat, and instead ate what we wanted when we wanted without guilt or shame? If that sounds like a radical concept, think of it as a healthy approach to eating based on intuitive eating principles. In other words, making peace with both your food and your body so you can stop obsessing and once again enjoy your food.

While not actually a new approach, intuitive eating may be particularly useful to chronic dieters, individuals whose dietary restrictions eventually lead to increased binging, an unhealthy relationship with food, lower self-esteem and ultimately, weight regain over time. It appears that weight regain is the typical long-term response to dieting rather than the exception. Yes, self-control matters, but not as much as one might expect. While willpower or self-control may play only a small role, there are theories as to why we regain the weight we struggled so hard to lose. One explanation holds that the body physiologically defends a genetically-based set weight. There is evidence for the idea that there is biological control of body weight at any given time. In our world of abundance, an intuitive lifestyle and mindfulness are preconditions for effective biological control and stable body weight.

We do know that calorie deprivation leads to changes in metabolism and hunger hormone regulation that can last for years, making it difficult to keep weight off. As well, caloric restriction can result in changes in cognitive and attentional functions that can lead dieters to become primarily focused on food. As compared to non-dieters, dieters feel hungrier due to a progressively more efficient metabolism, requiring a need to further reduce daily calories to continue to lose weight. Dieting is a common practice, especially among individuals who are persistently overconcerned with body shape and weight, and therefore restrict their food choices to achieve weight loss without success, or with temporary success and weight regain.

What is intuitive eating exactly? Basically, an intuitive eating approach consciously rejects the dieting mentality, allowing for a healthier, more authentic relationship with food. Some may think of this as a holistic approach that respects both physical and psychological wellbeing. Intuitive eating allows unconditional permission to eat and enjoy food, rejects the burden of chronic dieting, and advises listening to inner cues regarding hunger, satiety and satisfaction. Intuitive eating puts the spotlight on enjoying your food while tuning into your body’s health cues. While intuitive eating suggests you can eat what you like, it assumes that you respect your health and won’t see this as a green light to eat mainly non-nutritive processed and fast foods.

Although the intuitive eating approach doesn’t condemn any foods, those who eat mindfully know that the best way to support good health, fulfill hunger and maintain a feeling of satiety between meals is to eat whole foods containing fiber and protein. Ultra-processed foods high in unhealthy fats and added sugars should be eaten sparingly, but still without shame, to not overpower the normal hormone-driven fullness signals. Intuitive eating is meant to relieve the stress and guilt that often accompanies weight management. It rejects the diet mentality and honors hunger, fullness and health, allowing an intuitive eater to think of food as nourishment rather than the means to an end.

Those who truly progress toward better relationship with food find other ways to comfort and nurture themselves without appeasing their anxiety, boredom or loneliness by overeating. Leaving behind a preoccupation with thoughts of food, as well as an obsession with thinness, may be a difficult adjustment for some. After a few months of eating intuitively, many find they reach their natural set point weight, which may be higher or lower than imagined. Those who continue to take a respectful approach to nourishment tend to be less critical of their bodies, even with an increase in weight. Intuitive eaters report higher levels of overall satisfaction, as well as enhanced feelings of wellbeing and self-esteem.

An intuitive lifestyle means engaging in healthy behaviors yet having the freedom to enjoy that occasional slice of cheesecake without monitoring calories. The freedom to choose a natural healthy weight means that weight is most likely to be maintained. One does not need a perfect body to feel well, nor have a perfect diet to be healthy. Additionally, being physically active and taking note of how it good it feels to move the body shifts the focus towards the health benefits of exercise and away from the calorie burning effects. Minimizing weight loss as a motivating factor, encourages daily exercise simply for the energizing, strengthening and health benefits of movement. It appears that mindfulness and consistency over time are what really matter to long-term physical health and psychological wellbeing.

Why do dieters regain weight?
The big diet this year could be no diet at all.
What Is Intuitive Eating?
10 Principle of Intuitive Eating.
A Point of References: Weight and the Concept of Set Point.
Metabolic assessment of female chronic dieters with either normal or low resting energy expenditures.
Is there evidence for a set point that regulates human body weight?