Forrest Gump famously said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.” CBD has definitely been like that so far. You never know what you’re going to get--unless you do a little research.
It should be as easy as reading the label, but, unfortunately, “weed-washing” is rife in the CBD marketplace. Products are mislabeled. They may not contain what the label says. Protect yourself from fake, low-quality products by doing your due diligence. Here’s how.
Check the Certificate of Analysis (COA)
If CBD brands want to be taken seriously, they must offer a COA to protect their customers and prove that their products have as much CBD as they advertise. A COA is a document from an accredited third party laboratory that reports on the cannabinoid, terpene and contaminant profile of a Hemp/CBD product. It also shows whether the product is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate.
Dates and product batch numbers should be listed on the product, so that consumers can make sure the report is up to date and specific to the batch that their product is from. If there isn’t a COA, definitely steer clear. As the public becomes more astute at this process, the poor quality and scam products will be “weeded” (forgive the pun) out.
Understand What’s Coming
As the market for cannabidiol becomes oversaturated and research expands, product companies will introduce other interesting cannabinoids like CBN and CBG, already touted as having functional benefits tied to sleep and appetite.
Other plant extracts, botanicals, herbs, essential oils, dietary supplements/nutrients and ingredients are being added to the ingredient deck for their wide-ranging benefits–to promote immunity, to quell anxiety and stress, to boost mood, to fight inflammation, to promote sleep, to help memory and boost brain function. Ayurvedic herbs are a definite trend in Hemp/CBD formulations–from ashwagandha to curcumin/turmeric to boswellia to bacopa and more.
Immune Boosting Capabilities
Along with your regular stress management and wellness therapies, Hemp CBD in and of itself may help boost immunity.
It has proven anti-microbial properties. It reduces stress by activating our Endocannabinoid System (ECS) Receptors. And it’s very helpful in boosting our immune system by interacting with our ECS to keep it functioning optimally. As Hemp/CD promotes relaxation and balances mood, it supports a more stable immune system. Remember, when we do not control stress, our immune system takes a major hit. Hemp/CBD promotes calm and mind-body homeostasis amidst the anxiety that many of us may be feeling. One way it does this is by releasing serotonin and dopamine – two of our bodies primary mood-enhancing and feel-good chemicals.
One potent example - Joy Organics has just released their CBD Soft Gel for Immune Support that includes a revolutionary "immune-boosting" ingredient--a yeast fermentate made from brewer’s yeast. Our gastrointestinal system is responsible for 70 percent of our immune response. The CBD/Fermantate formula supports a healthy digestive system by protecting and balancing gut flora.
Some innovative companies have developed brands containing non-cannabinoid ingredients that activate cannabinoid receptors and thus have the same effect but have avoided regulatory hurdles. Emerald Health Bioceuticals is an excellent example of this. Their primary focus is on supporting the endocannabinoid system through lifestyle choices, diet/supplementation and more.
There are also innovative companies developing products containing CBD that are cannabis-free. One example is chocolatier Grön. Grön’s making a revolutionary new line of chocolate bars infused with natural CBD derived from the bark of an invasive pine tree. Like Vitamin C, CBD comes from many natural sources, and this is one of the first products on the market that isolates the CBD molecule without cannabis.
Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and CBD Isolate
Full-spectrum Hemp CBD extract contains more than just CBD. It includes many other vital cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other chemical compounds (including trace amounts- < 0.3% of THC) that combine to create an “entourage effect” of enhanced benefits where the restorative benefits of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts.
Broad-spectrum Hemp CBD extract is very similar to full-spectrum except that it contains 0 percent THC. Many people, because of legalities related to their jobs, athletic events or whatever, cannot have THC in their system. There is also still a stigma in some populations about THC and its psycho-activity--regardless of the low amount in full-spectrum.
CBD Isolate is just what it sounds like: pure CBD, stripped of all of the hemp plant’s other chemical compounds. The removal of these other efficacious plant compounds means no entourage effect. There is a time and place for CBD isolate. As more research unfolds, we may see more pharmaceutical drugs approved by the FDA, like Epidiolex which is prescribed for 2 different forms of epilepsy/seizures.
The Research Floodgates are Opening
So many of CBD’s benefits have been anecdotal up until recently. This is evolving as we speak. In late 2019, the federal government announced substantial funding for nine new research grants, with one important goal to uncover and approve more non-addictive, non-damaging forms of pain relief.
Scientists are excited to try to counter and replace patients' long-standing use of opioids to ease pain. For example, one of the grant recipients, University of Utah researcher Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, will look into how CBD extract affects pain-signaling pathways in the brain of humans with lower back pain. This latest round of grants, funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, will hopefully help close the gap between CBD fact and fiction.
NYU School of Medicine assistant professor Dr. Esther Blessing is heading up a study on CBD as a treatment for PTSD and alcohol abuse. She called CBD “the most promising drug that has come out for neuropsychiatric diseases in the last 50 years. The reason it is so promising is that it has a unique combination of safety and effectiveness across a very broad range of conditions.”
Antioxidant & Antibacterial Properties
CBD has been shown to reduce free radicals which can lead to reduction of risk of neurological degradation, as well as actively fight against Gram-positive bacteria known to cause many severe infections.
A team from McMaster University in Canada have found that a cannabinoid compound called cannabigerol (CBG) can defeat methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This bug is resistant to many traditional antibiotics but CBG has now been shown to effectively treat MRSA in mice. “CBG proved to be marvelous at tackling pathogenic bacteria,” study lead professor Eric Brown said. “The findings suggest real therapeutic potential for cannabinoids as antibiotics.” This is heartening in view of the pandemic situation we are presently in.
CBD has been recommended for Arthritis by the Arthritis Foundation, which is a very big deal, as arthritis affects over 50 million Americans and is a leading cause of disability. The fact that so many are getting relief from cannabis is very hopeful, and holds true across the spectrum of the condition, from osteoarthritis to rheumatoid, and even post-trauma arthritis.
As more accredited institutions like the Arthritis Foundation provide guidelines on how to incorporate CBD products into treatment – this will further bolster acceptance by the general public. Endorsements of this type will encourage more of the same given the Arthritis Foundation’s tremendous credibility.
MARY BETH JANSSEN, CAyur, RYT, CMT, is president of the Janssen Source, wellness director for a large Chicagoland Health Care Organization, and certified Ayurvedic and mind-body health specialist for the Chopra Center for Wellbeing