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Explore CBD

Find Relief from Anxiety, Insomnia, Arthritis, and more

In our special section we explore CBD from a variety of angles. Dive in to get up to speed on this huge trend.

CBD products are one of the hottest trends in the natural health world, so it’s likely you’ve been hearing about them. But if you’re like me, you have questions. Is CBD safe? Is it right for my specific health concerns? Where can I buy CBD? In our first-ever section on CBD, we explore the latest news and research, find out what ailments CBD may treat, and discover trusted sources of products. In working on this section, I’ve learned so much, and I’m excited to share information with you. Kathryn Drury Wagner


The Beginner’s Guide to CBD • We went in search of answers and advice to help you kick off your CBD journey • Jennifer Glatt

An Irish proverb notes that a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything, but I’ll be honest—neither of those has been remotely successful at mitigating cramps or curbing my chronic anxiety. I’m wary of taking any medication I don’t have to, but some days functioning without the aid of pharmacological assistance is out of the question. Could there be an alternative? Though I’ve never been one for experimenting, I have been curious about CBD. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Cannabidiol, CBD for short, is a chemical component of cannabis, a flowering plant with a colorful history. Hemp and marijuana are species of the cannabis family, and these plants contain chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Of the more than 100 cannabinoids found in the plants, two are quite well-known. THC is the component known for its psychoactive effects, producing a euphoric, high feeling. Alternatively, CBD has no psychoactive effects, and is showing itself to be a potential powerhouse in terms of medicinal and therapeutic benefits.

There are two main types of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids, which are produced naturally within the body to help regulate body functions and maintain internal balance, and phytocannabinoids, which are plant-produced.

“Phytocannabinoids mimic endocannabinoids, so they can act like a supplement, giving you a boost beyond what your body can produce,” explains Tiffany Lester, MD, of Parsley Health, a functional medical practice that emphasizes non-drug solutions to living a healthy life. CBD is a phytocannabinoid with promise—a natural alternative to encourage the body to return to balance.

WebMD reports that “the strongest use for CBD is seizure reduction in epilepsy, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found modest to moderate effects by cannabis or cannabinoids for chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and for spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients.” Research also indicates that CBD has potential uses in pain relief, anxiety, arthritis, depression, diabetes, and cancer.

CBD is sourced from the flowers and buds of both hemp and marijuana plants, and the source is part of what determines its legal status in particular states in the US. Although CBD and THC are both naturally present in the plant, it is possible to grow strains with a high level of CBD and a low level of THC. The only source of CBD capable of producing low levels of THC and high levels of CBD is industrial hemp.

Hemp was removed from the Controlled Substances Act in 2018, and it is no longer considered an illegal substance under federal law. The new law is a game changer for production and marketing of hemp, and according to the FDA, provides “potential regulatory pathways for products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds.” Even the World Anti-Doping Agency has removed CBD from its list of banned substances, since many athletes have replaced ibuprofen and related drugs with CBD for pain relief.

Still, the exact status of CBD remains murky at times. WebMD breaks down the legal status of CBD in each state at webmd.com/pain-management/news/20190108/marijuana-hemp-cbd-whats-legal-and-where.

The World Health Organization reports that CBD is safe for almost everyone and “exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential,” but as always, it’s wise to check with your doctor before introducing any new product, especially if you are pregnant or on any medications.

Although the industry is young, you might be surprised at the multitude of CBD options available, including tinctures, topicals, pills, extracts, edibles (gummies, chocolate, gum, tea), patches, sprays, vape additives, and even bath bombs.

“It’s easy to be overwhelmed and confused by the myriad of products now on the market,” said Andrew Aamot, president and CEO of Denver-based Sträva Craft Coffee, Inc. “Each of these product categories represent different methods of introducing CBD molecules into the body but are fundamentally similar—they introduce CBD to our endocannabinoid system to balance and regulate other neurotransmitters in the body.”

Sträva Craft Coffee was founded in 2015 as a specialty coffee roaster, serving roasted whole-bean coffee infused with full-spectrum CBD. Over the last two years the company has grown its offerings to six products in its infused coffee lineup. Restore, its most popular option, has 120 milligrams of CBD in each 12-ounce bag of whole-bean coffee, which translates to around 5 mg of CBD per cup. “Coffee and CBD make for a perfect pair,” he says.

As you might expect, testing and regulation are lagging in this booming industry, so safety is a legitimate concern. A Penn Medicine study in 2017 found that nearly 70 percent of cannabidiol extracts sold online are mislabeled, either over- or understating the true composition of the product. “Perhaps most importantly for consumers and industry alike,” notes Aamot, “the industry will gain greater transparency and legitimacy as thoughtful regulation and oversight come into effect.”

As with any fledgling industry, there will be growing pains, but CBD appears resilient enough to withstand the scrutiny. Leading digital financial media company TheStreet Inc. notes that by 2022, the CBD industry overall is expected to be worth $2 billion.

As for me? I think I’ll start with a cup of CBD-infused coffee.


Is CBD for Me? Versatile CBD is being used to address a variety of health issues • Lavonne Leong

Cannabidiol (CBD) is already well-known for treating stress and anxiety, but it’s not just a one-hit wonder. The body’s endocannabinoid system, to which CBD binds, drives the smooth operation of many major systems, from digestion to sleep to the immune system, and that means that people are using CBD to manage dozens of other health concerns. Here are a few of the most common.

Insomnia. Lying awake in the middle of the night, sleepwalking through the rest of the day: insomnia ranges from a minor irritation to a debilitating condition. How can CBD help with that? Shimyrre Britt, director of product at Mana Artisan Botanicals, explains, “There’s not one root cause of insomnia, but many contributing factors.” These include anxiety, stress, gastrointestinal problems, and chronic pain. “And when you’re taking something that’s giving support to numerous systems in the body,” says Britt, the chances of a good night’s sleep increase.

Arthritis. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, and all cause joint pain and swelling that can affect quality of life. Although research on CBD is still in its infancy, recent studies in animals suggest that CBD may have a big part to play in the treatment of arthritis in humans. One animal study concluded that CBD can actually help prevent nerve damage caused by osteoarthritis. CBD can work on stress and inflammation, which contribute to many types of arthritis flares, and on the pain itself. According to the Arthritis Society of Canada, two-thirds of the medical marijuana users in Canada are using it to manage arthritis symptoms.

Migraine. Garden-variety headaches are bad enough, but migraines—multisymptomatic events that can last for hours or days—are in a class of their own. Cannabis has been used to treat headaches for millennia, and many people swear by CBD products, which can be derived from cannabis or hemp, as a management method for migraines. One 2018 survey in the Journal of Headache Pain found that of headache patients registered for medical marijuana treatment, 88 percent were treating for migraines. Britt, of Mana Artisan Botanicals, recommends both internal and external applications of its CBD products for migraines; using both together “maximizes the array of cannabinoid receptors in the body that you have access to.”

Menopause. Menopause is one of the most dramatic physical transitions a woman will undergo in her lifetime, but it’s only recently that the Western medical establishment has regarded it as worthy of attention. Alternative medicine has treated menopause symptoms for far longer. Britt explains that CBD can address “some of the specific individual aspects that make up menopause: the anxiety, the sleeplessness, body temperature regulation.” In addition the endocannabinoid system is responsible for promoting homeostasis, or smooth equilibrium between many systems, within the body. “We’ve learned how much of a role the endocannabinoid system actually plays in regulating your natural processes,” says Britt—and during the menopause years, balance is everything.


Coping with Anxiety One of the most popular, and promising, uses of CBD is to soothe anxiety Kathryn Drury Wagner

With nearly one in five adults in the U.S. dealing with anxiety disorders, according to the National Alliance on Mental Disorders, many people are looking for relief. “There’s a spectrum, like everyday job stress, down to severe anxiety like depression,” notes Kurt Forstmann, general manager at Aceso, a company that makes supplements using hemp blended with other plants such as lavender. Naturopaths, chiropractors, and functional medicine specialists have been open to treating anxiety with CBD products, but, Forstmann notes, there is an increasing awareness and interest from the mainstream medical faction as well. “I think a few years ago it was looked at as fringe, and now it’s being looked at for many chronic conditions,” he says.

A 2015 article published in the journal Neurotherapeutics reviewed 49 studies on cannabidiol, or CBD. The authors found that “CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders, with need for further study of chronic and therapeutic effects in relevant clinical populations.” The study also noted that “Human experimental findings support preclinical findings, and suggest a lack of anxiogenic effects [i.e., increases in anxiety], minimal sedative effects, and an excellent safety profile. Current preclinical and human findings mostly involve acute CBD dosing in healthy subjects, so further studies are required to establish whether chronic dosing of CBD has similar effects in relevant clinical populations.”

CBD stimulates the body to release anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced in the brain. “They call it the ‘bliss molecule’,” says Forstmann. “It’s not a drunk or a high, but more like how you feel after a yoga class or after meditation.” Many of the clients of Aceso, he notes, are trying out alternatives to mainstream pharmaceutical anxiety medications, though some he calls “casual users” are looking to deal with occasional stress, such as public speaking or having especially pesky houseguests.

“As a natural alternative to traditional synthetic medications—like Xanax and Valium, both very addictive—CBD could work synergistically with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to replace the need for the addictive medications,” says Danielle Crary, director of public relations at cbdMD. However, she notes, “With something as personal as mental health, it’s important to listen to your body, mind, and doctor when it comes to determining what works best for you. Certain conditions and severities of conditions may need prescription medication, but if your doctor approves and you decide to try CBD for anxiety, it could be just the thing you need to calm your nerves.”

Dosing will depend on your body size and severity of symptoms, so you may need to experiment to see what works best for you, starting at a low dose and increasing if necessary. Also, “A legitimate CBD company should always provide third-party test results,” says Crary. “This way you can verify the amount of CBD and also ensure that it’s THC-free.” She notes that CBD products have a shelf life, just like anything organic. Store them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, and keep an eye on labels to track expiration dates.


A New Leash on Life Should you give your beloved animal companion a CBD product? Lavonne Leong

We buy them sweaters and birthday presents, run their Instagram accounts, serve them home-cooked meals, and let them sleep in our beds. Pets are no longer just pets—they have become members of the family.

Since pets can also suffer from many of the same ailments that plague their owners, it’s natural to wonder whether CBD, which has become a go-to alternative therapy for people, might help with Fido’s anxiety or Fluffy’s age-related aches and pains.

The answer, says Samantha Wormser, a spokesperson for Canna-Pet, which produces hemp-derived CBD pet products, is yes. CBD works for both pets and people, addressing many of the same medical challenges, because “every mammal has an endocannabinoid system that processes CBD,” according to Wormser. However, pet owners should stick to products formulated specifically for pets. These should contain no THC, which can be toxic to animals.

Wormser says the top reasons people give their pets CBD include pain, inflammation, gastrointestinal issues, and anxiety. Many pet owners give it to older pets or those with chronic conditions. According to the APPA National Pet Owners’ Survey, one in three pet dogs and almost two in three pet cats come from rescue or stray situations; many of those can exhibit anxiety from past neglect. CBD products are “great for rescue animals,” says Wormser. CBD can also be an occasional-use product for stressful situations, like the Fourth of July, when fireworks upset many animals.

Is CBD effective for four-footed friends? Although research on the medical uses of cannabidiol is still in its infancy, the first double-blind, placebo-controlled study on its effects on dogs was published in July 2018, and the results were promising. Undertaken at Cornell University and published in the leading journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science, the study examined the effects of hemp-derived CBD on canine osteoarthritis, and found that 80 percent of subjects experienced relief, with no side effects.

Writing in Veterinary Practice News, veterinarian Patty Khuly referenced a “mountain of anecdotal reports [that] also identify osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, allergic skin disease, appetite stimulation, and nausea relief (among others) as potential areas of study.”

It’s not just dogs that may benefit from CBD products, says Wormser. Every mammal’s endocannabinoid system is different, but all can feel the effects of CBD, from cats to guinea pigs to horses. Canna-Pet’s clients include a tiger sanctuary and a chicken farm.

“CBD is a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals,” says Wormser. “If you’re into holistic health and care about what you’re putting into your body, it’s the same with your pet. It’s important to think about what we’re putting into their bodies, too.”

The statements in this special section have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. If you have a health concern or condition, consult a physician. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing any new exercises.