By Jenny Menzel, H.C.
Sometimes referred to as hemp, cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant — accounting for about 40% of its extract. Trending as a natural solution for health complaints like inflammation, pain, nervousness, and poor sleep — CBD is popping up in stores around the world in the form of oils, tinctures, gummies, supplement pills, topical creams, and more.
It would seem reasonable to assume that with the legalized cannabis industry exploding, CBD’s stigma of being linked to marijuana as an illegal, mind-altering drug would be left behind in its dust. However, even in spite of thousands of scientific information published by the National Institute for Health (NIH), studying and reporting on the medicinal value of CBD, misinformation and ambiguity continues to swirl among skeptics and consumers alike.
To clear the fog around this topic, let’s take a look at just a few of the most common CBD myths circulating today — along with the supportive science available to debunk them.
4 CBD Myths Debunked by Science
Myth #1: You’ll Get High if You Take CBD.
CBD does not produce any hallucinatory effect because it has less than 0.03% content of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the primary intoxicating ingredient of the cannabis plant. Our bodies have two main cannabinoid receptors that allow us to receive the effects of cannabis components — CB1 and CB2. Unlike CBD, THC gets you high by binding to the CB1 receptors. In contrast, one study found that CBD does just the opposite. While THC is a CB1 and CB2 agonist, meaning it activates the cannabinoid receptors that result in a high — CBD acts as CB1 and CB2 antagonist, blocking these receptors and mitigating THC’s psychoactive effects.
Myth #2: CBD will Cause You to Fail a Drug Test.
Since CBD has only trace amounts of THC, using high-quality products with CBD will not cause a failed drug test. However, research noted that most of the CBD products on the market today are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), leading to the possibility of inaccurate labeling. CBD comes in many different strains, all with varying compositions and levels of THC. Because CBD is both legal in the form of hemp, and (mostly) illegal in the form of marijuana — a grey area is born that requires consumers to research to find trusted CBD products and reputable CBD manufacturers before purchasing.
Myth #3: CBD Impairs Your Memory.
While THC in marijuana has been linked to cognitive impairment, anxiety, and even psychotic-like symptoms following early usage, according to one study, it's a common misconception that CBD produces similar results. As previously mentioned, CBD may even reverse memory and cognitive deficits caused by THC due to the blocking effect on CB1 receptors. This was confirmed in a rat study published by Neuropharmacology, measuring the comparative effects of THC and CBD on spatial memory — the ability to store and retrieve memories. THC doses of 2-5 mg/kg showed performance and memory impairment lasting up to 4 hours in rat subjects. However, when considerably higher THC doses (up to 50 mg/kg) were administered in a ratio with CBD-rich extracts, the spatial and short-term memory of the rats were not compromised as they were with THC extract alone.
Myth #4: There is No Scientific Proof CBD Improves Health Conditions.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence supporting CBD as a beneficial component for human health. In fact, clinical reviews and studies focusing on reducing epileptic seizures led to the first-ever FDA-approved drug using CBD as the main ingredient. Epidiolex was approved in 2018 for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome — a rare and severe form of epilepsy. Additionally, CBD has shown to help less severe, more common health complaints such as anxiousness and sleep disturbances by creating a calming effect on the central nervous system. A large case study published in The Permanente Journal monitored 103 adults monthly, documenting the effects of CBD on symptoms of nervousness and sleep quality. Within the first month, 79% of the patients reported a decrease in feelings of anxiety, with sleep scores improving in 67%.
CBD and THC are the two main cannabinoids in cannabis offering therapeutic health benefits, yet they behave very differently in the body. Where CBD is legal in all 50 American states, THC is not due to its psychoactive effect in the brain. With the CBD industry rapidly expanding, there is little regulatory oversight — leading to label inaccuracy and low-quality CBD. Being educated is key to knowing whether a CBD product is high-quality and appropriate to your daily health routine.
With a growing body of health-promoting evidence, if you’re interested in trying CBD, you can locate a high-quality product by asking CBD companies to provide you with third-party testing to demonstrate the purity, quality, and potency of their products. You can also contact CBD manufacturers for additional resources.
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Jenny Menzel, H.C., is a Certified Health Coach and branding specialist for various alternative healthcare practices, and volunteers her design skills to the annual grassroots campaign, the Lyme Disease Challenge. Jenny was diagnosed with Lyme in 2010 after 8 years of undiagnosed chronic pain and fatigue, and continues to improve by employing multiple alternative therapies, including Āyurveda, Chinese Medicine and Bee Venom Therapy.