Everyone is talking about CBD. And the CBD industry has taken off like a rocket. It’s conservatively projected to hit $16 billion in the United States by 2025. So while the hemp plant extract (that won’t get you high) is being added to smoothies, dog treats and every kind of lotion and potion, how the heck do you know which products to buy and whether they’ll live up to the hype?
Get comfy because I’m gonna break it all down for you in this CBD Guide for Grownups. And make sure you scroll all the way down for a special discount on Vidya CBD – exclusively for Grownup Dish followers.
But first, a disclaimer. I am not a medical professional. I am sharing my personal opinion and lots of well-researched information, but you should definitely do your own research and discuss any questions or concerns with a qualified healthcare professional. I never recommend products that I don’t truly believe in, but everyone is different and something that works well for me, may not always work well for you.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the lesser-known child of the cannabis sativa plant which comes in two varieties, marijuana and industrial hemp. It’s more famous sibling, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the active ingredient in pot that that makes you’ “high.” CBD is technically only only one of the other active ingredients, and colloquially used to refer to all of them other than THC, or to hemp (not pot) products that have nowhere near enough THC to get you high. Bottom line: CBD will not make you woozy, sleepy, giggly or give you the munchies.
Is CBD Legal?
The short answer to this question is…it depends. Although 2018’s Farm Act legalized hemp under federal law, it also preserved the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of products derived from cannabis.
Schedule 1 drugs are substances, chemicals, or drugs considered by the federal government to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse such as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. Although the DEA refuses to remove marijuana (which has THC) from the schedule 1 list, the Farm Act is considered to be the most important victory in the history of U.S. cannabis because it explicitly removed hemp (near zero THC) from schedule 1. This does not however, mean that all CBD products are now legal.
Only CBD products produced in compliance with the Farm Act are legal under federal law. This means that in order for a CBD product to be federally legal, it must meet all of the federal and state regulations, contain less than 0.3% THC, and have used hemp derived from a licensed grower.
However, state governments have the right to establish their own laws that govern the use of CBD within their borders.
There are currently three states that prohibit the use of any type of cannabis plant.
- South Dakota
Ten states and Washington D.C. have completely legalized all forms of cannabis:
- Washington D.C.
How Does CBD Work?
Without taking you down a scientific rat hole, how CBD exerts its therapeutic impact on a molecular level is still being sorted out. Cannabidiol is a pleiotropic drug in that it produces many effects through multiple molecular pathways. (Try saying that three times fast.) The scientific literature has identified more than 65 molecular targets of CBD.
What Conditions Does CBD Treat?
Many people are seeking alternatives to pharmaceuticals with harsh side effects – medicine more in synch with natural processes. By tapping into how we function biologically on a deep level, CBD can provide relief for chronic pain, anxiety, inflammation, depression and many other conditions.
Extensive scientific research – much of it sponsored by the U.S. government – and mounting anecdotal accounts from patients and physicians highlight CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of maladies, including (but not limited to):
- Autoimmune diseases (inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Neurological conditions (Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea, stroke, traumatic brain injury)
- Metabolic syndrome (diabetes, obesity)
- Neuropsychiatric illness (autism, ADHD, PTSD, alcoholism)
- Gut disorders (colitis, Crohn’s)
- Cardiovascular dysfunction (atherosclerosis, arrhythmia)
- Skin disease (acne, dermatitis, psoriasis)
How Do You Take CBD?
- INGESTING/SWALLOWING – Whether it’s in a tincture, an edible, a capsule or a powder, swallowing CBD is the slowest method of absorption because it has to pass through your digestive tract before hitting your bloodstream.
- SUBLINGUAL – Oils and tinctures can also be taken by holding them in your mouth under your tongue for a minute or two. This allows some of the cannabidiol to absorb straight into your bloodstream through your tissues.
- INHALED – Using a vape pen and smoking CBD lets you inhale the cannabinoid directly into your lungs where it quickly moves into your bloodstream. But with over 30 unexplained vaping deaths and thousands of illnesses, I can’t in good conscious recommend vaping.
- TOPICAL – Creams, lotions and salves all deliver CBD to target areas like muscles, inflammatory cells and pain receptors. When CDB is applied topically, it doesn’t typically enter your bloodstream unless a penetrating agent is added.
How Much CBD Should You Use/Take?
Unfortunately, there is no agreed upon dosage for CBD. Finding the right dose is variable based on what you are taking it for, how much you weigh, and your metabolism. Fortunately the upside of CBD is that there have been no reports of lethal overdose and unpleasant side effects and major complications are rare.
In a 2019 study of CBD users, few participants were able to say how much CBD they were taking, suggesting an urgent need for both better product labeling and consumer education. Those that did answer this question indicated that they take anywhere from 2 mg to 1000 mg per day. Most of the human studies use dosages anywhere between 20 and 1,500 mg per day.
When it comes to oral/sublingual CBD, there are two differing approaches. Some people choose to start with a smaller dosage and gradually increase it. This could mean starting with 10 to 20 mg a day, tracking how you feel, and gradually increasing until you feel that it’s effectively treating your symptoms.
The alternate approach is to start with a higher dose to quickly determine if CBD is going to help you. Steve Gilmartin, COO of Vidya told me “After a small dose to test for hypersensitivity, which we’ve never seen, we strongly advocate for starting with a high dosage in order to determine within a month or less if it will help you. We find waaay too many patients start small, but lack the discipline or interest to keep it up long enough, ramping dosage up high enough over time, to reach therapeutic levels. Instead they give up before they really have any idea if CBD will help them. In contrast, there’s no downside to starting with a high dose and ramping down over time to maintain relief with lower expenditures.”
Choosing Quality CBD – Five Questions To Ask
With soooooo many CBD products on the market and virtually no government oversight on labeling or product claims, it’s difficult to know which products are reputable and which are “snake oil”. After interviewing several experts and doing lots of research, here are five questions to ask before you buy or use a product containing CBD:
- Is it full/broad spectrum?
Full spectrum refers to a vibrant and diverse cannabinoid profile, meaning it preserves all of the therapeutic cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids that occur naturally in hemp. In contrast, isolates are an extract that solely contains CBD (without the other cannabinoids and terpenes). In a 2015 study, researchers found that, in comparison to CBD isolate, full/broad spectrum CBD offers higher levels of relief. For more information on this, search for “CBD entourage effect”.
- Does the company publish its ingredient list?
Don’t buy a product that doesn’t have a complete list of ingredients on the label. Avoid hemp seed oil — the source of the hemp should be flowers and leaves (not seeds). And, if you see added ingredients that you don’t recognize, beware.
- Can you review the brand’s Certificate of Analysis (COA)?
Reputable brands will be transparent and provide their COA which will show you which lab tested the product and what they found. You can see an example of a COA from Vidya HERE.
- How is the potency verified?
There are CBD products on Amazon claiming to have 50,000 mg of active ingredients per small, one or two ounce bottle; an impossible potency in that volume. The amount of active ingredients in a one ounce bottle of sublingual oil will generally range from 50 mg to upwards of 2500 mg, but never in the five figures. Topicals are generally less potent, and it can be tricky to verify that potency because of the interference of carriers like aloe, shea butter or bees wax. You need a good lab to get the potency spot on.
- Does the company lab test its finished product?
Many companies test the hemp plants and the extrat that forms one of the ingredients in the process, but do not do quality control on the finished product. You’ll know you’re working with a reputable company if they provide proof that they regularly test their ingredients and their finished products with a reputable medical lab.
My Experience With CBD
After doing my own research, I’ve been using Vidya Extract Oil for a couple of weeks. I take between a full dropper (33 mg) sublingually (under my tongue) to help with anxiety, soreness/pain, and digestive issues. Sometimes I take it once a day. Sometimes I take it morning and evening. Some days I don’t take it at all. It just depends on how I’m feeling and what I think I need.
The first time I tried the Vidya Extract Oil, I felt noticeably calmer within the first 30 minutes and the effects lasted for nearly 6 hours. We were in the middle of buying/selling/remodeling a house and I’d been very stressed and not sleeping well for a couple of weeks. I felt my stomach un-clench but I didn’t feel buzzed or high. As I started to relax, I started to feel a little bit tired. But, since I hadn’t been sleeping well, this was likely not a side effect and more likely the result of my body starting to finally relax. As I’ve used the product over time, the results have felt slightly less dramatic, but I do still feel that it is helpful and on days that I’m feeling really stressed, I take it twice a day (morning and evening).
I also tried both of the Vidya topicals and while I think they helped my muscle soreness, it was tougher to quantify the effects:
- Vidya Gel Ice is a mentholated gel formula that feels cool and then warm when it is rubbed in. It’s ideal for sore muscles and it also includes arnica. It’s similar to Icy Hot, Tiger Balm or BioFreeze with the added benefits of CBD.
- Vidya Balm comes in a handheld stick (similar to a deoderant.) It’s less scented than the Gel Ice and does not have the warming/cooling effect. The balm would be ideal for travel as it’s not a liquid so you don’t need to worry about it accidentally opening. It can also be carried on a plane.
Special Offer For Grownup Dish Subscribers
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Every week I try a new product and post a (brutally honest) review. This is not an ad. I have received no compensation for this post. Check out all of my other review posts HERE.