CBD products are the apple of the health and wellness market’s eye right now. People are stocking up on cannabis-based products in droves. Everything from skin creams to beverages to vape pens is offering servings of CBD. However, there’s only one CBD product in the whole market that has been regulated to date. This is a medication for epilepsy. So, why is CBD unregulated and what is the future of CBD research? Let’s take a look.
Why There’s So Little Research on CBD
Long before advances in technology allowed us to perform scientific experiments and record results on paper, our ancestors went through life with two principles. These principles were trial and error.
By using the land around them, our ancestors consumed plants for food sources. Over time, they realized that some herbs had a positive effect on their bodies. This realization was furthered with the advent of fire.
Fire cooks solid material such as hemp. Anytime you apply pressure on an object (such as cooking it), it creates chemical reactions throughout the object’s genetic makeup. This inevitably changes the chemical composition of this item. As a result, you have a new product that will have a completely different interaction with your system as a whole
When our ancestors consumed cannabis, they noticed many benefits of the plant. This caused them to use the plant in tonics to boost immunity. Others would implement the plant in services as a means for spiritual awakening. This long-standing history between cannabis and humankind dates far back to the Egyptians, who recorded using the plant for many practices.
The Ban on CBD
Like alcohol, cannabis was once used as an ingredient in common household products. You could find cannabis in many over-the-counter medicines. However, the world began to change its tune on cannabis.
People realized that inhaling some strains of cannabis caused psychoactive effects. During a time where alcohol was on the precipice of being outlawed, cannabis also became banned.
Eventually, the prohibition on alcohol was lifted, but the one on cannabis stuck. With time, science evolved. Laboratories were able to formulate over-the-counter and prescription meds for every ailment under the sun.
During this time, small studies started happening on cannabis. Eventually, scientists realized that cannabis comes in two different forms. There’s marijuana, one version of the plant. Marijuana has a high concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the molecule that we now know causes the psychoactive side effects attributed to using marijuana.
Meanwhile, another version of cannabis, hemp, has a low concentration of THC. Instead, the hemp plant is rich in CBD. While this breakthrough may seem monumental to proponents of medical cannabis, others didn’t share the sentiment. With the lines still so blurry between marijuana and hemp, why rock the boat? After all, pharmaceutical companies came up with solutions for everything. With this mindset, studies on CBD remained minimal.
CBD and Medical Cannabis
While the medical cannabis movement just hit a boom, it’s been percolating since 1996. Ironically enough, the first state to ban cannabis, California, became the first to legalize the plant medicinally. Under the Compassionate Use Act, those with life-threatening illnesses were able to seek relief from painful symptoms with medical cannabis.
For almost two decades, the medical cannabis movement remained under wraps. The cover stayed over CBD until 2011. This is the year Colorado famously legalized medical cannabis in their state. That year, the Rocky Mountain State changed the game for hemp and busted open the doors for CBD research.
CBD and Epilepsy
Medical cannabis made national headlines when a young girl named Charlotte Figi started taking CBD to fight her condition. Diagnosed with a condition known as Dravet Syndrome, Charlotte would suffer upwards of 300 grand mal seizures per week.
At the age of six, her family had already tried almost everything. They tried a ketogenic diet that hurt her bones. She attempted barbituates that were destructive to her stomach. Nothing did the trick.
Desperate, the Figis uprooted to Colorado. They began administering CBD to Charlotte. The seizure activity would stop as the CBD would hit the stream. With regular use, Charlotte now experiences a handful of seizures a month.
Seeing this miracle unfold on live television, more states jumped on board the medical cannabis bandwagon. Currently, over half of the United States recognizes cannabis as a medicinal treatment.
In the same breath, this realization opened the door for CBD products in all 50 states. While not recognized as medicine, CBD is now treated as a supplement across the nation.
How the CBD-Epilepsy Connection Opens the Door for Research
When Charlotte started taking CBD less than a decade ago, scientists had a general idea of how CBD interacted with the system. When a seizure happens, it’s because there are loose electrons floating about the system. As these energized molecules bop about, they cause chemical reactions with every genetic structure they bump into. This causes the involuntary impulses that trigger an epileptic episode.
CBD binds onto these purposeless electrons. As a result, the rogue molecule is sort of quarantined. This will cause less distress on the system and is less likely to trigger a seizure.
While that seemed convincing enough for people to try CBD, others remained skeptical. At the time, there were not enough answers to the “why” and “how.” Due to this uncertainty, some people were in an uproar about treating a child with hemp.
However, this breakthrough in 2012 opened the door for research that was conducted just last year. Studies are already targeting strains of cannabis to treat specific types of seizures. For instance, in a 2018 study “comparing two doses of CBD to a placebo, the researchers reported a 41.9 percent reduction in ‘drop seizures’” for those with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
With CBD making such headway in epilepsy treatment, 2018 saw a huge breakthrough for cannabis. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed off on their first regulated CBD product. Known as Epidiolex, the CBD-rich prescription comes in a liquid form and has only been approved in treatment for Dravet Syndrome (Charlotte’s condition) and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (the study referenced above).
CBD Products in the Mainstream
2018 also saw the Senate sign off a new Farm Bill. Under this act, hemp is now legal in all 50 states. That means there are no restrictions on CBD products being shipped across state lines.
Prior to this new law, no CBD products have been regulated by the FDA. With so many other products littering the wellness market, allocating resources in a federally illegal industry wasn’t a priority.
With the lift on this ban, the interest in CBD products has hit a sky high. By the year 2022, the CBD market is expected to hit as high as $22 billion.
Increased interest in products means increased interest in regulation. Under old laws, hemp was overlooked by the Federal Justice Department. In order for companies to cultivate hemp, they needed permission from their state and to adhere to strict laws.
With the law Farm Bill, the Federal Justice Department will take their eye off the industry. It will now be under the umbrella of the FDA.
Since hemp is being lowered a clearance level, it will be easier for people to produce. This is where the FDA is going to want to get involved. Their duty is to make sure that the products available on the market are safe for consumers. As CBD products continue to become readily available, the FDA is going to call for more transparency from companies. This will force the industry (and government) to invest more money in more testing CBD.
The Future of CBD Research
We already know a quite a bit about CBD as it is. While the research on hemp products may not be as conclusive as those on NSAIDs and Ibuprofen, there’s enough to give us a ground understanding of CBD’s potential.
Thanks to research already on CBD, it is safe to conclude that CBD may help with:
This list may look impressive, but it’s just the beginning. Hemp farmers are already working closely with specialists to create strains to target specific ailments. For instance, at Joy Organics, we partner with cultivators who breed hemp plants high in CBD. This makes it easier to not only isolate (and remove) THC from the product, but it makes our full spectrum hemp oil more potent.
Last year’s monumental announcement surrounding Epidolex shows that specialized CBD care is already in the works. Strains are being bred to formulate targeted health care. As proven with Epidolex, the end result may mean that more CBD products will be promoted as medicine rather than as a supplement.
One thing’s for certain, CBD products are already extremely popular. However, the stigma of cannabis still surrounds the industry. With more research, the demand for CBD products will continue to rise. As more people get on board, others will become influenced. This opens Pandora’s Box of possibilities. Not only are these possibilities endless, but they’re exciting as well!