Integrative cannabis physician June Chin and biomedical researcher Chanda Macias debunk CBD myths.
They debunk the idea that CBD gets you high, and that CBD is addictive.
They also dive into how not all CBD products are the same and how to check the quality of products.
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June Chin: “CBD gets you high.”
Chanda Macias: CBD doesn’t make us feel high. In fact, it can reduce the effects of feeling intoxicated.
“CBD is a scam.”
Chin: It’s been used as a marketing tool. So, we really have to be able to weed it out. [laughing]
Macias: No pun intended.
My name is Dr. Chanda Macias. I am the CEO of Ilera Holistic Healthcare. I’ve been working in the cannabis industry since 2011.
Chin: And I’m Dr. June Chin. I’ve been an integrative cannabis physician for over 15 years. I treat both children and adults. And today we will be debunking myths about CBD.
Chin: “CBD gets you high.”
Macias: A lot of people think that CBD gets you high. CBD doesn’t make us feel high, but it definitely makes us feel less anxious and more relaxed. So when people say they use it to fall asleep, I can understand why they feel that way.
Chin: CBD can be extracted from the cannabis plant, but it doesn’t have the same ability to create a high, or a state of euphoria, like marijuana or THC.
Macias: In fact, it can reduce the effects of feeling intoxicated.
Chin: “CBD works the same for everyone.”
Macias: CBD does not work the same for everyone. Everybody has a different system, physiologically. When we think about patients using CBD and considering things of, what’s the right dosage? You have to really consider how heavy you are, your tolerance levels, have you ever used it before? If you haven’t used it, how long your cell receptors will react to the presence of CBD. These are all the things we have to take in account.
Chin: And if you think about prescription medications or even supplements, that’s not the same reaction for everyone either. So CBD is going to be very, very different for each individual. Depending on our metabolism, our body’s own enzymes, some patients will find that it works right away. Some patients will find that it takes a few hours.
Macias: I think that when people use CBD over the counter they get a little confused, and their confusion might be because the product might be full-spectrum, the product might be an isolate, or even broad-spectrum. You’ll have some patients that are very, very sensitive about introducing their bodies to THC, period. Because during accumulative use of THC, you could have a positive drug test from an over-the-counter product. You always, when taking any new supplement or cannabinoid medicine, you have to be careful. And it’s nice to be able to talk to your doctor, or your pharmacist, or even the dispensary retail workers to see if there is any possible interaction.
“CBD doesn’t have side effects.”
Chin: So, CBD does have side effects. For some patients, it doesn’t intoxicate you, but it can be really relaxing and almost produce an uplifting effect. A small amount of patients will find that CBD makes them very sleepy. CBD does improve your REM sleep. Patients that take CBD find that they get a much more restorative night’s sleep, because THC can disrupt REM sleep, so patients will take THC to fall asleep faster, but if they concentrate on more CBD-dominant doses they might find much more restorative sleep. Sometimes patients will find that when they’re taking CBD they do have stomach upset. You know, that might change their bowels a little bit, but it’s usually due to the carrier oil that accompanies the CBD.
Macias: “CBD and marijuana are the same thing.”
Chin: CBD and marijuana are not the same thing. CBD, also called cannabidiol, and THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, are the most common cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. THC and CBD are both in marijuana and hemp. Marijuana contains much more THC, while hemp has a lot of CBD.
Macias: The main difference is I think preventative care versus active treatment using cannabis. And if I have a patient that is facing more pain, not preventative care, then definitely THC helps with that more than a CBD.
Chin: Absolutely. CBD provides that foundational anti-inflammatory component, so you’re getting to the root cause of the problem, especially with chronic pain. And THC is also very valuable, because it can help with acute muscle spasms, acute pain, nausea, appetite increase. So I think that the THC and the CBD work synergistically together, and we can’t stress that enough.
“CBD is illegal.”
Macias: So, I need to debunk the myth that CBD is illegal. In 2018, the farm bill passed the usage of hemp, where we extract CBD from. So the isolate and other cannabinoids extracted strictly from the hemp plant is perfectly legal today. So, what’s interesting about legal CBD is that the percentage of THC present has to be lower than 0.3% to remain legal and to be sold over the counter.
Chin: All in all, hemp and CBD oil are considered federally legal in all 50 states.
Macias: “All CBD products are safe.” I have to debunk that myth, because we know that CBD products are allowable on the regulated market, but they’re also available on the illicit market, which are not products that are required to have testing and the identification of their different ingredients.
Chin: The problem with CBD is that it’s not FDA regulated. So really anyone can come out with a product and put it on the internet to sell. CBD eye drops have not been tested. CBD aerosolized nebulizers have not been tested, or the nasal spray have not been tested. So it really is on the onus of the consumer and the patient to make sure that it is effective and reliable and third-party tested. It’s as simple as checking the label, looking for what’s called a COA, certificate of analysis, because that COA will tell you the quality of the CBD source. It will list all of the information that is key on telling you potency. Is there any bacteria or fungus? Or are there any solvents or heavy metals or pesticides that have been tested on the label? You want to make sure that that lab has been accredited, so it’s tested by an accredited lab. So unfortunately there’s a lot of homework that consumers and patients have to do to make sure that that CBD product is as good as what it says it does.
Macias: When you purchase CBD, make sure you purchase it from a credible resource. Like, if you’re in a pharmacy and they have it on their shelves, usually there was some type of vetting of the product, versus a gas station, you know, there might be a compromise in the quality of the product. “All CBD is the same.” I debunk that myth. All CBD is not the same. The molecular structure of CBD is the same, but quality control could definitely be different.
Chin: And it also depends on the formulation. Some of my patients that use CBD for anxiety or for panic attacks, and sometimes before that panic attack comes on, before you start spiraling, you need something to work within 30 seconds. And that’s when you would use an inhaled version of CBD, such as the vape cartridge or a flower. And some of my patients have terrible pain, spasm, and inflammation, and they need something that’ll work throughout the day. They can’t leave work or take a break to go outside and use something that’s inhaled, so they need something that’s long-lasting. And that’s when they would use a capsule or a tincture.
“CBD fixes everything.”
CBD is not a miracle pill, it is not the silver bullet, it is not a miracle elixir to all things, it cannot cure everything that moves.
Macias: I have to agree completely. CBD has its known benefits, and we embrace those, but if I lose my car keys, CBD’s not gonna find them for me. When you think about CBD, you definitely need to keep it within its realm. And I think that it definitely can lead the pathway to integrative health benefits, but I think common sense needs to come into play when we use CBD.
Chin: I don’t think CBD and cannabis cures Parkinson’s, but for my Parkinson’s patients, it decreases the tremors, it decreases the muscle spasm and pain, it increases appetite and gives my Parkinson’s patients better quality of life. So I think it’s a piece of the puzzle.
“CBD is addictive.”
CBD is not addictive, but I can see why social media says that CBD is addictive, because CBD is derived from the cannabis plant. And many a people associate it with marijuana and assumes that there’s a potential for addiction. On the contrary, the World Health Organization concluded that CBD is nonaddictive with no withdrawal symptoms. And I can say that as a clinician, patients that I treat that take CBD are not dependent on CBD.
Macias: Matter of fact, I’ve seen patients that have been battling addiction has actually used CBD to help them in their recovery.
Chin: Yes, because CBD and THC can help offset some of those withdrawal symptoms, and it can decrease pain, decreases that inflammation, that nausea feeling, perhaps when you’re weaning off medication. So I often use CBD and cannabis to help patients wean off opiates, benzos, and even sleep aids.
Macias: “CBD cures cancer.”
Chin: I always debunk that myth, but cannabis medicine can help you get through chemotherapy and radiation that much better. And if it helps you with your mood, if it helps you sleep better, if it decreases some of your pain and inflammation and revs up your appetite, or maybe it gives you a little bit of energy during the day so you can take a walk, all of these things will help your body fight the cancer that much better.
Macias: There are so many wonderful benefits of cannabis, and specifically CBD, in helping the symptoms of cancer, but we can’t say with 100% surety it reduces the densities in different tumor sizes without that research element being conducted properly.
Chin: So, to say directly “cannabis cures cancer” is a myth, but cannabis can help you fight the cancer.
Macias: “CBD is a scam.” I have to debunk this myth. CBD does have its inherent anti-inflammatory benefits. It has pain-relief benefits, especially for preventive care, insomnia, and anxiety. Patients use it for a lot of these reasons, and it has helped and changed thousands of lives.
Chin: I can see why social media would label CBD as a scam, because over the past couple of years, CBD’s been everywhere and it’s been touted as this miracle elixir. If you look at Epidiolex, which is an FDA-approved, plant-derived CBD medicine for seizures. But then you look at the beverage industry, like Budweiser developing CBD-infused beer. Or your neighborhood café. You can add a shot of CBD to your morning latte. And then you look at the beauty industry and CBD lipstick, or Sephora has CBD mascara for thicker and longer lashes. There are some CBD creams and balms and lotions that work well, but you have to look at if they have another added ingredient. Maybe it’s the menthol that’s in the product or the arnica that’s supplementing it and creating a decreased sense of inflammation and relief for your muscles and ligaments. It’s been used as a marketing tool. So, we really have to be able to weed it out. [laughing]
Macias: No pun intended.
Chin: “CBD won’t affect other medications.” That is not true. CBD may interact with certain medications and certain natural supplements. And if you take it in extremely large doses, it can actually elevate your liver enzymes. So, seizure medications, if you’re on blood thinners. Certain patients will find that if they take cannabis, elderly patients, that there could be a fall precaution. Maybe they’re taking too much THC and they’re a little bit dizzy or groggy.
Macias: And I think that’s why it’s so important that patients work where physicians, specifically those that are educated in the endocannabinoid system, so that they can help them on that path to wellness.
Chin: When patients come to see me asking about CBD or cannabis for their health or wellness, I take it into full context of their medical history. So I look at labs, I look at their medical history, I do a full physical exam to make sure that CBD and cannabis is something that they could integrate into their health and wellness. Now, the problem is you can’t always find a physician that is knowledgeable about cannabinoid medicine. Actually, it’s very, very rare. So what’s wonderful with Dr. Macias and her dispensaries is that regulated medical dispensaries tap into a knowledge base of physicians, plant scientists, cultivators, and researchers.