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A nutritional breakdown of CBD

With a new CBD store popping up on every street corner, it is safe to say that CBD, or cannabidiol, is a hot topic in alternative medicine.

But is CBD good for you? Let me fill you in on CBD and its potential benefits from a dietary standpoint.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid, or chemical component, that comes from the Cannabis Sativa plant. There are hundreds of cannabinoids within the plant, but the two major ones right now are CBD and THC.

The human brain makes versions of cannabinoids (called endocannabinoids) that bind to certain receptors in the brain that deal with pain, emotion, stress, anxiety, the immune system, digestive tract and organs amongst other systems.

External sources of cannabinoids have a stronger effect on humans than our own internally made cannabinoids. Hence, people feel a euphoric or happy effect after using marijuana — a strain of cannabis that is high in THC. This is also why researchers feel there could be a link between using different forms of cannabis to treat various health conditions by capitalizing on these strong effects.

The CBD market is projected to surpass $20 billion by 2024.

Forbes

Comparing the different forms of CBD

  • Hemp: CBD is commonly found in hemp products, meaning you have probably eaten it before and had no idea it was a strain of Cannabis. Many people eat hemp as a plant-based source of protein and healthy fats.
  • Pure CBD: CBD in its pure form is different from THC because it does not give you the same “high” effect, which is why it is legal in all fifty states to be consumed in tinctures, edibles, oils, pills and other various forms.
  • Combination of CBD and THC: There are some strains of CBD that have a split ratio of THC:CBD. You cannot buy or consume any CBD products that contain more than 0.3 percent THC in Texas, along with 11 other states, since marijuana in any form is illegal in these places.

Is CBD safe?

So far, research suggests CBD is safe to consume in the short term. There have been studies that show digestive issues, drug interactions and abnormal liver function tests are common side effects with CBD.

Researchers are not sure about the long-term effects of Cannabis or CBD. Talk with your doctor before starting any new medications or supplements.

“Explore."

What the science says about CBD

Many CBD dispensaries boast about all the healthy benefits of CBD, but which are currently research backed?

Since the U.S. has strict laws against studying cannabis due to it being classified as a Schedule 1 Drug — with others like heroin, LSD and ecstasy — there has not been a lot of research in this field yet. It is also extremely hard to grow research grade cannabis, making it hard to confirm any of the health claims out there about CBD.

There have been studies that show digestive issues, drug interactions and abnormal liver function tests are common side effects with CBD.

Keep this in mind when looking into whether CBD will fit into your medical or nutritional treatment plan.

Naturally, CBD contains a plethora of brain-boosting antioxidants and helpful anti-inflammatory properties. These goodies make CBD more likely to support brain health and reduce pain and inflammation in inflammatory conditions.

Because of these properties, current research shows that CBD has potential to help people with depression, anxiety, pain relief and epilepsy (specifically, Dravet and Lennox Gastaut Syndromes). However, more research needs to be done in human clinical trials to know for certain.

CBD in combination with THC and other cannabinoids might be useful in treatment for appetite stimulation, nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, intentional weight gain and cystic fibrosis. In conditions like Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis, there have been promising results showing decreases in inflammation during flair ups, but more research needs to be done in this area before drawing any conclusions.

Curious about CBD?

Bottom line: current research is mixed and in many cases, it’s still too early to tell whether CBD is helpful in treating or managing these health conditions. As with anything, talk with your doctor before exploring the potential health benefits of CBD.

Just keep in mind that certain strains and ratios are helpful for certain conditions and may not work for everything — it is not a one size fits all drug. If you do choose to consume CBD, you’ll also want to make sure you are getting the best quality possible. Since CBD isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, figuring out where the product is grown, whether pesticides are used, how it is extracted and proper dosing information is crucial.

Find a doctor or nutrition expert to partner with you toward wellness.

About the author

Alessandra Stasnopolis, RDN, LDN
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Alessandra Stasnopolis, RDN, LDN, is a clinical dietitian and wellness coordinator in the Baylor Scott & White Health wellness department.

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A nutritional breakdown of CBD