Updated: Jan 10
In this article, Higher Learning LV tackles some of the myths surrounding the hemp-derived cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) within the general public and the medical establishment. And to those who argue that CBD is psychoactive: This phytocannabinoid is "psychoactive" only if this state is defined as including a mild to severe reduction in anxiety. Such an emotional and cognitive shift is of note and could, in loose terms, be defined as psychoactive.
Below, we present six common myths about CBD that can be commonly found on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Myth #1: Cannabidiol is Psychoactive Like THC
Unlike its chemical cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD delivers no overt disorientation or blatant psychoactivity (outside of a decrease in anxiety and relaxation), or other potentially negative side effects. While many medical authorities and researchers intelligently argue that CBD is psychoactive, this obviously depends on the definition of the term being applied (in my world of technical writing, the definition necessarily changes depending on the audience my client is attempting to reach).
Obviously, decreased anxiety is a change in "the mind" and results in different behavior. In this mass-market definition, CBD is somewhat psychoactive.
According to a basic Google search, psychoactive is defined as "(chiefly of a drug) affecting the mind." Not exactly a precise definition, eh? So let's spotlight the definition of psychoactive by Merriam-Webster as "affecting the mind or behavior."
Obviously, decreased anxiety is a change in "the mind" and results in different behavior. In this mass-market definition, CBD is somewhat psychoactive. But compared to THC, it is barely psychoactive or minimally psychoactive. Again, this gets down to semantics and the precise definitions of these terms (which often vary, depending on the source or organization being cited).
The highly contentious and controversial topic of cannabis and its medicinal efficacy is tainted by a century of stigma and purposeful propaganda, however. In the eyes of many laypeople, cannabis equals THC—and THC is mega-psychoactive compared to CBD.
The controversial topic of cannabis and its medicinal efficacy is tainted by a century of stigma and propaganda.
Full-spectrum CBD tinctures and capsules derived from hemp are necessarily below 0.3 percent THC. Broad-spectrum hemp extracts necessarily remove the THC, resulting in a refined formulation that is applicable to a wider range of consumers, including those with jobs and lifestyles that can tolerate no mental fog or intoxication.
Broad-spectrum hemp extracts allow wellness practitioners to remain confident that those in their care will avoid the negative pitfalls sometimes associated with the psychoactivity and intoxication of cannabinoids such as THC.
Myth #2: CBD Isolate Same as Broad-spectrum
Isolate products offering only or mostly CBD exclude a plethora of other beneficial molecules, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. While many advocate for full-spectrum formulations, the inclusion of THC is a risk and problematic for some user populations.
The theory of the entourage effect, first proposed in 1998 by Israeli researcher Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, supports the approach of broad-spectrum hemp extracts. This theory describes how cannabinoids and terpenes, when consumed together, create an overall greater or different efficacy in a framework incorporating a mechanism of "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
Mechoulam published a study: "An Entourage Effect: Inactive Endogenous Fatty Acid Glycerol Esters Enhance 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol Cannabinoid Activity."
Mechoulam published his findings in a research study entitled "An Entourage Effect: Inactive Endogenous Fatty Acid Glycerol Esters Enhance 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol Cannabinoid Activity" in the European Journal of Pharmacology.
Myth #3: Cannabidiol is Addictive
A variety of research studies have revealed that CBD is neither addictive nor does it deliver negative side effects. In a 2017 report entitled "Cannabidiol (CBD)" that was published by the World Health Organization's Expert Committee on Drug Dependence found that "In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of CBD."
"The often described favorable safety profile of CBD in humans was confirmed."
A 2017 study entitled "An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies" investigated the potential negative side effects and overall safety profile of CBD. Reported the study, "In general, the often described favorable safety profile of CBD in humans was confirmed and extended by the reviewed research. The majority of studies were performed for treatment of epilepsy and psychotic disorders."
Concluded the researchers, "In comparison with other drugs, used for the treatment of these medical conditions, CBD has a better side effect profile. This could improve patients' compliance and adherence to treatment."
Myth #4: CBD Oil Treats Only Pain
While CBD is a popular treatment for pain, the perception that this is the limit of its efficacy is a gross understatement. A variety of research studies have shown the effectiveness of CBD and hemp extracts in the treatment of anxiety, autism, depression, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, systemic inflammation, sleep disorders, and migraine headaches. It may also be helpful in the treatment of a variety of dermatological conditions, including acne and psoriasis.
CBD molecular structure
A 2011 study involving a double-blind placebo-controlled human trial entitled "Neural Basis of Anxiolytic Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) in Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder: A Preliminary Report" that was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology investigated the effectiveness of CBD for social anxiety. Reported the study’s authors, "Relative to placebo, CBD was associated with significantly decreased subjective anxiety."
Concluded the research, "These results suggest that CBD reduces anxiety in SAD and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas."
Myth #5: CBD Oil is Illegal
It is legal in all 50 states to sell, possess, and consume hemp extracts containing no THC (under 0.3 percent, or 1/3 of 1 percent). Thus, hemp extract products formulated with CBD are legal, as long as they conform to the regulatory requirements set forth by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the Farm Bill of 2018.
"It is legal in all 50 states to sell, possess, and consume hemp extracts containing no THC (under 0.3 percent, or 1/3 of 1 percent)."
In May 2019, the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) made changes to its restrictions to allow CBD from hemp oil to be carried on planes. In this scenario, broad-spectrum hemp extracts are preferable to eliminate any potential confusion with TSA officers unfamiliar with the differences.
Myth #6: CBD Prevents or Cures Viruses
During the public health crisis that emerged as a global pandemic around the Coronavirus (COVID-19), much misinformation regarding hemp and cannabis-derived cannabinoids such as CBD circulated in social media and the popular press. Public fear levels, sometimes bordering on hysteria and consumer product runs, served only to feed such urban legends and misinformation.
One popular example of such misinformation was put forth by retired NFL football star Kyle Turley. Turley, who owns a CBD brand called Neuro XPF, in March 2020 touted the myth that CBD products could both "prevent" and "cure" the coronavirus in those consuming such products.
"Social media responded harshly, with dozens of medical doctors, researchers, and scientists criticizing Turley for his statements."
Social media responded harshly, with dozens of medical doctors, researchers, and scientists criticizing Turley for his statements. Many professed true negligence, believing that his words, which they claim are in no way supported by science or real research, were misleading desperate sick people while serving to bolster the profits of his CBD company.
🎧 Like what you just read? Listen and learn with our highly educational weekly Cannabis Commerce + Chemistry Podcast. At under 30 minutes per episode, it helps industry professionals stay current on trending topics.