Cannabidiol is exploding in popularity across the U.S. as people begin to discover its potential to help alleviate a variety of health and wellness conditions—from anxiety and sleeplessness to pain management and even seizures.
Such rapid growth can result in uncertainty and skepticism for any product, and CBD is no different. Over the past few years, a number of myths have developed around CBD, and we want to help set the record straight.
Myth #1: CBD Is Addictive
Because CBD is extracted from cannabis, many people assume that it has an addictive quality similar to controlled substances like cocaine, or legal (but heavily regulated) activities like gambling.
Narcotics and other substances lead to dependency and addiction because they cause a massive and sudden surge in dopamine production. Dopamine is a natural hormone in our bodies that causes us to feel good, but a sudden surplus of it in our bodies results in the “high” commonly associated with substances and activities like cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, nicotine, alcohol, and gambling. These substances and activities trigger the receptors in our brain’s “reward pathway” (the prefrontal cortex) and cause us to seek out them out again and again.
CBD on the other hand binds to different neuron receptors in our brains than those other substances. And, while it does trigger some dopamine production, CBD doesn’t cause the excessive production that can cause dependency. Cocaine, nicotine, gambling, etc. are like a dopamine tidal wave. CBD is more like a gentle, trickling creek.
If you're still looking for more information, take a look at this 2017 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) that concluded: “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”
Myth #2: You Can Overdose on CBD
Again, because of the misconception that CBD is just another type of illicit drug, people believe that taking too much of it can cause serious health problems.
Regularly available CBD products often come in 10-80mg doses, but during studies to test the effects of CBD on humans, some participants were ingesting over 1,500mg per day for extended periods without any documented adverse health effects.
Further proof of how safe CBD is can be seen in the World Anti-doping Agency’s (WADA) decision to remove CBD from its banned substances list in 2017.
Myth #3: CBD is Just “Diet Marijuana”
Another common misconception is that CBD and THC are the same. But that’s like comparing grape juice to wine.
CBD and THC are their own unique compounds found within the cannabis plant. They’re actually just two of nearly 100 different compounds. But THC is the only compound in cannabis with psychoactive properties.
Depending on where you live, it might be possible to find products that include both CBD and THC. But if you’re worried about getting “high,” or simply not interested, seek out CBD products derived from hemp. Hemp CBD cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC by law, which is not enough to make you feel high.
Myth #4: All CBD Is the Same
CBD is CBD, right? Wrong. It can be easy to assume that terms like “full-spectrum,” “broad-spectrum,” “isolates,” and “organic” are just marketing fluff designed to make a company’s products sound cool. But they actually tell you important information about your CBD.
Depending on where the CBD is extracted from, how it was extracted, and what form it’s sold in, its quality and potency can change.
Full-spectrum CBD will contain a small amount of THC. Depending on state and local laws, full-spectrum CBD will either be derived from hemp (in which case it will contain less than 0.3 percent THC, by law) or cannabis. Full-spectrum CBD derived from cannabis may contain higher amounts of THC, so be sure to check the label.
Broad-spectrum CBD is refined to remove all measurable traces of THC while leaving behind the CBD, cannabinoids, and cannabidiol.
CBD isolates go even further to remove both the THC and the cannabinoids, leaving behind only the cannabidiol compound. This is the best option for people whose jobs require regular drug screenings.
If your CBD product lists how the CBD was extracted, look for something that uses the CO2 extraction method as this is widely accepted to be the most efficient and consistent process.
Myth #5: It Doesn't Matter How the CBD Is Extracted
Speaking of extraction methods, let’s talk about how they’re not all created equal. Some are faster, easier, and less expensive, but that often means they’re less efficient
The three most common ways to extract CBD from hemp or cannabis are steam distillation, solvent extraction, and CO2 extraction.
Steam distillation is one of the oldest methods for extracting chemicals from plants. It involves submerging the plant in water, heating it to a boil, and collecting the steam that now contains the cannabinoids. Once the steam condenses back into a liquid, the water can be separated from the oils and further refined into pure CBD oil. While it’s a very simple process, it’s not very precise or powerful—meaning it’s difficult to extract all of the CBD compounds or know exactly how much you’ll extract from each plant. There’s also the danger of overheating the plant and damaging the chemical compounds.
Solvent extraction is almost identical to steam distillation except the water is replaced with a hydrocarbon, like butane or propane, or a natural solvent, like olive oil or ethanol. In theory, hydrocarbons are supposed to completely burn off during the extraction process, but some studies have found trace amounts in certain CBD products using this extraction method. Using a natural solvent is much safer, but some users have often reported strange or unpleasant tastes in the final product.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) extraction—sometimes referred to as Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE)—uses pressurized CO2 to separate the cannabinoids from the hemp or cannabis plant. The pressurized CO2 penetrates the plant, pulling out the chemical compounds, then condenses into a liquid from which the CBD oil can be extracted. This is the most precise and effective method but also the most expensive, so products extracted this way may carry a bigger price tag.
Myth #6: All Forms of CBD Product Have the Same Absorption Rates
Some people assume that whatever the dose says on their CBD packaging, it doesn’t matter if they’re eating a gummy, applying a lotion, or holding a drop of oil under their tongue. But the way you consume your CBD will affect its potency and its effects.
Placing a dose of CBD under your tongue is the most effective way to absorb the beneficial compounds thanks to two things. First, the CBD escapes the harsh environment of your digestive system. Second, it sneaks past your liver’s filtration process. The result? All of the cannabinoids go directly into your bloodstream where they’re transported to your endocannabinoid system.
Edible and smokeable forms of CBD are tied for a distant second. Edible CBD must survive the adventure through your digestive system—which can take up to four hours! While smokeable CBD products are more easily absorbed through your lungs, they’re exposed to a heat source which can affect the cannabinoid compounds and make them less potent.
Outside of specific skin-related conditions, CBD products that come in lotion, cream, or salve form are the least effective in terms of absorption. That’s because your skin is your body’s natural barrier against the outside world—it wouldn’t be doing its job if it let everything in!
Myth #7: CBD Oil Will Not Impact Drug Screenings
It’s not uncommon for people to assume that because CBD is legal in all 50 states that it won’t trigger a positive urinary drug screening. Not so fast.
The equipment used in modern urinary drug screenings is extremely sensitive and can detect THC in amounts as low as 50 ng/ml. Remember, it’s designed to catch people who are actively trying to beat the screening.
So even though a broad-spectrum CBD oil derived from hemp is only allowed to have a maximum of 0.3 percent (which is a very small amount) by law, it can still trigger a positive test. Your best bet is to choose a CBD isolate because it removes all cannabinoids and THC.
You’ll absolutely want to stay away from full-spectrum CBD products because they contain higher amounts of THC.
Myth #8: CBD Oil Requires a Prescription
Thanks to the variance in state and local laws around medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, and even some CBD products, people understandably assume that you need a prescription to buy or obtain CBD oil.
As always, check your local and state laws to find out what is and is not legal where you live, but generally speaking, you don’t need a prescription to buy CBD oil or certain other CBD products. You can often find them in grocery stores and big-box retailers.
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the manufacture and sale of hemp-derived products, which cleared the way for a lot of CBD oils to be sold under the classification of a dietary supplement.
The only pharmaceutical CBD product currently approved for use in the U.S. is called Epidiolex, which is used to treat certain seizure disorders. Epidiolex does require a prescription from a licensed doctor to obtain it from a pharmacy.
Myth #9: You Need To Take a Large Dose of CBD for It To Be Effective
There’s a misconception that because CBD isn’t psychoactive or is just “diet marijuana” that you need to take more of it for it to be effective. But that's just incorrect!
While humans can tolerate extremely high doses of CBD (up to 1,500mg per day), they don’t need to take that much to experience the benefits of CBD.
There’s no such thing as a universal “correct dose,” there’s only the correct dose for you. As with any new dietary supplement or medication, you should always start low and go slow. Your age, height, weight, and overall health will determine what dose of CBD is right for you.
Myth #10: There’s No Research Showing that CBD Is Effective
Because CBD is relatively new to the general public, there’s an assumption that it’s not well-researched and that the effects on humans aren’t documented.
All scientific and medical knowledge is constantly evolving. We’ve been studying the effects of foods, drugs, alcohol, and countless other things for decades—and we continue to do so because we know there’s always more we can learn and more we can understand. The same goes for CBD.
A quick internet search will connect you to plenty of well-researched, peer-reviewed studies and research papers related to CBD and we highly encourage you to seek them out if you have any concerns about adding CBD to your regular wellness routine.
Hopefully, this answered some of your questions about CBD or cleared up issues that you weren’t sure about. As always, speak to your doctor first if you’re considering taking CBD for any symptoms or health conditions.