CBD: Origin and Controversy


There is no doubt that CBD is selling like hot cakes. You’ve at least heard about CBD, if not tried it. Hell, you can get a CBD latte on your way to Target for some CBD hair moisturizer. Many retailers are dying to add this so-called wonder drug to their assortment. The real question is: does it work?

If you’re not familiar with CBD, here’s a quick synopsis: CBD, or cannabidiol, is extracted from the plant, Cannabis sativa. Yes, the same plant that CBD’s extremely enlightening cousin Marijuana comes from, except CBD doesn’t contain THC, the psychoactive agent that makes one feel ‘high’.

How It All Got Started

People tend to think CBD is a relatively new product. Not true. In fact, man discovered hemp from the cannabis plant could be used for clothes, rope and the earliest forms of paper. Then, in 1940, Harvard graduate Robert Adams extracted CBD from Cannabis sativa, although the scientific communities didn’t yet understand the differences of CBD from other cannabinoids.

It wasn’t until 1963 Dr. Raphael Mechoulam identified CBD’s 3D structure after he and his colleagues successfully used CBD to study its effects on the seizures of epileptic patients. Once California legalized marijuana for medicinal use, it was on. Researchers put two and two together, and found CBD also carried some extremely valuable benefits.

But it wasn’t until 2013, when CNN published a report about CBD, that it took off like a rocket into space. The report told a story about 5-year-old Charlotte Fiji who suffered from epilepsy. Her mother, Paige Figi, claimed Charlotte went from having 30 seizures a day to not having one for seven days after she began gaving Charlotte one drop of CBD oil every day. Sadly, Charlotte passed away at age 13 on April 7, 2020 from illness suspected to be the Coronavirus.

Why Is CBD So Controversial?

Despite all the success and popularity of CBD, there are still many controversies regarding CBD.

One of the biggest concerns with CBD is that it will negatively interfere with other medications in the body which, overtime, could leave the liver compromised. This claim was based on a study conducted by the University of Arkansas that tested CBD (around 200 miligrams) on a group of 8-week old mice and ultimatley found signs of liver swelling and toxicity. However, this could be true for any drug, ‘even over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol or ibuprofen’ when taken in conjunction with another, as pointed out by Dr. Diana Martins-Welch, the attending physician in palliative medicine at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York.

Martins-Welch also points out that the amount of CBD used in the study was much higher than the normal amount (between .05 and 20 miligrams) a human would take for theraputic purposes. Overall, best practice is to consult your physician before adding any supplement or drug to your diet, regardless of dosage and especially where prescription medications are involved.

Another concern is that CBD is not regulated by the FDA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration responsible for protecting the public’s health on the basis of food, beverage, drugs and medical devices. The amount of CBD and its purity in products is questionable when unregulated, specifically when no lab test report or COA (Certificate of Analysis) is made available. This is especially true for CBD products sold at brick-and-mortar stores and dispensaries since – unlike online stores – they are not required to make COAs readily available for each CBD product that they’re selling. And it goes without saying that if you buy a CBD product from an unregulated person or dispensary, there is no guarantee that you’re not getting cooking oil instead of actual CBD.

The Bottom line: Verify with your doctor that the CBD product and dosage in question won’t interfere with other medications you’re already taking or planning to take. And always review the CBD product’s COA to ensure (1) purity and (2) that the THC content is less than 0.3 percent.

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