Last year, “CBD gummies” was the third most-Googled food in the entire U.S. So yeah, you’ve likely heard of these little nuggets that contain cannabidiol (aka CBD), the part of weed that chills you out but not the part that inspires you to down a party-size bag of Doritos. Maybe you’ve even heard reviews—from stoner and non-stoner friends alike—about how the non-hallucinogenic bites are ideal for erasing Big Stress Energy or helping you wind down before bed. And you’ve probably still got questions. Great, ’cause we’ve got answers.
It does sound kinda like a scam, but solid scientific studies show that CBD can latch onto cells in your gut and immune system, relieving anxiety, pain, and inflammation, says Joseph Maroon, MD, a clinical professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. But that’s the pure stuff—there’s no legit research on the effectiveness of CBD in gummy form. In other words: They maybe work (at least, they did for our editors—see our own reviews below!).
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Figuring out whether you’ll need 2 or 10 to calm the hell down is (you guessed it) also a mystery, says Jeffrey Bost, a clinical instructor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Start with one gummy per day. Nada? Try two. Still nada? Slowly up your dose until you get some results. It’s pretty tough to OD on CBD, says Bost. The worst side effects of very high doses are drowsiness and mood changes. (And pls note that the long-term effects are still TBD.)
If you live in a state where all types of devil’s lettuce is legal, you can buy CBD gummies almost anywhere—even at some gas stations. For everyone else, there’s the interwebs. Amazon sells them and can ship to your door for about $40 (yeah, chillin’ ain’t cheap).
80:1 as CBD content further plummeted.
Furthermore, in an effort to protect consumers, the FDA has announced that it will soon issue and enforce regulations on all CBD products. Buyers should beware because the products being sold today may contain contaminants or have inaccurately labelled CBD content — due to the deluge of CBD products on the market, government agencies haven’t been able to react quickly enough so there is currently no regulation in the US whatsoever on CBD products.
So what exactly is CBD and where does it come from? CBD is short for cannabidiol, one of the compounds in the cannabinoid family which, in nature, is found only in the cannabis plant (its official scientific name is Cannabis sativa l.). THC — short for tetrahydrocannabinoid — is the other highly abundant cannabinoid present in cannabis that’s used today. THC and CBD exert their effects in part by mimicking or boosting levels of endocannabinoids, chemical compounds that are naturally produced by humans and found throughout our bodies. Endocannabinoids play an important role in regulating mood, memory, appetite, stress, sleep, metabolism, immune function, pain sensation, and reproduction.
Is CBD a cure-all — or snake oil? Jeffrey Chen, executive director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, explains the science behind the cannabis product.
Even though humans have been using cannabis for thousands of years, the products available today are not the cannabis that has traditionally been consumed. After cannabis was prohibited at the federal level in 1970 by the US Controlled Substances Act, illicit growers were incentivized to breed strains that had higher amounts of THC, so they could increase their profits without needing larger growing spaces. What they didn’t know was that by driving up THC content, they were dramatically reducing the CBD content. In 1995, after decades of surreptitious breeding, the ratio of THC to CBD was
But while there is a lack of concrete and conclusive evidence about CBD’s effects, there is considerable hope. Recent legislative changes around hemp and CBD in the US and across the world have enabled numerous human clinical trials to begin, investigating the use of CBD for conditions such as autism, chronic pain, mood disorders, alcohol use disorder, Crohn’s disease, graft-versus-host-disease, arthritis and cancer- and cancer-treatment-related side effects such as nausea, vomiting and pain. The results of these studies should become available over the next five years.
15:1, and by 2014 the ratio had jumped to
Right now, the most significant side effect of CBD we’ve seen is its interaction with other drugs. CBD impacts how the human liver breaks down other drugs, which means it can elevate the blood levels of other prescription medications that people are taking — and thus increase the risk of experiencing their side effects. And women who are pregnant or who are expecting to be should be aware of this: We don’t know if CBD is safe for the fetus during pregnancy.