5 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Using CBD For Inflammation, Gut Health & Anxiety
Because of its close relationship with marijuana, there's a lot of stigma surrounding cannabidiol, abbreviated as CBD. But as with many stigmas, like those related to mental health issues or addiction, CBD's stigma stems from misinformation or a lack of knowledge about the real complexities of an issue. Sadly, trying to educate yourself on CBD can leave you totally confused and reading a lot of conflicting information. For example, one website will claim that CBD is the ultimate insomnia cure, while another says that it's an all-natural energy stimulant that can keep you up at night. One article will tell you that CBD is absorbed through the skin, and the next will say that can't possibly be true. These different pieces of information are hard to put together into one cohesive understanding—or even any kind of understanding at all.
Sometimes when a topic is complex or overwhelming, it's easier to start with what you know is wrong before you turn to facts that you think might be true. It's kind of like changing careers: Making a list of jobs you know you don't want feels a lot less daunting than making a list of those you do. With that in mind, here are five major misconceptions about CBD:
1. CBD is made from hemp.
We're really starting out with a bang! But this one is absolutely critical. CBD is one of the many chemical compounds present in the Cannabis sativa plant, which includes both marijuana and hemp. These compounds are often referred to as phytocannabinoids. Phyto tells us that they come from a plant and cannabinoid is the name given to a group of closely related compounds found both inside and outside the body. Here's a deep dive into the difference between hemp and marijuana. Basically, you just need to remember that they are both cannabis, and CBD can be derived from either.
2. CBD is THC without the high.
Historically (and when we were in high school), the only cannabinoid people really cared about was THC—which is responsible for the mind-altering effects of marijuana. But as CBD quickly gains recognition in both the medical and wellness communities, it's easy to assume that the only difference between THC and CBD has to do with intoxication. That's entirely untrue. Because though they are both from the same plant, they are two completely distinct compounds that interact very differently in the body. CBD is considered nonintoxicating, but we fail to recognize its unique nature when we assume it's just THC without the high.
3. CBD is nonpsychoactive.
So now that we've gotten No. 2 out of the way, let's get more specific about how CBD actually affects the body and the brain. To be clear: CBD will not get you stoned. But it does have some sort of effect on the brain, and therefore the word I and a lot of other CBD experts prefer to use when describing it is nonintoxicating. Psychoactive means "affecting the mind or behavior," and because CBD has known effects on the brain and is used as a treatment for anxiety, PTSD, seizure disorders, and depression (and the list goes on), by nature it can't really be described as "nonpsychoactive."
4. CBD is legal in all 50 states.
If I had a penny for every time I read or heard someone say that CBD was legal in all 50 states! In fact, I've frequently heard this from people who sell CBD. Now, to resist opening a massive can of worms and asking you to read all of Chapter 3 (where I talk about the legal status of CBD in detail) right now, let's just leave it at this: Under federal law, CBD is classified as a Schedule 1 substance because it's derived from Cannabis sativa, which falls under the same class. That being said, various laws have been passed that allow CBD to be extracted and then manufactured, sold, studied, and taken as long as some specific requirements are met. More on this later, I promise.
5. CBD is only for crunchy granola people.
A lot of people think CBD is only for "alternative" people who also lather themselves in Aztec clay and brew their own kombucha. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with Aztec clay, CBD was actually first described by an Israeli scientist in a white lab coat and was made famous in the United States by a 5-year-old girl named Charlotte. Some of the biggest movers and shakers in the CBD industry have been parents and scientists and teachers, many of whom admitted they were against the legalization of cannabis until they discovered CBD. It has also caused quite a few high-profile doctors—including Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a famous neurosurgeon and Emmy Award–winning medical reporter—to completely change their tune on cannabis. That being said, the crunchy granola wellness industry people have definitely welcomed CBD with open arms too.
Gretchen Lidicker is an mbg health contributor, content strategist, and the author of CBD Oil Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Hemp-Derived Health and Wellness and Magnesium Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Epsom Salts, Magnesium Oil, and Nature's Relaxation Mineral. She holds a B.S. in biology and earned her master’s degree in physiology with a concentration in complementary and alternative medicine from Georgetown University.