A lesser-known component of marijuana is becoming more mainstream, and some top doctors are on board.
Cannabidiol (CBD)—the non-hallucinatory ingredient in pot and hemp—can be found in gummies, chews, and even gum. Recently, though, the CBD oil-infused food and beverage offerings are expanding. A coffee bar in Brooklyn, called The End, serves up a spiced hot cocoa laced with ‘calming’ CBD oil. A Colorado-based company is marketing their CBD-infused water to the fit. A West Hollywood restaurant, Gracias Madre, serves cannabidiol cocktails for $20 a pop. Its market could be just starting to grow, too. “I don't think it would be to unusual to see more food, like bars, made with CBD oil," says Jeffrey Morrison, M.D., founder of the Morrison Center in New York City and a member of the Equinox Health Advisory Board. You can also buy the oil straight and whip up your own edible CBD concoctions.
You may be questioning the legality of this trend, but rest assured it’s completely law-abiding so long as you’re using the oil derived from hemp rather than pot. Both hemp and pot contain CDB but only the latter contains THC, the ingredient that makes you high. Because CBD from hemp does not have this effect, and because of its interaction with your body’s endocannabinoid system, it has great potential for good use down the road, says Morrison. “The endocannabinoid system is a totally additional pain and anti-inflammatory regulatory system in the body, which no one had really talked about until marijuana started to become legal,” says Morrison. “It’s something doctors did not learn about in medical school.”
It’s the anti-inflammatory effect of CBD (from both pot and hemp) that can be helpful for athletes, says Morrison. “It’s going to help with recovery from strenuous workouts or if people have low-level pain from exercise.” Because the oil calms the nervous system, he says, consuming it can ease anxiety and help secure a deeper night’s sleep, furthering recovery even more. Studies also point to CBD’s powers helping in treating issues like multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.
If you want to try it, Morrison says that CBD oilis dosed in milligram (mg) strength. “If a person is very sensitive, they might start with 12.5 mg twice a day; but it could go up to 50 mg twice a day.” It can be taken straight since it has a very neutral flavor, though it can be added to just about anything. (Cooking with it is not recommended, though, since heating the oil can inactivate some of its activity.)
But, Morrison notes, there's still more research to be done: “There are a lot of people learning about CBD oil, but there’s not a lot of research on it yet. Most of what exists has been done on marijuana [not hemp]—and none of the studies are randomized controlled studies.” As of now, the oil derived from actual pot remains off-limits, even to doctors. Under a new drug code, the DEA even announced that marijuana extracts like CBD would continue to be treated as a Schedule I drug, one seen with no medicinal value. However, states are making their own moves. Wisconsin, for example, recently passed a bill that would legalize possession of CBD oil derived from marijuana. Some experts think the synergy between THC and CBD in marijuana does give stronger pain-relieving effects, but Morrison says it's still worth trying the hemp variety.