CBD (cannabidiol) is the non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis or hemp plant. Many  users claim it has a range of beneficial effects.
wphoto by istock.com/TinnakornJorruang
CBD (cannabidiol) is the non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis or hemp plant. Many users claim it has a range of beneficial effects. wphoto by istock.com/TinnakornJorruang
CBD is everywhere these days — in oils, tinctures, salves, gummies; coffee drinks, honey and smoothies can be infused with it. It is as though CBD is some new magic potion that can cure all ills. What, exactly, is this suddenly ubiquitous wellness product?

First, it might be best to address what it is not. CBD is not “pot.” Though it is derived from cannabis, CBD (cannabidiol) is the non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis or hemp plant. It won’t get you high. What many users will tell you is that it has a range of beneficial effects on pain, anxiety, insomnia and a range of other conditions and distempers.

Erin Herburger was an early adopter of CBD products, and carries them at Trailstop Market in Sisters.

“It seemed like a good alternative to pharmaceuticals,” she told The Nugget. “I’ve had chronic back pain. Anxiety — I deal with that. Insomnia…”

She has seen benefits from using CBD, and has customers who have reported the same. However, Herburger readily acknowledges that different people respond differently and reports of effects are, by nature, anecdotal. CBD does not act like medicine, she notes.

“Some people say they don’t notice anything; other people love it and swear by it,” she said. “The effects are really subtle… CBD is kind of like a supplement to me.”

Rigorous scientific studies have yet to be done on the widely touted effects of CBD — but one area has been studied with striking results.

Dr. Peter Grinspoon, a contributing editor to Harvard Medical School’s health blog, notes that, “CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues, but the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications. In numerous studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures, and in some cases it was able to stop them altogether. Videos of the effects of CBD on these children and their seizures are readily available on the Internet for viewing, and they are quite striking. Recently the FDA approved the first-ever cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions, Epidiolex, which contains CBD.”

Mel Trammell, at Aqua Hot Tubs in Sisters, uses CBD through essential oils produced by Young Living Essential Oils. She says that CBD is “really calming” and beneficial for stress and anxiety. Young Living products have a seed-to-seal that guarantees quality and purity.

“They do testing on everything to make sure it is pure,” she said. “Even though it’s ‘the new thing,’ they’ve been working on it for years.”

Herburger also emphasizes the need to pay attention to quality.

“It’s really difficult to tell just from the packaging,” she said. “Do your own research and then ask for test results. Anybody who sells CBD products should have test results on hand.”

Herburger is stocking locally produced CBD products at Trailstop Market.

As with any “new” wellness product, some people go overboard with claims, making CBD sound like a cure-all, which health and wellness professionals insist it is not.

A health.com article cited Junella Chin, DO, an osteopathic physician and a medical cannabis expert for cannabisMD: “A lot of times people think CBD is a cure-all, and it’s not. You should also have a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and good nutrition — CBD is not going to fix everything.”

Still, CBD has been demonstrated to have at least some beneficial effects, and may well hold greater promise.

Dr. Grinspoon offers some sage advice:

“We need more research but CBD may prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD is currently mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting. If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor — if for no other reason than to make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking.”