Shaun McHenry swears by CBDs.
What are CBDs? According to the website Project CBD (projectcbd.org), a CBD – or cannabidiol – is “a cannabis compound that has significant medical benefits but … is non-psychoactive or less psychoactive than THC-dominant strains.”
In other words, CBDs are cannabis-extracted medical supplements that won’t get you high.
So then, you may ask, what is the point of consuming them?
McHenry, owner and founder of The Source CBD, a Spokane-based cannabis store that specializes in selling CBD products, can give you a ready answer.
Cannabinoids, he says, help “moderate and regulate our central nervous and immune systems.”
The added benefit, he says, is that not everyone wants to, or can afford to, get that familiar cannabis high.
“It kind of tricks the body into thinking it’s getting what it needs from cannabis,” McHenry says of CBDs. “But no high. You get almost everything else but the head high.”
In terms of health, McHenry can give you a long list of what he says are CBD attributes, some of which include:
• Pain management: Everything from back and knee pain to pretty much anything involving a chronic condition. Also good for relaxing stiff muscles.
• Anxiety: Treatment for all types of emotional problems, from mere social dysfunction to PTSD and mind-crippling depression.
• Skin care: CBD can alleviate such skin conditions as psoriasis.
Furthermore, McHenry says, some “preclinical studies” have indicated than cannabinoids may even help people suffering from diabetes – though he quickly adds that, despite these studies, there is no “strong clinical evidence” to support the claims.
In fact, there is very little actual evidence – other than anecdotal testimony and some studies done outside the U.S. – that cannabis can do what its supporters claim. The reason? The federal government still lists cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, which relegates it to the same category as heroin, LSD and cocaine.
Because of this, federal research funding has been lacking.
Yet one recent study, conducted by a team of researchers at Washington State University, indicates that cannabis consumption could indeed be effective in reducing anxiety, depression and stress – at least over the short term.
The WSU study was published last April in the Journal of Affective Disorder. According to a university news release, the study is considered to be “one of the first attempts by U.S. scientists to assess how cannabis with varying concentrations of the chemical compounds tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) affect medicinal cannabis users’ feelings of well-being when smoked outside of a laboratory.”
Carrie Cuttler, a WSU clinical assistant professor of psychology and lead author of the study, said, “Our study shows that CBD is also a very important ingredient in cannabis and may augment some of the positive effects of THC.”
In a story published in May on the WebMD website, CBD claims received at least one strong recommendation backed by “strong scientific evidence”: for those who have epilepsy. According to the story, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel “unanimously recommended approval of the CBD medication Epidolex to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy.”
Despite such positive reports, some health professionals advise caution around CBDs. Even careful study of product labeling might not be enough, since quality tends to vary, and some side-effects – such as an increase in liver enzymes – may occur.
Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct professor of psychology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, told WebMD, “If I were a consumer, purchasing it for myself or my kid, I would want to test it so that I knew what it actually had in it, because I couldn’t trust what was on the label.”
On his store’s website, McHenry advises customers taking other medication to “check with their doctors about drug interactions,” although he is fully confident that his products are what they claim to be.
He offers a full range of items, from topical for the skin, capsules, sprays and drops, to “batch-tested” oils that he has been purchasing from the same distributors in Colorado and Oregon for the past five years.
“I wouldn’t have anything to tell someone to be careful about at any level,” he said, “no matter what they were taking or what ailment they have.”
The proof for him is in the relief his customers tell him the CBDs provide – a relief that doesn’t boggle the mind.
“People who can’t take cannabis because of work or because they just can’t handle it, but who have issues with their central nervous or immune system, would be good candidates for CBD,” he said.
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