CBD and THC Hype is everywhere.
Do They Work? Are They Safe? What We Do – and Don’t – Know
Reefer madness recently hit the 2019 Oscars.
No, not the psychedelic and fear-mongering 1930s propaganda film designed to terrorize parents about the “dangers” of marijuana.
Last month, Hollywood’s biggest stars received gift bags at the annual awards ceremony containing the latest fad – products infused with the key compounds of cannabis. That includes cannabidiol (CBD) skin care products, as well as chocolates infused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). (Maybe the actors wanted a less painful way to get through the hours of pomp and circumstance.)
But across the country, shops selling CBD-laced products (like lattes and cookies) have been met with a crackdown from federal regulators. Last month, the health department confiscated thousands of dollars’ worth of CBD-infused goods from different shops.
Maybe you’ve seen an increase in products in your area, too. Here in Baltimore, we have CBD advertisements in local vape shops and a bakery that makes CBD-infused donuts.
The cannabis story is worth following, both from a medical perspective and an investment opportunity.
The boom in the cannabis industry hasn’t gone unnoticed. We’ve gotten a ton of emails from our Health & Wealth Bulletin readers asking us about CBD and marijuana. Here are the basics…
Two of the main active components in cannabis are THC and CBD. Both of these compounds act the same way… they mimic a transmitter in our bodies called an endocannabinoid. These transmitters – and the plant-based versions – bind to receptors in our bodies.
These receptors control things like mood, appetite, memory, and pain. There are two types – CB1 and CB2.
CB1 receptors are in our brains, organs, and nervous systems. CB2 receptors are in our immune systems.
THC is often called the stronger “psychotropic” compound. That’s because it binds strongly to CB1 receptors in the brain. It causes the high you experience from marijuana and THC-laced products.
But CBD binds weakly to these transmitters. It also interferes with THC, so if you ingest or inhale both, you won’t get as much of a psychoactive effect as with THC alone. In other words, CBD won’t get you high, but since it dulls pain receptors and alleviates anxiety, it still acts on your brain.
CBD oil primarily comes from the hemp plant, not from marijuana. But both hemp and marijuana belong to the Cannabis family of plants.
Hemp has very little THC. So it’s a better plant option if you’re just after the CBD oil. Hemp is also protected on the federal level under the Farm Bill, which was finalized last year. It’s the first time hemp has had a separate exemption from other cannabis plants.
Hemp used to be legal until WWII, when certain states began to outlaw its growth due to a growing fear of marijuana dangers. Then in the 1970s, President Nixon made it illegal on the federal level, as he banned all types of the cannabis plant. So we finally saw a turning point for hemp just this past year.
The sale and possession of any hemp-derived products (including CBD oil) is now legal… but it’s still up to individual states to regulate these products. That explains why some states, like New York, are cracking down on edibles while other states allow these businesses to flourish.
CBD on its own, especially as CBD oil, provides milder health benefits without the mind-altering effects. Although there aren’t many clinical studies, there are a few that show CBD oil lowers anxiety. In fact, some folks in our office give their dogs CBD-infused treats to help them calm down. Researchers hypothesize CBD binds to serotonin receptors, which could explain the mechanism of action. They work similarly to drugs like BuSpar and Abilify, which work to boost the effects of traditional antidepressant drugs.
Similarly, CBD also reduces the number of seizures in children with a complicated epilepsy illness called Dravet syndrome. These are kids who experience many seizures that don’t respond to typical epilepsy drugs.
We’ve also seen some studies on CBD treating pain, high blood pressure, and even Parkinson’s. And as for THC, there’s a synthetic THC drug called Marinol. It’s legal and approved to treat nausea and appetite loss due to chemotherapy.
The cannabis story is worth following, both from a medical perspective and an investment opportunity. Our view right now is cautiously optimistic.
The reason is that we still want to see a lot more long-term and larger randomized trials. What’s more, although CBD seems safe and appears in so many products, it also carries with it some side effects like diarrhea, vomiting, and issues with liver function. So, until those are addressed (likely with better formulations and more standardized dosages), we’d urge caution.
And remember, if you do go for a CBD latte or donut, don’t overdo it… mixing the oil with food or beverages can slow the absorption rate. That means you might not realize it’s kicking in and could take too much by accident.
Dr. David Eifrig worked in arbitrage and trading groups with major Wall Street investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, Chase Manhattan, and Yamaichi in Japan. In 1995, Dr. Eifrig retired from Wall Street, went to UNC-Chapel Hill medical school, and became an ophthalmologist.
Today, he publishes a 100% free daily letter on both health and wealth that shows readers how to live a millionaire lifestyle for far, far less. Click here to learn more.