What to Understand Before Trying CBD Products
By Leah Richard
“Not that long ago I was on 18 different medications, CBD has helped change that, it’s given me my life back.”
Bonnie Hebert has lived with multiple illnesses, including severe rheumatoid arthritis, for decades. Flair ups were commonplace and so debilitating that she was actually on a regimen of chemotherapy to keep her arthritis manageable.
“My doctors have been encouraged,” Hebert explains. “They’ve been able to cut back or take me off of so many medications.”
The Youngsville native considers her CBD oil blends essential; she says they are nothing short of life-changing and hopes more people will give the cannabinoid a try. However, there is understandable confusion out there about what CBD is, what it does, and if it’s even legal.
CBD is one of over 60 active chemical compounds (or ‘cannabinoids’) in the marijuana plant. It’s usually the second-most abundant cannabinoid, behind THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound in marijuana). CBD is typically found in the seeds and stem of marijuana, not in the flowering buds. The hemp plant, which is the male marijuana plant, is an entirely different strain of cannabis that contains high quantities of CBD, and practically zero traces of THC. Most all CBD-based products come from the hemp plant.
“I’m actually on my way to Utah to check on our hemp grow.”
Charles Kountz is the owner and operator of Aromatic Infusions in Youngsville. He sells CBD blends designed with specific ailments in mind. Kountz says his customers have seen incredible results from his high-quality and strictly self-regulated CBD.
“The FDA isn’t regulating CBD oil, it’s considered a supplement, right now. But we operate as if the FDA has regulation, I think they will soon. We are ahead of the curve,” says Kountz.
He explains, until the recent legislation, it was illegal to cultivate hemp and manufacture CBD in Louisiana, so his operation actually begins out west. He says there are two main types of CBD products out on the market, the one he specializes in is CBD isolate products. These products have been isolated down to just the CBD molecule. They have no other active ingredient and just aim to deliver therapeutic doses of CBD, isolated from the other cannabinoids and terpenes.
The other type of CBD, full-spectrum, generally refers to products that not only contain CBD but contain the other plant molecules as well. This version of CBD oil is minimally refined, leaving most of the cannabinoids and terpenes intact and in the oil. Full-spectrum, sometimes also called “whole plant,” means the full plant extract is included, that means there will be small amounts of THC in the mix.
Kountz says it’s important for people to understand what type of CBD oil they are consuming. “There are different aspects to both. Right now, THC, even in small doses is not legal in Louisiana, we do not sell full-spectrum CBD. There are also regulations that come from the ATC that says a shop can’t sell tobacco and CBD products, so we steer clear of that as well.”
There are marked differences between the way THC and CBD impact the body. THC affects the brain by binding to naturally-occurring CB-1 receptors in the central nervous system. CBD is a differently-shaped molecule that binds to CB-2 receptors in cell and body tissues outside the central nervous system, because of this CBD will not get the user high. In fact, CBD is antagonistic to the marijuana high; in places where THC is legal for recreational purposes, sellers actually recommend that new users keep CBD oil around to “bring them down” from a high if they accidentally ingest too much THC.
“I have been recommending it, my patients,” says Dr. Victor Chou. “I would say just over 50% have very positive results. That’s actually a really good number, no one treatment is going to work for every patient, so half is encouraging.”
Dr. Chou is head of the Medical Marijuana Clinic of Louisiana in Baton Rouge. He is a medical marijuana advocate, lecturer, author, and clinician. He has seen firsthand the impacts of CBD oil and the confusion surrounding the treatment.
“Even fellow physicians are having trouble finding resources on CBD. You really have to know where to look. The research in Louisiana hasn’t really begun yet, because of legalities, but in the rest of the country, they have been conducting studies for years. I recommend Project CBD out of California for medical professionals wanting to read the clinical research.”
Dr. Chou says there are studies that show its effectiveness at treating seizures, anxiety, inflammation, and studies being done in many more areas. “The law hasn’t kept up with the patient demand for CBD, people are curious, many are seeing life-changing results,” he says.
Recently, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed House Bill 491, which legalized the growth of industrial hemp and also authorized the sale of hemp-derived CBD products with a THC concentration of less than 0.3 percent.
“I used to be worried it would go away,” says Hebert. “I was thinking of buying it by the case! CBD is crucial to my everyday life. It lets me have a life.” It looks like Hebert no longer has to be concerned, thanks in part to advocates like Katie Mayers. Mayers has been pushing for legislation of the hemp industry for years. She knows people are interested in trying the products and wants the proper channels in place for people to do so without breaking the law.
“We needed to get this done, patients, producers, and sellers were all trapped in the gray area,” she explains. “This legislation will clear that up.”
Mayers has worked with patients, doctors, and lawmakers to craft the new CBD guidelines. Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain will have broad regulatory powers over the hemp program, creating rules, handling permits and destroying crops that don’t meet THC thresholds. Applications for Louisiana retailers looking to sell CBD products will soon be available, according to the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.
However, the recent legislation won’t stop all of the inherent confusion surrounding CBD. Dr. Chou is adamant that patients do their research before choosing a product.
“People do need to be aware of what they are putting into their bodies,” emphasizes Dr. Chou. “CBD does interact with the same liver enzymes that metabolize other medications. If taken in large doses, there could be side effects, if the bottle is mislabeled or is part of a scam, the CBD may not have the desired effect.”
He also encourages anyone taking CBD in large amounts to talk with their doctor, a consultation could make the use of CBD oil much more effective.
“Know the maker, read the ingredients just like any other medication. If the ingredients are not provided, that’s worrisome.”
For people like Bonnie Hebert, CBD medical advice coupled with an oil maker that she trusts has let her get back to all of the things that excite her.
“I’m making art again, I’m living again. It’s just been extraordinary.”