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New at Farmacopia: Curated CBD

April 09, 2019

Author: Lily Mazzarella

You asked, we listened!

We have been watching the evolving CBD craze with a combination of interest, skepticism and excitement.  After loads of research and product testing (and the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, making most hemp-derived CBD fully legal), we have begun to bring on select companies to Farmacopia who meet or exceed our high standards.  We’ve been test-driving these products ourselves for months, and couldn’t be more pleased!

 photo credit: @bad.mamma.jama

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Got Questions?

We've been compiling your questions and are happy to provide this easy-to-read Q & A about CBD.  

Farmacopia owner, Lily Mazzarella, on her experience with hemp-derived CBD:  

CBD is a molecule, not a panacea.  But it is a very, very useful molecule indeed!  As a plant person, I’ve always been drawn to cannabis based on its historical use and therapeutic potential.  However, I am not a cannabis user—with all respect to the plant, I’ve never found a cannabis strain that has "worked" for me.  

I have, however, been using full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD both topically and internally for a few years now, and I’m thrilled about the increase in high quality products available to the general public.  

What do I notice taking it?  At 10 mg/day, I have more comfort in my body and a more restful sleep.  I feel it contributes to resiliency in my nervous system. For me, more isn't better.  This is my right amount! Many other people take more—clients report about 20-30 mg/day as a common dosage.  

I have also used it topically for years for nerve and muscle pain, and find it very effective.  In fact, I don't know what I’d do without it! I have also started using the Dogwood Botanicals CBD oil as part of my facial skincare regimen—I have sensitive skin prone to redness, and it's been very helpful.  My skin feels lustrous and plump when I use it.

I also think CBD infused coconut oil is a great sexual lubricant!


What is CBD?

CBD stands for "cannabidiol," and is a constituent of hemp and cannabis.  It is sometimes referred to as a "phytocannabinoid," meaning it is one of the many cannabinoids found in plants.  This is distinct from an "endocannabinoid"—the compounds you make in your own body that interact with what we now know is a whole system, the Endocannabinoid System!  A well-known endocannabinoid is "anadamide," from the word "bliss" in Sanskrit.

What are the benefits of CBD?

CBD shows promise in many studies (some preliminary, some clinical trials) for conditions as diverse as cancer, bone loss, sleep, anxiety, psychosis, PTSD and neuropathic and arthritic pain.  A purified CBD isolate medication called Epidiolex is FDA-approved for 2 forms of juvenile epilepsy.

Anecdotally, most people take CBD to support:

  • Restful sleep
  • Anxious mood
  • Depression
  • Focus
  • Pain
  • Joint and systemic inflammation
  • Brain health
  • Menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, irritability, vaginal dryness)
  • Immune and inflammation balancing

What is the difference between hemp and cannabis?

Hemp is now defined (legally) as a cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% delta-9 THC.  Hemp and Cannabis are the same plant, botanically speaking (Cannabis sativa)—but these different cultivars have wildly different constituent profiles. Hemp refers to cannabis that contains almost no THC.  

Is CBD legal?

Hemp-derived CBD, produced in accordance with the guidelines of the 2018 Farm Bill, is now legal in all 50 states.  

There are still regulatory issues state by state that may affect retailers.  Adding CBD to food products for market is not legal—interesting since these products abound (chocolate, anyone?).  

For a good explanation of post-Farm Bill CBD legalities, see this write up at the Brookings Institution. 

Will CBD get me high?

Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive and will not get you high.  CBD does not bind to receptors in the body’s own endocannabinoid system the way THC does (this binding is what triggers the mind-altering effects of cannabis/THC); however, it does interact with these endocannabinoid receptors.  This interaction is thought to account for some of its myriad potential health benefits.  

What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?

Certain plant compounds have effects in our systems by binding to, or otherwise interacting with, receptors in our brains and elsewhere in the body.  That means that we must make chemicals that ALSO interact with these receptors—endogenous (meaning, coming from us) molecules that have diffuse effects in our bodies.  

The ECS is one such system.  

Very recently discovered, the ECS, plays a role in regulating nearly every body system.  Receptors of the ECS (CB1 and CB2 receptors) are found throughout the brain, spinal cord, digestive tract, skin, vagina... you name it!  The ECS has profound regulatory effects for the immune system, the nervous system, the digestive system, the skin, the cardiovascular system and more.  

Here is a link to free full text review articles on the endocannabinoid system in PubMed, the database of the National Library of medicine. 

Is CBD oil the same as hemp oil?

No.  Hemp oil is a dietary supplement or health food extracted from hemp seeds.  It is nutritive—a great source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. But it does not contain CBD.  This can be confusing, as some CBD companies have labeled their product as "hemp oil" or “hemp extract” to avoid scrutiny by government agencies, and because labeling standards do not yet exist.  "Hemp extract" on a label often does refer to CBD, but this language is not yet standardized.

What is the difference between full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate?

CBD is one compound that co-occurs with an array of other non-psychoactive constituents, like terpenes, polyphenols, and other cannabinoids such as CBN and minute traces (less than 0.3%) of THC. Some preliminary research suggests that CBD is most effective this naturally occurring array, often referred to as the "entourage effect."  CBD isolate appears less efficacious for certain applications (though it still exhibits potent anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic effects), and has a smaller and less reliable dosing range.

Which is better, full-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate?

As herby plant people who understand both the science and energetics of synergy, we at Farmacopia prefer full-spectrum CBD products.  The research on the entourage effect is compelling and makes sense to us.

However, CBD isolate could be the right choice for some individuals.  CBD isolate is "risk free" vis-à-vis drug testing. It is possible that the trace (I mean, really minute!) amounts of THC could show up in a drug test.  If you undergo drug testing for work or other reasons, you may want to try a CBD isolate instead of full-spectrum extract for your sleep, anxiety or inflammation support.  

Why is 3rd party testing important?

We are in the early days of legal, hemp-derived CBD and the past few years (2018 in particular), saw an explosion in CBD products in the marketplace.  Some of these companies have integrity and submit their products to rigorous 3rd party testing for contaminants and constituents.  Many, many others do not meet label claims and may be selling worthless, contaminated, expensive product which may contain no CBD at all.  

This has been our jam at Farmacopia for as long as we've been around:  can the company show us 3rd party testing?  Does the product meet label claim?  Is it sustainably sourced and produced?  We vet products so you don’t have to.

Can I fly within the United States with CBD?

This remains a grey area; however, hemp-derived CBD, produced in accordance with the guidelines of the 2018 Farm Bill, is now legal in all 50 states.  Know your source and whether your product meets these guidelines!

That said, many people do travel with their hemp-derived, CBD only products—especially those with airplane anxiety!

Can hemp-derived CBD be shipped?

Yes, it can be shipped by US Postal Service.  

When is CBD contraindicated?

Great question! There's a lot we know about CBD, and a lot we don't. It has a good safety record in that it has very low toxicity and is approved by the FDA as a drug to treat certain kinds of juvenile epilepsy - meaning it's been through all sorts of trials! Really high doses have been given to humans in safety trials and besides some fatigue, diarrhea and lowered appetite, most physiological parameters
were not negatively influenced.

However, we don't know its effects on fertility (most of my sources speculated that CBD does NOT exert the same potential anti-fertility effects of chronic THC use), pregnancy or lactation. Until we know more, I would consider CBD contraindicated for regular oral use in pregnancy and nursing.

I'm not aware of any very long term studies on hormonal development with regular, daily use in children. So I personally wouldn't consider it frontline therapy for kids except in certain cases(epilepsy being the obvious one). I hope we get more science on this because I can imagine many instances in which it would be so useful!

CBD is metabolized by the liver in an important enzyme system called the Cytochrome P450 system, specifically CYP3A4 (which metabolizes many common herbs, drugs, and substances), and CYP2C19. And it can inhibit the CYP2D6 enzyme, which processes some common medications. This sounds super complex, but it isn't. Basically, in vitro studies show that CBD has the potential to interact with some medications that are all vying for the same processing enzymes. But it's unclear how real this effect is in humans. Upshot: if you take medications, find out if they have the potential to interact with CBD, and note how you feel combining them.

Personally, I have seen doses of CBD that are too high for the individual cause tiredness and mood "flattening." This is easily reversed and dose-dependent, just lower the dose! And, there is a small subset of individuals who get agitated with CBD use. But these are guidelines for usage, not contraindications.

Your take on hemp-based v cannabis-based CBD medicine?

"Hemp" and "cannabis" are the same plant, botanically speaking (Cannabis sativa). Hemp refers to a cultivar that contains less than 0.3% THC and higher concentrations of CBD and other non-psychoactive phytocannabinoids. Even hemp contains a trace amount of THC which many herbalists and cannabis advocates prefer, as you get the benefits of whole plant synergy in the hemp extract. We do prefer full spectrum CBD extracts of hemp to CBD isolate because the science of the "entourage effect" is compelling and we're plant people!

The main issue here at this point is legality and psychoactivity - only CBD derived from industrial hemp is fully legal in 50 states after the passage of the Farm Bill in 2018. Here in California, you can also easily avail yourself of high CBD cannabis strains, which have different therapeutic and psychoactivity profiles.

Safety during pregnancy/nursing? I've heard a lot of mixed things.

Yes, definitely! Me too! CBD definitely ends up in breast milk - that we know. We don't have enough safety data to recommend oral use in pregnancy and breastfeeding, especially in an on-going way.

Any cases where THC is (therapeutically) adjunct to CBD alone?

I would consider THC to always be a therapeutic adjunct to CBD in that even the trace amounts of THC in full-spectrum CBD products seems to make the CBD more effective, and easier to dose. That said, we know that a higher concentration of THC can be helpful for pain, nausea, low appetite, sleep, inflammation, anxiety/depression and has great potential in the realm of anti-cancer/anti-tumor effects.

Many people just can't tolerate the psychoactivity of THC or are just unwilling for a host of reasons to go there. And, it's not fully legal yet. So happy we have this full spectrum CBD option!

Any difference in efficacy with topical vs. internal?

Topically, we look at support for pain, itchy/inflammatory skin conditions, eczema, acne and support for healthy skin cell division. In my experience, it's very supportive and healing! We don’t absorb enough CBD across the skin in most cases (unless transdermal absorption is optimized, like in a patch) to support
issues like anxiety, sleep, inflammation, and severe pain. From my own experience, I would say that internal use supports topical use for the conditions I mentioned.

What is the difference between CBC, CBD, and THC?

CBC, CBD, and THC are all phytocannabinoids, occurring naturally in different amounts in any given hemp/cannabis preparation.

The most obvious difference between them is psychoactivity. THC = psychoactive. CBC and CBD = not psychoactive.

They all come from the same parent compound, cannaberigolic acid (CBGA). Enzymes in the plant cleave CBGA into different substances, often with the presence of heat or light.

I didn't know much about CBC until I received this question! What I learned from a quick review of my sources is that CBC is non-intoxicating (only binds very weakly to CB1 receptors), but DOES bind to other feel-good receptors like vanilloid receptors, which induces the release of an endocannabinoid - anadamide. This compound is involved in blissed out states like orgasm and runner's high.

THC binds cannabinoid receptors strongly, and thus initiates its "intoxicating" effects, as well a host of potential benefits.

CBD does not bind cannabinoid receptors—though it does interact with them. In fact, it is thought to make them a little less receptive to THC, which is why it is sometimes used as an "antidote" to THC overexposure. Good to know if an edible sneaks up on you:)

As far as I know, we can become tolerant to THC, but not to THC and CBD.

Where can I learn more?

Lily Mazzarella, who wrote this Q & A, did so in response to client and customer questions. She is not a cannabis or hemp expert.  The statements and anecdotal information above have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  

"I compiled research from: which has a wealth of information, and is available in Spanish!

The excellent, informational blog on Foria Wellness:

Other resources:  

Good old Wikipedia!:

Pubmed, a science nerd’s dream.  So much CBD and endocannabinoid system research!:

An incredible and accessible resource book on CBD:  "

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