Happy National CBD day! Here's how to dial up the chill factor—and separate fact from fiction.

By Betty Gold
Updated August 08, 2019

Talk about trendy. CBD is the chosen health and wellness ingredient of the moment: it’s popping up in everything from food and drinks to lotion, makeup, even pet food. But what exactly is CBD and why is everyone talking about it?

CBD is one of the naturally-occurring chemical compounds present in the flowers and leaves of cannabis plants, found in both marijuana and industrial hemp. Unlike THC (the psychoactive element of cannabis), CBD cannot get you high, no matter how much you take.

What’s drawing both consumers and product manufacturers to CBD oil are its highly promising purported health benefits, from reduced anxiety to help with nausea, inflammation, and insomnia. Who wouldn’t want in on that? But as with any new ingredient that wears a health halo, there are many misconceptions people make about CBD. To separate fact from fiction, we spoke with Nina Parikh Thomas, a healthcare executive and expert in life sciences who’s published over 40 peer-reviewed papers on innovation in health and the intersection of health economics, clinical research, and marketing.

So, what is the biggest mistake we make about CBD?

According to Parikh Thomas, the biggest mistake a consumer can make is blindly accepting statements made by CBD companies without any supporting material. This includes information about claims, development processes, and, most importantly, purity of ingredients. It’s critical that consumers look for a certificate of analysis, or COA, which is a document from an accredited laboratory that shows the quantity of CBD in a product (you can find it on Reset’s Balance here). Manufacturers should send every batch of every product they make to a lab for testing to protect their customers and prove that their products have as much CBD as they advertise.

This is especially important given recent findings from third-party quality control testing, which suggests that some manufacturers have outright mislabeled the contents of their products containing CBD. Despite public access to peer-reviewed research on CBD, companies continue to make claims that have yet to be fully proven. The future of the CBD industry depends on companies taking responsibility for their products and employing a rigorous development process with a ‘science first’ research and communication approach.

What health benefits of CBD are actually backed by science?

Long story short, we still need more comprehensive research on the effectiveness of CBD.

However, in the last decade of CBD isolate research in animals, humans, and at the molecular level, several research targets have been investigated. Researchers successfully demonstrated CBD’s properties as a neuroprotective agent, shielding cells from harm and preserving normal structure and function. They’ve also looked into the potential of CBD to act as an anti-inflammatory agent, interacting with immune system signaling proteins; and as a modulator of one type of serotonin receptor.

But in terms of health benefits officially recognized by regulatory bodies (i.e. the FDA), CBD isolate has been approved in the U.S. as a medication to treat certain types of treatment-resistant childhood epilepsy disorders. Some other lines of inquiry—such as CBD’s possible effects on sleep and pain relief—are in progress, and the scientific community is closer to understanding how CBD may or may not help people with sleep disorders and chronic pain.