Research is currently lagging far behind the supposed miracle drug cannabidiol (CBD) demand. So does the substance from the cannabis plant deliver what it promises? And how safe is their use – also regarding interactions?
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Is CBD legal in Europe?
Until recently, CBD was not subject to any restrictions in Europe.
Although industrial hemp is perfectly legal as long as its THC content does not exceed 0.2%, the laws surrounding CBD have tightened.
In January 2019, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published guidance on cannabinoid-fortified foods. Products containing CBD must be approved as novel food by a national food authority.
According to the European Commission, extracts of Cannabis sativa L. and products containing cannabinoids are considered novel foods (historically, consumption has not been proven to any significant extent).
These guidelines are not mandatory, but several member states have amended their CBD laws to reflect this new classification.
Science and CBD
According to addiction researcher Dr Yasmin Hurd in a recent opinion piece on cannabidiol in the journal “JAMA Psychiatry”. Hurd is Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Neuroscience and Psychiatry and Director of the Addiction Institute at the prestigious Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. In the USA alone, there are said to be more than 1,000 different CBD-containing products on the market, even though the legal status of most of the preparations there, like in Germany, is still unclear.
The neuroscientist criticizes that neither science nor the authorities were prepared for the considerable demand. Both clinical research and legislation lag far behind supply and demand. The big question now is whether CBD is just a big hype or medical potential in the cannabinoid.
CBD is simply one of an estimated 140 cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, Hurd writes. The complete mechanism of action has not yet been elucidated. However, it has been shown not to bind strongly to endogenous type 1 and 2 cannabinoid receptors, unlike THC.
Therefore, it is assumed that CBD acts more as a negative allosteric modulator at the CB receptors and, in contrast to THC, mediates inhibitory effects. In addition, CBD appears to be a competitive antagonist at the G protein-coupled receptor 55 and is also said to have a modulating effect on the signalling pathways of opioids, serotonin, and adenosine. Regarding the application, the expert writes that CBD taken orally has a low bioavailability, mainly due to extensive first-pass metabolism.
Hurd writes that CBD is currently particularly popular for psychiatric disorders. Unlike THC, CBD has no psychomimetic properties and can reduce psychotic symptoms. It can also help alleviate addictive behaviour with other substances and is believed to have an anxiolytic effect. The anticonvulsant effect is proven. A variety of biological effects are discussed, such as an anti-inflammatory effect.
CBD studies on sleep disorders
Some studies look at the sleep-promoting effects of CBD. However, most of these studies were conducted on people who did not previously have significant sleep disorders.
It was found here that the quality of sleep improved significantly in most subjects. In Colorado in 2019, a team of researchers examined the outcomes of psychiatric patients. 10
These took CBD for sleep disorders and anxiety in a clinical setting. In the first 30 days of use, an improvement in sleep values of almost 70 per cent was observed. In contrast to many medications, most patients tolerated CBD very well, and no significant side effects were found.
CBD is safe
Even if there is only little data from randomized, placebo-controlled studies on the effectiveness in certain indication areas, the available studies at least show a good safety profile.
As some manufacturers claim, CBD is generally well-tolerated but is not entirely free of side effects.
Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea may occur. In studies with the purely CBD-containing finished medicinal product Epidyolex, among other things, increased liver values occurred, but the patients also took antiepileptic drugs.
“Systematic studies are still missing as to whether the general safety also applies to routes of administration other than oral intake and how CBD could interact with drugs that are metabolized via the same CYP enzymes,” writes the addiction researcher.
Incidentally, the proven safety profile only applies to approved drugs and defined preparations of pharmaceutical quality. The quality and safety of the unregulated products look is another matter entirely. There have already been found CBD and THC levels that deviate significantly from the declared levels, synthetic cannabinoids with psychotic potential were added, not to mention pesticides, mould, lead and other contaminants.
“An unregulated market poses a significant public health threat,” Hurd warns. At a minimum, products should undergo appropriate manufacturing quality controls, including standardized ingredient testing with accurate labelling.
In addition to stricter regulation and control, Hurd calls for large-scale clinical studies with CBD, especially for psychiatric patients, who often resort to self-medication with the cannabinoid due to a lack of available valid therapy.
We hope that JustBob’s CBD experts gave you a clearer vision of CBD in Europe; and if you want to order the best CBD oils and CBD flowers online, head to JustBob.shop to find a large selection of European CBD products.