Is CBD For You?

It’s everywhere these days. Friends are talking about it. Ads pop up online. Depending on where you live, your coffee shop might sell CBD lattes, CBD gummies are a hot item, and spas offer CBD massages. It’s also an ingredient in many beauty products. So, what do you really know about CBD?

The basics
CBD oil, short for cannabidiol, is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis (either marijuana or hemp) plant and mixing it with hemp seed, coconut, or another carrier oil. In recent years, CBD has become a popular alternative therapy. And is CBD good for you? Claims about its benefits include everything from pain relief to treating acne, anxiety, improving sleep, and lowering blood pressure. However, evidence from human studies has been limited because of cannabis restrictions. With changing legislation, research is gaining momentum.

Laws are still in flux concerning use of THC from marijuana (which causes a high) or from hemp (no high). In either case, THC content cannot legally exceed 0.3 percent in either oral or topical CBD products. And while CBD is a psychoactive cannabinoid, you won’t get high by using it.

The view from the Ranch
Health experts at Canyon Ranch have pioneered an integrative approach that includes alternative care. Yet when guests ask if Ranch practitioners are using CBD professionally, the answer is no.

We asked Cindy Geyer, MD, medical director at Canyon Ranch Lenox, to explain why. She says it’s all about the science.

“We don’t follow trends at the Ranch. We do our own due diligence,” Dr. Geyer says. “We rely on research and enough human studies to assure the safety and efficacy of a product, service, or device. This is true across the brand.”

Open minds, educated opinions
Dr. Geyer is part of the Ranch medical team that includes six physicians led by Richard C. Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS, Canyon Ranch Chief of Health Innovation, 17th Surgeon General of the United States – all of whom follow the literature around CBD.

“We’re seeing studies on transdermal absorption – through the skin and into the bloodstream – but only on animals so far,” she says. “We also need to learn about dosages and see human studies.”

There’s no data about cumulative or long-term effects yet, which is Dr. Geyer’s concern.

“We’re not anti-CBD for normal use,” she says. “We’ve heard and read where patients have experienced relief from pain and neurological issues. Our concern is for the safety of our therapists and practitioners with prolonged and frequent CBD exposure, which has not been studied. We don’t know if it might impact health or pregnancy, for instance. We’re protecting practitioners from possible occupational risk.”

Dr. Geyer says she and her colleagues will continue to monitor CBD research closely. Depending on scientific evidence, CBD may someday be introduced into Ranch services or recommendations. “Until the research supports its safety, and potency is universally measured and controlled, we owe it to our guests and colleagues to wait on using CBD on property.”

If you want to use CBD …
Dr. Geyer says evidence is promising for CBD’s use to reduce pain. “It’s not known to be harmful,” she says, “and it’s a reasonable thing to try on your own for a sore knee or tendinitis, for example.”

If you choose to use CBD – either a topical for localized pain or oral for anxiety and other general symptoms – Dr. Geyer suggests you give it some thought. “Know what you’re doing, so you’ll have the best experience, stay safe, and, we hope, get good results,” she says.

9 things to keep in mind
1 – Quality. Read the label, and buy from a company with a good reputation. Non-prescription CBD is not regulated by the FDA, so check for product purity: The fine-print certificate of analysis (COA) should match what’s on the product label, THC should not exceed 0.3%, and no pesticides or metals, please.

2 – Talk to your doctor. Weigh possible risks and benefits with an expert. Your physician may recommend a product, but not prescribe one.

3 – An alternative to what you’re using. If traditional medications are causing unwanted side effects, you might have better results with CBD.

4 – Pain relief. If you’re sore or aching, a topical CBD may be a quick, effective remedy to try.

5 – When to avoid CBD. Don’t take CBD if you’re pregnant, taking blood thinners, or have liver disease.

6 – Use in conjunction with … CBD does not need to be a standalone product. If you meditate, keep doing that. If you have pain, anxiety, or sleep problems, you could try a breath-based practice along with CBD.

7 – Side effects? Most people tolerate CDB well, although dry mouth, drowsiness, loss of appetite, or diarrhea are possible. There’s no evidence that it’s addictive.

8 – Drug testing. Since there’s THC in CBD, be aware that it could show up on a drug test. It’s not likely, but it’s possible if your oral dose is high.

9 – Check in with you. If CBD is helping, use it; if not, stop.

Ranch physicians will update policies as evidence rolls in. Meanwhile, make thoughtful decisions as you explore the benefits of CBD.

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