What is CBD (Cannabidiol)?

CBD 101: Understanding the difference between CBD and THC and why it matters

Cannabidiol, widely recognized as CBD, is one of 140 identified cannabinoids, or compounds, found in cannabis plant species, namely Cannabis sativa (hemp) and Cannabis indica (marijuana). THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is also a natural occurring cannabinoid in these plants.

Numerous medical studies have found that cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, provide a wealth of health and wellness benefits through its interaction with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex network of cell receptors and neurotransmitters that help maintain the body’s homeostasis.

According to one study, “modulating the ECS activity may have therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans, including obesity/metabolic syndrome, diabetes and diabetic complications, neuro-degenerative inflammatory, cardiovascular, liver, gastrointestinal, skin diseases, pain, psychiatric disorders, cachexia, cancer, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, among many others.”* 
However, unlike CBD-based products which are non-psychoactive, have little to no side effects and are believed to offer tangible therapeutic benefits to its users, THC-based products used for recreational or medical purposes may induce psychotropic or euphoric effects on a user and have potentially serious side effects, such as extreme anxiety and paranoia.
Another important distinction between the two is the fact that THC products can only be purchased in U.S. states which have legalized medical or recreational marijuana use, whereas authentic, hemp-derived CBD products may be legally purchased nationwide.  In fact, today CBD products are being sold directly to consumers online by manufacturers and resellers and in many major and specialty retail stores, including GNC, Walgreens, The Vitamin Shoppe, CVS, pet stores, beauty salons and even local convenience stores and gas stations. 

Research published in 2019 by consumer data firm MRI-Simmons estimated that 3.7 million U.S. adults were CBD consumers, and roughly 64 million Americans – or 26% of the nation – have reported trying CBD in the last two years.   Due to this escalating demand from consumers for CBD as a natural remedy for a myriad of health conditions affecting adults, children and pets, CBD has rapidly skyrocketed into a multi-billion dollar industry over a few short years; growing from a $550,000 market in 2014 to $7.1 billion in 2019 and is further expected to climb to $9.3 billion by the end of 2020.  However, it may surprise you to learn that CBD is far from being a trendy new alternative health and wellness therapy.
Benefits of CBD are nothing new

For centuries, medicinal preparations derived from the Cannabis sativa plant have been used to treat a wide variety of ailments, including gout, rheumatism, malaria, pain and fever.  

In fact, according to “Cannabidiol: Promise and Pitfalls,” a 2014 peer-reviewed article published in Epilepsy Currents, “These preparations were widely employed as analgesics by Western medical practitioners in the 19th century,” likely thanks in large measure to Irish physician and medical researcher William B. O’Shaughnessy.  

In 1839 while serving as a member of the Medical and Physical Society of Calcutta in India, Dr. O’Shaughnessy published the first peer-reviewed medical research study which investigated the therapeutic effects of the cannabis plant and thoroughly described its potential medical applications.  

The study served to validate cannabis therapy as a viable treatment option by the broader medical and scientific communities.  On the heels of this important study, in 1850 cannabis was included for the first time in the annual United States Pharmacopoeia, a compendium of “legally recognized standards of identity, strength, quality, purity, packaging and labeling for drug substances, dosage forms and other therapeutic products.” 

However, cannabis was later dropped from the compendium in 1942 subsequent to the passing of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, making it illegal to produce marijuana and any plant type in association with the cannabis family – including hemp.  
Image Source: Wikipedia
80 years of regulatory constraint finally lift.

Recreational smoking of marijuana had come to the attention of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics and President Franklin D. Roosevelt and, despite opposition from the American Medical Association, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed and an 80-year moratorium on hemp production began.

Thirty-three years later when the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 was signed into law, marijuana was further constrained by being classified as a Schedule I narcotic and regulatory restrictions on hemp grew even more rigid.  

Hope for revitalizing the hemp industry was ignited in 2014 when President Barack Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill, which essentially allowed for hemp to be grown by permitted universities and state departments of agriculture in the name of federally funded research – rather than as a commercial crop.

Thereafter, pro-hemp legislation received increasingly favorable bipartisan support, culminating in December 2018 with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed industrial hemp from its listing as a Schedule I drug and now recognizes hemp as an agricultural commodity, such as corn, wheat or soybeans.  
Consequently, demand for hemp-derived CBD products
exploded, and the industry was unleashed, albeit with the
government asserting certain oversight and compliance controls.  
Specifically, the production of hemp-derived CBD must adhere to
certain regulatory mandates relating to the hemp grown to
produce it, including:
The hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC
The hemp must adhere to the shared state-federal regulations
The hemp must be grown by a properly licensed grower.
In addition, the 2018 Farm Bill also lifted restrictions on the sale, transportation and possession of hemp-derived CBD products and allows for the transportation of hemp-derived CBD products across state lines, as long as the products comply with the aforementioned mandates.
“Snake Oil” versus high quality CBD

With the proverbial dam giving way, CBD is now being marketed in a number of forms, such as oils and tinctures, syrups, capsules, suppositories, food and beverage products and topical lotions and creams, among others. It is important to note that the CBD consumer products industry has unfortunately attracted a whole host of “snake oil” salesmen who are intent on capitalizing on rising demand for CBD products; however, their primary motive is merely profit, not quality, much less safety. In fact, in late February 2015, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) issued several warning letters to companies who claimed that their products contained CBD, but following testing of these products by the FDA were found to have no CBD whatsoever, much less high quality, pure and/or organic CBD. 

Moreover, many bad actors producing dubious quality CBD products elect to save costs by manufacturing them using harmful toxic solvents like butane, pentane, hexane and propane in their extraction processes.  Even worse, some CBD products have substances made in China that have high levels of metals and some have ingredients to simulate CBD, such as melatonin.
High quality, safety-minded CBD companies following good manufacturing practices use supercritical CO2 extraction and crystal precipitation methods and make use of pharmaceutical grade ethanol which eliminates harmful toxins and helps in protecting the purity of the CBD.  Furthermore, ethical CBD companies go one extra step: they ensure the quality of their CBD extracts by having qualified, independent, third party labs perform testing to confirm purity and safety.

For those consumers seeking a medical-grade CBD, please note that there is no such thing.  The FDA has yet to approve CBD for medical use with one exception: EPIDIOLEX®, which is the first and only FDA-approved prescription cannabidiol for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) or Dravet syndrome in patients two years of age and older.  
Potential medicinal attributes of CBD

While cannabis has been used for the treatment of epilepsy and other ailments for generations, more recent research is helping to identify CBD as the component in Cannabis sativa plants responsible for a large degree of its numerous medical benefits. In fact, CBD benefits include acting in some experimental models as an anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, antioxidant, antiemetic and anxiolytic/antipsychotic agent – and is therefore a potential medicine for the treatment of neuroinflammation, pain/back pain, PMS and cramp relief, epilepsy, oxidative injury, vomiting and nausea, anxiety and stress, and schizophrenia – among many other diseases and chronic conditions.

It is also important to point out that no company operating in the hemp-CBD industry is permitted to make therapeutic or medical claims when marketing their products without them first having been reviewed for safety and effectiveness by the FDA. This requirement applies to all CBD products, including topicals, cosmetic products and comestible products.

Nonetheless, that does not diminish the reality that a growing body of medical and scientific research is reflecting that there are a multitude of potential health and wellness benefits made possible by CBD therapy.
According Policy Lab, other CBD products currently undergoing clinical trials
or research studies  include, but are not limited to, the following:
Effects of Cannabidiol in Patients: Evaluation - The main objective of the study is to assess the prevalence of CBD users in algology and addictology departments. Secondary objectives are to characterize the use of CBD as well as the users of CBD, and to evaluate the impact of the use of CBD on other psychoactive substances use or current drug treatments and the drug liking of CBD.

Cannabidiol and Oral Contraceptive Pills: Exploring a Drug-Drug Interaction – The purpose of this study is to assess how CBD impacts the effectiveness of oral contraceptive pills and if CBD changes the possible side effects of birth control pills when CBD and birth control pills are taken at the same time.  The study is exploring the potential interaction between CBD and birth control pills by assessing serum levels of the contraceptive steroid hormones ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel in birth control users when they also use CBD.

Use of CBD Oil in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - The overarching objective of the project is to test the clinical efficacy of CBD in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder using a rigorous double-blind randomized clinical trial methodology. Participants (n=120) meeting full DSM-5 criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will be randomized to one of four treatment arms: (a) CBD oil; (b) Placebo oil; (c) CBD oil + trauma focused group CBT, and (d) Placebo oil + trauma focused group CBT.

A Phase 2a Study to Evaluate the Safety and Efficacy of Cannabidiol Only as Maintenance Therapy and Steroid Spring in Patients with Stable Autoimmune Hepatitis - Subjects with stable autoimmune hepatitis disease currently being administered corticosteroids with or without azathioprine (AZA) treatment will be treated with Cannabidiol instead of standard of care treatment with corticosteroids.

Cannabidiol Solution for the Treatment of Behavioral Systems in Older Adults with Alzheimer’s Dementia (CBD) - This is an open label, ten week, clinical trial of a proprietary high CBD/low THC sublingual solution (20mg/ml CBD and 0.58mg/ml THC) for the treatment of clinically significant anxiety and agitation in mild to moderate Alzheimer's Disease.
In September 2019, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it had made nine new research awards totaling approximately $3 million to support investigating the potential pain-relieving properties and mechanisms of action of the diverse phytochemicals in cannabis.  According to the release, “These awards, funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health (NCCIH), part of the NIH, will strengthen the evidence regarding cannabis components and whether they have potential roles in pain management.”  

The NCCIH further notes on its website that drugs containing cannabinoids may be helpful in treating certain rare forms of epilepsy, nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy, and loss of appetite and weight loss associated with HIV/AIDS. In addition, some evidence suggests benefits of cannabis or cannabinoids for chronic pain and multiple sclerosis symptoms. Research on cannabis or cannabinoids for other conditions is in its early stages include NIH-supported investigative studies on:
- Pain 
- Helping to Decrease Opioid Use
- Anxiety
- Epilepsy
- Glaucoma
- HIV/AIDS Symptoms
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Movement Disorders Due to Tourette Syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Nausea and Vomiting Related to Cancer Chemotherapy
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Sleep Problems

About Bespoke Extracts, Inc.
Bespoke Extracts, Inc. was formed in 2017 to introduce a proprietary line of premium quality, all natural cannabidiol (CBD) products in the form of tinctures and capsules for the nutraceutical and veterinary markets. All Bespoke Extracts’ flavor-infused tinctures and capsules are formulated using pure, all natural, zero-THC phytocannabinoid-rich (“PCR”) hemp-derived CBD sourced from one of the largest, fully and vertically integrated producers of PCR hemp oil. All CBD isolate and oils are authenticated by an independent third party via issuance of a Certificate of Analysis (COA), which cannabinoid content and profile, microbiological content, heavy metal content, pesticide content, and residual solvent content. Bespoke recognizes the importance of compliance and is partnered with one of the industry’s leading CGMP certified extraction facilities. This ensures the consistency and quality of Bespoke’s product line and brand. Bespoke’s products are distributed through its direct-to-consumers ecommerce store, found at www.BespokeExtracts.com, and through select specialty retailers, pharmacies/dispensaries and care providers.