Bonus: What do we know about CBD?

On the heels of Episode 6, in which we heard the moving story of former NFL lineman Kyle Turley (listen here), I wanted to take a bit of a deeper look at cannabis and CBD, and the potential benefits of these products for football players.

The legal cannabis industry is exploding and is expected to grow to a $16 billion industry in the coming year, which is pretty remarkable considering marijuana is still banned under federal law — even while more and more states are moving toward varying levels of legalization.

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What differentiates CBD products from marijuana is that they do not contain THC, which is the component in marijuana that makes you high — so you theoretically get all the benefits without the psychoactive effects.

What’s unclear, though, is exactly what the health benefits of CBD are.

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There is strong evidence that cannabis helps reduce seizures for those with epilepsy and research has shown it helps with inflammation, pain and anxiety. But the science around CBD is a bit murkier.

In fact, Dr. Jeffrey Chen, the executive director of UCLA’s Cannabis Research Initiative said: “Certainly there is therapeutic potential from CBD, but the amount of human data is minuscule, and popular access and consumption have far outpaced the science. So if you’re going to take it, you have to understand there is little data and you have to be very careful about the source and you need to talk to your doctor about how it might interact with other drugs you are taking.”

Dr. Margaret Haney, the director of Columbia University’s Marijuana Research Laboratory, echoes Chen’s comments and even says that CBD users might be experiencing a placebo effect. And the FDA has approved only one CBD product for medical use — a drug called Epidiolex that’s used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy.

Another thing to remember is that nobody is really regulating CBD. The New York Times reported that in a study of 84 samples of CBD products, only 26 contained the amount of CBD claimed on their labels — and 18 of them actually contained THC, which could lead to impairment.

To sum up:

  • There is a lot of anecdotal evidence — as well as solid research — as to the benefits of cannabis, and there are an increasingly number of football players who swear by it’s benefits, particularly as a pain reliever.

  • But the research around CBD is far less extensive, and only one CBD drug has been approved for medical use by the FDA.

  • Even researchers who are excited about the possibilities of CBD suggest caution before going out and buying these products.

  • Check with your doctor before taking any of these products.

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MORE READING:

— “Even without proof, CBD is finding a niche as a cure-all” (NBC NewsRead

— “Sorry, Hipsters. CBD Will Not Solve All Your Problems,” (Mother JonesRead

— “‘Concussion Pill’ using cannabis shows promise” (UPIRead

— “Is CBD Helpful, or Just Hype?” (New York TimesRead