Navigating the Hemp Marketplace
For many years, the hemp marketplace has been a wild west of regulation, compliance and research. It can be challenging to navigate whether you’re completely new to CBD or are well educated. Misinformation about the benefits of hemp is rampant and many brands take advantage of this lack of education to sell misleading products. Although CBD has been shown in clinical trials to help epilepsy, ease anxiety and manage pain, most products on the market make unfounded claims and are not transparent with the quality of said products. There are nuances in these studies that go ignored, with brands claiming CBD can cure diseases or ease symptoms without the backing of any scientific research. This guide will help you make the best decisions if you are interested in exploring the possible benefits of hemp.
What does the Research Say?
Currently, studies on CBD and hemp extracts are limited. What research has been done shows some positive correlations between using CBD at high doses and relief from anxiety and pain. Due to hemp’s association with the marijuana plant, CBD has been lumped into other cannabinoids such as THC. Although some states have legalized marijuana for both recreational and medical use, it remains a federally recognized Schedule 1 narcotic. Due to decades of prohibition, as well as the war on drugs, the ability for scientists to study the benefits of any cannabinoid has been limited. Recent reforms in state laws have allowed limited study of CBD, as well as its interactions with the human endocannabinoid system, and other cannabinoids such as THC, CBG and CBN.
The studies that are available focus on the effectiveness of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy, anxiety and pain relief. However, the nuances of these studies are often ignored and warped by brands looking to promote a “miracle” ingredient. It should go without saying that such an ingredient doesn’t exist. What research of CBD has been done shows that humans have an endocannabinoid system that regulates our body’s stress responses like appetite, pain and sleep. Our body produces its own natural endocannabinoids, but receptors also interact with the cannabinoids produced by marijuana and the industrial hemp (grown with high levels of CBD and federally compliant levels of THC <0.3%). While THC causes a psychedelic effect, CBD does not. There are currently two prevailing theories for how CBD reacts to your endocannabinoid system. One, that CBD slows the breakdown of your body’s natural endocannabinoids by enzymes and the other that CBD interacts with receptors much like THC does, though on a lesser scale. Although the research conducted so far is promising, CBD is a still widely misunderstood plant molecule that will not magically cure any disease and you should be wary of any definitive claim that it does.
Do CBD Products Work?
Still much is unknown about the endocannabinoid system and how CBD interacts with our body’s natural receptors to manage stress, appetite, inflammation and other necessary body functions. What is known is that in certain situations and applications, high doses of hemp have a measurable, positive effect on sleep, stress and pain management. All while having almost no negative side effects and being well-tolerated by most people. What few negatives there are are limited to minor issues like dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness and fatigue. This is partially the reason why researchers in the medical field are so eager to do more research into hemp’s potential as a treatment for various ailments.
While hemp has shown potential to change the wellness landscape with its medicinal properties, and thousands swear by the change hemp has made in their lives, customers should be wary of unrealistic promises as well as the effectiveness of microdosing. As the FDA approves more CBD-based drugs, such as the epilepsy medication,Epidiolex, and federal regulation eases up, more research will be done on this unique plant molecule.
A Lack of Transparency In the Hemp Industry
Another issue when choosing the right hemp-based product is a lack of transparency. Go to any major online retailer, such as Amazon, and you will find numerous brands that conceal the quality of their hemp extract. Due to the lack of regulation on CBD, you never know if the amount of CBD advertised is accurate, if that CBD is federally compliant (under 0.3% THC) or where that extract was sourced from. Reputable brands will always provide a COA or “Certificate of Analysis” by a trusted third-party laboratory. These documents supply crucial information, such as the product’s potency, and if it’s been contaminated with Heavy Metals or harmful pesticides. You can easily locate all the COAs for KMRelief and 5E Hemp’s products on the respective product pages.
To combat the lack of regulation, some states, such as Colorado, are raising the bar on products that can be sold. “The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) issued a policy asserting the use of all parts of the industrial hemp plant is permitted as a food ingredient in the Centennial State.” (Natural Products Insider). For this reason, CBD sourced, manufactured and sold from Colorado must reach higher standards than products created in other states. This is in part due to the growth of the hemp industry in Colorado and experience regulating the legal marijuanna marketplace. The establishment of both industries has sparked an interest in further oversight, testing and research.
Image Source | Unsplash.com
Regulating the Hemp Industry
According to an investigation by Natural Products Insider, most CBD producers are “claiming to follow good manufacturing practices without any official oversight. It’s illegal to sell something that isn’t what it's packaging claims it is — that falls under the purview of the Federal Trade Commission — but nobody is doing onsite testing,” (VOX). You may be asking, how do brands get away with selling their hemp products that are not compliant? While selling any hemp product with over 0.3% Delta-9 THC is technically illegal, the amount of oversight from both the FDA and DEA are almost non-existent. This is simply because CBD is not considered a dangerous enough substance to be worth the cost of investigating. While the “FDA doesn’t recognize cannabidiol (CBD)—the cannabinoid that can be sourced from hemp and marijuana plants—as a lawful ingredient in dietary supplements or conventional foods, and the agency does not appear to be actively regulating the industry,” (VOX).
Due to the popularity of CBD, many brands treat this ingredient like a fad, simply adding it to any formula. Yet these formulas are just as necessary to review. The same way you would avoid “fragrances” or “sulfates” in your beauty products, you should always check the ingredients of any product you consume or put on your body to make sure it is safe. A CBD product with limited ingredients, that are all-natural or organic will always be of a higher quality than ones that use fillers or additives. You wouldn’t buy a low quality product just because it has CBD in it, would you? The amount of weight put on the effectiveness of CBD in any formula is a red flag. A product, be it a icy-to-hot slave or a bar of soap should be able to stand on its own merits with or without hemp extract.
In Conclusion... Should You Try Hemp?
Finding the right hemp product for you is a daunting task. Just remember the following points when searching for the right fit, and you will be able to avoid low quality or ineffective products.
- No COA.
- May contain heavy metals, pesticides or illegal levels of THC Poor or cheap formulas with unnecessary additives.
- Unrealistic promises of “curing” any disease or chronic condition.
- Quality Formulas with no bull.
- USA Sourced hemp. Colorado (Regulated by CDPHE) sourced is even better!
- All-Natural & Organic ingredients.
- Third-party lab tested from a trusted source.
Hemp has proven to have great potential in both wellness and medicine. However, until more research is done, and more regulations are put into place, the industry will continue to put the burden of weeding out dubious products on the consumer. For this reason, proper education on hemp extraction is necessary. At KM Relief, we are doing our part to hold ourselves (and the rest of the industry) accountable. Our ingredients are all-natural and organic, and all of the full-spectrum hemp used in our products is third-party tested so you don’t have to worry about getting the best CBD available.
Sources & Links
The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain | https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S001429990601257X
Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/
Inverted U-Shaped Dose-Response Curve of the Anxiolytic Effect of Cannabidiol during Public Speaking in Real Life | https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2017.00259/full
Vox.com | https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/11/1/18024806/cbd-oil-vape-hemp
Naturalproductsinsider.com | https://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/regulatory/colorado-health-officials-regulate-cbd-foods-fill-gap-fda-oversight