Cannabidiol — better known as CBD — is the chemical compound in cannabis that has been touted as a potential cure for many ailments. But information about this product is often confusing, and the lack of regulated oversight makes it challenging for health professionals to evaluate it.
CBD is one of more than 100 phytocannabinoids, or active compounds, in the Cannabis sativa plant. It interacts with neuroreceptors in the endocannabinoid system, which sends signals between cells to help regulate movement, mood, homeostasis and immune function. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana, CBD does not produce a high. It can be extracted from the cannabis plant and mixed with an inert carrier oil to make CBD oil, which is widely available as a natural remedy or dietary supplement.
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In June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved a pharmaceutical form of CBD, Epidiolex, to treat rare forms of epilepsy. But CBD has also become a popular dietary supplement in the US, with coffee shops serving CBD lattes and beauty companies adding CBD to their products.
Although CBD is legal in some states, it’s still considered an unregulated drug. FDA’s guidance for researchers who want to test botanical drugs, including CBD, in clinical trials highlights the importance of rigorous scientific testing and establishing safety. To address this, the National Institute on Drug Abuse contracted with the University of Mississippi to grow cannabis for research at a secure facility. The DEA, which oversees cultivation, may allow additional growers to register with the agency for research purposes.