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Are CBD products just a scam or are there actual benefits to them? - Westin Johnson

Found this tl;dr response on Reddit. it's too good to not reprint here. Thanks Westin!

Here is Westin's Quora Page:

Are CBD products just a scam or are there actual benefits to them?

It’s legit, but unfortunately it’s become a platform for scams as well.

Actual CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a psychoactive, non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid found in heated cannabis and at least one species of hops. It is a decarboxylated variant of CBDa and an isomer of THC and CBC. CBD was first discovered in 1940 by Roger Adams, and has a boiling point of 180°C (356°F). CBD is the second most abundant phytocannabinoid in cannabis and any strain containing more than 8% CBD is considered a high CBD strain. Up until recently, CBD itself was incorrectly considered the same as THC by both the DEA and FDA. In June of 2018, however, CBD was federally reclassified from a Schedule I to Schedule V drug in the US, the least-restrictive category of drugs. In December of 2018, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 was passed by Mitch McConnell, officially reclassifying hemp and CBD away from any drug scheduling and allowing the Department of Agriculture to manage it as a crop rather than the Department of Justice managing it as an illegal substance. This bill also allows interstate commerce of hemp and hemp products, including CBD, hemp farmers to purchase crop insurance, and additional research from pharmaceutical companies.

How it Works

CBD mostly interacts with CB2 receptors instead of CB1, producing no psychotropic effects, and its medicinal uses can be felt immediately. As it does not affect the mental or physical functioning of an individual, CBD is more often than not psychologically unnoticed to the consumer. CBD has been shown to have the largest variety of health benefits, assisting everything from seizures to cancerous tumors to autism, it’s received the most study and attention for good reason. CBD is psychoactive, as it has antianxiety, antipsychotic, anti-craving and mood-elevating effects, but can be considered non-impairing, non-intoxicating and non-psychotropic.

CBD also interacts with the A2A, VR1, GPR55, 5-HT1a, vGPCR and VEGFR-3 receptors, as well as the chemokine GRO-α and the ligand VEGF-C. A2A is an adenosine receptor associated with anti-anxiety, the regulation of blood flow and blood oxygen levels, and the down-regulation of the release of neurotransmitters like glutamate. VR1 is the vanilloid receptor associated with pain perception, inflammation and body temperature, and may be a main reason CBD acts as a neuropathic pain treatment. GPR55 is the receptor associated with cancer, and when it is active, cancer proliferation is promoted. CBD appears to inhibit this receptor. 5-HT1a is the serotonin receptor commonly bound to by drugs like Lexapro, Prozac and Wellbutrin, influencing addiction, appetite, sleep, pain, nausea, vomiting, anxiety and depression. vGPCR is a viral G protein-coupled receptor that plays a role in the spreading of certain cancers as well, though only with its chemokine GRO-α, both of which are inhibited by CBD. The vascular endothelial growth factor receptor VEGFR-3 and its ligand VEGF-C play a similar role in the spreading of certain cancers, and are similarly inhibited by CBD.

What it Helps With

Specifically, CBD has been shown to assist with ADHD, ADD, hyperactivity, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, anxiety, OCD, stress, schizophrenia, arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, autism, bacterial infections, bronchitis, cancer, depression, diabetes, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, liver disease, hepatitis, hemochromatosis, cirrhosis of the liver, lupus, migraine, multiple sclerosis, nausea, pain relief, Parkinson’s disease, Meige syndrome, PTSD, seizures, epilepsy, spasticity, stroke, skin disorder, acne, dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, substance abuse of heroin, methamphetamine, opioids, marijuana, nicotine and alcohol, and traumatic brain injury.

Negative Side Effects

CBD typically goes unnoticed in the consumer as it does not produce a high, and negative side effects from its use are relatively unheard of in proper doses. A 2017 review of 25 studies conducted over the last two decades on the safety and efficiency of CBD did not identify any significant side effects across a wide range of doses, including acute and chronic dose regimens, using various modes of administration. Because of CBD’s approval throughout Europe, there is a comprehensive knowledge on its metabolism, toxicology and safety. The standard dose for CBD is 10 mg. Clinical studies using doses of 1200 mg a day for 30 days resulted in no negative side effects throughout the trial period. At extremely high doses, such as those over 2000 mg (chugging 10 bottles of CBD tinctures, give or take), CBD can cause dizziness, headaches, anxiety, decreased appetite, drowsiness, diarrhea, fever, tachycardia or an increased heart rate, and jitteriness, though even these are rare and will fade away in a few hours if they appear.

A 2019 study by the University of Arkansas for Medical Science was finally able to find the LD50 of CBD, the dose required to kill over 50% of recipients. In testing mice, they found an amount of 2460 mg per kg of weight was the lethal dose through liver failure. For comparison, the equivalent lethal dose for the average human, weighing 62 kg (137 lbs), is about 152,520 mg of CBD. This is roughly equivalent to drinking 9 liters of potent CBD tinctures.


Following the legalization of CBD in the US in late 2018, the market was flooded with a wide range of CBD products created not by corporations or trusted oil extraction facilities, but scammers making oils in their kitchen. Many of these products were claiming incredible things, not only to be able to cure a wide range of ailments but offering the most CBD for the cheapest possible price, and even through Amazon for next-day delivery. CBD is a fantastic substance with legitimate medicinal value, but the government’s hastiness in CBD’s legalization and lack of regulation has led to a swath of products that are not what they claim to be, leaving consumers feeling scammed and giving up on CBD as a whole.

CBD’s boom in America spurred similar growth across the world, and the UK’s CBD industry began to take off as well. Like the US’ situation, however, they too saw an influx of scam products. The UK’s Centre for Medical Cannabis (CMC) conducted a study in early 2019 by purchasing CBD products from the most well-known retailers, sending them to the third party laboratory PhytoVista for testing. Of the products tested, only 38% contained their advertised amount of CBD, and another 38% had less than half of the CBD advertised. Of the same products, over half were found to have illegal levels of THC (above 0.3%, just like the US) and CBN, a sign of product degradation. Of most concern, one particular pharmacy was found to be selling a £90 CBD bottle with zero actual CBD in it, another CBD product was found with 3.8% ethanol, while others contained concerning levels of dichloromethane and cyclohexane, though still within the legal limits.

An easy trademark of a scam CBD product typically involves the volume to price ratio. On average, a legitimate CBD product will cost around $1 per 10 mg of CBD, with little wiggle room on the pricing as profit margins begin to diminish drastically when lower than this. So, unless you’re paying $1000 for that 10,000 mg “Amazon’s Choice” CBD product, you’re being scammed.

“Hemp Extracts”

One of the simplest CBD scams is the result of intentional misdirection and confusion over terminology. Many people know that CBD is most often derived from hemp, a variety of cannabis with less than 0.3% THC, but many do not know that not all hemp has CBD. Since they were both legalized in the same bill in December of 2018, the quickest and most widely-legal method of obtaining CBD was now through the production of CBD-rich hemp. Prior to this, however, most CBD was derived from marijuana varieties of cannabis, and hemp was simply used industrially for a host of other purposes, not CBD production.

While many strains of hemp are now legitimately and considerably high in CBD, not all of them are, and biomass of hemp varieties with no CBD are much cheaper to purchase than those that do have CBD. As such, many brands use the terminology “hemp oil” and “hemp extract” on their products, intentionally leaving out any mention of CBD as to avoid being accused of false advertising, despite them branding their oils just like a CBD product. If a product has CBD in it, they will advertise that they are a CBD product, not a hemp product.

“Full Spectrum”

Many CBD products have begun to use the phrases “full spectrum” or “broad spectrum.” These terms were created to describe products utilizing a biological process called the entourage effect, most commonly observed from smoking cannabis. This effect describes the process of consuming as many phytocannabinoids and terpenes as possible at the same time, as many of the chemicals work together to increase their activity and effectiveness, with one study finding up to 330% more activity when compared with consuming just a single phytocannabinoid, like pure CBD.

A “broad spectrum” oil is characterized by the reinjection or maintaining of some of these phytocannabinoids and terpenes. Typically these will consist of the main phytocannabinoid, either CBD or THC, as well as a handful of others like CBN, CBG, THCV and CBDV, along with a handful of terpenes like myrcene, pinene, limonene and linalool, often for added flavor. A “full spectrum” oil is characterized by the maintaining of all of the additional phytocannabinoids and terpenes, as this oil is pressed and extracted without the removal of these compounds or any heat applied. This process is much more difficult and costly.

Ideally, these would be the standards in the industry. However, as the government legalized CBD with no regulation on its production or sale, these terms are not regulated either, any anyone can slap a label on their product claiming to be full or broad spectrum without having to back it up or support it in the slightest. Checking the nutrition label on the product should give a clear answer. A full or broad spectrum product will have listed out a number of ingredients in the form of direct terpene names, as previously described, or if reinjected a small list of other plant oils, like lavender oil, coconut oil, cinnamon, etc. If the label simply says “hemp extract” or some variant of “CBD,” it is not full or broad spectrum and you will not be benefiting from the entourage effect.


Seemingly the new trendy label replacing “full spectrum” is the term “nano,” often accompanied by “water soluble.” Nano is short for nanoemulsion, a chemical process in which a molecular compound is unbound from the extra compounds around it, literally shrinking the size of the compound to allow it to become water-soluble.

While this technology certainly exists and CBD products are certainly on the market with it, it is not as widespread as it seems. The technology required in order to do this is very new and very, very expensive. The bidding price for just gaining access to it, not actually purchasing the technology, is around $2.5 million for shared and $12 million for exclusive rights. As such, a company with access to this technology will not be selling their CBD products in gas stations or through Amazon.

Instead, the simple workaround that many scammers are finding is simple dilution. If they have less CBD in their products, it appears to be water soluble, and no one is around to tell them they can’t just slap a “hemp extract” label on their products to avoid future legal consequences and continue to advertise their bottled scam juice as CBD.

- ed. That's why OHS calls ours True+Nano CBD. We truly use the expensive process and we do not use isolate and we do not claim our oil is water soluable.

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