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Cannabidiol  is often covered in the media, and you may see it touted as an add-in booster to your post-workout smoothie or morning coffee. You can even buy a cannabidiol-infused sports bra. But what exactly is cannabidiol? And why is it so popular?

How is cannabidiol different from marijuana, cannabis and hemp?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana). While cannabidiol is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, a cousin of marijuana, or manufactured in a laboratory. One of hundreds of components in marijuana, cannabidiol does not cause a “high” by itself. According to a report from the World Health Organization, “In humans, cannabidiol exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure cannabidiol”

Is cannabidiol legal?

cannabidiol is readily obtainable in most parts of the United States, though its exact legal status has been in flux. All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction. In December 2015, the FDA eased the regulatory requirements to allow researchers to conduct cannabidiol trials. In 2018, the Farm Bill made hemp legal in the United States, making it virtually impossible to keep CBD illegal – that would be like making oranges legal, but keeping orange juice illegal.

Is cannabidiol safe?

Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the level of blood thinning and other medicines in your blood by competing for the liver enzymes that break down these drugs. Grapefruit has a similar effect with certain medicines.

People taking high doses of CBD may show abnormalities in liver related blood tests. Many non-prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), have this same effect. So, you should let your doctor know if you are regularly using CBD.

A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So, you cannot be sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other unknown elements. We also don’t know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.