What We Learned About CBD in 2019

The year is coming to a close, and that means many of us are reflecting on all the things we’ve done, places we’ve been, and goals we’ve accomplished in the past 12 months.

The end of the year is also a great time to pause and appreciate all the newfound knowledge we’ve accumulated; and when it comes to CBD—and all the ways we can use the cannabis plant to better our health—there’s a lot to be thankful for.

Lindsay Perry  holding hemp leaf in front of face

Here are seven important things we learned about CBD in 2019.

1.Cannabidiol (CBD) is a powerful antibiotic

Research from The University of Queensland found that cannabidiol is an extremely active agent against various gram-positive bacteria. This is a big deal, especially when you learn that examples of gram-positive bacteria are Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae—two extremely common and dangerous bacteria that lead to infections like staph and pneumonia. The research, which was published by the American Society of Microbiology, showed that CBD has a potency similar to commonly prescribed antibiotics.

2. A lot of CBD products are still being mislabeled

According to a 2019 study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, as the CBD market continues to grow, mislabeling is something we should all be concerned with. The team tested 84 different products from 31 different companies and found that nearly 70 percent of them were either over or under labeled. Until there is some oversight from the FDA or standards and rules about how you can produce, test, and label CBD products, this will continue to happen. As the lead author on the study, Marcel Bonn-Miller, Ph.D., said: “It's crazy to have less oversight and information about a product being widely used for medicinal purposes, especially in very ill children, than a Hershey bar."

3. CBD may help deliver medications to the brain

Cannabinoids like CBD pass easily through the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which is the layer of tightly linked cells that work to prevent substances in the blood from entering the brain. According to a study published on March 13, 2019, in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, CBD could act as a carrier molecule to help deliver other medications—especially ones made from molecules that don’t pass through the BBB easily—to the brain.

4. Working in the hemp industry isn’t always what it seems

It might seem like a dream come true to work in the cannabis or hemp industries, but the truth is, concerns over how these employees are being treated are on the rise. For example, a CBD affiliate in Pennsylvania reported that the workers at a local hemp-drying plant had not been paid in weeks; and any of the workers who protested were fired. Not to mention, a University of Colorado report revealed that cannabis workers are not properly trained to face the chemical, biological, and physical hazards they encounter in the workplace. Ugh.

5. We should take our CBD with a side of a breakfast burrito

This summer, a study from the University of Minnesota study showed that taking CBD with a high-fat meal increased its absorption by 14-times. To find this out, the researchers had a group of participants either take their CBD capsules on an empty stomach or along with a high-fat breakfast, which took the form of a breakfast burrito. This is extremely helpful information, as "Increases in the amount of the CBD dose being absorbed into the body can also lead to lower medication costs," said Ilo Leppik, adjunct professor and co-author on the study.

6. We know how CBD works and keeps THC in check

We’ve long known that CBD can offset the psychiatric side effects of THC. And now, a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in September of this year, showed us how, exactly, this works. It all has to do with a compound called extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK), which is found in the hippocampus and seems to trigger the neuropsychiatric side effects of THC, including panic, paranoia, and hallucinations. According to the University of Ontario researchers, CBD keeps THC from over stimulating the ERK pathway. Fascinating, right?

7. The U.S. is set to spend millions researching CBD

To end on a positive note, the National Institutes of Health awarded $3 million dollars in research grants to investigate the potential health benefits of CBD, especially as it pertains to pain relief. The grants will be distributed to nine different research organizations, including the University of California-San Francisco and Boston Children’s Hospital and will be funded through the NIH’s Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

There’s still a lot more we have to learn about CBD and cannabis. But as we enter a new year—and a new decade! —let’s not forget to be thankful for the progress we’ve made. 

Written by Gretchen Lidicker

Senior Health Editor & CBD Expert or Contributing Health Editor and CBD Expert. Gretchen is a writer, researcher, and author of the book CBD Oil Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide To Hemp-Derived Health & Wellness. She has a masters degree in physiology and complementary and alternative medicine from Georgetown University and is the former health editor at mindbodygreen. She’s been featured in the New York Times, Marie Claire, Forbes, SELF, The Times, Huffington Post, and Travel + Leisure.

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