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Sorry, Hipsters. CBD Will Not Solve All Your Problems.

Don’t trust everything you read on the internet.

Jackie Flynn Mogensen

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The wellness world has long been inundated with health trends—“raw” water, probiotics, juicing, you name it—but cannabidiol, or CBD, a marijuana-derived chemical, has taken things to new heights. Retailers market it as a “miracle molecule,” claiming it can treat ailments including nausea, anxiety, cancer, arthritis, and even Alzheimer’s disease. It’s commonly sold as an oil or added to products like candies, teas, and lotions you can find in health food stores, in pet depots, or even on Amazon.

Some celebrities have become CBD believers: UFC fighter Nate Diaz once said it will “make your life a better place,” while Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness blog, Goop, recommends a CBD-spiked mint julep “for kicking relaxation mode into overdrive.”

Experts estimate the CBD market is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and it’s projected to surpass $1 billion by 2020. But what do science and the law really say about this new “miracle molecule”? We’ve fact-checked some common claims so you don’t have to.

It’s totally legal. False. CBD is illegal under the federal 1970 Controlled Substances Act. As a Schedule I drug, it’s in the same category as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy—even when it’s derived from hemp, a variety of cannabis that, unlike marijuana, contains only trace amounts of THC, the compound that gets you high.

Things become murky at the state level. Although several states have already legalized both marijuana and hemp, users technically can be prosecuted under federal law. (Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell is pushing for legislation that would federally legalize hemp, which is a big crop in his home state, Kentucky.) Still, experts say getting arrested for using CBD is unlikely: As Shanna Babalonis, an assistant professor of behavioral science at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine who helped write a 2018 World Health Organization report about CBD, pointed out, “It’s being sold online with no consequence.”

It can treat a laundry list of physical and psychological ailments. Maybe. Plenty of animal studies suggest CBD can help alleviate anxiety and encourage relaxation, but so far there’s limited evidence showing it has that effect—or any other, for that matter—in humans. To date, the only CBD medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration for medical use is a drug called Epidiolex, which was developed by a British company to treat two rare forms of epilepsy.

Other drugs may be on the way. A medication called Arvisol, developed by a company in the Netherlands, is intended to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, and is under­going early clinical trials. In the United States, Zynerba Pharmaceuticals is developing a CBD gel to treat symptoms of a gen­etic condition called fragile X syndrome, which can include anxiety, mood swings, and cognitive impairment. And limited evidence indicates CBD may help with opioid, cocaine, and tobacco addiction, according to the WHO report, though “considerably more research is required.”

Don’t hold your breath on that. Scientists need approval from the FDA and the Drug Enforcement Administration to study any Schedule I drug, and as a 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences put it, this barrier has “discouraged a number of cannabis researchers from applying for grant funding or pursuing additional research efforts.” What’s more, the federal government typically only fast-tracks trials for Schedule 1 substances that treat grave illnesses—so it’s hard for scientists to actually prove CBD is an anti-anxiety wonder drug, despite its reputation. All the red tape has prompted some companies to move their research operations to Israel, where regulations around marijuana are more relaxed.

There is “great potential” for CBD, says Margaret Haney, director of the Marijuana Research Laboratory at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Still, Haney, who is currently testing CBD’s ability to treat nerve damage pain, warns that people may be too eager to tout the drug. “I’m excited about it, but I caution people to not jump 20 steps ahead of the science.”

It won’t get you high. True. While both CBD and its sister cannabinoid THC have the same chemical formula—21 carbon molecules, 30 hydrogen molecules, and two oxygen molecules—their structures differ significantly. So, while THC can bond with receptors in the brain, causing the high associated with marijuana, CBD cannot. International clinical studies show that even high doses of oral CBD do not cause “THC-like effects” such as impairment, increased heart rate, or dry mouth, according to the WHO report.

It’s available for cheap on the internet. True, but be very careful—while most states that permit CBD sales require products sold in brick-and-mortar stores to undergo testing, the online CBD market is almost entirely unregulated. In 2017, the FDA tested dozens of products from four major online CBD retailers based in Florida, Colorado, and California. Many products did not contain the levels of CBD that retailers advertised, and some made unfounded claims like, “CBD makes cancer cells commit ‘suicide’ without killing other cells.” The FDA sent warning letters to all four companies requiring them to correct the information. These “deceptive marketing” techniques may even prevent some patients from getting the medical care they need, the agency wrote.

Haney and her colleagues agree CBD shows promise—and more research and regulation will help weed out bogus products. In the meantime, it’s still best to proceed with caution: What you purchase online might not even contain CBD. “There’s no regulation, so buyer beware,” says Haney. “You don’t know what you’re really getting.”

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Don’t trust everything you read on the internet.

Psychedelic Supplements: For Avoiding A Bad Trip

Did you know that certain supplements may be able to reduce the risk of a bad trip on LSD or shrooms?

Contents

A list of supplements that may help reduce acute anxiety, and therefore help prevent a bad trip on LSD or shrooms

1. CBD

“Pretreatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in their speech performance, and significantly decreased alert in their anticipatory speech.” 1

Make sure that it’s 100% CBD and that there’s no THC. THC causes paranoia in many users, and is not recommended to be used with psychedelics. 2

Optimal dosage: 0.8 mg of CBD per kg. So if you weigh 70 kg/154 lbs, the dosage would be 56 mg of CBD. 3 4

Note: This assumes regular dose scaling between rats and humans. 4

2. Magnesium

200 mg of elemental magnesium, in the form of magnesium glycinate (good absorption and less GI-upset). 5 Alternatively, eat a lot of foods rich in magnesium like nuts, beans and fish.

Ideally take it once per day in the evening for a few weeks to allow your body to resolve it’s deficiency, but if you can’t do that then just taking 200 mg the night before and the day of would be good.

Why? Magnesium deficiencies in diet appear to induce anxiety. 6

3. Lavender supplements

“There appears to be a notable decreased in symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and with oral ingestion of lavender supplements; aromatherapy seems effective and implicated in reducing state anxiety (acute, situation based, anxiety), but has less robust evidence to support it. One study suggesting oral supplementation was comparable to lorazepam” 7

“To supplement lavender, take 80 – 160 mg of a supplement containing 25 – 46% linalool.” Source: Examine. Ideally, you’d take this every day with breakfast for a few weeks.

Can also use via aromatherapy: “Accurate dosing is difficult to determine during aromatherapy, but most studies use at least 30 minutes in a well-ventilated room.” Perhaps begin your trip like this.

4. Arginine and Lysine (Combo)

“We confirmed that, without regard to gender, the amino acid treatment significantly reduced both trait anxiety and state anxiety induced by cognitive stress battery.” 8

L-Lysine also seems to be beneficial for psychedelic induced nausea. 9 Thanks to dentopod for noting the nausea benefits.

How to take: Each day for 7 days before your event, take 2.6g Arginine with or without a meal, and then later on 2.6g Lysine also with or without a meal. 8 Take on the day of your event, too.

5. Treatments for psychedelic-induced nausea

Ginger

Examine: “Doses of 1-3g can reduce nausea and ease digestion quite effectively”

While not directly for anxiety, nausea can cause uncomfortable feelings.

“Typically, dosages of 1-3g are used as a preventative treatment for nausea.”

Ginger can be ingested via several ways, and the following is an approximate standardization table for 1g of Ginger Extract:[3]

A capsule that has 1g ginger extract in it

A teaspoon of fresh, grated, rhizome (the vertical aspect of ginger root)

2 droppers (2mL) of liquid extract

2 teaspoons (10mL) of syrup

4 cups (8 oz each) ginger tea, steeping 1 ⁄2 teaspoon grated ginger for 5–10 min

8-oz cup ginger ale, made with real ginger

2 pieces crystallized ginger, each 1 inch square, 1 ⁄4 inch thick

Thanks to Borax for the suggestion to include Ginger.

Lemon oil

“Lemon scent can be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.” 11

How to take: Perhaps inhale some lemon essential oil before beginning, and also have more on hand to inhale as soon as you feel nausea.

Thanks to dentopod’s posts for suggesting this.

Peppermint oil / menthol

Peppermint oil can treat postoperative nausea. 12 Menthol is found in peppermint oil and other natural oils.

How to take: Perhaps inhale some peppermint oil before beginning, and also have more on hand to inhale as soon as you feel nausea.

Thanks to dentopod’s posts for suggesting this.

Ondansetron / Zofran (Rx)

“Ondansetron, marketed under the brand name Zofran, is a medication used to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery.” 13

Don’t combine Zofran with MDMA (thanks sneakish-snek).

How to take: Follow directions on the packaging to take the day of your event.

Pharmaceutical back up options for anxiety

Oral 10mg Valium (diazepam) is used as a back up in psychedelic research, though is almost never needed, with human reassurance from a trusted, sober and experienced sitter usually being enough to help.

“In these cases, we recommend a 10 mg oral dose of diazepam (Grinspoon and Bakalar, 1979).” Xanax is slightly less ideal than Valium, but can be used as an alternative, with 0.5-1mg being roughly equivalent to 10mg Valium. 14

Other potential supplements

I don’t recommend these yet due to uncertainty about possible downsides when combining them with psychedelics.

Kava. Interesting anti-anxiety properties

Phenibut, perhaps at 500mg – 750mg dosage. Has rave reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. Though one concerning anecdote related to LSD + Phenibut, hence the lack of recommendation: 1

Did you know that certain supplements may be able to reduce the risk of a bad trip on LSD or shrooms?