Top CBD Questions, Answered

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This article first appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of NewBeauty. Click here to subscribe.

Q: Is CBD legal?
A: Yes and no, and here’s why. Last December, CBD enthusiasts celebrated big when Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, removing industrial hemp from the Schedule 1 drugs list and greenlighting farmers to grow hemp more freely. “This means hemp-derived CBD products are now legal to ship in the U.S., which has led to the recent retail boom,” says Kelly Bumgarner, cofounder of Cannuka.

Q: How important is sourcing when it comes to CBD?
A: “High-quality hemp is key to a premium CBD product,” Ashley Lewis, cofounder of CBD e-tailer Fleur Marché, stresses. “Hemp is a ‘bioaccumulator,’ meaning it absorbs anything in the soil around it. If it’s grown in or around areas where there are pesticides or heavy metals, it will suck all that bad stuff right up. So, it’s important to know that the hemp in your product is grown according to the highest standards tested to ensure its purity.”

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Q: With ingestibles, how much do I need to feel results?
A: “Dosing is not one-size-fits-all—it’s based on multiple factors, like age, weight and diet,” says Lewis, who notes that finding your “Goldilocks Zone”—the perfect dosage for beneficial effects—is key. “Studies show that once you find your optimal dose, increasing that dose can sometimes make CBD less effective. It definitely requires a bit of trial and error.”

Q: What is the “Entourage Effect”?
A: “Researchers theorize that a ‘broad-spectrum’ or ‘full-spectrum’ whole plant extract makes CBD readily absorbed,” says Lord Jones cofounder and president Cindy Capobianco. “The idea known as the ‘Entourage Effect’ is that when cannabinoids, terpenes and other plant matter combine, the efficacy is greater than one used in isolation, known as CBD isolate.” Some experts say isolates are inferior, although they still yield health and beauty benefits.

Q: What are terpenes?
A: Terpenes provide the cannabis plant with its aroma and flavor, and also constitute most of the essential oil it produces. “It has recently been discovered that they can also create synergy with cannabinoids, such as CBD, and take part in the varied pharmacologic effects, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-infective, analgesic, antioxidant, and potentially even anti-cancer,” says David S. Younger, MD, New York neurologist and author of The Science of Medical Cannabis. “However, more research is needed to identify the best way to utilize them.”

Q: Can I ingest or apply too much?
A: According to Adam Friedman, MD, professor and chair of dermatology at George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, we don’t have great data on this yet—it’s only been studied in rats—but “applying a lot of CBD topically is probably not an issue, short of anyone who has a sensitivity to CBD or the other ingredients in the product.” While CBD is generally deemed safe, the experts we interviewed agree that more research is needed to scientifically validate its effects.