There’s a fast-growing part of the cannabis industry that doesn’t involve pot: a compound known as cannabidiol, or CBD. Some use it for a variety of conditions including anxiety, insomnia, depression and seizures. Unlike THC, one of the other components in marijuana, CBD won’t make you high.
All but four states allow its use. But CBD does not have FDA approval. The supplements are largely unregulated and haven’t been studied at length.
About two months ago, Jules Hunt, a 26-year-old New York-based wellness blogger, started taking CBD oil once a day. Hunt told us the oil – recommended to her by her doctor – helps her stomach problems and the anxiety that comes with them.
“What did you first notice when you started to use it?” asked CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula.
“I think you start to feel it a bit over time and then you realize, ‘Oh, wow, I slept a lot better that evening. I didn’t wake up in a panic thinking about my long to-do list for the next day,'” Hunt said.
CBD is one of many compounds derived from cannabis. Another is THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. Unlike THC, pure CBD products won’t produce a euphoric effect.
But Drake University clinical sciences chair Tim Welty said it’s difficult to know how well the products work.
“The actual effectiveness from a scientific point of view is really difficult to define because there’s a lack of well-done scientific studies,” Welty said.
Although limited studies show CBD can help with epilepsy, he said there are potential side effects.
“Drowsiness is common and then GI complaints,” Welty said. “Then there’s the potential concern about damage to the liver.”
Last year the FDA sent letters to four CBD manufacturers alleging some products didn’t “contain the levels of CBD they claimed.” Hunt said that’s why “you have to do your research.”
“You definitely don’t want to just buy any CBD oil out there,” she said. “You want to talk to your doctor who can recommend the cleanest forms out there.”
Despite the unknowns, the CBD industry is growing.
Cannabis data analytics firm New Frontier Data predicts CBD sales will nearly quadruple over the next four years, from $535 million in 2018 to over $1.9 billion by 2022.
“We’ve seen our sales grow tenfold in the last year,” said Rob Rosenheck. He and his wife, Cindy Capobianco, are co-founders of the California-based company Lord Jones.
The company’s “wellness lotion” is a customer favorite.
“They’ll use it before a workout or after a workout for a recovery. They’ll use it for skin conditions from eczema to psoriasis to sunburn… headaches and neck aches, joint pain,” Capobianco said.
People with arthritis, MS and lupus are turning to products like CBD-infused lotion help manage their pain, while some rub it on their feet for a night out in heels.
In Washington, D.C., celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn is finding success with his CBD-infused water business.
“It’s another plant. It’s just like matcha, it’s just like a coffee bean… it has just gotten a bad rap from marijuana,” Mendelsohn said.
Though Hunt is feeling the benefits of CBD, she doesn’t think it’s the only reason her health has improved.
“I think it’s a combination of things,” Hunt said. “A really healthy diet, avoiding my allergens and taking CBD oil and following the supplements that my doctor prescribed to me. That in combination is making me feel better as a whole.”
We spoke to Hunt’s doctor who told us she’s recommended CBD oil to dozens of patients for migraines, bowel conditions, insomnia and menstrual cramps. She said the oil is often a last resort for people who have unsuccessfully tried other solutions. She urges patients to be careful about using CBD if they’re already taking other medications.