It may feel like cannabidiol, or CBD, comes up in conversation a lot right now—and there’s good reason. The promises behind it are big: Supporters of the compound claim it helps them with relaxation, sleep quality, pain management, and more. (And with the unique stressors we’re under right now, we could use a little more of all of that.) But there’s a lot more to CBD than you might know. Here are a few hemp derivative trivia tidbits for your next Zoom happy hour.
Fact No. 1: It’s zenning out two elephants in a Polish zoo.
In August 2020, the Warsaw Zoo made an announcement: Two of its elephants, Fredzia and Buba, are receiving CBD oil treatments to help ease their anxiety. According to CNN, it seems Fredzia was having a hard time adjusting after the death of one of her pack mates and had been asserting dominance over Buba. The hope was that CBD’s relaxing powers, which are thought to come by way of the body’s natural mood-regulating endocannabinoid system, may help ease the pachyderms’ stress.
Fact No. 2: It could extend the life of strawberries.
CBD could be the fountain of youth...at least for a little red fruit in your fridge. In a recent study in Postharvest Biology and Technology, strawberries that were treated with CBD oil stayed fresher when checked eight days later, and they showed lower levels of yeast and mold growth. Scientists point to its antimicrobial properties, which could give the oil a host of other applications as well.
Fact No. 3: It’s not new (though it might feel that way)
Unless you’ve been following the journey of hemp closely, CBD may seem like it popped up out of nowhere. But scientists have known about its existence for decades—it was first isolated from the rest of the plant in 1940 by the chemist Roger Adams. The derivative didn’t get much attention until recently, however, when the 2018 Farm Bill differentiated the production of hemp from its sister marijuana and made it legal. Ever since, researchers have been working to get hard evidence to catch up to the public’s interest in the derivative. Current trials are looking into its impacts on anxiety in advanced breast cancer patients, joint arthritis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even COVID-19.
Fact No. 4: It has an FDA stamp of approval
While CBD needs to be studied more before we make any big determinations about what it can and can’t do, the FDA has given it its stamp of approval in one case: as a treatment for certain types of seizure disorders in children. Epidiolex oral solution, a brand name for pharmaceutical-grade CBD oil, was approved in 2018 after a clinical trial found it effective in reducing the occurrences of seizures in young patients with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes, two seizure disorders. While it’s not totally clear how it works to prevent the neurological condition, scientists believe it may block the GPR55 cell receptors that trigger the episodes.
Fact No. 5: It might block the negative impacts of THC—and help with THC withdrawal.
While folks often ask if CBD has the same intoxicating effects of marijuana (it doesn’t), some research indicates it may actually be the antidote to some of drawbacks of THC, the chemical that produces the drug’s high. A 2013 study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry found that CBD, which contains less than .3 percent THC, to be neuroprotective and concluded that it can counteract marijuana’s signature impairments of memory, attention, locomotion, perception, and response—although the authors did note that study results have not always been consistent. Another study found it may also help chronic marijuana smokers cut back on or quit the drug, alleviating common withdrawal symptoms such as sleeplessness and anxiety.