Hemp oil and other CBD products are displayed at the Mokena Park District’s January Flea Market. The market for CBD, short for cannabidiol, has exploded. (Warren Skalski/Chicago Tribune) The bottle is smaller than I expected, only .23 ounces, for a cost of $35.
“Full spectrum hemp CBD oil,” its label states in small print. No compatible source was found for this media.
In smaller print are the words “dietary supplement.” Uh-oh, I thought. Anything and everything can legally fit under that vague description.
I was instructed to use the over-hyped product twice a day by filling the bottle-dropper half way with CBD oil and releasing it under my tongue. It doesn’t taste horrible, like cough medicine. It also doesn’t taste delicious, like pizza.
I did this daily for two weeks, totaling two small bottles of CBD oil, which is all the rage these days in America the Gullible. Or maybe it’s America the Painful. Or America the Desperate. In my healthcare file, it may be all three of those descriptions.
For years, I’ve experienced chronic knee pain, likely caused by too much jogging, biking and playing any sport with a ball. I’ve had tests performed on both knees, MRIs too, with more than one surgeon telling me to return to their office when my pain gets too much to bear. I’ve got a cyst in one knee, and a meniscus tear in the other. If I move my right knee a certain way, it feels like it’s being stabbed with a knife.
Still, I continue to jog and bike because, well, I’m stupid and stubborn. I’m a 57-year-old teenager who, like a dog, will eagerly run to catch a Frisbee if you throw it in my direction.
Recently, however, I’ve also been feeling chronic pain in my left wrist and right thumb. I had no idea why. Middle-aged aches and pains? Old sports injuries catching up to me? Did I fall while sleep walking and forgot about it? Who knows. My memory may be sprained.
On Thursday, I visited an orthopedic surgeon at University of Chicago Medical Center to thoroughly examine my painful problems. He diagnosed a torn ligament and out of place bones in my wrist, and arthritis in my thumb. Surgery has been scheduled.
I tell you all this because two weeks earlier I asked myself if it wouldn’t be easier, and cheaper, to first use CBD oil to see if it reduced my chronic pain(s). What if all those CBD lovers, sellers and marketers had a point. Could it really curb anxiety, treat insomnia, help focus emotions and relieve pain? I’m in.
One question: What exactly is it?
CBD, a hemp-derived cannabidiol, is a nonpsychoactive ingredient in cannabis, and one of more than 100 compounds found in marijuana, I learned.
It’s added to oils, mixed with creams and lotions, and sold in candies, drinks and liquid drops. It’s also becoming increasingly mainstream, the new and improved snake oil cure-all miracle product from the Old West. Step right up! Step right up!
“Eighty percent of people see a noticeable health difference in seven days,” said Kim Starcevich, of Crown Point, who sold me my first bottle. “The rest usually do within a month to 90 days. Most people end up finding some sort of improvement.”
I could definitely use some sort of improvement, I figured. Whether it’s miracle cure, a food additive or a dietary supplement, sign me up for a trial run, I told her.
She and her husband, Brian Starcevich, have been selling related products for the past year in addition to working their full-time jobs. They have 1,100 customers-slash-ambassadors, she said. The couple also sell “booster products” that have no hemp but which fire up the body’s endocannabinoid system, similar to the way hemp does, she said.
“One boosts sleep, one mental focus, one helps with swelling, and one for weight management,” she said.
Sounds great to me, I thought. I’ve had sleeping troubles for decades. My mental focus could use sharpening. I’ve needed to lose weight since fourth grade. And my entire midsection is swelling more each year. CBD sounded much better to me than surgery.
Plus, it’s available everywhere these days, like fast food and churches and smoke shops and liquor stores. Not too shabby of company, I say. National retailers such as CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid have announced they are introducing CBD topical products in some locations.
According to the Associated Press, cannabis-based products got a major boost late last year when President Donald Trump signed off on an $867 billion (billion!) Farm Bill that gave a green light for hemp to be cultivated on a large scale. If Wednesday is Hump Day in America, the other six days of the week are now hemp days.
Everyone and their sick pets seem to be jumping on the CBD bandwagon. It’s the cat’s meow for seemingly everything that ails you. I’d be more skeptical if I wasn’t in such pain at times. And there’s the rub with this mysterious product.
Should I believe the hype from millions of CBD converts, or should I believe the results of my two-week trial period? My research tells me that not enough scientific proof or evidence has been compiled and tested to prove that CBD can do all that it’s billed to do.
A 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 70% of CBD products were mislabeled, meaning users couldn’t be exactly sure what they’re using. Meanwhile, CBD research is underway or planned for everything from cancer and autism to alcoholism and chronic pain, according to that AP story.
“Results will take years, but some people aren’t waiting,” the story states.
It’s difficult to wait years for thorough, conclusive scientific research when your left wrist throbs, your right thumb aches, and your knees sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies – snap, crackle and pop! – when you run. So I understand the impatience to wait, and the importance of a potential panacea.
With that said, I felt no noticeable results or improvements from my two-week trial period of CBD oil and lotion. My surgery is scheduled for early June.
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