Everyone seems to be using CBD these days, for everything from allergies to anxiety to arthritis.
But because it’s so new to the world of health and wellness, there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding it.
Is it safe? Is it effective? And just how do we harness the power of CBD for use in women’s health?
Today we’ll dive into these questions with an honest conversation where we separate fact from fiction and break down some misconceptions surrounding CBD, THC, and their uses.
What is CBD?
Because it’s been everywhere lately, you’ve likely heard of CBD or CBD oil. But what is it, exactly? And how is it used?
CBD – short for cannabidiol – is the second most common ingredient from the cannabis plant, with the other being THC. It’s often extracted from the plant and mixed with other oils – such as coconut – to make CBD oil.
There are many ways to take CBD: orally – via pills, dissolving capsules, edibles, or sprays; or topically – through creams, lotions, gels.
If you’ve heard people praising the benefits of CBD, it’s for good reason: CBD is used to manage a variety of symptoms and conditions, such as:
- Chronic pain related to various illnesses (including women’s health conditions)
- Nausea and vomiting
How is CBD different from THC?*
CBD and THC, the main ingredient in marijuana, both come from the same genus of plant (cannabis). Though both compounds affect neurotransmitters in your brain that give them similar therapeutic effects, only THC causes you to feel “high.”
“It’s mainly the THC molecule that is the intoxicating cannabinoid in the plant,” says Dr. Monica Vialpando, CEO of Via Innovations, a scientific research team dedicated to the advancement of cannabis products.
What if I apply a product with THC to my skin? Will that make me high?
Both CBD and THC topicals are designed to relieve localized muscle pain only, and only to permeate the skin in small and localized amounts. They are not designed to enter your bloodstream, though small amounts do.
“Cannabinoids are very hard to get through the skin,” says Dr. Vialpando. “The upper layer of skin, the stratum corneum, essentially acts as an armor to protect us – it’s very hard to get anything through it.”
However, that’s not the case in mucosal regions – where the blood supply is greater, the absorption will be higher. This leads us to our next question…
How are CBD products currently used in women’s health?
In the US alone, CBD sales rake in over $600 million – expected to hit $2 billion in a few years – with much of this being marketed to women.
There’s much potential for these products in sexual health and wellness – a market that’s currently exploding. One of these products is CBD-containing lubricant.
Caution: neither CBD nor THC lubricants have been cleared or approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Claims that they can help reduce inflammation of vaginal tissues, or reduce pain during sexual intercourse, are unsubstantiated and therefore are being made impermissibly. There are no well-controlled clinical studies to support the use of CBD-containing products to the vagina or vulvar tissues. This brings us to safety concerns…
Vaginal and vulvar skin is made up of mucosal tissue and therefore has a higher bioavailability – the amount of a drug that enters circulation – so it’s important to do your homework and choose products that are formulated for use in the pelvic area specifically, with these skin tissues in mind. CBD-containing products applied to the vulva and vagina have not been scientifically tested to demonstrate that they are safe.
CBD-containing products have not been tested to demonstrate that they are compatible with condoms. Because CBD is usually oil-based it can break down latex, so it’s not a good idea to use it with a latex condom when trying to prevent pregnancy or STIs.
What should I look for when using CBD or THC products?
Federal and state regulations vary on CBD- and THC-based products and the market is ever-evolving. Because of this, the product quality can differ significantly from one manufacturer to another. Here’s what to consider when browsing the market:
Review the company’s website.
Check out their mission statement and the About Us page – how transparent are they in their processes, standards, and practices? What education do they provide around their products? Do they list potential side effects or unintended results? Do they make unsubstantiated treatment claims?
Was the product made in a GMP facility?
Products developed using Good Manufacturing Practices must adhere to certain standards required by the US FDA.
Is the product clearly labeled? Product ingredients and byproducts can vary and may not be consistent from batch to batch. Look for clear ingredient labels.
Does the company focus on one type of CBD/THC product, or many? If they’re selling sexual wellness products side-by-side with vape pens, gummies, and other products that vary in their use and effectiveness, BEWARE. Nutritional supplements are held to different FDA standards than products applied to the intimate tissues of the vulva and vagina.
We hope this information has helped you learn more about the use of CBD and THC products so you can make a thoughtful decision about how to use them to meet your needs. (Note: Be sure to check your local state laws for the legal use of CBD and THC.)
For a non-CBD lubricant that helps with vaginal irritation, check out Mia Vita, our FDA-cleared product that helps with vaginal dryness and irritation.
**This article was based on an episode from Love Mia Vita, FemmePharma’s podcast. To listen to the full episode, click here.**
*At this time, the only FDA-approved use of CBD is for seizures.