Frequent readers of this space will know how strongly we believe in the health and wellness benefits of Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil. At the same time, that feeling is not necessarily unanimous in today’s society. Anyone who has tried to explain the potential of Hemp products to their loved ones likely has encountered some resistance, a result at least in part of long-held misconceptions of cannabis as a harmful drug.
Attitudes, to be sure, are beginning to shift. Acceptance levels of Hemp have risen alongside its popularity, with increasing populations around the globe realizing its potential benefits and lack of side effects compared to synthetic treatment alternatives or even its organic cousin, the marijuana plant.
Still, one belief seems to persist among large parts of the population, and much of it likely comes directly from that organic cousin. You won’t need to search for long to find someone who strongly believes that, advantages or not, Hemp Oil and CBD products are addictive. And what good is temporary relief, when it leads to long-term dependence on a product?
The truth, of course, is not that simple. Or, to be clear, it might be that simple, but in the opposite direction. Join us for an exploration of whether CBD and Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil products are addictive, why that answer differs from marijuana plants, and what to keep in mind as you consider using Hemp Oil supplements in your own health and wellness routine.
Debunking a Myth: Are CBD and Full-Spectrum Hemp Products Addictive?
Let’s begin with a clear and short answer: so far, medical studies have shown no evidence that Hemp products are addictive. Especially in recent years, the medical community has devoted increasing effort to studying CBD and other cannabinoids, looking for evidence in its positive effects in anything ranging from treating depression to epilepsy.
Cannabis, thanks to both CBD and other ingredients, has shown promise in a number of areas. What these studies have not shown, though, is any link to potentially harmful addictions.
Of course, this is a complex topic. Different scientists can have very different ideas about the meaning of addiction:
- In its strictest definition, it’s a disease that alters brain chemistry in a harmful way. Under this definition, the addiction is physical, with the body requiring whatever is needed of that harmful substance.
- Other scientists follow a more loosely defined concept, considering anything addictive that promotes extreme, repetitive, and harmful behaviors preventing you from their healthier alternatives. This type of addiction is psychological, causing dependence by force of habit and feelings of euphoria rather than physical dependence.
Under that loose definition, any behavior taken to the extreme—from computer gaming to cleaning—can become addictive. The stricter definition is reduced to chemical reactions, such as narcotic pain killer addictions.
Studies to date have shown that Hemp Oil, and CBD in particular, fall under neither of these categories. In fact, a 2017 review of these studies by the World Health Organization came to that exact conclusion:
“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
The WHO cites, among others, a 2016 study in which adults who took CBD did not see negative changes in heart rate, blood pressure, or cognitive function. In fact, their vital signs performed similar to those of a placebo when it came to intoxication.
Of course, more medical evidence coming to the same conclusion will be beneficial and necessary to ensure that, even with all the benefits Hemp Oil produces, it will not lead to either physical or psychological addiction to anyone taking it. As it stands, though, the current evidence leads to exactly that conclusion, with little reason to suggest otherwise.
How is Hemp Different From Marijuana?
While the medical evidence clearly points to CBD and Hemp not being addictive, the same thing cannot be said for marijuana—another variety of the cannabis plant with one significant difference in the ingredient list.
Hemp differs from marijuana in a few central ways, which we’ve previously detailed in this space:
- Marijuana contains THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol), while Hemp does not. In fact, Hemp is legally required to contain less than 0.3%. THC, of course, is the psychoactive ingredient that can make its users feel high or euphoric, and (as we detail below) has shown to have at least some addictive qualities.
- Hemp Oil is legal in all 50 states, as long as the Hemp plant is grown and processed in a state where it is legal. Marijuana, on the other hand, is still illegal on a federal level and in a number of states.
- Hemp Oil has different health benefits than marijuana. While studies have shown both to help in a variety of areas, those areas differ between Hemp and marijuana. It’s important to understand these different benefits and health effects while considering either as a treatment.
THC: The Addictive Component of Marijuana
Let’s dig a little deeper into the core difference between Hemp and marijuana: THC, the potentially addictive component in the latter. As it turns out, many of the statements made above are the exact opposite when considering this ingredient.
For instance, the same study cited above that did not cause abusive effects any more than a placebo would showed that marijuana, likely thanks in large part to THC, “reliably produced abuse-related subjective effects.” Those effects included a rapid heart rate and euphoria, which have been linked with addiction in other studies.
In reviewing a number of studies on the same subject, the National Institute for Drug Abuse found that 30% of adults who use marijuana reported some level of marijuana use disordered, defined as follows:
“Marijuana use disorders are often associated with dependence—in which a person feels withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug. People who use marijuana frequently often report irritability, mood and sleep difficulties, decreased appetite, cravings, restlessness, and/or various forms of physical discomfort that peak within the first week after quitting and last up to 2 weeks.”
In extreme cases, these symptoms resulted in what the NIDA termed addiction, the inability to stop the drug use even as it interfered with other aspects of their live. The review concluded that an estimated 9% of marijuana users become addicted under the terms of that definition.
It’s important to reiterate, though, that these conclusions were based on marijuana use only, and the studies reviewed generally linked that dependence and addiction to THC. So while marijuana abuse and addiction may be a problem, there is no evidence that these conclusions are relevant for Hemp—and the NIDA states as much.
In other words, the addictive properties of marijuana seem to have been unjustly linked to Hemp, and the various CBD and Hemp Oil products coming from that plant, in the public eye. That’s especially unfortunate considering that, according to current medical evidence, Hemp Oil is not just non-addictive but actually has tangible anti-addiction health benefits.
Non-Addictive Benefits of Hemp Oil and CBD
We’ve written in the past about the potential health benefits of Hemp Oil, which can range from help with stress and sleep to soothing inflammation. However, one important component within these benefits that deserves further explanation is how, in addition to being shown as addictive, the same product might actually help to prevent addiction in the first place.
Again, the science is still incomplete. But the early evidence is certainly promising.
One review of studies, published in 2019, concluded CBD to be a “promising treatment for substance use disorders.” According to the authors’ conclusions of a wide range of studies, CBD has reversed or reduced:
- Toxicity and seizures induced by cocaine,
- Behavioral sensitization induced by amphetamines,
- Motivation to self-administer cocaine and METH,
- Context- and stress-induced reinstatement of cocaine and priming-induced reinstatement of METH seeking behaviors.
Beyond these potential benefits, the authors also found that CBD may help to treat symptoms of cocaine and meth withdrawal, helping to prevent a potential relapse after detoxification and sobriety.
Another review of studies, dating back to 2015, found similar effects for nicotine and marijuana addiction. Examining 14 individual studies, the authors found that cannabinoids can play a core role in treating both the symptoms of addiction and withdrawal, though they did conclude that more evidence would be necessary for scientific consensus.
How Hemp Products Can Replace Addictive Painkillers
Another anti-addictive benefit of Hemp-based products is more indirect, but could be just as significant. For years, the opioid academic has caused significant concern among scientists and medical professionals, with painkillers becoming one of the biggest sources of addiction in the United States.
The problem has been especially significant among professional athletes, who both incur frequent injuries and can’t simply take days off when they do. Hemp-based products offer a potentially significant remedy, replacing painkillers with a non-addictive alternative.
The benefits of Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil for professional athletes are particularly illustrative of this potential solution:
- Hemp Oil has the potential to help pain relief, especially when it comes to difficult-to-relieve pain. Studies are beginning to suggest it as a safer alternative to opioids and NSAIDs like Advil and Tylenol.
- Hemp Oil has the potential to help athletes recover faster from injuries, helping the muscles to relax and the body to rest when it needs to.
- Hemp Oil has the potential for stress relief, going all the way to potentially relieving anxiety-related symptoms. That allows the body to focus on recovery and performance, staying healthier as a result.
These benefits, of course, are not reserved for professional athletes. They apply to anyone otherwise needing to rely on painkillers, positioning Hemp Oil and CBD products as a potentially viable, non-addictive alternative for anyone looking for natural treatments and pain relief.
Potential Side Effects, Risks, and Future Outlook
The current evidence is clear: Hemp Oil is not just non-addictive, but has the potential to play an active role in both preventing and treating addiction when it occurs. Considering the growing problem of addiction across the United States, that’s a significant statement that at least deserves further examination and confirmation.
Like any supplement or treatment, Hemp Oil does have potential side effects that are important to mention. According to the FDA, potential side effects of CBD products include:
- Decreased appetite
- Mood changes and irritability
- Drowsiness or sleepiness
And, in rare cases, liver injury or an increase in side effects of other legal or illicit drugs. These side effects are rare, of course, and it’s important to reiterate that addiction is not among them.
Still, despite the fact that Hemp Oil doesn’t have addiction-related side effects like forming addictive habits, it’s important to establish a daily routine with consistent doses. That consistent dosage can help to make sure that you minimize the risk of any side effects and maximize the potential benefits you can derive.