Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson

CBD basics: What you need to know

8/29/2022 by Sonya Peters, P.A.-C., M.S.


You've heard plenty about CBD products, and you may have even tried them. But what are the issues and concerns with CBD?

What it is

CBD is a nonpsychoactive derivative of cannabis, also known as marijuana. In other words, you can't get high from it. 

The opioid epidemic and chronic pain have driven interest in using CBD products to treat pain. More studies are exploring its effectiveness in relieving pain, but data are still limited. 

Complicated to study

The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has approved only one CBD product — a prescription drug used to treat certain seizures. Other CBD-containing products are illegal at the federal level, even if these products are legal in some states. 

No standard regulation

Neither the FDA nor other federal regulatory agencies oversee the production or distribution of CBD sold from dispensaries or on the internet. States that have legalized CBD products expect the growers, processors and dispensaries to self-regulate the production, marketing and sales of these products. As a result, products may not be pure, the concentration and dosing may not be accurate, and the labeling may be misleading. 

Among CBD products sold online, studies report significant differences in CBD concentrations. There is no consensus on recommended doses. Studies have identified contaminants in CBD, such as pesticides, metal particles and synthetic cannabinoids, along with molds, bacteria and aflatoxins. These contaminates may have entered the plant while it was growing. 

What you need to know — for now

What you need to know about CBD is there's a lack of evidence for the popular uses of CBD products. And there's a risk of contaminants, as well as misleading labels and legal issues. 

Before using CBD products, talk to your health care professional to determine if CBD could potentially interact with drugs on your medication list. To learn more about CBD, check out the Natural Medicines website and Mayo Clinic's story on the benefits of CBD

Sonya Peters, P.A.-C., M.S., is a physician assistant in Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson's Division of Community Internal Medicine, Geriatrics and Palliative Care at Mayo Family Clinic Northwest. Her areas of special interest are women's health and procedural medicine.