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Examining The Effects And Benefits Of CBD, The 'Quiet Cousin' Of THC

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MIAMI (CBSMIami) – Anyone suffering from any number of ailments, from seizures to aches and pains , from anxiety or stress to insomnia, may have heard of a natural remedy called cannabidiol, or CBD, for short.

But what exactly is CBD?  It's the quiet cousin of THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana.  CBD comes in oils, creams, teas, even gummies.  And people are increasingly using it for relief.

"I knew when he was a toddler something was different," mom Jaqueline Ehrenreich describes of her now 12-year old son.  "He didn't talk right away.  He would rock a lot.  He wouldn't look at us."

When Christian Montalvo was five years old doctors diagnosed him with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and they said he was on the autism spectrum.

"It broke my heart," says Jaqueline.  "We didn't even put him on medication at first when the doctors told us."

Doctors eventually did put the boy on a handful of medications to treat the ADHD, the autism and even anxiety.  But Christian's mother says her son got worse instead of better in those six years on meds.

"Violent meltdowns. He would throw things, say inappropriate things.  He would nibble," she explains about Christian's eating habits.  "He was very picky."

Then last year Christian's parents switched gears.

"So we got into the CBD industry with Dr. Herve," Jaqueline says with relief.

Doctor Herve Damas is a board certified medical physician in Miami.  Damas is also a former NFL linebacker.  That history combined is what led him to CBD a few years ago.

"I wasn't a cannabis believer, enthusiast," says Dr. Damas.  "You get to a point where you're like, 'Well, what do I got to lose?'  I can't sleep.  I'm in pain.  I have these crazy headaches.  And anxiety all of a sudden."

cbd doctor and patient web
(Source: CBS4)

CBD is taking South Florida by storm.  More and more people turn to it hoping to get away from prescription pain killers and finding relief in a more natural way.

Florida even passed a bill recently leading to more hemp farms and its cultivation.

"Most of the people that wind up coming to me have either tried other things with no results or terrible results, bad side effects," explains Dr. Damas.  "I use a lot of CBD.  And I found that a lot of people wanted CBD for the exact same reason, because they want to be able to function during the day.  'I need to be able to take care of my kids'.  'I need to be able to perform well at my job'.  'I need to be clearheaded'."

While hemp and marijuana are both members of the cannabis plant family, they are very different.  CBD is non-psychoactive, its receptors are primarily located in your immune system.  Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is psychoactive with receptors primarily located in your brain.

The THC in marijuana is what gets you high.  The CBD from hemp does not.

"Everyone just wants to feel better," the doctor points out.  "Do well and feel comfortable with the decisions and choices they're making."

Since coming to Dr. Damas eight months ago, Christian's parents and Dr. Damas have weened him off prescription meds.  Now he only relies on CBD gummies for his ADHD and austism.  Jacqueline says her son has noticeably improved.

CBD Gummies

"His temper tantrums and meltdowns, we've noticed a significant difference in his behavior.  He also had a lot of sleep issues.  He sleeps pretty well now.  Now he eats us out of house and home."

The U.S. Farm Bill passed in late December 2018, in part legalizing hemp farming again.  One research firm expects it will boost the already-growing CBD market, soaring past $20-billion by 2022.

Still, CBD is only FDA regulated for a rare type of childhood epilepsy.  It's still the wild west for everything else.

"It's a difficult space because there's a lot of snake oil being sold and a lot of people who are looking to profit quickly off of the enthusiasm or off of the buzz that's in the space," Dr. Damas says.

How much you should take and the quality of products are not legally established.  And, Dr. Damas warns side effects are always a possibility

"I've had people come into my office and say, 'I got CBD from a gas station and it made me sick'.  Or, 'I went into a smoke shop and it didn't work'.  'I bought this for this dollar amount and I took it and I feel nothing'.

So how do you protect yourself? Start by checking labels.  They should look similar to other supplements including dietary and manufacturing information, lot numbers and expiration.  Also research the brand and make sure where you buy the product from is reputable.

If possible, seek a doctor's guidance.

You can find more information from Florida's Department of Health by clicking here.

And learn more about Dr. Herve Damas, and his own CBD product line, by clicking here.

By Donna Rapado

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