Hemp has been outlawed in the U.S. since 1938. Thankfully, the latest Farm Bill signed into law at the end of 2018 makes it legal. In this interview, board-certified clinical nutritionist and expert on phytocannabinoids, Carl Germano, discusses the exciting implications of this change.
Now, there’s a difference between cannabidiol (CBD) products made from hemp and those made from marijuana. While many mistakenly believe hemp and marijuana are interchangeable, they’re actually two different plants.
“Both are considered Cannabis sativa by genus and species, but that’s where the similarity ends,” Germano explains. “Hemp has been cultivated for many reasons for the past few thousand years — food, clothing, fiber and fuel. The plant itself contains naturally occurring active compounds called phytocannabinoids, of which CBD is just one of them.
Marijuana, on the other hand, has been cultivated for its primary phytocannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While it has recreational value at small levels, it does have medicinal value.
Nevertheless, many decades ago, hemp got dumped into the definition of marijuana. Hemp was unjustly placed into the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which kind of hampered its access, its ability to have U.S. farmers grow it, or to have even medical or academic institutions study it.
We’ve been in the Dark Ages for decades. Thanks to Israel and Europe, who’ve championed all the research, we’ve [discovered] the cannabinoid system in the body called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
Trump did sign a Farm Bill that finally deregulates hemp. It takes it out of the CSA … It gives the rights of farmers to grow it. It will open up the doors for academic and medical institutions to study it. It will give consumers access to [what is] probably the most important botanical we have on this planet.”
Why Whole Hemp May Be Better Than Isolated CBD
The hemp plant contains over 100 different phytocannabinoids, of which CBD is one. And while hemp has now been taken off the CSA, CBD is still under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for the labeling of supplements and enforcing the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).
“With the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), you have several things against CBD. First, CBD was not in commerce prior to 1994, so it could not be grandfathered as a dietary supplement, yet hemp oil has been in commerce prior to 1994, so we’re OK there.
Secondly, DSHEA states that if you want to submit a new dietary ingredient application, you can do so and petition the FDA for an ingredient to be classified as a dietary supplement.
Well, if you were to do that today, you would get rejected immediately because the other part of DSHEA states that if Big Pharma takes a natural ingredient and makes a drug that gets approved, it’s hands-off to the dietary supplement industry.
GW Pharmaceuticals has two drugs using isolated purified CBD in it. Therefore, we’ve got several strikes against putting CBD on the front panel, calling it a dietary supplement, and I say, why bother? Because the story is much bigger than CBD, both clinically, scientifically and legally.”
Hemp oil is a food that happens to have CBD in it. But while CBD may not be legally advertised on the label, CBD-containing hemp products can be labeled as having phytocannabinoids — the class of compounds to which CBD belongs. While CBD has gained the most attention, CBD alone cannot fully support your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). You need the other phytocannabinoids and terpenes, which are very complementary to the phytocannabinoids, as well.
“Those of us in botanical medicine understand that the sum of all the parts of the plant is greater than any one single ingredient,” Germano says. “Let’s face it. There’s more than one ginsenoside in ginseng. There’s more than one curcuminoid in curcumin. There’s more than one isobutylamide in Echinacea. There’s more than one ginkgolide in ginkgo.
Well, there’s more than just one phytocannabinoid in hemp. Back in 2011, Dr. Ethan Russo in the British Journal of Pharmacology1 … wrote about the entourage effect of all the phytocannabinoids and terpenes needing to be present to give rise to full clinical, meaningful benefit …
While CBD may be the most dominant phytocannabinoid in hemp, the others are there in minor in number, but they are not minor in the body as they all participate in nourishing, supporting the ECS, which is the bigger story.”