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Is the hype about CBD, or cannabidiol, real?

Not that long ago, I would not have been able to tell you what the acronym “CBD” stood for, let alone what it was used for. CBD, or cannabidiol, is most commonly extracted from hemp, but it can also come from marijuana plants, which is why it is sometimes confused with its trippy chemical cousin THC. Unlike CBD, THC produces a high when smoked or eaten.

Today, we are living in a CBD world, with tinctures, ointments and vaping oils popping up everywhere. Celebrities from Gwyneth Paltrow to Willie Nelson are CBD believers, and if you frequent the right coffee shops, you can even get a shot of cannabidiol in your latte.

In my small North Carolina town, a flier at the local convenience store exhorts me to “experience the phenomenon” of CBD products, promising it can provide “relief from” diabetes, alcoholism, schizophrenia, back and knee pain, and other conditions.

“Everybody who buys the product comes back and raves about it – including my mother,” the enthusiastic checkout clerk says.

And, I must add, including me.

I am now taking a CBD tincture daily. After all the hype, I wanted to see whether it might have a positive impact on my lifelong struggle against depression. (To be clear, the tincture I use is based on hemp-derived CBD, which contains less than 0.3 percent THC, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinol. That’s not enough to get high even if I drank the entire bottle, several experts explained.)

Despite the growing popularity of CBD, the science supporting the claims remains pretty slim at this point. So why so much interest in a substance researchers still know so little about? I’d say hype, hope and big bucks.

CONTINUE @ SF GATE