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Is CBD Considered a Supplement?

Cannabidiol (CBD) has become a household name in recent years. Its use has grown in leaps and bounds, leaving researchers with plenty to study. Many people who use CBD attest to its incredible effects. 

Indeed, a 2022 SingleCare survey showed that 68% of CBD users find its therapeutic potential compelling. So, they use it for all kinds of health issues ranging from pain management to stress. 

Some of CBD's therapeutic effects are supported by scientific research, while others are anecdotal. Still, this has not prevented this cannabis compound from making a name for itself among natural supplements.

As the popularity of CBD continues to grow, there is an ongoing debate as to whether or not it is a supplement. To answer this question, we'll probably first have to define a supplement. We will also examine how the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) perceives CBD and the implications of these perceptions on whether it is a supplement.

Broadly speaking, a supplement is a product that complements a regular diet. It is different from conventional food but can supply some of the typical nutrients we derive from food. 

They come in different forms, including liquids, capsules, tablets, soft gels, gel caps, gummies, powders, and energy bars. Common supplements are minerals (e.g., calcium, iron, magnesium), vitamins (e.g., vitamin D, biotin), botanicals (e.g., ginger, ashwagandha), amino acids (e.g., glutamine and tryptophan), and live microbials (or probiotics).

By and large, these types of supplements are known as dietary supplements. They help improve overall health by enabling you to meet your daily nutrient requirements. For example, your body produces calcium and vitamin D to help build strong bones. However, you can take vitamin D or calcium supplements to boost your body's supply of these essential vitamins and minerals.

The health benefits of many supplements are well established. However, more research is still needed to establish the benefits of other supplements. It is also noteworthy that supplements, like the name suggests, simply support and cannot replace conventional food.


Key takeaways

  • CBD is many things – a natural supplement and an herbal supplement. However, it is not a dietary supplement.
  • CBD works by supercharging the endocannabinoid system, making it more effective.
  • Research is underway to establish how CBD works. At the moment, it is thought to have numerous pathways via which it exerts its effects.

FDA's stance on CBD

The FDA's stance on CBD and other cannabis-based products guides our position on this debate, i.e., whether or not CBD is a supplement.

According to the FDA, "to the extent a product is intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent diseases, it is a drug, even if it is labeled as a dietary supplement."

What's more, under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act as amended in 1994, the FDA has no authority to approve dietary supplements for efficacy and safety or their labeling before being sold to the general public. 

It is the duty of dietary supplement manufacturers to ensure their products are safe for human consumption as per the standards set for dietary supplements.

Be that as it may, dietary supplement manufacturers can introduce their products into the market without notifying the FDA. The FDA's oversight role only kicks in once the products are on the market. In other words, dietary supplements are not controlled substances.

With the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (also known as the 2018 Farm Bill), the FDA's mandate to regulate the production and marketing of hemp and its derivatives widened. 

Among other things, it explicitly reinforced the agency's authority to "regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds" as stipulated in the FD&C Act and Section 351 of the PHS (Public Health Service) Act.

Consequently, any product containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds is FDA-regulated. This is true regardless of whether the product or compounds are obtained from hemp. 

Besides Epidiolex, a CBD-based medication, Syndros and Marinol (both synthetic), the FDA has not approved the marketing of cannabis or its related derivatives for treating any health condition or disease.

As a result, FDA is concerned about the influx of products claiming to contain CBD and supposedly marketed for their medical or therapeutic value without the express approval of the agency. The FDA reiterates that the sale of such products with unsubstantiated medical claims not only puts users at risk but also violates the law.


Is CBD considered an herbal supplement?

Yes. By definition, herbal supplements are products typically derived from plants or plant parts like roots, flowers, seeds, seed oil, or berries. These products are primarily used for their healing properties. 

Further, herbal products come in different forms, e.g., liquid extracts, capsules, tablets, ointments, and oils.

Going by these descriptions, CBD is an herbal supplement. Some of its perceived healing properties include pain and inflammation relief, stress reduction, sleep improvement, and seizure management.


Is CBD a dietary supplement?

No. FDA concluded that CBD products do not meet the definition of dietary supplements as spelled out in section 201 of the FD&C Act. This section expressly states that any product with an active ingredient for which clinical investigations have been authorized and the results made public is not a dietary supplement but a drug.

It is easy to see why some people think CBD is a dietary supplement. For starters, CBD products are often labeled with the information therein indicating the types of cannabinoids in the product, their concentrations, potency, and recommended dosage. 

Similarly, dietary supplements are also required to have nutrition information (Supplements Facts) which includes serving size, number of servings, amount of ingredients per serving, all the dietary ingredients in the product, and a statement identifying the product as a "dietary supplement."

CBD products are often marketed as supplements and not medication. Consequently, their safety and purity are not regulated by the FDA. One downside of this is that users cannot be sure the product they are buying has the ingredients advertised on the label. 

Laboratory test reports paint a picture of an industry fraught with mislabeling, underrepresentation, and/or overrepresentation of facts regarding what's really contained in CBD products. So, it is always important to buy CBD products from trusted brands.


Is CBD a drug or supplement

There are several drugs on the market that use either natural or synthetic CBD as an active ingredient, e.g., Epidiolex, Marinol, and Syndros. So, if it forms part of a drug's composition, it can be considered a drug. 

Moreover, CBD is often marketed as a compound with medicinal properties. For these reasons, CBD is more of a drug than a supplement.


How does CBD help the endocannabinoid system?

CBD essentially supercharges the endocannabinoid system (ECS), making it more effective and efficient. 

The ECS is a network of millions of cannabinoid receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids (endogenous cannabinoids) that work together to ensure optimal body function. Even though the ECS mediates numerous bodily functions, homeostasis is regarded as one of its most important roles.

It is also believed to mediate critical physiological functions like sleep, digestion, body temperature, mood, stress, learning, and memory.

CBD does not bind to the primary receptors CB1 and CB2, which is why it is considered a CB1 and CB2 receptor antagonist. This basically means it suppresses activities on these receptors. It does this by blocking their active sites so other molecules cannot completely bind to them.

Nonetheless, its antagonistic actions on the CB1 and CB2 receptors are thought to stimulate wide-ranging processes like pain, and sleep improvement.

CBD's action mechanisms are not well understood. It is believed to have numerous pathways thanks to its ability to interact with other non-cannabinoid receptors such as the G-coupled protein receptors (GCPRs), ion channels (e.g., TRPV1, TRPA1), and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs).

Research is ongoing to fully understand how CBD affects the endocannabinoid system and its implications on your health.


Our CBD products

Our products are of the highest quality and are expertly formulated to give you the relief you seek. So, if you want improved focus and concentration, we recommend our FOCL Day capsules. These pack a plethora of herbs (e.g., Rhodiola Rosea, Bacopa Monnieri, L-Theanine, and Lion's Mane) to boost cognitive functioning, in addition to helping the mind stay focused and keeping the body relaxed.

For people with difficulty sleeping, our FOCL Night capsules are the go-to. Like the Day Capsules, these are packed with herbs that promote deeper, longer sleep, like Passionflower, Valerian, Hops Cones, and Griffonia Simplicifolia. It also has premium hemp CBD to help the mind relax and relieve muscle tension.