The New York Times Takes on CBD

Nearly everyone I know is taking some form of CBD. Jiu Jitsu athletes are rubbing it on their muscles before training to reduce soreness and accelerate heating. Executives are eating it during the day to calm themselves. Insomniacs are taking it to fall asleep. My coevals are using it in to ease arthritic joints. And my therapist is selling vials of it to her patients to cure whatever ails them.

So when I saw the cover of a recent issue of The New York Times Magazine promising to reveal the truth about this new miracle substance, I was interested. From what I’ve seen of its coverage, the NYT doesn’t jump on new health stories. It tends to wait 5 or 10 years until the story is practically a cliché. Then it features a long essay on it.

But here we were, just a year or so into the early findings, and CBD was on the cover. And it got the cover right. The headline: The ABCs of CBD by Moises Velasquez-Manoff. Below that: an image of a gummy bear surrounded by the claims being made for CBD, including…

  • lowers blood sugar
  • lessens arthritis pain
  • prevents anxiety
  • reverses depression
  • slows Parkinson’s
  • curbs anger
  • treats Crohn’s disease
  • promotes recovery from opioid addiction
  • calms dogs

The question is: Which, if any, of these claims are true?

In the cover story, Velasquez-Manoff, pointed out that we are years away from answering that. The problem is the scarcity of scientific research. And the reason for the scarcity is that CBD comes from the same plant (cannabis) that produces marijuana (a class I drug). As such, the medical community has been largely prohibited from studying it scientifically.

The best proof so far that CBD may actually be helpful in treating disease relates to childhood epilepsy. As for the rest of the claims, there’s been little more than anecdotal evidence.

I want to believe that CBD works. But my own experience with it has been disappointing. I’ve taken it orally in two forms (oil and gummy bears) without any noticeable effects. And I’ve been rubbing a cream into my thumbs, again without any sign that it works.

Maybe it’s because the products I’m using aren’t good quality. This is apparently a real possibility, with thousands of vendors reselling hundreds of wholesale products, some of which are made in China.)

So I’m still hopeful. I haven’t entirely given up on it. I’m going to try some other brands and see if they work any better. If they do, I’ll let you know.

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Facts About CBD 

CBD stands for cannabidiol, a molecule derived from the cannabis plant. Unlike THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), its better-known sibling, CBD won’t get you high. But it is – and this contradicts what you’ve probably heard – psychoactive. Psychoactive simply means that it affects the mind. And CBD does that. It influences the body’s endocannabinoid system, altering the release of neurotransmitters in the brain.

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Slaughterhouse Five

This month, Bob S challenged us with 2 books and a movie. The books were Slaughterhouse Five and Cat’s Cradle(both by Kurt Vonnegut). The movie was Slaughterhouse Five.

I watched the movie last night. It is part anti-war and part time-travel. And it is well done on both accounts. The hero, Billy Pilgrim, is a classic modern tragic figure who is traumatized by his past life, bored by his present life, and hopeful for a better life in the future. Yet he is unable to change anything. Being “unstuck in time,” as he puts it, allows him to move back and forth through his past life as a prisoner of war during the firebombing of Dresden, his present life as a successful optometrist, and his future life as a caged animal in a zoo.

The transitions are cleverly done through a variety of techniques: musical cues, camera angles, images, sound effects, and gestures. Ultimately, it’s an ironic statement about the futility of human volition and the absurdity of large-scale human “achievements” such as war.

Note: Nearly the entire enchanting soundtrack is Bach’s 5th Concerto, arranged by Glenn Gould.

Here’s the trailer:


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volition (noun) 

Volition (voh-LIH-shun) is the act of making a conscious, deliberate decision regarding an action that you intend to take. As I used it in my mini-review of Slaughterhouse Five, above: “Ultimately, it’s an ironic statement about the futility of human volition and the absurdity of large-scale human ‘achievements’ such as war.”

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An email from JB:

Hi Mark,

 Just want to thank you again for your idea of a big all access pass type offer. We have just crossed over $1mil in sales from that idea….

We are now setting our sights on $10mil and I’m confident I can hit it….

 Thanks again. 


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Bill Bonner on “How America Goes Full-Venezuela”

It doesn’t take a genius to understand that Venezuela’s economic policies had a lot to do with its current problems. But unless you dig into it, you may not realize how lethal Communism was. This very engaging essay by Bill Bonner is a good, quick introduction with a historical perspective.

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