In the past couple of decades (beginning with the 1996 legalization of medical cannabis in the state of California), cannabis-related research and products have gradually penetrated the mainstream. However, in the last few years, the exposure and demand for these commodities has soared, leading to the development of publicly traded commercial giants (such as Medical Marijuana, Inc.) and also to the appearance of thousands of short-lived dubious endeavors hoping to profit from the fashion.
An exciting and not at all insignificant chunk of the business is products featuring cannabidiol (CBD for short). Its potential has long been touted in the scientific community and has also been recognized officially, by many governmental agencies.
Nevertheless, when discussing dietary supplements containing cannabidiol in the United States, we are already in gray territory. Technically, current FDA provisions should make these supplements disappear from the market, yet the reality is opposite. One of the many such concoctions is “Element X,” subtitled “advanced cannabidiol formula,” and informally dubbed “the miracle pill.”
In this review, we will brush, in passing, against the merits of cannabidiol products in general, but you should stick with us to find out if you should rush Element X order, or better spend your money elsewhere.
Element X at a Glance
The first impression that copy promoting Element X makes to the trained eye is that of your typical CBD pill, from the lower rungs of the pecking order. All the signs are obvious: an inflated logo, more than optimistic claims about possible benefits, scarce information about the ingredients and their dosage. Also, the high number of disclaimers and the fact that all the websites advertising the supplement are single-page, image- and testimonial-abundant, mistake-laden endeavors quickly suggests more of the same. To add insult to injury, the promotional video on YouTube has been uploaded by a marketing agency – KKDesign Marketing – an outfit that does not even possess a website, and it is a one-minute rambling in a Darth Vader reminiscent tone which would not do justice to even the most useless commodity on the market.
The facts presented in the above paragraph along with the packaging, pricing, and manner of ordering Element X (30 capsules in a bottle; $75/bottle for a one-bottle order; $65/bottle for a 3-bottle order; $55/bottle for a 5-bottle order) bring to mind a short-lived CBD supplement, furiously marketed on the web a few months ago – Elevated Health’s Hemp Oil Miracle Pill. Every aspect of Element X, from the hyperbolic slogans to the disclaimers and order procedure, mirrors the now mercifully departed Hemp Oil Miracle Pill Bearing in mind the almost inexistent hard information on Elevated Health and the less than complimentary reviews for their hemp oil supplement, one cannot help but conclude that it does not bode well for our verdict on Element X, but we should not get ahead of ourselves.
For a better understanding of this curious, but considering past experiences not altogether surprising situation, we should explain the relationship between CBD and hemp oil. In the world of dietary supplements, especially those of doubtful quality, these two terms are used interchangeably. However, this does not reflect the technical, scientific taxonomy.
There are three subspecies of cannabis, speaking from a botanical point of view – Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Cannabinoids (biochemical compounds found almost exclusively in the cannabis plant, of which more than 100 have been isolated thus far) are to be found in every subspecies, though generally, in very different concentrations.
Since before the advent of dictionaries, much less cannabis-related research, plants cultivated for industrial purposes (textile fibers and seed oil) have acquired the “hemp” designation. The problem with using the often encountered name “CBD hemp oil” is that hemp (generally planted in northern Europe and from the ruderalis kind) has a low concentration of phytocannabinoids, the reason why consuming hemp does not typically produce the psychoactive effect associated with marijuana. The most potent “high” usually comes from consuming the leaves of the indica sub species (although careful breeding can bypass the rigid classification presented here), while medicinal interest has been sparked by the sativa variant. The current consensus among scientists holds that Cannabis sativa has the best cannabinoid balance, with cannabidiol accounting for a little less than half of plant extract.
Hemp oil, both for cooking and that which makes its way into dietary supplementation, has its origin in the seeds and stalk of the plant. There is a two-pronged problem here: the leaves are the part with the highest concentration of cannabinoids, and that a useful plant should have been part of a crop carefully monitored beforehand by a specialist in the first place.
This is why most “over the counter” cannabis-related products, and Element X is no exception, do not divulge the actual CBD concentration, because the manufacturers themselves do not know it. After all, the process of analysis is a costly one, and the plant itself is shipped from somewhere thousands of miles away because cannabis plantations are still mostly illegal in the United States. Element X, on the other hand, is one of those cases where the “made in the USA” label is conspicuously attached, without any further other detail.
This muddled use of interchangeable designations – hemp oil, CBD hemp oil, cannabidiol from hemp, pure CBD, CBD oil, etc. – has only one purpose: to breed confusion in the minds of impulsive shoppers (the favorite target of these less-than-stellar marketing endeavors) or in people whose sufferings have not been alleviated by conventional therapies.
Cannabidiol is currently analyzed in FDA programs for possible inclusions in future federally-sanctioned medicines, thus recognizing its potentially dangerous impact (possibly beneficial and detrimental to general health). This means that dietary supplements containing (or just advertising) CBD should be slowly disappearing instead of continuing their popularity march.
Element X’s Claimed Benefits
The hyperbolic sum-up of Element X – “fuel for the mind and body” – is supposed to be achieved through six interrelated improvements in the consumer’s physical and psychic processes. Naturally, there are no scientific studies cited to support these claims, so we have investigated possible connections between these benefits and up-to-date related inquiries on the effects of cannabidiol. The material consulted comes from one of the most respected and complete repositories on cannabidiol research available.
As a side note before we analyze these claims, the detrimental image of this product is further enhanced by the other assertions that are never elaborated upon – 100 percent natural ingredients from unmodified plants (although their origin is never disclosed, except for the fact they are from the USA); “fast acting formula” (with no time-frame as to the beginning of its effects, other than the 30-day money-back guarantee – a gratuitous footnote considering the only contact information is a phone number for a call center shared by many other services and cited on many other websites). With that said, it is time for the evidence to speak to the validity of Element X’s claim:
All cannabidiol pills place anxiety management at the top of their touted benefits, and it is not for alphabetical reasons. The two best-researched cannabinoids (CBD and THC – tetrahydrocannabinol the most evidently potent cannabinoids, responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana, among others) have both been linked with alleviating anxiety, caused by a multitude of factors. Studies involving cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol, both separately and together in concoctions with different proportionalities, have proved to be particularly effective against anxiety symptoms induced by chronic stress.
A fairly recent study (2016), published in the Translational Psychiatry journal, alludes to cannabidiol being a neutralizer of chronic stress. Such conditions were created for several groups of rodents with cannabidiol administered in personalized doses (in relation to body mass and time spent in said conditions). The study revealed that cannabidiol acts as a short-term stress reliever, by encouraging the production of anandamide in the brain, a chemical whose deficiency is associated with chronic stress.
On the other hand, a more relevant (human) study was published in 2011 in the Neuropsychopharmacology journal. This particular endeavor examined the possibility of cannabidiol helping individual exhibiting symptoms of General Social Anxiety Disorder (GSAD). Subjects receiving a single dose of 600 mg of pure (99 percent) cannabidiol performed much better in a public speaking setting than their placebo-administered counterparts. The paper concluded that while these results are indeed promising ones, more large-scale and sophisticated studies are needed before an irrefutable link is made between GSAD alleviation and CBD.
Chronic Pain Decrease
The media exposure of cannabidiol began with the confessions of a certain celebrity treating pain resulting from fibromyalgia. While anecdotal evidence of benefits in the context of personal CBD supplementation exists in abundance, the best results have still been achieved in a more official setting.
Chronic pain resulting from issues other than fibromyalgia is currently treated (besides the traditional therapies) with medical marijuana, which is much more than CBD and terpenes (the ingredients of Element X). At present, a solution containing approximately 9 percent THC (from a total of 25 mg dose of a complex of cannabinoids) shows amazing results in the reduction of pain from certain neuropathic conditions, osteoarthritis, and diabetes-related pain. It is useful to add that no serious clinician proposing cannabis therapies advocates using just cannabidiol in the management of serious pain.
The proven benefits of cannabidiol come with little or no side-effects. This is why mainstream pharmaceutical companies and the respective governmental agencies are pursuing this avenue of research. And it would have been great news for cannabidiol to combat such a widespread condition, as some current drugs against insomnia do more harm than good.
The fact of the matter is that cannabidiol has the potential to be used in cures for insomnia, with the only scientific clue so far being a small-scale rodent test. These types of claims can better be attached to THC, with this cannabinoid having the potential to seriously alter (for better or for worse) sleep patterns in all mammals studied thus far, including humans.
Improves Overall Mood
a slight increase in your general disposition may have infinite potential other causes, not to mention the power of suggestion on people who have reported such changes from cannabidiol ingestion. We are far from denying this claim altogether, but these types of facts are not quantifiable, and no serious resource on CBD lists this (rather flimsy) claim as a worthy subject of research.
Boosted Mental Capabilities
Again this a very vague assertion. Scientists are inquiring on the effects cannabidiol has on patients suffering from neurological and psychiatric disorders with optimistic finds thus far with epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, schizophrenia or Parkinson’s. Based on Element X’s sketch of a reputation until now, we can only add this item to the long list of ambiguous, umbrella terms they use in the absence of a carefully thought out promotional strategy.
Indeed cannabidiol has powerful anti-inflammatory effects, with hundreds of studies pointing it out. Furthermore, it works as an anti-oxidant, partially neutralizing the by-products of chronic inflammation, as a link between the two damaging processes clearly Nevertheless, the road from realizing a certain potential to formulating a dose, frequency, and method of administration is a long one. In these circumstances, placing your hopes in a product which does not even state the amount of CBD it contains is not a very wise move.
Possible Unclaimed Benefits of Element X
There are just three listed components of Element X – cannabidiol, terpenes from the cannabis plant, and phytonutrients – with official copy focusing on CBD. There are however several affiliate websites which mention, in passing, possible benefits from the other two class of compounds.
The cannabis sativa plant contains more than 100 different types of terpenes, and as is the case with every extraction process, remnants of the original product are bound to make their way in the end-result. Let us take a brief look at the terpenes thought to be part of the Element X pill:
- Eucalyptol – having a composition resembling eucalyptus oil in a proportion larger than nine tenths, this essential oil is thought to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Its current chief use is in the manufacturing of mouth wash, and as is the case with most essential oils, larger doses produce toxic effects. On the medicinal front, eucalyptol is an alternative treatment for sinusitis.
- Linalool – touted by some affiliate marketers to have immune boosting effects, it is extracted from a variety of plants (not just cannabis) and used in the cosmetic industry. In larger doses, it can cause skin irritation and upper respiratory tract damage if inhaled. There are no recognized medicinal applications.
- Limonene – one of many substances encountered in alternative medicine, it takes its name from the plant it is most often extracted from, though it may also be manufactured It produces no ill effects to humans, limonene has numerous uses in flavoring foods and beverages, and also in the perfume industry.
- α-Pinine – as you might have guessed, this is a terpene secreted by trees, taking its name from the pine tree. Traditional Chinese medicine applies bandages draped in pinine for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, with some overly-optimistic bloggers generalizing these effects. Naturally, it should not be used internally in large quantities as it can prove toxic. It is the main raw material in the artificial odorants industry.
Phytonutrients in Element X should benefit the consumer because they reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, fight inflammation and stave off infection. This is all a gross and primitive generalization. Phytonutrients are a large class of substances, designating practically all the plant tissue that can be assimilated by animals (humans in this case). Everybody knows that a vegetable-driven diet is best for overall health and leads to the aforementioned goals. But this implies ingesting impressive amounts of vegetables, not a single pill per day. Competent authorities in every civilized country have warned the population that phytonutrients from dietary supplements have not shown to have the same effects on general health as those assimilated from a steady diet.
The Verdict on Element X
The future is bleak for vendors of Element X. There are few encouraging aspects regarding both the composition of the supplement and fewer even in its marketing strategy and the history of its manufacturer. In a nutshell, only the possible benefits of cannabidiol may extend to the product proper. But there are other CBD supplements out there – cheaper, more trustworthy, certified; in a nutshell, there are other much better supplements.
And then there are manufacturers that actually make an effort. They make an effort to engage the public, an effort to at least feign concern for the customer. We are not naïve; as proper pharmaceutical companies are daily found to be lacking even traces of moral compass. But put simply, the manufacturers of Element X (most likely the regrettable Elevated Health) insult their potential clients’ intelligence.
One of the best pieces of advice to give is to remember the hallmarks of promoting Element X: overly-optimistic statements, gross generalizations, vague information, half-truths, and the list can go on. Try to identify patterns when faced with other situations, because there is always another Element X out there, already arrived or in the making.