Cannabidiol (CBD) oil has become the hot new product in states which have legalized medical marijuana. The non-intoxicating marijuana extract is being credited with helping treat a host of medical conditions — anything from epileptic seizures to anxiety to inflammation to sleeplessness. But experts say the evidence is scant for the majority of these touted benefits.
Worse, CBD will be produced with no regulation, resulting in products that vary widely in quality, said Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry in the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “It truly is the Wild West,” Bonn-Miller said. “Joe Bob who starts up a CBD company could say regardless of the hell he wants on the label then sell it to individuals.”
Cannabidiol is taken from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants. It can not produce intoxication; marijuana’s “high” is caused by the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD oil is legal in 30 states where medicinal and recreational marijuana is legal, according to Governing magazine.
Seventeen additional states have CBD-specific laws on the books, according to Prevention magazine. Those are Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, N . C ., Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Strong Evidence for Treating Epilepsy – Only one purported use for cannabidiol, to take care of epilepsy, has significant scientific evidence supporting it. Last month, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel unanimously recommended approval in the CBD medication Epidiolex to treat two rare types of childhood epilepsy. “That’s actually the only area where evidence has risen to the stage where FDA has said this really is acceptable to approve a brand new drug,” said Timothy Welty, chair from the department of clinical sciences at Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, in Des Moines, Iowa.
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For the rest of CBD’s potential uses, there is certainly simply not enough evidence to create a firm conclusion. For instance, some human clinical trials suggest that CBD may be effective in treating signs and symptoms of anxiety, particularly social anxiety, Bonn-Miller said. This is actually the potential use for CBD with all the most evidence after usefulness in epilepsy, but “there’s a good gap between those two,” he said. “There were clinical trials in adults, but a great deal smaller compared to the epilepsy studies that have been completed in kids,” Bonn-Miller said. CBD’s usefulness being an anti-inflammatory medication is the next most promising, but those results come mostly from animal studies, experts said.
The Majority Of Uses Largely Unproven – The rest of the potential uses — as being an antipsychotic, antidepressant or sleep aid “have all been studied in animals, with only a couple of types of studies in humans,” Bonn-Miller said. And Welty said the studies who have featured humans for these particular other CBD uses have either been case reports or studies that did not compare results against a control group that failed to use the oil. “There’s no control, so it’s basically how can you determine if we’re coping with the real effect from the drug or just merely a placebo effect because somebody thinks they’ve been given a drug that might be beneficial?” Welty said. There also are concerns about both the caliber of CBD oil being produced and its potential side effects, the experts added.
Insufficient Regulation Also Concerning – Due to the legally murky nature of marijuana, the FDA has not stepped directly into regulate products like CBD oil, Bonn-Miller said. States are struggling to set regulations in place, but they don’t have the deep pockets of the federal government. Meanwhile, a 2017 study led by Bonn-Miller found that nearly 7 of 10 CBD products didn’t contain the quantity of marijuana extract promised on the label. Nearly 43 percent in the products contained inadequate CBD, while about 26 percent contained excessive, Bonn-Miller said.
“CBD is sort of a difficult drug because it’s not too well absorbed orally,” Welty explained. “Less than 20 % in the drug is absorbed orally. When it isn’t made in the right way, you possibly will not be getting much drug into your rheudv circulation.” Worse, about 1 in five CBD products contained the intoxicating pot chemical THC, Bonn-Miller along with his colleagues found.
“That’s an issue because THC can increase anxiety. It can actually make seizures worse. These are the types of things you need to be careful about,” Bonn-Miller said. “Basically If I were a consumer, purchasing it personally or my kid, I would want to test it in order that I knew what it actually had in it, because I couldn’t trust what was on the label,” Bonn-Miller concluded.
Potential Interactions Along With Other Meds – Studies on CBD also provide raised concerns about possible interactions with other drugs. For example, epilepsy studies found that “there were very clearly increases inside the blood levels of various other anti-epileptic drugs when individuals were on CBD,” Welty said.