Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is considered 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 problems — from epileptic seizures to anxiety to inflammation to sleeplessness. But experts say the evidence is scant for many of these touted benefits.
Worse, CBD is being produced with no regulation, causing 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 a label and then sell it to individuals.”
Cannabidiol is obtained from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants. It does not produce intoxication; marijuana’s “high” is due to the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD oil is legal in 30 states where medicinal or 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 deal with two rare types of childhood epilepsy. “That’s actually the only area where the evidence has risen to the stage where FDA has said this can be acceptable to approve a whole 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.
Throughout CBD’s potential uses, there exists simply too little evidence to make a firm conclusion. As an example, some human clinical studies claim that CBD may be effective in treating symptoms of anxiety, particularly social anxiety, Bonn-Miller said. This is actually the potential use for CBD with the most evidence after usefulness in epilepsy, but “there’s a reliable gap between the two,” he explained. “There were numerous studies in adults, but a great deal smaller than the epilepsy studies which have been carried out in kids,” Bonn-Miller said. CBD’s usefulness as an anti-inflammatory medication is the following most promising, but those results come mostly from animal studies, experts said.
Many Other Uses Largely Unproven – The remainder of the potential uses — as an antipsychotic, antidepressant or sleep aid “have been studied in animals, with only one or two samples of studies in humans,” Bonn-Miller said. And Welty said the studies who have featured humans for these other CBD uses have either been case reports or studies that did not compare results against a control group that did not use the oil. “There’s no control, so it’s basically how do you know if we’re coping with the actual effect of the drug or just merely a placebo effect because somebody thinks they’ve been given a drug which will be beneficial?” Welty said. There also are concerns about both the standard of CBD oil being produced along with its potential unwanted effects, the specialists added.
Lack of Regulation Also Concerning – Because of the legally murky nature of marijuana, the FDA has not yet stepped directly into regulate products like CBD oil, Bonn-Miller said. States are struggling to set regulations set up, however they don’t possess the deep pockets of the federal government. Meanwhile, a 2017 study led by Bonn-Miller learned that nearly 7 of 10 CBD products didn’t contain the amount of marijuana extract promised on the label. Nearly 43 percent in the products contained inadequate CBD, while about 26 percent contained too much, Bonn-Miller said.
“CBD is sort of a difficult drug because it’s not so well absorbed orally,” Welty explained. “Less than 20 percent from the drug is absorbed orally. If it isn’t made in the right way, you might not receive much drug in 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 a difficulty because THC can increase anxiety. It may can even make seizures worse. Those are the kinds 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 really actually had within it, because I couldn’t trust what was on the label,” Bonn-Miller concluded.
Potential Interactions With Other Meds – Studies on CBD also provide raised concerns about possible interactions with some other drugs. For instance, epilepsy studies found that “there was very clearly increases within the blood degrees of some other anti-epileptic drugs when individuals were on CBD,” Welty said.