CBD Oil – Hype or Wonder Drug?
From A-list celebrities to Bob down the road, everyone seems to be taking CBD oil. But does it really have the beneficial effects it’s said to?
Before you spend your hard-earned cash on a bottle of CBD oil, let’s take a look at what the research shows.
Considering most people hadn’t heard of CBD a few years ago, it’s quite incredible that this product has become the talk of…well…the entire Western world.
The promises we hear from CBD sellers are certainly intriguing. You might already be poised to buy some. But first, let’s take a look at what this oil is and whether it does anything positive at all.
What is CBD oil?
CBD stands for cannabidiol which is a cannabinoid. This is a natural compound found in cannabis or hemp. Once extracted from cannabis, CBD is removed from other cannabinoids, the most well known of which is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
CBD, like THC, is a psychoactive compound. CBD seems to have calming effects while THC is responsible for that infamous ‘high’ sensation.
Since THC is removed from the CBD oil, it won’t give you that ‘high’ sensation. Although these two are the main well known and researched compounds found in cannabis, there are at least 113 other known cannabinoids. We have no idea yet what effects these compounds might have on our body in the short or long term.
Why has CBD become so popular?
This is obviously a hard question to answer and I’m sure it’s a combination of several reasons.
My central hypothesis is that it appeals to the human condition of wanting to find a simple solution/fix to our conditions or problems. Don’t we all want to find the easy route?
You can see this all the time in politics (I won’t mention the B-word), news bulletins and health. The headline is what gets all the attention and not the explanation.
I get this, especially as we are hit by an avalanche of information on a daily basis. We are inclined just to want the bottom line. Unfortunately, we only see the top line. As a result, marketers and newspapers will put the most gripping headlines first, even if this means distorting the facts.
There is also the factor of money or, more accurately, profits. The US CBD market is estimated to be worth $1.5 billion with the UK market predicted to be around £1 billion by 2025. If people can potentially make money out of it, then they will tell you it’s great and everyone needs it.
It reminds me of the charlatan in the film Pete’s Dragon (1977) (the younger generation will have no idea what I’m talking about). Once he found out there was a dragon (Pete), he realised he could make money using the dragon’s parts as treatments for ailments.
The implied idea is that, if a substance is exotic or precious (or even just being new), people will assume that it must have marvellous properties. I’m not saying CBD oil has no benefits, but if you hear that a substance is great for everything or can cure the once incurable, then alarm bells should be reverberating through your whole body.
Now, onto the research!
Is there any research for CBD oil?
- All Studies are listed.
- The main benefit that seems promising is that it could help relieve pain. Some of the studies I found seemed to combine CBD with THC and were potentially effective for people suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Note: a lot of these studies have been performed on rats, therefore further human trials are needed.
- Sickness relief from chemotherapy treatment for cancer. This was a small phase 1 trial, meaning they are only checking it is safe in a small group. The authors recommend going phase 2 to check the efficacy. This is promising but hardly definitive.
- I found a study that showed that Sativex (Sativex is the first cannabis-based medicine to be licensed in the UK) reduced multiple sclerosis spasticity by 74.6%.
- Reduced seizures by a median of 36.5%. These results varied depending on the type of epilepsy, so more research needs to be carried out specifically on these types. Some of these conditions included Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and the others had intractable epilepsy of different causes and types.
- A popular claim is that it can help with mental health problems. As far as I can find, CBD has little evidence of helping with depression, anxiety or other mental health problems.
Should we be using CBD oil?
In the short term, CBD oil seems relatively safe, although most of the conditions that it appears to be ‘helping’ tend to be more chronic problems. So we have to understand the long term risk vs benefit, information we do not have at the moment.
I am very sympathetic when I read stories of parents ordering illegal cannabis-based products from abroad for their children who suffer from seizures, especially if their child’s next seizure could potentially be fatal.
But we can’t have (in my opinion) parents deciding what medical products are safe and have good efficacy for their children. This is why we have medical experts and doctors that spend their careers rigorously testing and studying these subjects.
Even if we decide that we want to take CBD, as it is not regulated, you cannot be sure what you are getting.
- The New Scientist reported a study which tested 240 products from the US. It found that, ’70 per cent were contaminated with heavy metals, as well as pesticides and toxic mould’.
- The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis also found similar, varying results of 30 CBD products found in the UK. One product that cost £90 for a 30 millilitre bottle contained no CBD oil whatsoever. This is part of the problem, until CBD oil is regulated we just don’t know what you are purchasing.
I think, overall, CBD oil seems promising in some areas and it will possibly (maybe soon) be approved for some particular conditions.
But for the average person out there who’s considering taking it for anxiety, depression or any general ailment, I would suggest caution. The potential benefits may not outweigh the possible adverse effects.
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My video on this subject
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