CBD Oil: Miracle Cure-all or Snake Oil (14 facts)

CBD, you can’t go online or walk into any spa, drugstore, supermarket or health store without seeing some type of CBD product, it’s everywhere. It can now be found in coffee’s, chocolates, tea’s, bath bombs, jams, vaping oils, scented candles, milkshakes, smoothies, face cream, gummies, ice cream, oil, capsules, sprays, creams, doggie treats, hamster food and peanut butter. It feels like there is a race on to get CBD into as many products as possible to cater to the growing fad.

It’s advertised as a cure for physical and mental fatigue, anxiety, inflammation, depression, insomnia, chronic pain, nausea, seizures, schizophrenia, acne, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma, stress and cancer.

There are even CBD-containing sexual lubricants for women which aim to reduce pelvic pain or enhance sensation. Talk about a miracle! If CBD oils or products can cure, or even assist in curing, a quarter of the ailments claimed, then it’ll literally be the most incredible discovery of our generation.

One can’t help notice the claims (on the more reputable websites) are prefixed with words like, “popular remedy for..”, “is believed to help…”, “could potentially reduce…”, “one study seemed to suggest…”, “could benefit…” or “some believe…”.

Why all the caveats and vague claims? Where is the scientific evidence? Is there any evidence?

Actually there is, but for what exactly?

A family member recently, and very kindly, offered me a few products (from a reputable source) to try. I’ve been fortunate enough (in this case) to have led the type of life which makes me a pretty good test subject for CBD products.

I’m on the spectrum, I’ve broken numerous bones, had 9 operations, mental illness, severe allergies, depression, insomnia, a heart condition, dislocations, multiple torn tendons and a snapped knee. I don’t know what a perfect test subject for CBD looks like, but I’ve got to figure I’m somewhere close.

I trust the source of the products given to me (which is important) and I consulted my doctor before embarking on the regimen. I was also careful to read ample reputable scientific studies carried out (thus far) on the potential side effects of CBD products. The evidence seems to suggest that, if taken from a reputable manufacturer, at the recommended dose, there is minimal chance of side effects. I did however take note of what these side effects might look like in case I was one of the unlucky ones who encountered them.

So, I popped a couple CBD tabs, swallowed a few drops of CBD oil, rubbed some CBD ointment onto my aching knees, rolled up my sleeves and dived head first into researching the world of CBD products, uses and cures.

So, what exactly is CBD and where does it come from? 

CBD is short for cannabidiol, one of the compounds in the cannabinoid family which, in nature, is found only in the cannabis plant. (its official scientific name is Cannabis sativa l.).

THC — short for tetrahydrocannabinoid (try say that when you’re stoned)— is the other highly abundant cannabinoid present in cannabis. THC is found only in the marijuana plant while CBD is found in the hemp plant. THC is what gets you high. It’s also what makes your eyes red, causes you to forget where you put your car keys (and your car) and stops your tummy letting your brain know when food has arrived.

THC and CBD exert their effects in part by mimicking or boosting levels of endocannabinoids, chemical compounds that are naturally produced by mammals and found throughout our bodies. Endocannabinoids play an important role in regulating mood, memory, appetite, stress, sleep, metabolism, immune function, pain sensation, and reproduction. Which is why smoking weed can cause happiness, hunger, relaxation, forgetfulness, paranoia, sleepiness and pregnancy.

How is Cannabidiol Different From Marijuana?

The first thing you notice after you take any CBD products is an immediate lack of getting stoned. No matter how much CBD you consume, you will not get high.

CBD is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of the cannabis family. While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), as I mentioned above, it does not cause a “high.”

According to a report from the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of mental health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD”.

Is Cannabidiol Legal?

CBD is readily obtainable in a growing number of countries around the world and in most parts of the United States (though its exact legal status in the US is fluid). All 50 American states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction, and while the federal government still considers CBD in the same class as marijuana, it doesn’t usually enforce against it.

In December 2015, the FDA eased the regulatory requirements to allow researchers to conduct CBD trials. Currently though, many people in the US obtain CBD online without a medical cannabis license. The government’s position on CBD is confusing, and depends in part on whether the CBD comes from hemp or marijuana.

The legality of CBD in America is expected to change, as there is currently bipartisan consensus in Congress to make the hemp crop legal which would, for all intents and purposes, make CBD difficult to prohibit.

What the General Public Thinks

There is no better way of determining what the public at large feel about a subject than by looking at their search patterns and search terms on the most popular search engine in the world. I hooked up to the USA through my VPN and popped the term “CBD oils” into a Google algorithm I use and these were the first 27 results that popped up:

what is cbd oil good for

cbd cure for cancer

full spectrum cbd oil                                    

cbd products                    

cbd for my baby              

pros and cons of cbd oil               

cbd cream for pain                        

cbd oil benefits 

cbd and new born baby               

cbd oil near me for inflammation                            

cbd oil for dogs

best cbd oil for dogs with cancer                             

cbd oil for dogs

cbd oil side effects                        

pros and cons of cbd oil for anxiety                        

cbd oil for anxiety in kids                            

best cbd oil                       

cbd oil near me               

where to buy cbd oil                     

cbd oil for pain  

cbd oil benefits                                              

cbd cream for pain                        

cbd oil for arthritis                                                       

cbd gummies                   

cbd for anxiety 2020                                    

microdosing cbd for anxiety

After recovering from my horror about results 5 and 9, I thought it was safe to assume that people seem to be taking claims about CBD very seriously. What did worry me about each of these searches and their results is that the sites they were being directed to were those selling CBD products.

It will be no surprise for you to learn that sites selling CBD products all think the product is great and claim it cures almost anything you have an issue for. One site I found was suggesting CBD oil would prevent ingrown toenails (the evidence for this was that, not a single person who was rubbing it on their toes had reported an ingrown toenail).

What I was expecting to see from the public’s searches were phrases like, “studies on CBD oils” or “scientific proof of CBD oil effectiveness”, but there just weren’t any. People seem to believe in what they have heard the product does and then merely search for evidence to support their beliefs.

I’m a science geek and I like to test things or look for peer reviewed articles on subjects before believing in them or their claimed effectiveness. I realise I’m a bit of an outlier in this regard but I am continually stunned that more people aren’t interested in what experts in different fields have to say on a subject.

CBD is Big Business

The 1 piece of concrete evidence I did find out immediately about CBD products is that business is booming. In 2019 global CBD sales reached an eye watering $2.8 billion.

By 2024, these 5 countries will begin to pull away from the rest in cannabis consumption:

United Kingdom ($547 million by 2024)

Mexico ($1.02 billion by 2024)

Germany ($1.35 billion by 2024)

Canada ($5.18 billion by 2024)

United States ($30.1 billion by 2024)

And by the year 2026, global sales of legal CBD products are expected to be worth a staggering $89 billion!

It almost makes you wonder, is CBD in fact a miracle plant or, is selling it as a cure for almost anything, just a sure-fire way to make a great deal of money from people who will believe almost anything?  (with an estimated 80 million Americans believing that hydroxychloroquine could cure Covid-19, I think the latter is more likely)


UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative (CIR)

The UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative (CRI) is a strategic initiative out of the UCLA Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. As one of the first university programs focused on the multidisciplinary study of cannabis, they aim to bring together experts from diverse fields to advance the understanding of the plant’s impact on body, brain, and society.

Despite unprecedented access, nearly a century of research restrictions and funding barriers have contributed to a lack of scientific knowledge about cannabis and hemp, particularly in regards to the therapeutic potential and the industrial applications.

Their mission is to address the most pressing questions related to the impact of cannabis legalisation through rigorous scientific study and discourse across disciplines.

The Evidence for Cannabidiol Health Benefits

Dr Jeffrey Chen (MD/BS/MBA) is executive director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative.

Dr Chen unpacks the UCLA CRI’s findings:

“In preliminary animal studies, THC and CBD exhibit some similar effects, including pain-relievinganti-inflammatory properties, anti-oxidant and neuroprotective effects. In some early research, they’ve even shown the ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in animals, but years of rigorous studies need to be conducted before we’ll know whether they have the same impact on humans.

Due to decades of research restrictions in the US and growers’ focus on THC, there are very few human studies that look at CBD and its effects. The strongest evidence we have is that CBD can reduce the frequency of seizures in certain rare pediatric disorders — so much that a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex was FDA-approved in 2018 for this purpose.

There is also preliminary human data from small clinical trials with dozens of subjects that suggests CBD may have the potential to be used for conditions like anxietyschizophreniaopioid addiction, and Parkinson’s diseaseBut please note that the participants in these studies generally received several hundreds of milligrams of CBD a day, meaning the 5mg to 25mg of CBD per serving in popular CBD products may likely be inadequate. And even if you took dozens of servings to reach the dosage used in these clinical trials, there is still no guarantee of benefit because of how preliminary these findings are.

But while there is a lack of concrete and conclusive evidence about CBD’s effects, there is considerable hope. Recent legislative changes around hemp and CBD in the US and across the world have enabled numerous human clinical trials to begin, investigating the use of CBD for conditions such as autism, chronic pain, mood disorders, alcohol use disorder, Crohn’s disease, graft-versus-host-disease, arthritis and cancer- and cancer-treatment-related side effects such as nausea, vomiting and pain. The results of these studies should become available over the next five years.

Furthermore, in an effort to protect consumers, the FDA has announced that it will soon issue and enforce regulations on all CBD products. Buyers should beware because the products being sold today may contain contaminants or have inaccurately labelled CBD content — due to the deluge of CBD products on the market, government agencies haven’t been able to react quickly enough so there is currently no regulation in the US whatsoever on CBD products.

While CBD appears to be generally safe, it still has side effects. In children suffering from severe epilepsy, high doses of CBD have caused reactions such as sleepiness, vomiting and diarrhoea. However, we don’t know if this necessarily applies to adults using CBD because these children were very sick and, on many medications, and the equivalent dose for an average 154-pound adult would be a whopping 1400 mg/day. And while CBD use in the short term (from weeks to months) has been shown to be safe, we have no data on what side effects might be present with chronic use (from months to years).

CBD can increase the level in your blood of the blood thinner coumadin, and it can raise levels of certain other medications in your blood by the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does. A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So you cannot know for sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other (unknown) elements. We also don’t know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.

Right now, the most significant side effect of CBD we’ve seen is its interaction with other drugs. CBD impacts how the human liver breaks down other drugs, which means it can elevate the blood levels of other prescription medications that people are taking — and thus increase the risk of experiencing their side effects. And women who are pregnant or who are expecting to be should be aware of this: We don’t know if CBD is safe for the foetus during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, outside of certain rare paediatric seizure disorders, we scientists simply do not have any solid data on whether CBD can actually help the conditions that consumers are flocking to it for — conditions like insomnia, depression and pain. And even if it did help these ailments, we still need to figure out the right dose and delivery form. Plus, CBD is not without side effects.”

In Conclusion

Some CBD manufacturers have come under government scrutiny for wild, indefensible claims, such that CBD is a cure-all for cancer, which it is not. If the person selling you the product makes wildly unsubstantiated claims about the product’s effectiveness on cancer, Parkinson’s or animals (who can’t tell us how they feel), tell them to fuck off and perhaps purchase a dream catcher or some essential oils on your way out of the crazy shop.

Get your advice from studies written by scientists studying the products. Scientists who have no vested interest in the outcome of the studies. If a person is selling you a reputable product and informs you of what the studies or preliminary tests have suggested (that it may help with insomnia, anxiety or pain), then the person is likely trustworthy and the product can be trusted. Try it, it may work for you.

Remember, scientists who make breakthroughs will alert us by writing peer reviewed studies, they won’t go straight to YouTube, Donald Trump or “high Times” magazine.

CBD needs a lot more research. It might well prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain, but the likelihood of it curing schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease or cancer are very remote (like, life on Mars remote).

Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies, pinpointing effective doses for treatment of anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain, is difficult. And because CBD is currently mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it’s difficult to always know exactly what you are getting. If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor — if for no other reason than to make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking.


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