CBD: Safe and effective?
January 17, 2023
Prescription cannabidiol (CBD) oil is thought to be an effective seizure medication. More research is needed, however, to determine CBD’s other benefits and safety.
CBD is a substance found in marijuana. CBD lacks tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that causes a high. CBD oil is the most common CBD formulation, but it is also available as an extract, vaporised liquid, and oil-based capsule. Among the many CBD-infused products available online are food, drinks, and beauty products.
Currently, the only CBD product approved by the Food and Drug Administration is Epidiolex, a prescription oil. It is approved for the treatment of two types of epilepsy. Aside from Epidiolex, state laws on CBD use differ. While CBD is being researched as a treatment for a variety of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and anxiety, research on the drug’s benefits is still limited.
CBD use is not without risk. While CBD is generally well tolerated, it can cause side effects such as dry mouth, diarrhoea, decreased appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue. CBD may also interact with other medications, such as blood thinners.
Another source of concern is the lack of consistency in the purity and dosage of CBD in products. According to a recent study of 84 CBD products purchased online, more than a quarter of the products contained less CBD than labelled. THC was also discovered in 18 products.
Consult your doctor if you intend to use CBD products.
Strong Support for Epilepsy Treatment
Only one alleged use of cannabidiol, to treat epilepsy, is supported by substantial scientific evidence.
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel unanimously recommended last month that the CBD medication Epidiolex be approved to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy.
“That’s really the only area where the evidence has risen to the point where the FDA has said this is acceptable for approval of a new drug,” said Timothy Welty, chair of the clinical sciences department at Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa.
CBD has been touted for a variety of health issues, but the strongest scientific evidence is for its efficacy in treating some of the most cruel childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically do not respond to antiseizure medications.
Chronic Pain Control
CBD is currently being studied in people with chronic pain conditions to determine whether it can help relieve chronic pain. In a 2021 survey, 253 patients from various pain management clinics were asked to self-report how they were treating their pain. Sixty-two percent of pain clinic patients reported using CBD for pain relief, citing relief from back pain, nerve pain, neck pain, fibromyalgia, and migraines. Sixty-seven percent of those who used CBD for pain relief reported being able to reduce their use of pain medications, specifically opioid medication. Overall, CBD users reported that it helped them reduce their pain symptoms, and the majority of them stated that they did not find CBD to be addictive.
CBD has also been investigated as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Despite ongoing clinical trials, CBD is not yet an FDA-approved treatment for anxiety disorders.
A study was conducted in 2020 to better understand the safety and efficacy of CBD as an alternative therapy for a variety of anxiety-related disorders. This study examined a broad range of CBD use in 285 patients with anxiety disorders by reviewing previously published studies, including randomised controlled trials and case studies. CBD therapy was studied in healthy volunteers as well as patients with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), PTSD-related anxiety, and panic disorder.