Although it seems a vast majority of the population is fiending for marijuana’s non-intoxicating compound cannabidiol (CBD) for a variety of ailments — from anxiety to chronic pain — scientists say there is still not enough evidence to prove that this trendy chemical has any therapeutic benefits at all.
“It is a kind of a new snake oil in the sense that there are a lot of claims and not so much evidence,” Dustin Lee, an assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University, told the New York Times. Lee is planning to launch a human study soon to explore whether CBD can help people stop smoking.
What we know about CBD is that it seems to help control epileptic seizures in some patients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a CBD-derived drug last year called Epidiolex that is now being prescribed for this condition specifically. Still, this drug is not a salvation’s wing in every case. Many children do not respond to CBD-only medicine but they have success with cannabis oils containing both CBD and THC, the part of the plant that produces the stoned effects.
Even the doctors that were part of the clinical trials that ultimately led to Epidiolex receiving FDA approval are skeptical about CBD.
“There’s a lot of hype about everything about CBD,” Dr. Orrin Devinsky, the director of the NYU Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, who supervised the Epidiolex studies, told the NYT. “There is certainly data that it has a variety of anti-inflammatory effects, but whether that translates into improving human health is unknown. Does it help people with eczema, rheumatoid arthritis or ulcerative colitis? We don’t know. There is a good theoretical basis, but the studies have not been done.”
But people need something to believe in. Over the years, countless reports have surfaced showing how CBD might be able to cure the disease of the week. Cancer patients have been leaning on this stuff because they hope it will erase the tumors and allow them to live a longer life. It doesn’t seem to be helping.
And then there are those who believe the purported powers of CBD may prevent them from getting sick in the first place. This is the reason the wellness sector has blasted off, and now CBD is getting added to food, drinks, you name it. This misaligned arena of health commerce continues to take place all over the country even though the FDA has not cleared the CBD compound for anything other than seizures.
Until more is known about CBD, health officials urge the public not to be charmed by companies selling a miracle cure.
“This deceptive marketing of unproven treatments raises significant public health concerns, as it may keep some patients from accessing appropriate, recognized therapies to treat serious and even fatal diseases,” an FDA spokesman said.