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 the majority of these touted benefits.

Worse, CBD will be produced with no regulation, causing products which vary widely in quality, said Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry on the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “It really 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 then sell it to folks.”

Cannabidiol is extracted 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, based on 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 – Just one purported use for cannabidiol, to treat epilepsy, has significant scientific evidence supporting it. Recently, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel unanimously recommended approval of the CBD medication Epidiolex to take care of two rare kinds of childhood epilepsy. “That’s really the only area where evidence has risen to the point where FDA has said this can be acceptable to approve a new drug,” said Timothy Welty, chair in the department of clinical sciences at Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, in Des Moines, Iowa.

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Throughout CBD’s potential uses, there exists simply inadequate evidence to produce a firm conclusion. For example, some human numerous studies claim that CBD might be good at treating symptoms of anxiety, particularly social anxiety, Bonn-Miller said. This is actually the potential use for CBD with all the most evidence after usefulness in epilepsy, but “there’s a reliable gap between the two,” he said. “There have been numerous studies in adults, but a great deal smaller compared to the epilepsy studies that were done in kids,” Bonn-Miller said. CBD’s usefulness as being an anti-inflammatory medicine is another most promising, but those results come mostly from animal studies, experts said.

Most Other Uses Largely Unproven – All of those other potential uses — as an antipsychotic, antidepressant or sleep aid “have all been studied in animals, with only a couple of types of studies in humans,” Bonn-Miller said. And Welty said the studies who have featured humans for such 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 can you tell if we’re working with the real effect in the drug or perhaps just a placebo effect because somebody thinks they’ve been given a drug that will be beneficial?” Welty said. There are also concerns about both the caliber of CBD oil being produced and its potential unwanted effects, the specialists added.

Absence of Regulation Also Concerning – Because of the legally murky nature of marijuana, the FDA has not stepped directly into regulate products like CBD oil, Bonn-Miller said. States are struggling to place regulations set up, but they don’t possess the deep pockets of the federal government. Meanwhile, a 2017 study led by Bonn-Miller discovered that nearly 7 of 10 CBD products didn’t contain the quantity of marijuana extract promised on the label. Nearly 43 percent of the products contained too little CBD, while about 26 percent contained too much, Bonn-Miller said.

“CBD is type of a tricky drug because it’s not too well absorbed orally,” Welty explained. “Under 20 % of the drug is absorbed orally. If it isn’t made in the right way, you possibly will not receive much drug in your rheudv circulation.” Worse, about 1 in five CBD products contained the intoxicating pot chemical THC, Bonn-Miller and his colleagues found.

“That’s a difficulty because THC can increase anxiety. It can can make seizures worse. These are the sorts of things you have to be careful about,” Bonn-Miller said. “Should I were a consumer, purchasing it personally or my kid, I may wish to test it to ensure that I knew exactly what it actually had in it, because I couldn’t trust that which was on the label,” Bonn-Miller concluded.

Potential Interactions Along With Other Meds – Studies on CBD also provide raised concerns about possible interactions with some other drugs. For instance, epilepsy studies found that “there were very clearly increases within the blood amounts of a few other anti-epileptic drugs when people were on CBD,” Welty said.

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