Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is considered the hot new product in states that have legalized medical marijuana. The non-intoxicating marijuana extract is being credited with helping treat a host of medical conditions — anything 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 has been produced without the regulation, resulting in products that vary widely in quality, said Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “It is actually the Wild West,” Bonn-Miller said. “Joe Bob who starts up a CBD company could say no matter what the hell he wants over a label then sell it to people.”

Cannabidiol is obtained from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants. It can not produce intoxication; marijuana’s “high” is brought on by the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD oil is legal in 30 states where medicinal and recreational marijuana is legal, based on 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, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Strong Evidence for the treatment of Epilepsy – Just one single purported use for cannabidiol, to treat epilepsy, has significant scientific evidence supporting it. Last month, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel unanimously recommended approval of the CBD medication Epidiolex to treat two rare kinds of childhood epilepsy. “That’s actually the only area where the evidence has risen to the level where FDA has said this can be acceptable to approve a new drug,” said Timothy Welty, chair from the department of clinical sciences at Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, in Des Moines, Iowa.

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For the remainder of CBD’s potential uses, there is simply not enough evidence to create a firm conclusion. For example, some human numerous studies claim that CBD may be good at treating signs of anxiety, particularly social anxiety, Bonn-Miller said. This is actually the potential use for CBD using the most evidence after usefulness in epilepsy, but “there’s a good gap between those two,” he stated. “There were clinical trials in adults, but a great deal smaller compared to the epilepsy studies that have been carried out in kids,” Bonn-Miller said. CBD’s usefulness as being an anti-inflammatory medication is another most promising, but those results come mostly from animal studies, experts said.

Many Other Uses Largely Unproven – The remainder of the potential uses — as an antipsychotic, antidepressant or sleep aid “have got all been studied in animals, with only a couple of types of studies in humans,” Bonn-Miller said. And Welty said the studies which have featured humans for these particular other CBD uses have either been case reports or studies that failed to compare results against a control group that did not make use of the oil. “There’s no control, so it’s basically how can you determine if we’re dealing with the true effect from the drug or perhaps merely a placebo effect because somebody thinks they’ve been given a drug that might be beneficial?” Welty said. There also are concerns about both the quality of CBD oil being produced and its potential side effects, the specialists added.

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

“CBD is sort of a tricky drug because it’s not very well absorbed orally,” Welty explained. “Less than 20 percent of the drug is absorbed orally. If it isn’t made correctly, you may not receive much drug in your rheudv circulation.” Worse, about 1 in 5 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 actually make seizures worse. Those are the types of things you should be careful about,” Bonn-Miller said. “Basically If I were a consumer, purchasing it for myself or my kid, I would like to test it to ensure that I knew what it really actually had within it, because I couldn’t trust what was on the label,” Bonn-Miller concluded.

Potential Interactions With Some Other Meds – Studies on CBD also have raised concerns about possible interactions with other drugs. As an example, epilepsy studies found that “there was very clearly increases in the blood levels of a few other anti-epileptic drugs when people were on CBD,” Welty said.

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