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 — anything from epileptic seizures to anxiety to inflammation to sleeplessness. But experts say the evidence is scant for many of these touted benefits.

Worse, CBD has been produced with no regulation, resulting in items that 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 whatever the hell he wants on the label then sell it to folks.”

Cannabidiol is taken from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants. It can not produce intoxication; marijuana’s “high” is caused by the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD oil is legal in 30 states where medicinal or recreational marijuana is legal, in accordance with Governing magazine.

Seventeen additional states have CBD-specific laws on the books, in accordance with 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 Treating Epilepsy – Only one 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 from the CBD medication Epidiolex to take care of two rare types of childhood epilepsy. “That’s really the only area in which the evidence has risen to the point where FDA has said this can be acceptable to approve a brand 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 rest of CBD’s potential uses, there is simply inadequate evidence to produce a firm conclusion. For example, some human clinical studies suggest that CBD may be good at treating signs of anxiety, particularly social anxiety, Bonn-Miller said. Here is the potential use for CBD with the most evidence after usefulness in epilepsy, but “there’s a reliable gap between those two,” he said. “There were clinical studies in adults, but a great deal smaller than the epilepsy studies which have been completed in kids,” Bonn-Miller said. CBD’s usefulness being an anti-inflammatory medicine is the next most promising, but those results come mostly from animal studies, experts said.

Many Other Uses Largely Unproven – The rest of the potential uses — being an antipsychotic, antidepressant or sleep aid “have got all been studied in animals, with only 1 or 2 samples of studies in humans,” Bonn-Miller said. And Welty said the studies that have featured humans for these other CBD uses have either been case reports or studies that did not compare results against a control group that failed to utilize the oil. “There’s no control, so it’s basically how do you know if we’re working with the true effect of the drug or perhaps merely a placebo effect because somebody thinks they’ve been given a drug that might be beneficial?” Welty said. There are concerns about both the standard of CBD oil being produced as well as its potential side effects, the specialists added.

Insufficient Regulation Also Concerning – As a result of legally murky nature of marijuana, the FDA has not yet stepped directly into regulate items like CBD oil, Bonn-Miller said. States are struggling to place regulations in position, nevertheless they don’t have the deep pockets of the government. Meanwhile, a 2017 study led by Bonn-Miller found that nearly 7 of 10 CBD products didn’t contain the volume of marijuana extract promised on the label. Nearly 43 percent from 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. When it isn’t made correctly, you possibly will not be getting 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 problem because THC can increase anxiety. It can can make seizures worse. These are the types of things you have to be careful about,” Bonn-Miller said. “Should I were a consumer, purchasing it for myself or my kid, I would want to test it so 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 With Other Meds – Studies on CBD also have raised concerns about possible interactions with other drugs. For example, epilepsy studies discovered that “there have been very clearly increases in the blood levels of some other anti-epileptic drugs when individuals were on CBD,” Welty said.

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