TEXARKANA — From gas stations to health food stores to smoke shops, products containing the cannabis extract cannabidiol, or CBD, suddenly seem to be everywhere.
Claims about the substance’s health effects are all over the place, too. CBD is touted as a virtual panacea that can cure everything from anxiety to chronic pain to epilepsy.
And people are buying it. Because CBD does not cause the high associated with marijuana use, it is legal, and cannabis industry analysts the Brightfield Group estimate that the CBD market could reach $22 billion by 2022.
But what do we really know about CBD and its effectiveness?
The answers are difficult to come by because the federal government severely restricts cannabis research, but there are some clues.
A major metastudy conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in 2017 looked at more than 10,000 studies of the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids. It concluded there is insufficient evidence that CBD is effective against most conditions and there is only limited evidence that it helps with anxiety.
In 2017, the National Institutes of Health allocated $15 million for research on CBD, and in 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved a CBD concentrate called Epidiolex to treat two forms of epilepsy.
Until more research and regulation are brought to bear on the CBD industry, it is difficult to even know exactly what is in supposedly CBD-containing products, as a 2018 New York Times article pointed out.
„A 2017 study in (the Journal of the American Medical Association) reported that only 26 of 84 samples of CBD oils, tinctures and liquids purchased online contained the amount of CBD claimed on their labels. Eighteen of them contained THC, which could lead to intoxication or impairment in some individuals. And a quarter had less CBD than advertised. The F.D.A. has likewise found many products that did not contain the amount of CBD they were claiming,” the Times report stated.
No one claims CBD is harmful, though experts caution that it may interact with prescription drugs in unpredictable ways. But it seems clear that the big claims made by CBD marketers are not backed up by any real evidence.