CBD, CBD, CBD, OMG!

September 23rd, 2019

Unless you have been living on a remote tropical island (and if you are I am jealous),  it is unlikely that you have not been exposed to the nonstop hype and claims about CBD being a cure for every illness known to men or women– So I felt a need to put this huge and growing topic into perspective for my readers.  In other words, what we do and do not know, and whether or not there is a rational approach for most people.

WHAT WE DO AND DO NOT KNOW ABOUT CBD
The two compounds thought to be potentially therapeutic that occur both in cannabis (marijuana) and hemp which are two different plants,  are THC ( tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Chemically speaking, CBD and THC are almost identical, however, once they enter the body they interact with receptors that produce different effects.  THC causes the “high” feeling associated with recreational marijuana but CBD does not.  CBD is associated with the myriad of unsubstantiated claims being made. THC containing products in excess of .3% are medically and legally restricted. CBD containing products with less than .3% THC are available in most states. The long-term effects of THC and CBD are not well known but the safety of CBD at least in the short term looks good.

CBD elements in Cannabis, Hemp oil, medical marijuana, cannabinoids and health.

It wasn’t until the last couple of years that CBD-infused products began popping up nearly everywhere, from skincare products to dog treats, gummy candy and everything in between.  If you’ve strolled around the supplement aisle at your local grocery store or pharmacy lately, you’ve maybe noticed something that wasn’t there before: the cannabis leaf – the quintessential imagery used to depict marijuana – stamped across dozens of products. Aptly named “alternative care,” balms, creams, and oils are sold as a natural solution to easing anxiety, alleviating body aches, and more.

According to CBD aficionados, there is almost no ailment that this supposedly miraculous elixir can’t cure.  But in an era where millions of people are more inclined to believe what they read on social media, we should ask ourselves: can we truly believe that a plant-derived oil promotes hair growth, prevents cancer, improves cholesterol, and manages anxiety or chronic pain– all by itself?

In 2018 a prescription drug containing CBD was approved for the treatment of two rare drug-resistant forms of childhood epilepsy and seizures;  Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.  However,  the dose of this drug is 500 mg a day which is about 100 times higher than the CBD in every product being marketed to consumers and the 500 mg dose in the prescription drug is just for kids.

Dr. Paul Pacher of the NIH and president of the International Cannabinol Research Society stated,  “Consumers are participating in one of the largest uncontrolled clinical trials in history and we really have no idea what it is they are taking… It’s scary.”

Currently there is a huge and growing list of claims being made for CBD.  All are mostly anecdotal except for the previously mentioned 500 mg dose for children with epilepsy.  There are only a handful of human trials studying CBD and they are very conflicting and provide no evidence that can be relied upon. Coupled with the fact that these claims are illegal in addition to being unsubstantiated, CBD  may very well lead to riches at least in the short term for the companies selling these products and making these illegal claims.  Keep in mind that the health benefits are still questionable for the consumers of these products.

Upon reading this article, no doubt hundreds of people will email me stating CBD works for them…  so I will respond in advance to those emails. To be clear, my position on CBD right now is that there is no good science showing it does anything to treat all of the health conditions for which it is being touted. Could my position change if more and better science is published? Absolutely! But only time will tell.

THE POWER OF THOUGHT
It is important to understand the power of the brain and positive thinking on people’s ability to accurately judge the health benefits of drugs or supplements they are consuming. The placebo effect is very real and powerful! For example in many clinical trials measuring the pain reducing effects of drugs, up to 50% of people taking the placebo pill (which contains no drug medication) claim noticeable improvement in their pain levels. Additionally many of the CBD products being sold are combined with other ingredients like menthol or peppermint oil which may be yielding the benefit and not the CBD.

Mislabeling of CBD products is a real issue with some products having much less CBD than stated on the label or others having much higher amounts than the allowable .3% of THC.  It’s a bit like the wild west, so be cautious.

SUMMING UP CBD

1- No good science yet exists documenting any of the anecdotal and illegal claims being made

2- A strong possibility of placebo effect exists.

2- Questionable levels of CBD and THC in some products.

3- The dose of CBD being sold to consumers is close to 100 times less than the dose proven effective for children’s seizures. Trying to take 100 times more would cost over $1000 a month with no guarantee of any benefits.

I am perfectly willing to get behind and support CBD if and when quality scientific data exists for specific claims.  But until then, count me out!  ….even if I get hundreds of emails asking why Akeso doesn’t offer a CBD product

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, Chief Scientific Officer
Akeso health sciences LLC

Akeso Health Sciences