There’s a new product on the market, and I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now. The advertisements are enticing and make positive claims for many common ailments. But can we believe what we’re hearing? If we’re going to spend our hard-earned money on a product, is there evidence to support its use and effectiveness? Beau Links, DO, who practices with Parkview Physicians Group – Family Medicine, Huntington, and treats patients at Parkview Huntington Hospital, discusses the highs and lows of Cannabidiol (CBD oil).
I’m a skeptic. I didn’t buy Vibram® Five Fingers® toe shoes when they came out, even though they were “guaranteed” to improve my running. I didn’t buy a Snuggie, Potty Patch®, Broccoli Wad, CitiKitty®, or Uro Club™ (all of these are “As Seen on TV” products “guaranteed” to improve your life). In the interests of full disclosure, I did buy a NuWave® oven, and it was fantastic. For the most part, though, I just don’t believe the sales pitch on these items.
The same could be said about the first time I heard about CBD oil. There’s no way a single product could help with the variety of symptoms they professed. Or so I thought. Initially, I dismissed CBD oil as another snake oil product. Something that would make a lot of people money and then fade away when the results didn’t match the expectations. It wasn’t until recently that I started doing my own investigation into scientific trials and studies, and I started to sing a different tune. Now I’m not saying CBD oil is the end-all supplement, but for certain people, it may be helpful. Let’s look at potential uses, common adverse effects, and medication interactions to avoid.
Most of the research I reviewed showed strong preliminary evidence to support CBD oil’s use to treat generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, social anxiety, and difficulty sleeping (insomnia). I also found evidence supporting its use in treating pain and spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis, improving some symptoms of Schizophrenia, and reducing daily cigarette use in chronic smokers. CBD oil also blocks several inflammatory markers and has shown some success in treating arthritis.
Probably the most exciting, and unexpected, benefit of CBD oil was in its anti-tumor effects. CBD oil has been shown in small trials to reduce the replication and invasion of breast and thyroid cancer cells and reduce the replication of leukemia and lymphoma cell lines. Unfortunately, the dosing used to treat each of these ailments was different in each study, so discuss possible doses with your physician.
You should note most of the studies mentioned above were small trials using healthy patients. Again, please discuss CBD oil use with your physician to see if it would be a good choice for you. Most common side effects of CBD oil included low blood pressure, dry mouth, and sedation/sleepiness. One study showed a decrease in testicular size and testosterone levels in mice. None of the trials referenced in this article lasted more than three months, so long-term side effects of CBD oil remain unknown.
One of the most difficult things in medicine is recommending the right medication for each patient. There are so many to choose from, but a patient’s health and current medications must be considered before any recommendation can be made. CBD oil has a broad pharmacological profile. And what I mean by that is it interacts with a lot of receptors in the body.
Certain common prescription and over-the-counter medications should be used with caution while taking CBD oil. Medications such as benzodiazepines (Ativan®, Xanax®, Klonopin®, etc.) and narcotics (Ultram®, Norco®, Percocet®, etc.) likely should not be taken with CBD oil due to increased risk of sedation. CBD oil should be used with caution in patients taking antidepressants (SSRIs, SNRIs, antipsychotics), nausea medications like Zofran®, muscle relaxers, proton pump inhibitors used to treat heartburn, and allergy medications like Allegra® and Claritin® should be used with caution while taking CBD oil due to increased risk of side effects from these medications.
There are some potentially exciting uses for CBD oil. Discuss its use with your physician. Ensure you have a reputable source (third-party testing is nice). More research is needed to support CBD oil’s long-term use. One thing I can say for sure: the NuWave oven was worth the money.