What’s the Deal with CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is becoming more mainstream and is legal in Wisconsin. Cannabidiol is extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants and does not produce the “high” that is caused by the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is credited with helping to treat a host of medical problems, but experts say evidence is limited for most of these touted benefits.

The only well studied use for cannabidiol is to treat epilepsy, in which there is strong evidence to support its use. In fact, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended approval of the CBD medication Epidiolex to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy. This is the only area where there is robust scientific evidence, and for the rest of CBD’s potential uses, there is too little evidence to make a firm conclusion. Some animal trials show that CBD could be effective in treating anxiety, pain, inflammation, depression, and insomnia. Preliminary evidence also suggests that CBD may help people to quit smoking. No large randomized controlled human studies, however, have been conducted to support the use of CBD to treat these problems. Some people have anecdotally reported positive results from taking CBD oil, yet it is unknown if this is due to a placebo effect.

One problem with CBD oil is that it is being produced without any regulation, resulting in products that vary in quality. In fact, a 2017 study showed that nearly 7 out of 10 CBD products didn’t contain the amount of CBD listed on the label. Nearly 43% of the products contained too little CBD, while 26% contained too much. Furthermore, 1 out of 5 of the products contained the intoxicating marijuana chemical THC, which is illegal in Wisconsin.

There is also concern about potential side effects. The most common side effected noted is lethargy. In addition, CBD may interact with other medications, such as anti-epileptic drugs. Furthermore, it may also be hard on the liver and result in increased liver enzymes. No studies have been done on the safety of CBD on children or pregnant women. For these reasons, it is recommended that you talk with your health care provider about the risks and benefits before you take CBD oil or any other herbal supplement.

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