Opinion/Analysis: CBD oil is the new rage among millennials. But, as a doctor, here’s what I worry about

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is the new rage among millennials and is gaining popularity with all generations, especially in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. In dozens of states, health food stores, pharmacies, and even supermarkets are carrying CBD products. CVS just announced this week that it will be carrying CBD creams, sprays and lotions in eight states. Marijuana contains both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD, and these compounds have different effects on our body and mind. The well-known “high” from smoking or eating marijuana comes from THC. This is because THC is metabolized when it is exposed to heat and consumed by the body. CBD works differently. Cannabidiol is extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants and can be eaten, inhaled and even applied to the skin. Unlike THC, it is not psychoactive, meaning that CBD does not alter a person’s state of mind. However, CBD does produce significant changes in the body, and emerging research suggests that it has some medical benefits. The body and mind contain two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. THC attaches to the CB1 receptors in the brain which effect coordination and movement, pain, mood, appetite and other functions. CBD was originally thought to attach to the CB2 receptors throughout the body, but evidence is suggesting that it doesn’t attach at all. Instead, it directs the body to use more of its own intrinsic cannabinoids. Although the evidence is clear that CBD has FDA-proven benefits for treating epileptic seizure disorders and can now be prescribed by a physician, the research is still sparse regarding many other touted health claims. One of the most common uses CBD is being sought for is as an anti-inflammation treatment. Small studies conducted on mice and rats did in fact show significant reduction in systemic inflammation. This gives hope to treating chronic inflammation and pain, especially arthritis and injuries. Other conditions caused by inflammation that are being looked at for CBD treatment are acne, type 1 diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease. There is additional evidence suggesting CBD may have anti-cancer properties, although the studies on this are finite. We are a long way from adding CBD to cancer regimens, but with nearly 2 million people in the United States being diagnosed with cancer every year, it is essential to continue researching any and all methods of treating this group of devastating diseases. Additionally, small studies have also suggested that CBD can help with anxiety, PTSD, depression and addiction. With all of these potential benefits, what could be wrong with using it? The problem is, we don’t know yet. Many small-scale studies show that adults tend to tolerate a wide range of doses with the most common side effects being fatigue and diarrhea. But there is still no data on long-term safety and no studies involving children. One of the biggest concerns I have regarding CBD and many other holistic remedies is that there are some disease processes that require science-driven treatment. I urge everyone to follow their medical doctors’ recommendations regarding treatment of ailments. Although CBD may be a promising supplement, it will not be the sole treatment for many conditions. In fact, CBD may interfere with and even hinder the effects of proven treatments, so it should only be used as a supplement to treatment under a doctor’s supervision. Let’s remember that when cigarettes first emerged on the market people used them to treat lung conditions and encouraged smoking. And we can’t forget the crisis that the once-promised long-acting, “less-addicting” opioids produced. Although the limited and short-term data on CBD oil is promising, I reserve caution until the long-term data proves it is more than a fad.

Fair enough..  Our thanks to Dr. Nicole Saphier, MD, for that common sense analysis.  Dr. Saphier is a practicing physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, active in health care legislation, and a medical contributor and frequent guest anchor for Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network speaking on various medical and health policy issues. Follow her on Twitter @NBSaphierMD and Instagram @nicolesaphier_md    🙂

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