Chronic disease is scary and sometimes difficult to treat. Sometimes, we cannot accept that cancer can kill; Alzheimer’s can destroy the mind; autism can render a person incapable of independent life. When standard medicine fails our desires or expectations, we might reach for the miracle cure. In our fear and desperation, the Internet offers cures a nebulous, nefarious “they” want to keep out of public reach. You will find many sites touting CBD “cures” - specifically, their CBD, and no-one else’s. How can you sort this fiction and hype from reality? What is proven, provable, and what isn’t? This post will try to give you honest information, not false promises.
Medical research is just beginning to unravel the complex layers of cannabis: how it works and what it treats. Right now, the only condition that has randomized clinical double-blind trials is epilepsy. A cannabis-derived antiepileptic has very recently been approved as a prescription drug. However, there is strong anecdotal evidence from veterans’ groups and cancer patients that cannabis can help with PTSD, nausea, and pain. Mild depression, gut issues, anxiety, stress, and sleeplessness also have good anecdotal evidence. Currently, there are no completed trials that are well structured or in peer-reviewed publications. That said, you also have to be careful of preliminary trials and research. What was fact even a few years ago can change with new research and study very quickly.
Let’s stop for a moment. I’m being very careful here and want to make sure you understand the distinction I’m drawing. There is solid evidence that cannabis helps stop epileptic seizures. Anecdotal evidence can be just as compelling, but it does not have the isolated proof that a clinical trial has. Anecdotal evidence is when a substance has been used over a long period of time and/or with a large group of people and produces the same effects for the majority of people taking it. Much of the anecdotal evidence began with medical marijuana, not hemp. However, despite the overall chemical differences, CBD appears to provide similar benefits.
Where do the miracle cure claims come from? When researchers try to show whether a substance will do something, they first test it in vitro - in a test tube, a petri dish, a flask. In vitro is from Latin meaning within glass. If researchers have successful results, further testing is eventually in vivo - in a live body. Unfortunately, the majority of successful tests in vitro fail miserably in vivo. A drug might treat mice, dogs, or a petri dish of bacteria but not have positive results in humans. Many of the miracle cure claims stem from preliminary findings that researchers sometimes publish. The reports will state that x chemical had y effect in vitro. Further study and testing are planned. Another problem is assuming an expanded response. That is, if a substance is good for anxiety, focus, and memory, it must therefore be good for dementia.
What can you reasonably expect good results for, with CBD? Stress, anxiety, sleeplessness. Moderate or situational depression. Pain, inflammation, gut issues. There are many factors involved, including what is being treated, your constitution and threshold for symptom tolerance. You should also make sure your doctor is on-board.
Preliminary evidence shows some positive results for autism spectrum and dementia. I would urge caution as these improvements may be from decreasing anxiety levels rather than treating the underlying issue. There is no clinical trial completed or near completion demonstrating a cure.
Additionally, CBD and marijuana are used to offset symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments, such as nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite and pain. However, there is no evidence that is cures, treats, or reduces cancer or cancerous tumors.
Lastly, some reports of CBD curing skin issues (like eczema) and scalp/hair treatments may well be from the extract’s high fatty acid content and nutrient-dense components, not the CBD itself.
Now that you have a good idea what CBD will and will not do, and what to look for in a good CBD product, you need to consider how you want to take it. Internal, external, capsule or tincture. I do not recommend vaping whatsoever. Ingredients such as propylene glycol do not belong inside a lung – ever. CBD is as well absorbed sublingually or by capsule without any ugly ingredients.