Over the past few years, public interest in cannabidiol (CBD) has steadily grown.
According to researchers from the University of California, San Diego, and Johns Hopkins University, the search rates for the terms ‘CBD’ and ‘cannabidiol’ increased 126% between 2016 and 2017 and then another 160% from 2017 to 2018. In fact,
CBD gummies were the third most searched for food by Americans in 2018.
CBD has been touted for its wide-ranging medical properties, with users claiming it provides relief against chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, and a host of other conditions.
Although there aren’t many clinical data backing these claims, plenty of them has been researched in biomedical studies.
There are even a few clinically-approved CBD-based pharmaceutical drugs.
For instance, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex to treat seizures caused by rare forms of pediatric epilepsy like Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
Still, plenty of CBD sellers overhype their products, especially in regards to the medical benefits these products offer.
The FDA has warned consumers that not all CBD products are safe for consumption, and they are advised to do their own thorough research, especially if they wish to treat a medical condition with CBD.
And what better way to understand how cannabidiol affects the human body than to learn from a medical professional?
Let’s see what 10 of the top CBD and health experts in the world have to say about CBD.
Dr. Arno Hazekamp, PhD
A trained biochemist specializing in medicinal plants and a full-time cannabis researcher, Dr. Hazemkamp has been a key researcher within the Dutch medical cannabis program, one of the first legal programs in the world, since 2001.
His Ph.D. thesis was titled “Cannabis – extracting the medicine,” and he spent 6 years, from 2001 to 2007, researching the medicinal aspects of the cannabis plant.
“Today, CBD is used for the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions,” Hazemkamp says in a paper titled ‘The Trouble with CBD Oil.’
He states that while most of the current uses of CBD are not supported by clinical data, “medical indications that may be treated with CBD and are, supported to some extent by clinical proof, include Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and anxiety disorder.”
Dr Sanjay Gupta
Dr. Gupta is an American neurosurgeon who serves as associate chief of neurosurgery service at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, and as associate professor of neurosurgery at the Emory University School of Medicine.
He is also the Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN.
In an October 2019 op-ed on CNN’s website, he talks about Charlotte Fig, a little girl who suffered from Dravet Syndrome and took Charlotte’s Web CBD oil (named after her) to prevent the seizures.
“Indeed, CBD alone doesn’t make you high. You don’t have to smoke it. And the people it has helped most are little kids like Charlotte,” he writes. “Make no mistake, cannabis is a medicine.
Over the last six years, through countless articles and essays, and now five documentary films, my team and I have made the case and we have provided the proof.
At times, it can heal when nothing else can. Denying people this substance represents a moral issue just as much as a medical one.”
Known professionally as Dr. Oz, Mehmet Cengiz Oz is a Turkish-American cardiothoracic surgeon, a Columbia University professor, and a talk show host.
Although he doesn’t fully endorse CBD as a treatment, he recognizes that is has medical potential.
“Here’s my thought,” he says on CBD, “it could work. I’m hearing from too many of you right now that are getting benefits.”
He states that research has already shown that CBD has the potential to alleviate inflammation, improve nerve cell life span, nausea pain, insomnia, and lack of appetite.
“And there are current studies investigating the efficacy of CBD in treating epilepsy, inflammatory diseases, anxiety, depression, drug addiction, and schizophrenia.”
Rosemary Mazanet, M.D, Ph.D
Rosemary Mazanet is the chief scientific officer of Columbia Care, one of the largest and most experienced providers of medical cannabis-based products and services in the US.
Last year, she was one of the researchers taxed to lead a study designed to optimize the use of Colombia Care’s medical cannabis products by identifying the genetic markers affecting their safety and efficiency.
Mazanec says that many of CBD’s claimed positive effects on conditions like pain and anxiety may be a placebo, but she does not consider that a bad thing, particularly for issues such as anxiety.
“Even if its placebo, if people think it’s working for them, that’s good because people take so many benzodiazepines, which can be addictive over periods of time,” Mazanec says.
Winston Peki, CBD Expert Herbonaut
Winston is the chief editor of Herbonaut.com, a website where they review CBD science and best practices on using CBD products.
After analyzing over 150 CBD-related studies, Winston came to the conclusion that although CBD isn’t guaranteed to provide relief for any condition, there’s plenty of scientific support that CBD has the following beneficial properties:
- Anti-inflammatory effects;
- Anti-oxidant effects;
- Anti-anxiety effects,
- Analgesic (anti-pain) effects,
- Sleep-improving effects.
This doesn’t automatically mean that a person will experience these effects noticeably when taking CBD products, however.
Whether CBD will help in a specific case is dependent on countless factors that differ on an individual basis, many of which are currently unknown.
Professor Jana Hajslova
Professor Hajslova is the Head of ISO 17025 accredited laboratory at the Department of Food Analysis and Nutrition, University of Chemistry and Technology (UCT), Prague, Czech Republic.
She led the second independent test in the history of the quality of retail available CBD.
Her team tested 35 retail bought oils containing CBD, and their findings should be a word of caution to everyone interested in consuming CBD products, especially if a failed drug test is liable to get you fired.
“We were interested in the quality and authenticity of used oils and the possible content of environmental contaminants.
Of the 35 tested samples, nine had a THC level involving risk.
For correct labeling on the packaging, the situation was more complicated. Ten samples fulfilled requirements concerning THC content.
Thirty samples fulfilled requirements concerning CBD content.”
The potential benefits of CBD may be overshadowed currently by the lack of regulation and testing.
Dr. Raphael Mechoulam
Also known as the father of cannabis research, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam is an award-winning Israeli organic chemist who has been studying cannabis for over half a century.
A pioneer in cannabis research, he was the first to successfully isolate THC, the chemical responsible for marijuana’s high.
During the keynote speech at the 2019 ICBC International Cannabis Business Conference, he talked about how CBD was finally approved to treat Dravet syndrome.
“Once parents saw that cannabidiol could help, there was pressure on the US authorities and a large trial was approved because of social pressure.
It turned out to be extremely positive and paralleled our findings, and now cannabidiol under the name Epidiolex is an approved drug for epilepsy.”
Prof. Irit Akira
Professor Akirav is the director of the Learning and Memory lab at the Department of Psychology, University of Haifa, and chairs the Department of Psychology.
Her specific area of study is how cannabinoids, including CBD, can affect patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and other stress-related disorders.
A 2016 paper she co-authored surmised that “preliminary studies suggest that treatment with cannabinoids may decrease PTSD symptoms including sleep quality, frequency of nightmares, and hyperarousal.”
“Studies in animal models have shown that cannabinoids can prevent the effects of stress on emotional function and memory processes, facilitate fear extinction, and have anti-anxiety-like effect in a variety of tasks.”
CBD plays a big part in these findings.
Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen
Franjo Grotenhermen. MD is a principal of the Nova Institute in Hurth, Germany, founder and co-chair of the German Association for Cannabis as Medicine (ASM), founder and Executive Director of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM), and chairman of the Medical Cannabis Declaration (MCD), a charity that promotes safe access to medical cannabis and evidence-based clinical practice.
In a 2017 paper, Dr. Franjo writes that “there is some evidence suggesting a therapeutic potential of cannabis-based medicines with CBD in other indications including Tourette syndrome, spinal cord injury, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and glaucoma.
In several other indications, small uncontrolled and single-case studies reporting beneficial effects are available, for example in post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and migraine.”
Dr. Richard Huntsman
Dr. Huntsman is an Associate Professor of Pediatric Neurology at the University of Saskatchewan and a founding member of the Cannabinoid Research Initiative of Saskatchewan.
He is currently the lead investigator of the Cannabidiol in Children with Refractory Epileptic Encephalopathy (CARE-E) study.
He also led a study by the institution on whether CBD could reduce or end seizures in children with severe, drug-resistant epilepsy.
“Some of the improvements in quality of life were really dramatic with some of the children having huge improvements in their ability to communicate with their families.
Some of these children started to talk or crawl for the first time. They became more interactive with their families and loved ones.”
Professor Kent Hutchinson
Kent Hutchinson Ph.D., is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado in Boulder and founder of the Center for Research and Education Addressing Cannabis and Health (CU REACH).
Early this year, he launched an educational program at the University of Colorado which is focused on cannabis and health.
“People really need to understand the risks and benefits in order to make sound decisions,” he says, highlighting the need for actionable data on CBD.
“They also need to know how to use various products to avoid or minimize the risks and often this information is not conveyed in detail to patients by either health care providers or by dispensaries.”
CBD has been touted as a cure-all but the truth is, it has been proven to be effective against only a few conditions.
You also run the risk of THC contamination if you don’t carefully screen the products you consume.
Still, there are plenty of good, honest players producing high-quality CBD products, you just have to know how to find them.
And as always, make sure you consult a doctor if you want to use CBD to alleviate an ailment, especially if you’re on other prescribed drugs.