You get up from the shampoo bowl rubbing that chronic crick in your neck. Your hairdresser tells you she has just the thing. She starts rubbing an earthy smelling cream on your neck. You can’t say the pain is gone, but the massage felt good. You ask her what she used.  She says it’s a hemp oil salve. “Hemp?”, you say, “is that legal?” She laughs and says yes. She also points out that hemp and CBD oil are everywhere. She tells you that CBD oil may be the answer to everything ailing you. You love how your hair looks but you’re not quite ready to trust your hairdresser with your aches and pains too.  But she has piqued your curiosity about the potential benefits of CBD oil.

CBD (Cannabidiol) oil is extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants. It does not produce intoxication; marijuana’s “high” is caused by the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). And you may have noticed it is everywhere. You can find it at your favorite natural market or any number of specialty stores popping up around the country. You can even find Holistic Cannabis Practitioners online.  But the effectiveness of the CBD oil’s health claims is still up for debate.

According to WebMD, the potential benefits of CBD oil are still in question.  Most research studies are small and done on animals, not humans. My quick review of studies available on PubMed supports this finding. The researchers seem to agree that early studies show there may be some potential health benefits, but they also agree more research is need understand what the real benefits of CBD oil are.

One example of CBD oil benefits with promise is anxiety. Treatment of anxiety, particularly social anxiety, is one area where there have been studies on humans.  There is a study underway to better understand cannabidiol as a therapy for PTSD. However, none of the studies I have found can make any recommendation for the dosage or best way to use CBD oil. There are also studies on CBD oil as an anti-inflammatory or as a treatment for sleep that might show promise, but without double-blind controlled studies on humans, there is little certainty on their actual effectiveness.

That’s not to discount the expertise of healthcare professionals I trust. I am a big fan and supporter of Dr. Sara Gottfried. While I don’t agree with every recommendation she makes I know she makes each recommendation with care and careful research. She recommends CBD oil as a potential treatment for insomnia. Dr. Tieroanoa Low Dog has also discussed the potential benefits of CBD oil in various presentations and on her Facebook page, appearing cautiously optimistic. Regan Jones, RD hosted an episode on cannabis for her This UnMillennial Life podcast. She brought Holistic Cannabis Practitioner Janice Bissex to explain all aspects of the medicinal use of cannabis. It’s worth a listen if you have more questions on the subject. Janice’s experience helping her father is certainly compelling.

Her testimonial and the testimonials of countless other people are also why I don’t want to discount the experience of the individual. I know that each person is the expert on their own body. When I asked the Wellness Educator at Mama Jean’s Natural Market about research results had she didn’t have any to share. However, she has anecdotal evidence from countless individuals about their positive results from using oral CDB oil supplements.

As with any supplement, it is also important to understand any potential risks. WebMD lists Cannabidiol oil as generally safe however some have reported side effects that include low blood pressure, lighted headedness and dizziness. They also note some research has shown that CBD oil could make muscle tremors worse in Parkinson’s patients. If you’re considering trying CBD oil for yourself, I would suggest asking your health care team before doing so. They can review your medical history and review any potential drug interactions or contraindications for your health conditions.

The truth is the only thing the FDA has approved a form of CBD oil for is the treatment of seizures caused by two rare forms of epilepsy. This FDA approved drug is not the product you can purchase over the counter. The supplements you buy online or from the health food store are not FDA regulated, as is the case with all supplements. The companies aren’t required to prove the claims on the bottles or in their ads. Their quality is not monitored, so buyer beware.  While there may be potential health benefits of CBD oil, I say proceed with caution.

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