- The rise in popularity of CBD products has led to an estimated 6.4 million Americans resorting to Google each month to either research or purchase CBD.
- While many believe CBD can treat a multitude of conditions such as acne, anxiety, opioid addiction, pain, and menstrual problems, these claims remain largely speculative with limited concrete proof.
- Studies show a substantial increase in CBD searches across the U.S., surpassing the number of searches for topics like acupuncture, apple cider vinegar, meditation, vaccination, exercise, marijuana, and veganism.
- The FDA has so far only approved one product containing CBD, Epidiolex, which is used to relieve symptoms of rare forms of epilepsy.
- CBD use is of concern to health officials as some consumers might avoid traditional medications with proven therapeutic benefits in favour of CBD, potentially leading to worsening health or loss of life due to their illness.
Today, CBD oil, CBD infused cookies, and even CBD massages seem to be recurrent themes in everyday life. A recent report acknowledges that it has become one of the go-to health options for Americans.
This study reveals that an estimated 6.4 million Americans resort to Google each month to either research or purchase CBD, making it parallel or arguably more popular than any other health product or topic.
Insane Popularity of CBD
“CBD’s popularity is off the charts,” mentions the study’s co-author, vice-chief of the innovation in Global Public Health Department at the University of California, San Diego. He notes, “Three years ago, virtually no one searched for CBD online, but these days, we calculate 6.4 million unique searches each month.”
However, the surge in consumer interest is cause for apprehension among health experts.
Is CBD a ‘Cure-all’?
Many distributors and a portion of consumers propose that CBD functions as a ‘cure-all,’ capable of treating a multitude of conditions. Current assertions include benefits against acne, anxiety, opioid addiction, pain, and menstrual problems.
Products range from droplets and massage oils to gummies and even ice cream. Despite these claims, many remain entirely speculative, and earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration showcased a public hearing on the matter.
Open Questions about Safety
“There are critical concerns about the safety,” said the acting FDA commissioner at the hearing, as reported by CNN. “Though there’s been an immense interest in products containing CBD, there’s still a lot we don’t understand.”
The “Boom” in Interest
To quantify this “explosion of interest,” the researchers tracked U.S.-based Google searches mentioning “CBD” or “cannabidiol” from January 2004 through April 2019, making projections to December 2019.
The study, published in the JAMA Network Open, reported a 125% rise in Google CBD queries during 2017, another 160% in 2018, and predicted another jump of 180% in 2019.
They observed an increase in CBD searches across all states, with a range of 211% in Oklahoma and a substantial spike of 605% in Alabama.
The study also discovered that CBD searches surpassed acupuncture by 749%, apple cider vinegar by 517%, meditation by 338%, vaccination by 63%, exercise by 59%, marijuana by 13%, and veganism by 12%.
Need for Concern?
“There’s a deluge of CBD products derived from hemp on the market, accompanied by a myriad of claims by those trying to sell them,” said Timothy Welty, chair of the Quantitative Health Sciences Department at a College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa.
So far, the FDA has approved only one product that contains CBD: Epidiolex, which is permitted by the agency to relieve symptoms of rare epilepsy forms.
A review on available data about CBD efficacy, published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found few concrete proofs to substantiate claims.
Effectiveness and Safety Concerns
“There are various promising findings in preclinical studies that show CBD and hemp oil may have anti-inflammatory effects and could be beneficial in improving sleep and anxiety,” said the study’s author. “But human trials are still limited, so it’s premature to definitively state anything about efficacy and safety.”
These sentiments were reiterated by a physician and chief of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at the University of California, San Diego. “Currently, there are no recognized benefits to taking over-the-counter CBD. CBD is this era’s snake oil, where millions are using the product without any credible evidence of benefits.”
This physician also mentioned that there may be a risk that some consumers might avoid seeing a doctor or taking medications with known, tested, and approved therapeutic benefits in favor of CBD. This could potentially result in the worsening or even loss of life due to their illness.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides more information on cannabis-derived products.