Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Hemp industry booms on CBD's reputed health benefits, supported by users but not very much by science

The reputed health benefits of cannabidiol are the main driver of hemp's nationwide boom, but scientific research still doesn't support the claims, Liam Niemeyer reports for Ohio Valley ReSource.

The problem is that hemp hasn't been widely legal for very long, and only nationally legalized this year, so scientists have had little incentive to study CBD's medicinal effects. Anecdotal evidence has attributed all sorts of health benefits to CBD, but more double-blind studies are needed to discern the science from the hype, according to Dr. Anup Patel, section chief of pediatric neurology at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, Niemeyer reports.

Patel has been involved in several studies in the past five years that examined CBD's effect on epilepsy. A 2018 study found that CBD reduced the frequency of seizures by more than 40 percent in patients with a severe form of epilepsy. Because of that study, the Food and Drug Administration approved  Epidiolex, which remains the only FDA-approved CBD drug, Niemeyer reports.

"There is potential benefit for certain types of patients with seizures or epilepsy," Patel told Niemeyer. "Beyond that, we have no idea. There aren’t any good studies using CBD in other areas."

That's changing, though: "Human trials, some of them double-blind, are being conducted to determine CBD’s effects for a variety of issues, from cancer therapies to Parkinson’s disease," Niemeyer reports. "Some preliminary CBD research has shown promising results toward CBD’s potential anti-inflammatory properties and how it affects brain chemistry, helping people with issues including anxiety disorders, rheumatoid arthritis and quitting tobacco." One recent study indicates CBD could increase the risk of glaucoma though.

Meanwhile, hemp farmers and CBD product sellers are pressing forward. Roger Hayes, who owns Louisville CBD product business Green Remedy, said that clinical studies are important, but consumers know CBD works. "The [studies] on what the therapeutic effects are going to be, that takes years," Hayes told Niemeyer. "America doesn’t need to wait that long to determine that something that has been around for thousands of years that people take for various reasons — we shouldn’t have to wait that long."

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