Perhaps you’ve heard a lot of people are using CBD.
The chemical compound, naturally occurring in cannabis plants, doesn’t get you high, but does have a wide swath of other purported effects making it very popular. Although clinical studies haven’t necessarily proven those results, many Americans are testing CBD (which stands for “cannabidiol”) for themselves. All over the US, people are rubbing CBD balm onto aching joints, dropping CBD tinctures under tired tongues, popping CBD gummies, and puffing on CBD oil-filled vaporizers in hopes of chilling out.
On Quartz’s behalf, Harris Poll recently surveyed more than 2,000 people in the US about their experience, knowledge, and opinions regarding CBD and found that more than 85% of Americans have heard of CBD, and of those, more than one in five have tried it.
What are all these people using CBD for?
More than half of the CBD-users surveyed—some 55%—said they use it to relax. Half reported using it to reduce stress and anxiety, and the proportions of people who use CBD to improve their sleep and relieve pain (including muscle, chronic, and joint pain) were not far behind. Also on the list were relief from migraines, menstrual symptoms, nausea, and sexual enhancement.
Is there proof that CBD works for all this?
In short: not much.
“There really isn’t very much evidence in humans with respect to its effectiveness,” says Ziva Cooper, the research director at the University of California-Los Angeles Cannabis Research Initiative. “And when I say evidence in humans, I’m really talking about rigorous, double-blind placebo-controlled studies.” On the other hand, Cooper says, there’s also not much research showing that cannabidiol doesn’t work for things. “There is just a general lack of studies—period.”
That said, Cooper is still optimistic about CBD’s potential to treat various symptoms, based on studies done in animals. In humans, she says, the picture is “pretty complicated”—especially when it comes to effective dosages and varying ratios of CBD to THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound well-known for making users feel high. (Many of the products available in dispensaries are cannabis-derived, with varying proportions of CBD to THC, while those derived from hemp should have only a nominal, if any, portion of THC.)
“We are just at the cusp of trying to figure it out,” says Cooper. “So while people are using these drugs, science is very far behind right now.”
So what do we know about these popular uses for CBD?
Published: April 17, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News