Along with other popular natural alternatives.
Let me start this by saying I am not a medical professional. I am simply a mom that has children with medical and psychological needs, that has read enough published medical pieces to make most people’s eyes glaze over.
Just as essential oils blazed onto the market through MLM companies as must use alternative for improving one's wellness, the past few months have seen a surge in those pushing CBD oils (cannabidiol, usually from hemp) as the savior for ones health, despite the fact that the FDA does not allow it to be promoted as such.
As with any natural product that you add to your daily routine, you should be carefully considering the benefits, potential side effects, and consulting with a doctor about how and when to use such products, but from what I’ve seen across my social feeds, this isn’t the cast for most. As someone who incorporated CBD oil, and a slew of herbs, and vitamins into her families wellness routine years ago, I want to go over a few things you should know about CBD oils before you jump on the new “trend.”
There is Limited Research
While there have been some clinical studies on CBD, most have been with animal subjects. Those that have been completed, such as the ones needed for the only FDA approved CBD oil, are for specific treatments, such as for epilepsy and Huntington’s disease. Clinical human trials to study how the average body metabolizes, benefits, and could be affected by CBD do not exist.
“It must be noted that none of the above studies reported on the metabolic fate of CBD and no information is available on the human pharmacokinetics of the metabolites.” (1)
When you use CBD oil you are creating a chemical reaction in your body, to which we do not know the long-term benefits or risk. It is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Let me repeat, “There are no publications describing the biological activity of CBD metabolites in humans.” (1)
The majority of “claims” you see on the internet about the benefits of CBD oil are strictly anecdotal evidence from people using the oil themselves, without any solid scientific evidence.
I myself can tell you that CBD helps balance the mood swings of a teenager on the Autism spectrum and that it calms my 10-year-old daughter's severe anxiety so that she can sleep, but I cannot tell you the why behind it. I couldn’t tell you if there are other influencing factors in those results, or if you could expect the same.
You Need to Consult with a Doctor First
You should always consult with a medical professional when adding wellness products into your routine to make sure they are right for you. I cringe every time I see someone post about starting on CBD because they want to ditch their prescription medications. I wonder if they realize there are potential interactions and risk. If you are of the mindset that that CBD oil is natural, safe, and you can skip that step, I have a few facts for you.
Cannabidiol has 976 known drug interactions. (2) Eleven of those are considered major drug interactions. The list includes common drugs for treating pain, an immunosuppressant for rheumatoid arthritis, and the potential adverse effects are serious.
Food will affect how your body metabolizes CBD. Your body will react differently to Cannabidiol depending on not only whether it is taken on an empty or full stomach, but also on the type of food you have eaten. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice should be avoided while using CBD as they may increase the plasma concentrations of cannabidiol. (3)
“Effects on the immune system are unclear; there is evidence of immune suppression at higher concentrations, but immune stimulation may occur at lower concentrations.” (4)
“Cannabidiol can harm your liver. Your liver function may need to be checked before and during treatment.” (5)
Before you use cannabidiol, your doctor should know if you have ever had liver disease; drug or alcohol addiction; depression, a mood disorder; or suicidal thoughts or actions. (5)
“It is not known whether this medicine* will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.” “ It may not be safe to breastfeed while using this medicine.” (5)
Common side effects of cannabidiol (found through trials of the FDA approved version) are drowsiness; changes in appetite or weight; feeling weak or tired; infections (fever, flu symptoms, cough, swelling, redness, itching); diarrhea; sleep problems (insomnia); rash; or abnormal liver function tests. (5)
To fully understand how our body processes CBD and potential interactions, I suggest reading CBD-DRUG INTERACTIONS: ROLE OF CYTOCHROME P450.
Personally, all of our doctors know that two of my children and myself use CBD oil on a limited/as needed basis (remember there are no clinical studies on the long-term, regular usage of cannabidiol), and they know they know our exact (ml per dose) dosages. We have discussed the benefits, and potential risk. Additionally, we NEVER take CBD, or any of our natural supplements, such as herbs, within a four-hour window of taking over-the-counter or prescription medications, to help combat drug interactions.
Continually Educate Yourself about CBD
Please don’t just gloss over what I have shared with you today. Take the time to educate yourself on CBD. There are plenty of reliable research papers and sources out there.
The Realm of Caring is a great place to start, as they “work with hospitals, doctors, and researchers to stay at the forefront of cannabis science, constantly striving to find new and better treatments and applications for cannabinoid therapies.” You can see their current research here, but I suggest signing up as a client to gain access to their educational materials.
Educating yourself includes learning about the extraction process of cannabidiol, and learning to distinguish between quality, generally recommended sources, from those that have flooded the market in the past year.
Don’t Believe the Hype
I recently saw someone share an article titled “Man with “Terminal” Lung Cancer Cures Himself with Cannabis Oil,” along with the suggestion to buy their MLM brand of hemp CBD oil.
One, this against FDA regulations as non-prescription CBD oil cannot be alluded to as a drug, medicine or even natural supplement — it is only approved as a food product.
Secondly, “miraculous wonder cures,” come for those sitting in a research hospital chancing their life on a trial drug, not from a product you can buy online from a company that has barely been in existence.
Again, please don’t just use CBD because it is the new trendy thing to do (remember when Gwyneth advocating for steaming your veejay jay, that didn’t end well.) Products you add your natural or alternative wellness routine may help improve your circumstances, but there is no one size fits all for results and safety. Review the research, always keep your medical team informed, and continue to educate yourself!
Medicine refers to only FDA approved CBD on the market, Epidiolex, which has been approved for treating a form of childhood epilepsy.
1 — Human Pharmacokinetics of CBD Upon Various Administration Routes, Human Metabolites of Cannabidiol: A Review on Their Formation, Biological Activity, and Relevance in Therapy. István Ujváry and Lumír Hanus. 2016, US National Library of Medicine.
2 — Cannabidiol Drug Interactions. 2018, Drugs.com.
3 — Cannabidiol and Alcohol / Food Interactions. 2018, Drugs.com.
4 — CANNABIDIOL (CBD) Critical Review Report. Expert Committee on Drug Dependence Fortieth Meeting. Geneva, 4–7 June 2018. World Health Organization.
5 — Cannabidiol Uses, Sides Effects & Warnings. 2018, Drugs.com
This story was originally published on That Odd Mom on Medium on Dec. 2, 2018.